I have to admit, I never gave the title Prince of Peace too much thought before this week. Sure, I’ve used that phrase many times in conversation with others, singing songs, or even in my times of prayer, but I really didn’t take the time to understand the significance of it until now. Because of this, I would like to make a few comments to help us gain a little bit of a handle on its importance for us today.
The term Prince of Peace is familiar to many of us because it is listed among other titles attributed to the Messiah found in Isaiah 9:6 & 7 n the Scriptures. This passage is typically highlighted at some point during the advent and Christmas seasons as a reminder to us of how God promised deliverance to His people, Israel. You may also recognize it because it’s been popularized in a small part of a most famous oratorio written by George Frideric Handel entitled The Messiah.
“For to us [Israel] a child is born, a son is given. And the government will be upon his shoulders. His title will be ‘Wonderful,’ ‘Counselor,’ ‘Divine Hero,’ ‘Father of the Coming Messianic Age’, ‘Prince of Peace.’ There will be no end to the increase of his government and peace. From the throne of David he will reign and order his Kingdom, establishing it with judgment and justice from that time onwards forever…The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will see that this is carried out.” – Isaiah 9:6-7
There is a lot that we could go into regarding these two verses. Quite frankly, it’s hard to find any more hopeful verses in all the Scriptures then what is communicated here. No matter how bad things got for Israel, God continued to remind them of their hope that is found in the promised Messiah and their future inheritance.
As I read this passage I get a sense that the overall theme that God is trying to communicate is that He has a dream for His people and the reality of that dream will be when He establishes His Messiah as king of the first and only successful world government, the kingdom of God. Wow! What a God-sized dream!
This government of peace will never end because its ruler will be “‘Wonderful,’ ‘Counselor,’ ‘Divine Hero,’ ‘Father of the Coming Messianic Age’, ‘Prince of Peace.’” As promised, I won’t go into the meaning and importance of each of these titles, with the exception of Prince of Peace. (But let me encourage you to dive in on your own to see what you can discover. I’m hopeful to do the same sometime soon.)
If you think about it, the majority of kings and rulers throughout the world would rather be known for being a conqueror than a peacemaker. But not God’s Messiah. He’s going to do things differently. He’s going to lead this world in a kingdom that will be marked by everlasting peace. We have a foretaste of this peaceable kingdom during the three or so ministry years of Jesus. He showed us how to pursue peace in our relationships with each other in the here and now. Consider how Jesus offered his peace to his disciples:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John 14:27
Every time I read these words I find them refreshing, because I’m reminded just how upside down Jesus’ kingdom principles are from the ways of the world. The way that Jesus offers his peace is far different then the how the world offers it. The world typically attains peace through violence and destruction. The peace that Jesus offers is given through relationship. He offers himself to us. And that’s how we’re to operate with each other. Our pursuit of peace has everything to do with our willingness to share faith and life with each other. As we embrace peace with one another we will find ourselves experiencing joy like never before.
Allow me to share one more passage that is a great reflection of what we read earlier in Isaiah about the type of kingdom that the Messiah will rule. Jesus is speaking with his disciples about leadership and attempts to help them see that the way things work in the kingdom of God are different from that of the world.
20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling down she asked him for a favor. 21 He said to her, “What do you want?” She replied, “Permit these two sons of mine to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” 22 Jesus answered, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink the cup I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” 23 He told them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right and at my left is not mine to give. Rather, it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
24 Now when the other ten heard this, they were angry with the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in high positions use their authority over them. 26 It must not be this way among you! Instead whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave—28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Matthew 20:20-28 (NET)
I love what Jesus says in verse 26, “It must not be this way among you!” He’s telling them that leading and interacting with people isn’t a top/down kind of thing, but rather bottom/up. This peaceful approach of serving others is a mark of the kingdom of God.
Tomorrow we’ll engage with Isaiah 11:6-10 in a unique way to help us understand how universal peace is a result of the Messiah’s successful global government.