“Rise up and listen to me!”

Cindy and I lived in South Florida a number of years ago and my sales territory was located in the heart of Miami.  If you have spent much time in Miami you know that the two predominant ethic groups are Hispanic and Jewish, and many of my customers came from either Latin America or New York City, so it is only natural that I picked up a little Spanish and Yiddish in the process; at least enough to tell people when they spoke it that I didn’t understand them.  For many Jews, especially those who are Orthodox or Hasidic, a common greeting begins with the word, peace or the Hebrew shalom. It is no surprise that the word peace is used a number of times by way of introduction in the New Testament letters of the Apostles, especially Paul. In fact, 2Corinthinans begins and ends with Paul asking that the peace God be with and on his readers.  In this context, to greet someone by wishing them the peace of God means you are hoping that they have found contentment, safety, and happiness in their walk with God.  As nice as it may be to wish this for someone, the reality is that for many, it is only a wish and not a reality.

The Prophet Isaiah, in chapter 32 of his prophesy to Israel and speaking to the women of Israel, tells them how they can find peace saying, “you women who are so complacent, rise up and listen to me.”  Isaiah was warning them that if they didn’t, their false sense of security and peace would soon turn to trembling and mourning.  In verses 15-18 he explains that real peace can only be found if “the Spirit is poured upon us from on high.”  In other words, peace is from God and is made available to us through the Holy Spirit or as Paul explains in Galatians 5:22, it is one the “fruits” of the Spirit, which will both nourish and refresh us in our time of need.  Isaiah uses a metaphor to describe the difference between living in the peace of God or dwelling outside of His blessing. Those who ignore God’s design for their lives will be abandoned to live in a barren desert wasteland but those who choose to listen to and follow God will dwell in a place with fertile fields, with fruit trees growing as dense as a “forest.”

This sounds like a pretty easy choice to make, so why isn’t everyone living in the fertile fields?  Why have so many chosen to make their home in the desert?  It would seem that real peace is within reach and it is, if you understand that peace can only be attained through righteousness.  Isaiah explains, “The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.” Many think of righteousness as some esoteric concept that defies definition. That it is relative and ever-changing based on our circumstances or the individual’s definition of morals and ethics.  However, nothing could be further from the truth.  The righteousness that produces peace and its effects is the very substance of God, and can be ours if we follow His design for our daily lives.  Simply put, righteousness means right thinking, right motives and right action. Thankfully, God has not left something so important to chance or to the interpretations of men, instead He had His disciples, prophets and apostles record in His Word all that we need to know about how we are to be righteous and why.  It’s all laid out for us in black and white.

The Father knew that simply providing us His Word would not be enough since we have been so captivated by sin and so enamored by the temptations of this world. It is not just important that we seek righteousness (1Peter3:11) to gain peace for ourselves, but it is God’s command that we be perfect and righteous in every way.  Jesus is quoted in Matthew 5:48 saying, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” That next and final step that the Father took on our behalf, to insure that His peace could be ours, was to send His Son Jesus into this world to live among us, die at the hands of His chosen people and then rising from the grave, having taken on the penalty we deserve. Jesus explains in John 14:27 that peace is His to give, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.

Tool #254  The peace of God is available to us individually and as husband and wife if we respond to God in the same way that Isaiah asked the women of Israel to do, “rise up and listen to me.”

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