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Monday, September 3, 2012

Prophesying Peace

 From early times the prophets who preceded you and me have prophesied war, disaster and plague against many countries and great kingdoms.  But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the Lord only if his prediction comes true. --Jeremiah to Hananiah in Jeremiah 28: 8-9 NIV
This past week has been pretty heavily filled with troubling news of the state of the US and world economy, the changing (or vanishing) moral values of my country and others in the world, social unrest, wars and rumors of wars, various natural disasters, and even cruelty to animals. Just turn on the television and watch, and "The sights you see will drive you mad" (Deuteronomy 28: 34 NIV).

I cannot point you to a political savior, or some educational program that will stem the tide of broken homes. I cannot think of a way to stop hurricanes, earthquakes, and wildfires, nor can I prevent diseases such as cancer from touching you (or a family close to you).  I'd love to tell you, "this wound is not serious" (Jeremiah 6:14), but it is.

I have something even worse to tell you--it's getting worse, and it's going to keep getting worse, unless this nation and this world turn back to God in humility and repentance and begin to obey Him.  I'm simply citing what the prophets wrote down, centuries ago.

Prophesying Peace

Deuteronomy chapter 28, for instance, seems to accurately describe all the things we are beginning to encounter today.  It can be summarized in two parts: (1) If you bless and honor God and His laws individually and as a nation, He will bless and prosper every facet of your life (even preventing disease and natural disasters), both individually and collectively; (2) If you turn away from God and do not obey His laws, both individually and collectively, He will curse you in every aspect of life (even bringing diseases and natural disasters), and eventually hand you over to a conqueror. Don't just take my word for this. Follow the link and read it for yourself.

When I see this distressing news all around me, I recognize it as a symptom of a spiritual decline, while it seems that many people around me dismiss God and are still looking for a physical, earthly solution.  What solutions do we have? Some people say the results of this upcoming US election will decide the fate of many nations.  Some people are looking for a scientific breakthrough. Some keep saying that if we just "believe in ourselves" and "spread a little love" that the chaos around us will go away.

I've heard these ideas often enough that they seem like prophecies to me; however, they have never come true.  They've been coming for decades, and yet things keep getting worse.  So, I'm ruling them out as false.  There must be another path to peace!

The Prophet Truly Sent by the Lord

It seems to me that there are only two ways to achieve peace on a large scale: (1) Take away the crowd's power and ability to resist (i.e. an enforced peace), (2) Change people's hearts until they no longer want the things that cause unrest.  I don't want the first choice. This is what God predicted (even promised) for those who reject Him.  In the past, this was accomplished by the Babylonians and the Romans, to name two.  Someday, it will be accomplished by a great political world leader, who the Bible calls the Antichrist, who will come with a bow (but no arrows) and will conquer (Revelation 6:2).

The second choice is Christ, who now proclaims peace in the hearts of those who know Him (Zechariah 9: 9-10; Luke 4: 16-21), and who has promised (read: prophesied) He will someday bring peace to the earth as well (see Matthew 23: 37-39; Jerusalem ironically means "City of Peace").  This first peace, which He has already brought, is a peace in our hearts. It is a freedom from the entrapment, shame, and punishment of sin.  It changes us (2 Corinthians 5:17). Because it is so disconnected from our circumstances, it is a peace that lasts when there is no peace around.
So what Jesus Christ prophesied has come true--from His death to His resurrection, from His message to His mission. What He promised, He did. Shouldn't we recognize that He has "truly [been] sent by the Lord" to bring us the "solution" to all our problems?  Since He fulfilled His promises, can't we trust Him that He will fulfill the last one (upon His return)?

Since some people have said that blog posts of this sort are "too depressing," I want to end this post with a clear message of hope, which is the entirety of my intent.  Although circumstances are bad (and if we linger on them, we can get depressed), there is a clear path to peace, a clear lasting joy, and an enduring hope.  They are all found in a personal relationship with Christ.  Seek Him. Know Him. Follow Him. Obey Him.  Christ has spoken peace into a troubled world, so believe what He said!