Oct 09 - The One Who Will Bring Peace

The One Who Will Bring Peace

October 09,2016

Micah 5:1-6

 

 

The One Who Will Bring Peace

Micah 5:1-6

October 9th, 2016

 

Lamaze class.  The room was full of pregnant women with their husbands.  The instructor said,

"Ladies, remember that exercise is good for you.  Walking is especially beneficial.  It strengthens the pelvic muscles and will make delivery that much easier.  Just pace yourself, make plenty of stops and try to stay on a soft surface like grass or a path."
"Gentlemen, remember -- you're in this together. It wouldn't hurt you to go walking with her.  In fact, that shared experience would be good for you both."
The room became very quiet as the men absorbed and pondered this information.  After a few moments a man at the back of the room, slowly raised his hand.
"Yes?" asked the instructor.
"I was just wondering if it would be all right if, while we walked together on the grass, she carried a golf bag?"

 

Whether or not we realize it, we live in one of only 10 countries in the worldthat have been designated as having the highest state of peace in the world.

 

As you can see from the overhead, the countries in dark green are considered to have the highest state of peace, including Canada, Iceland, Portugal, Switzerland, New Zealand and so on.  On the other hand, the countries in red are considered to have the lowest state of peace in the world, including Tunisia, Nigeria, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and so on.

 

As we enter the Thanksgiving weekend, we can give thanks, not only for all that we have been given and blessed with, but particularly that we live with the highest degree of peace in the world.

 

Now, if we had a map of the world back in Micah’s day, the whole of the Middle East, what is now Iraq, Syria, Israel and Egypt would have been bright red, in particular because of the aspirations of the Assyrian kings. 

 

Because of the Assyrian empire, the time during which the prophet Micah was active, was a very tumultuous time for the divided kingdom of Israel and Judah. 

 

Successive Assyrian kings had invaded the northern kingdom of Israel (Tiglath-Pilesar III) destroyed its capital Samaria (Sargon II), and besieged Jerusalem, the capital of the southern kingdom of Judah (Sennacherib).

 

And into this time of crisis, war and conflict, the prophet Micah gave his message.  Now, we have to understand that when a prophet speaks, he is giving a message from God to the people who can physically hear him at the time. 

 

So when there is a foretelling of future events, the prophet is speaking primarily to something that will happen in the relative near future, usually something that happens within days, weeks, months or possibly years, in effect, within the lifetime of his hearers. 

 

However, at times a prophet may also speak of something that happens beyond the lifetime of his hearers

 

For example, when the prophet Jeremiah predicted that the descendants of those who were exiled to Babylon at the time he was active, would return to the land 70 years into the future.  But then, there may also be a fulfillment of that prophecy in the distant future.

 

Usually this fulfillment is something that the prophet himself may not even be aware of.  Instead, individuals many generations later who read the prophecies, recognize something in them that had not been fulfilled as yet - they are still outstanding.    

 

This is true in Micah’s case as well.  The immediate context is the Assyrian invasion of Israel, the siege and destruction of its capital Samaria, and the demotion of the evil king Ahaz in the southern kingdom of Judah to a vassal to the Assyrian king Sargon II. 

 

Micah 5:1 gives us that historical setting:

 

1 Now slash yourself, daughter of sorrow [or: band together, daughter of a troop].  They have besieged us. 

With a rod they will strike the judge of Israel on the cheek.

 

As will become clear in v.6 of this passage, the situation that Micah is describing is the invasion of the Assyrians, something that happened in both the northern kingdom of Israel and then the southern kingdom of Judah. 

 

To me, it makes most sense to think of this particular verse referring to what happened to the northern kingdom, where Samaria is besieged and the king of the Northern Kingdom, King Hoshea, is deposed and put in prison by the king of Assyria (2 Kings 17:4).[1]

 

The judge (a term that is in reference to a ruler, most likely a king) who’s struck on the cheek with a rod would probably have been King Hoshea.  The rod itself is a metaphor for Assyria (cf. Isa 10:5,15,24). 

 

One of the greatest of humiliations possible at that time is to be slapped or hit in the face.  It is only possible when those being assaulted are so defenseless that they cannot even protect their face. 

 

The Hebrew can be understood and therefore translated in different ways.  The daughter is likely in reference to the city of Samaria, and the picture is either of its inhabitants in agonizing sorrow over the siege, or of the relative small group of soldiers protecting the city within the city gates. 

 

So, the siege of Samaria and the deposition of its king is likely the historic situation Micah is addressing in this verse.  Micah then moves from the current situation to something that would happen in the future in 5:2.

 

 

Masoretic Text c. AD 1000

Septuagint (LXX)

c. 200 BC

New Testament

Matthew 6:2

c. AD 60

2 But as for you, Bethlehem

 

Ephrathah, so little among the clans of Judah. 

2 And you, Bethlehem, of the house of Ephrathah, are few among the thousands of

Judah. 

6 But you, Bethlehem,

land of

Judah, are by no means the least among the rulers of Judah. 

 

I have included here three versions of the first part of v.2.  The first is from the so-called Masoretic text, a Hebrew version of the OT, the oldest copies of which date to around 1000 years ago, and which is the basis of the OT in your Bible. 

 

Now the text is much older than the medieval text we have, as can be seen with the scrolls or fragments of the OT found in the writings of the Essenes at Qumran, known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.  

 

The community was destroyed by the Romans in the first century AD.  About 60% of the biblical scrolls found at Qumran agree more or less with the MT (e.g. portion of great Isaiah scroll).

 

Secondly, I’ve included the LXX, which was a Greek translation of the Hebrew text that was made about 200 BC.[2]  It was a relatively accurate translation of a Hebrew manuscript that differed in some ways from the MT.  Only about 5% of the biblical scrolls from Qumran agree more or less with the LXX (fragments from Deuteronomy, Samuel, Jeremiah).[3]  However, the reason I included it is because the NT writers quoted from the LXX. 

 

The last column contains a passage from the NT, Matthew 2:6 to be exact, that quotes this verse in reference to the birthplace of the messianic King - who’s coming was anticipated in 1st century Israel, 700 years after Micah’s prophecy.  

 

In Matthew 6:2 , Micah 5:2 is quoted by the chief priests and teachers of the Mosaic Law, who had been called to King Herod in order to tell him where the Messiah, the Christ, would be born.  This was after the Magi, the wise men from the East, had come to see Herod in Jerusalem because they knew that a new king of the Jews had been born.

 

The learned men, did not directly quote from the LXX.  They changed the mention of Ephrathah, which means “fruitful,” and is in reference to the immediate region surrounding Bethlehem, to Judah, possibly to make it more understandable to King Herod, who apparently was not familiar with the OT.  

 

Bethlehem was only about 7 km south of Jerusalem, the exact distance from the church here to Sidney, where Beacon Road meets the Pat Bay Hwy.  It would have taken about 1 ½ hours for someone to walk from Jerusalem to Bethlehem at that time.

 

Both the MT and the LXX focus on the insignificance of Bethlehem, much like King David appeared to be the most insignificant of the 7 sons of Jesse, the least likely to be chosen as King.  It is a sign that God delights to use the apparent insignificant and weak and despised to shame the apparent strong and powerful

 

Note that the quote in the NT changes the meaning to the complete opposite, making Bethlehem sound a lot more important than it really was (are by no means the least among the rulers of Judah).[4]  Let’s continue on in Micah 5:2:

 

Masoretic Text c. AD 1000

Septuagint (LXX)

c. 200 BC

New Testament c. AD 60

From you will go forth someone to be the ruler of Israel on my behalf.  [lit. for me]

From you will go forth someone to be a ruler of Israel on my behalf.

For from you will come forth a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.

 

Here the scholars in Herod’s day continue their quote and it is very close to both the LXX and the MT.  From Bethlehem a ruler will arise, that is, a new king to rule over Israel - and he would do so as a representative of God or as someone completely dedicated to God (both meanings are possible in the MT and the LXX). 

 

This last fact was not mentioned by the religious leaders in their quote to Herod, possibly because it could have been considered an insult by Herod as someone who did not rule as God’s representative.  Herod had a propensity to have people, including members of his own family, executed for very little cause.[5] 

 

The quote by those in Herod’s court also stopped short of the next portion of Micah 5:2.

 

Masoretic Text (MT)

c. AD 1000

Septuagint (LXX)

c. 200 BC

His origins are from long ago, from ancient days. 

And his origins were from the beginning, from eternity (past) [lit. from days of aion / aionos].[6] 

 

Micah referred to the fact that the ruler’s beginnings were to be found 300 years in the past, likely with the birth of King David in Bethlehem and the promise to King David of a perpetual heir.[7] 

 

In other words, this new King would be a restart of the ancient promise that had brought about kings who had abysmally failed in following God (cf. Isa 11:1 - from the stump of Jesse).  This was true both of the kings of the northern kingdom, all of which were said to be evil in God’s sight, as it was true of many of the kings of the southern kingdom of Judah -  no more so than the King Ahaz who ruled for 16 years - all of which Micah witnessed.

 

I’ve only included the LXX here to give you the interpretation of the Hebrew text during Jesus’ day, which makes it clear that the beginning of this king lies in eternity past.  By the time the LXX was produced, this ruler is to be something special, possibly even someone supernatural, something that is reflected in the quotes from the Gospel of John I have included on the overhead: 

 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.                                John 1:1

 

In reference to Jesus, who was the eternal word that spoke creation into place.

 

When the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.                                                                            John 7:27

 

This reflects the belief, common in Jesus’ day, that the Messiah will have some supernatural origin.[8]

 

Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I Am!“                                                 John 8:58

 

The reason that the religious leaders wanted to stone Jesus for saying this is because God himself referred to himself as the “I Am” to Moses, and Jesus was making himself equal to God.

 

However, it is not at all certain that this is what Micah had in mind when he spoke those words.  He goes on:

 

3 Therefore God will give them up until the time when she who is in labour has given birth to a child.  Then the remainder of his brothers will return to the sons of Israel. 

 

Micah was keenly aware the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the forced emigration of many of its inhabitants to other areas of the Assyrian empire, as well as the coming or present attack on Jerusalem by those same forces. 

 

God will allow the current miserable state to continue, but not for much longer.  The current suffering of God’s people are compared to the pains that a woman has during labour and birth … maybe Micah had been with his wife when she gave birth. 

 

Once the child is born, however, the pains are over.  And, because of this new King from Bethlehem, the same will be true for the Israelites.  So who could have been a king during the lifetime of Micah’s listeners who could fit the bill? 

 

The person that makes most sense is King Hezekiah, who bolstered the fortifications of Jerusalem and made sure the city had a source of water within its city gates. 

 

Because of his efforts and God’s intervention (the death of a large number of the Assyrian soldiers, possibly because of disease or poisoning), Sennacherib failed to conquer Jerusalem and had to return to Nineveh. 

 

The remainder, or rest, or remnant of fellow Israelites, are likely those who had remained in the northern kingdom of Israel after its destruction, many of whom had come to take refuge in the southern kingdom of Judah, thereby reuniting themselves with the rest of the Jews.[9] 

 

In fact, King Hezekiah sent couriers throughout both kingdoms to call them to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover and rededicate themselves to worshipping and following God.  While a lot of those who remained in the land did not heed the call, a group from the tribes of Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun did (2 Chronicles 30:1-18).

 

Micah has great hopes for what King Hezekiah would be able to accomplish.  Not only would he save Jerusalem, and because of it, the kingdom of Judah, but the rest of the then-known world would acknowledge his greatness.

 

4 And he will arise and shepherd them in the strength of YHWH, in the majesty of the name of YHWH his God.  And they will remain (= live securely) because at that time he will be great to the ends of the earth. 5 And this one will be the peace.

 

Of course, King Hezekiah did not fully fulfill this promise.  While he was able to preserve the kingdom of Judah, and this would continue even through to the destruction of the Assyrian empire, he did not bring about a lasting peace but a 125 year reprieve – which I guess is considerable when you think about what was going on at that time. 

 

There was one part of this prediction that simply did not happen, at least not exactly as envisioned – it was the hope that there would be a modem of justice that would be brought against the nation that had brought such terror upon the divided kingdom. 

 

Whenever there is war, wherever average citizens live in a warzone, or they experience the devastation and horror of war, usually the most significant goal is the absence of conflict or peace.  That is, unless they are determined to also have justice.

 

Just last week the electorate of Colombian voted against a peace deal between the government and the FARC guerillas, after a war of 52 years in which an estimated ¼ of a million people perished.  The deal was defeated in a referendum by the smallest of margins, 50.2% against, 49.8% for the deal. 

 

Those who voted against the deal did not like the fact that there was full amnesty for the guerillas who killed, kidnapped for ransom, performed mass executions of innocents, bombed churches and market places, forced children to fight for their cause, and committed the worst kind of atrocities. 

 

Worse yet, the leaders of FARC, accumulated wealth and became rich landowners in the process of war.  Rather than being punished, they would receive a place in parliament with all the perks that such a position would entail, something that the average Columbian could only dream of. 

 

All Columbians want the fighting to cease, just some did not think the deal struck between their government and the rebels was in any way fair.  This Micah addresses next.

 

When Assyria invades our land, when it tramples on our palaces, then we will raise against it seven shepherds and eight leaders of men (literally, “anointed ones of man”).  6 And they will shepherd the land of Assyria with the sword, the land of Nimrod with weapons drawn. 

 

As predicted, 90 years later the Assyrians were defeated and their empire swallowed up and taken over.  However this was done by the Babylonians … their leaders and generals possibly being the 15 people who Micah mentions here.  But it was not the Jewish people or their leaders that did this. 

 

Some scholars think that this prophecy of Micah was inserted here because it did not pertain to the situation during Hezekiah’s reign.  Also, the first portion of v.5 and the second portion of v.6 seem to flow into each other naturally as both speak of the one king.

 

This one will be the peace. … He will deliver us from Assyria when it attacks our land and when it tramples our territory.  

 

So why is it, that 700 years later, those who were familiar with the OT, thought that it referred to the coming anointed on, the Davidic Messiah or Saviour?  Why did they believe that the person Micah made reference to did not just refer to King Hezekiah?

 

Well, the reality was that Hezekiah didn’t defeat the Assyrians and he didn’t usher in the kind of peace that Israel was hoping for, where they would never again have to worry about being attacked or subjugated to another nation. 

 

The 700 years that had passed between Micah and the birth of Jesus, had not been years of peace.  The southern Kingdom of Judah was always a vassal state, first to the Assyrians, then to the Babylonians, then it was occupied by the remnants of the Greek empire. 

 

Israel became a pinball between the Ptolmeys in Egypt and the Seleucids in Syria (each dynasty beginning with a general of Alexander the great, who had received that territory as their own).  By the way, Cleopatra was part of the Ptolmey dynasty, so not Egyptian at all. 

 

After a 25 year long war to gain independence, led by a family given the nickname “Maccabees,” a name derived from the Hebrew Maccabas, meaning Hammer, there were 80 years of independence, unfortunatly marred by ongoing civil war (Hasmonean dynasty).  This, in turn, led to the Roman occupation, which Israel was under when Jesus was born.   

 

Never had the Israelites lived without conflict or oppression of one kind or another.  Never had they experienced the lasting peace that they were hoping for.  So the prophecy of Micah and the other prophets who were speaking of this Davidic king whose beginnings were hidden in eternity past, as the LXX indicates, and who would usher in that peace, must not have come as yet. 

 

The problem for those who lived when Jesus was born, is that they thought of this new Davidic king as a warrior king, someone who would come to defeat all of Israel’s enemies and establish a lasting and peaceful earthly reign. 

 

Jesus did not fit that bill.  He was not a warrior.  He told his followers to pay taxes to the hated Roman occupiers.  He taught them not to kill their enemies but to be kind to them.  He said that his kingdom is not of this earth.   This is the reason why so many Jews in his day could not accept that he was to be the messianic king, the Christ. 

 

And, by the way, whenever you see the term “Christ” attached to the name Jesus, it is to indicate that in fact he is the messianic king who was to be born in Bethlehem!

 

Now, even though Jesus did not seem to fit the profile, Jesus did think of himself as the Messiah, and he spoke of himself as someone who would bring peace … a lasting peace that was not dependent on the complete absence of conflict. 

 

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. What I give you is not like the world’s peace.  So don’t be troubled or afraid.                                       John 14:27

 

The peace Jesus offered his followers was not the kind of peace that could be found on earth because it is not dependent on outward circumstances. 

 

Look, an hour will come and has already arrived when you will be scattered, each one to his own home, and you will abandon me.  Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.  I have told you these things so that you may have peace in me.  In the world you will have trials.  But take courage; I have overcome the world!                                                                                                        John 16:32-33

 

Jesus was at peace even though he knew that his earthly journey would be difficult, even as he knew that the earthly journey of his followers would similarly not be easy.  From time to time they would face difficulties, trouble, sorrow, tragedies, opposition, and suffering.  In fact, simply by following him they would encounter persecution (John 15:20; cf. Acts 14:22).

 

But his hope and ultimate prayer was that they would experience the presence of God within them as he did … to the point that they would always be aware of and experiencing this fact. [10]

 

This is something that the apostle Paul hoped would be true of the believers he wrote to as well. 

 

The apostle Paul was keenly aware that Jesus was the Christ, the messianic king, because his death and the subsequent sending of God’s Spirit at Pentecost, made possible a reconnection with God, both through the forgiveness of sins, and the actual presence of God within human beings.  For Paul this meant primarily that followers of Jesus have peace with God.

 

Since we have been justified by our belief [in the Lord Jesus as the messianic king], we have peace with God.

                                                                        Romans 5:1

 

But this peace with God, this presence of God, would have profound consequences.  

 

Paul mentioned to the believers in the Roman province of Galatia, that one of the fruit of the Spirit, one of the signs that God was with them and indwelling them, is peace (Gal 5:22).  He told the believers in Colossae that they should let the peace of Messiah rule their hearts (Col 3:15). 

 

To the believers in Philippi he wrote that if they rejoice always in God, if they are gentle with others, if they brought all their worries to God with thanksgiving, then the peace of God would guard their hearts and minds in the messianic king Jesus (Phil 4:4-7).

 

Further, as he tells the believers in Ephesus, the most important battle that humans are facing is not a battle for their personal security and life, but a battle for their eternal souls.  Therefore the real enemy do not consist of human fighters, like those of Assyria in Micah’s day or Islamic State in our own, but evil forces in the spiritual world (Eph 6:12).[11]

 

But even so, Paul writes to the believers in Rome, we are more than victors through Jesus the messianic King, the Christ, because nothing that life can throw at us, not evil spiritual forces or even death, will be able to separate us from God’s love in Messiah Jesus (Rom 8:38-39).   This is why the prophet Isaiah referred to the Messiah as the prince of peace (Isa 9:6).

 

So all of that brings me to a question that I want us to ponder today:  

 

If Jesus is the messianic king that Micah, unbeknownst even to himself, is pointing toward, the one who be the peace … then why is it that some Christians do NOT experience the peace that is to be theirs in Jesus?

 

Why Some Christians Do Not Experience The Peace That is to be theirs in Christ:

 

Quite apart from anything that I’ll be saying from now on, the reality is that all of us are in part products of our past.  If we were raised in terrible conditions, if we were abused or neglected, if we experienced the horror of war, and a host of other things that can go sideways in life, then this can deeply impact us, and to overcome it and find inner peace may be a journey, rather than a one-time event.

 

Also, there may be chemical imbalances or physiological conditions that are quite out of our control that will cause depression.  These too can rob us of peace and need to be dealt with.

 

So I am NOT saying that when a person becomes a Christian, accepting the sacrifice of Jesus as penalty for sin, is baptized and receives the HS, that the past or the conditions simply disappear.  However, even then experiencing a union with God can be healing.   

 

Why does peace elude some Christians?

 

  1. They dwell in the past

 

There are all kinds of reason why we chose to live in the past, all of them are pointless.  As a teen and young adult I often yearned to go back to my childhood when life seemed so much easier.  Others want to go back to their youth, or back to a deceased loved on, or back to an earlier time that seemed happier than the present.

 

However, dwelling in what was rather than what is will drag us down in the present.  The more we’re stuck in the past, the less we can truly live our lives to the fullest in the present. 

 

And by the way, we can also live in the future.  So we never actively enjoy the good things about the present because we are so intent on working to create a better future.

 

We don’t paint, go for a walk, sit in nature, dance, sing, volunteer, read a good book, play an instrument … who in the world has the time?

 

  1. (Dwelling in the past) They haven’t forgiven themselves

 

Part of living in the past, is not forgiving ourselves for something that we did in the past.  Purely logically we can tell ourselves that God has forgiven us – after all he’s God.  But then we fret and worry and sweat about the harm we have done to others.  We can’t let it go.  Now, possibly that might mean making amends when we can, but often that’s not an option. 

 

When we refuse to forgive ourselves, we enter into never-ending cycles of self-hatred, pain and regret. For a long time I was absolutely shattered by the mistakes I made, which caused me great anxiety and ceaseless unhappiness.   

 

I’ve done a lot of idiotic things in my life, including bullying a student in Grade 5.  I believe that I can forgive myself only because I have completely accepted God’s forgiveness for myself.  Then I can think of my mistakes as learning opportunities so I can grow and do better next time.  I can move on. 

 

  1. (Dwelling in the past) They haven’t forgiven others

     

Another side of dwelling in the past is not having forgiven others for how they’ve hurt us.  The bitterness and resentment that fills our heart will rob us of a sense of peace in the present.

 

By the way, anger is a very seductive emotion.  It makes us feel self-righteous.  Anger justifies itself.  We may even think that our anger is protecting us from getting hurt again. 

 

On the one hand, we should tell others when their actions affect us negatively, instead of holding it in … something that we tend to do in order to keep the peace.

 

On the other hand, we should muster at least a small modem of compassion toward those who have hurt us, instead of wallowing in a vat of bitterness.  This will make it easier to forgive them and set ourselves free.

 

The problem is that a lack of forgiveness festers into bitterness which robs us from a lot of life’s opportunities to heal and grow. 

 

It also makes us forget that God’s forgiveness is dependent on ours.  And by the way, forgiveness does not mean putting oneself in harm’s way again.

 

Maybe we need to catch critical and blaming thoughts about others, or thoughts that make us victims. 

 

  1. They don’t like themselves

 

When you get up in the morning and look in the mirror, do you like the person you are looking at?  I don’t mean, do you like the physical imperfections or extra pounds or receding hairline.  I mean the person inside of you?  If not, then a lot of negativity can and will poison our lives.

 

  1. They need to be “perfect” (don’t like themselves)

 

Perfectionism promotes chronic stress and burnout.  Many people spend a lot of time in their lives wanting to do everything perfectly, say everything perfectly, look perfect, essentially be perfect. 

 

While their brain may tell them that no one can be perfect, yet they keep on the negative and depressing task of doing everything perfect. 

 

By the way, I’m NOT saying that going through life doing everything slip shot is good.  Perfectionism is when it’s never good enough, and that’s a waste of time and energy. 

 

  1. They beat themselves up (don’t like themselves)

 

Bitterness doesn’t just end with others.  It also relates to the way that we treat ourselves.  And mostly the way that we talk to ourselves:  “I’m so stupid, I can’t do anything right, nobody loves me, I’m ugly ..” there are literally hundreds of ways that we can call ourselves down.

 

Maybe we need to catch and reject those self-critical and harsh thoughts. 

 

Maybe we need to create a list of things we love about ourselves instead of dwelling on how we wish we were different.

 

  1. Their self-worth depends on others

 

When we allow others to define our worth, then we allow others to dictate our thoughts and subsequent actions or feelings.  For example, when someone says something that we feel is derogatory, do we allow that to impact the way we feel for an entire day or week or even lifetime?

 

When our self-worth is dependent on others, we will be miserable without end because someone ignored, rejected or criticized us. 

 

We are in fact giving permission to others to control the way that we feel about ourselves.  But we do not have to do this.  I found that my low self-esteem hampered me for much of my life

 

What really helped me is to feel accepted and loved by God … and therefore I could accept myself and not have to base my entire self-image on what I thought other people thought of me. 

 

  1. They don’t set boundaries (self-worth depends on others)

 

This is something that is not easy, particularly when it comes to family members like spouses, parents, children, siblings, and friends. 

 

The problem is that when these or other individuals are toxic, when they are psychologically and spiritually and emotionally or even physically damaging, boundaries are an absolute necessity. 

 

Sometimes it is also hard to enforce the boundaries we have set, especially when someone is used to walking all over us.  Personally, there are some people in my life and in my family that I don’t spend a lot of time with for exactly that purpose. 

 

  1. They act like doormats (self-worth depends on others)

 

  1.  They are controlled by their ego

 

Really what I’m talking about is pride.  Hurt pride causes us to become defensive and angry when someone criticizes us.  It is pride that allows us to be crushed when someone rejects us.  Pride fuels our desire to be bigger and better than others, and may make us think we really are. 

 

That will rob us of peace because we will always feel injured by others who don’t give us the respect we think we deserve.  It will rob us of the ability to make decisions that are grounded in love, compassion and patience.

 

 

  1. They always have to be right (controlled by their ego)

 

Sometimes religious people focus on being “right” all the time, so they cannot appreciate anything of value in the beliefs or thoughts of others.  I find that Christians are robbed of their peace when they fall into this trap. 

 

What God desires is empathy toward others and a bit of humility.  We aren’t always right, and that’s OK. 

 

  1. They always have to be in charge (controlled by their ego)

 

Some people are control freaks.  In order to feel stable and secure, they need to think of themselves as always being in control.  They make terrible back-seat drivers. 

 

Having to be in control is a sign of fear.  It is a distrust that we will be able to handle what life throws at us if we haven’t got a firm plan and three steps to get it done.

 

The problem is that life, by its very nature is unpredictable and unstable – despite our best-laid plans.  There are things that will happen to us and others that we are simply unable to control.  In fact, as we get older, we become more in need of help. 

 

When we hold on to God, trusting him to take us through, we can discover calmness and inner quiet even when we have to let go … when we purposefully let go, of control. 

 

  1. They value selfishness more than others (incl. God)

 

  1. They’ve never connected with God

 

    1. Don’t want God to tell them what to do

 

    1. They don’t trust God to have their best interests in mind

 

    1. They don’t pray - Not thankful - Not praising - Not giving things over to God

 

Is peace something that we can only experience when we lessen our stress by working less and finding more time to relax?  Is peace something that will automatically elude us when we go through tough times? 

 

I believe that God wants us to have and provides for us a sense of inner peace despite the pressures in our lives, despite the stress we face at work, despite going through tough times. 

 

If you and I are lacking peace maybe that is the one place where we can start: start our day by spending 5 minutes completely relaxed just thanking God for the day, for all that is good and right, and giving the day and all that it will bring with it to him

 

Allow him the time and space to create mental stillness and emotional peace.

 

What will I do today … and tomorrow … and the day after, so I will experience the peace of God?

 

 

[1] This was Shalmaneser, who besieged Samaria for three years, was killed by his brother Sargon II who then conquered Samaria in short order.  

[2] Extant are 2nd century BC fragments of Lev and Deut and 1st century BC fragments of Gen, Ex, Lev, Num, and the Minor Prophets.  One of the earliest complete version is found in the 4th century AD Codex Vaticanus.

[3] Another 5 % of the biblical material at Qumran agrees more or less with the Samaritan Pentateuch (eg. fragments of Exodus).  20% of the biblical material at Qumran was translated quite freely with lots of changes (e.g. a portion of the great Isaiah scroll).

[4] The town was of such insignificance that it isn’t even mentioned by the cartographer of Joshua or in Micah’s catalogue of Judah’s cities of defense (Mi 1:10-15).  On the other hand, Bethlehem is mentioned first in line in a list of the towns in Judah and Benjamin which King Rehoboam armed and fortified (2 Chron 11:5-12).

[5] Instead, they seem to make reference to 2 Sam 5:2 (The Israelites coming to David said) YHWH said to you, “You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.”

[6] Aion/aionos means “age” and is said to refer to a segment of time, or a very long time gone by (eternity past), or a very long time in the future (eternity future); aionios (not here) means without beginning or end, eternal / unending.

[7] Cf. Amos 9:11, In those days I will rebuild the fallen house of David … as in the ancient days.

[8] This flies in the face of Messiah having to come from Bethlehem.  Those who were speaking knew that Jesus heralded from Nazareth:  We know where this man comes from (see John 7:21 - Galilea).  But when the Messiah appears no one will know where he comes from.  This verse seems to reflect the belief that the Messiah would miraculously appear: The Son of Man was concealed from the beginning, and the Most High One preserved him in the presence of his power, then he revealed him to the holy and the elect ones (1 Enoch 62:7); This is he whom the Most High has been keeping for many ages, who will himself deliver his creation. …. then my son will be revealed. … No one on earth can see my son or those who are with him, except in the time of his day (4 Ezra 13:26,32,52).

[9] No record exists of the Assyrians having exiled people from Dan, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun or western Manasseh. Descriptions of the deportation of people from Reuben, Gad, Manasseh in Gilead, Ephraim and Naphtali indicate that only a portion of these tribes were deported and the places to which they were deported are known locations given in the accounts. The deported communities are mentioned as still existing at the time of the composition of the books of Kings and Chronicles and did not disappear by assimilation.

[10] John 17:20-23.

[11] Jesus prayed that God would keep his followers from the evil (one) - John 17:15

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