This past Sunday, the Pope gave his annual “Urbi et Orbi” message from St. Peter’s Basilica. This year's message was one of peace to those suffering around the world, from war torn Syria, to the many parts of the world experiencing injustice. The Pope, speaking of Jesus, quoted Isaiah 9:6, and touched on God’s love through which He descended to earth, becoming a man, and sacrificing Himself on the cross. The Pope followed with a quote from Luke 2:14 reading “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” This was his introduction to his his call for peace across the world. He would go on to speak peace to many troubled people across the world, in a similar fashion to this one:
Peace to men and women in the war-torn land of Syria, where far too much blood has been spilled. Above all in the city of Aleppo, site of the most awful battles in recent weeks, it is most urgent that assistance and support be guaranteed to the exhausted civil populace, with respect for humanitarian law. It is time for weapons to be still forever, and the international community to actively seek a negotiated solution, so that civil coexistence can be restored in the country.
What the Pope, and many leaders of our day miss in their prayers and call to peace, and what the Pope himself neglected to touch on in his call for peace, the qualifier in Luke 2:14 makes clear that peace is given among men with whom THE LORD IS WELL PLEASED. Among the religious elite and leaders of the world, a common annual theme is a prayer for world peace, but what peace can be found when Jesus is rejected as King? He says Himself in Matthew 10:34, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” The Lord Himself is the Prince of Peace, and to His followers He said that in Him peace would be found, but in the world they would have tribulation. The Apostle Paul says in Romans 3, charging us all as utterly sinful, man does not create peace, but destruction and misery. The Lord also says in Isaiah 48:22, there is no peace for the wicked.
What @Pontifex & world leaders miss in their prayers for peace, is making ourselves pleasing to the LORD.—@wscott84
It is understood that the “Peace and safety” the Apostle Paul rejects in 1 Thessalonians 5:3, was a form of Roman propaganda, and we see the same thing today. When the religious elite and world leaders pray for world peace, they want peace, but not before the throne of Jesus. They want peace, but not the sacrifice of their power. It is good to have peace, but if it is not embedded in the explicit call to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, then, at best, it's a truce with an enemy bent on destruction. This enemy being sin itself. We already know that we are all born sinful creatures, and only by God’s sovereign providence are we prevented from acting on the full depravity of our sins.
True peace will only be found through Jesus Christ, it is both an internal peace, and a peace offered to societies who submit themselves to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The psalmist David says in chapter 2, verses 10-12:
Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear,
And rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.
The leaders of our world would be wise to hear the warning from Psalm 2. The Lord carries a double edge sword and reigns until all enemies are placed under his feet. This sword, obviously being the message of the Gospel, can both bring people to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, or it can harden the hearts of those who reject the message of the Gospel, only to give them over fully to their sins leading to death. Those who accept His Lordship come to bow before His feet and worship Him in humility, and those who reject His message are placed as enemies under his feet.
If a society won’t hear and submit to the message of the Gospel than peace will not follow, but self destruction through increasing depravity of sinfulness, injustice, and chaos. Yet, if a society does accept the message of the Gospel, and submits themselves to the Lord, then Isaiah 2:2-4 speaks of the blessedness that will follow:
Now it shall come to pass in the latter days
That the mountain of the Lord’s house
Shall be established on the top of the mountains,
And shall be exalted above the hills;
And all nations shall flow to it.
Many people shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
And rebuke many people;
They shall beat their swords into plowshares,
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war anymore.
This peace is reiterated in Zechariah 9:9-10:
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.
I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
And the horse from Jerusalem;
The battle bow shall be cut off.
He shall speak peace to the nations;
His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea,
And from the River to the ends of the earth.’
With interfaith prayer of peace events schedule for New Years Day, it's a good time to remember that peace comes as a result of the Lord speaking to the nations, through His Gospel, giving them His Law, and judging righteously between nations. Peace comes when we as God’s people go out as His disciples, making more disciples and teaching them to obey the commands of the Lord Jesus Christ.