Expect Peace

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And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. - Isaiah 9:6b

Isaiah 9 was written to a group of people who were living through an incredible crisis in leadership. It was written more than 700 years before Jesus was born during one of the most intense periods in Israel’s history.  

Judah was under constant threat by the neighboring nations.  Ahaz was king in Judah and was a complete and total failure as a leader and a king… moral crisis, spiritual crisis, economic crisis & political crisis.

It’s important to note that the problems the nation faced didn’t come from the outside, they came from the inside. They came from their own sin, rebellion and backslidden state.

Isaiah 53:6 describes the spiritual drift the people were experiencing…

We all have wandered off, like shepherdless sheep, scattered by our aimless striving and endless pursuits… —Isaiah 53:6 VOICE

Paul describes it like this in the New Testament:

…everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. —Romans 3:23 NLT

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I’ve said this dozens of times… the Bible isn’t a book about GOOD people and BAD people. It’s a book about BAD people, period; and a really, really GOOD GOD.

Have you ever noticed how many completely jacked-up people and families there are in Bible?

Here’s just a quick summary:

• When God walks into the garden immediately after Adam and Eve’s failure, Adam is way too quick to throw Eve under the bus — “It was that woman you gave me…” (Gen 3:12) (Re: last week — Genesis 3)

• When God looked at the woman, she followed Adam’s lead, “It was the snake that you let into the garden…” (Gen 3:13b)

• This dysfunctional marriage gave birth to at least one dysfunctional kid, a guy named Cain, who became so jealous of his brother Abel that he murdered the guy!

• A guy named Lamech determined that one woman wasn’t enough for him, so he introduced polygamy into the world. (Gen 4:19)

• Noah, the most righteous dude in his generation, actually gets drunk, gets naked and curses his own grandson.

• Abraham lies about his wife — not once, but twice…all to save his own skin.

• He also plays favorites between his sons Isaac and Ishmael. He becomes the first dead-beat Dad, when he puts Ishmael and Hagar out of his house and leaves them to fend for themselves.

• Isaac plays favorites between his sons Jacob and Esau.

•  Jacob deceives Isaac and cons Esau. They become bitter enemies for the next twenty years.

All of that takes place in the book of Genesis… but the brokenness doesn’t end there. The Bible keeps painting a picture of our brokenness.

Their lives are broken… their marriages are messed up… their families are a wreck… their kids rebel… these people need a therapist…

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We see the same kind of brokenness in our world today.

• A Hollywood movie studio exec is fired from his own company after allegations of sexual assault, harassment and misconduct.

• A television morning show personality is embarrassed and ashamed after similar allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace.

• Politicians resign due allegations of misconduct.

• Families fracture.

This world is a wreck. WE are a wreck. Whether it’s DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, CORRUPT politicians, CORRUPT Hollywood executives reckless and arrogant world leaders, terrorism, ISIS, Ebola or the million ways we SIN against God, against ourselves and against one another, day in and day… this world ISN’T THE WAY IT OUGHT TO BE.

Author and Theologian, Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. said it like this: SIN is the “VANDALISM of SHALOM” but SHALOM carries the idea that “GOD is SETTING THINGS RIGHT.”

When the Bible talks about the concept of PEACE, it uses a really important word and concept. It’s the word of concept of SHALOM.

Plantinga explains SHALOM as “…the way God wants things to be…” or “…the way things ought to be.

This world isn’t THE WAY IT OUGHT TO BE but SIN isn’t the FINAL WORD about you! And it won’t have the FINAL SAY about what is going on in this world! SIN is a MIDDLE WORD.

The first word is that YOU were MADE IN THE IMAGE of God, and for reasons only known to God, are more valuable to God than you can possibly imagine.

The next word is hard, but it’s true. The next word is SIN. We took the PERFECT SHALOM God gave us when He created this world and we WRECKED IT! We VANDALIZED IT! And we continue to WRECK IT and VANDALIZE IT every day.

But the next word in this story is REDEMPTION. God took the MESS WE MADE and placed our SIN, GUILT, SHAME, INSECURITY and INADEQUACY ON JESUS.

On the CROSS, Jesus bore our SIN. He died in OUR PLACE and through His DEATH He made PEACE between us and God. Because of what Jesus accomplished, we can stand before God REDEEMED, RESTORED, RENEWED and RECONCILED!

Three days after His death, God put the stamp of approval on what Jesus had accomplished when Jesus was RAISED AGAIN TO LIFE so that we could participate in the VICTORY and TRIUMPH He experienced!

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That’s why I love what Plantinga says in his book, “Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be”:

 “To speak of sin by itself, to speak of it apart from the realities of creation and grace, is to forget the resolve of God. God wants shalom and will pay any price to get it back. Human sin is stubborn, but not as stubborn as the grace of God and not half so persistent.”  

 …sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that’s the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life—a life that goes on and on and on, world without end. —Romans 5:20-21 MSG