Prince of Peace – What Peace?
by Rich Deem
Did Jesus of Nazareth fail as the Prince of Peace? Many Jews claim that Jesus’ failure to bring world peace disqualify Him from being the promised Messiah. Let’s look at the prophecies to determine their original meaning.
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
The prophet Isaiah goes on to say that even the animals will live in peace among each other:
And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the kid, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze; Their young will lie down together; And the lion will eat straw like the ox. (Isaiah 11:6-7)
Although Jesus was greeted with shouts of hosanna, which means "Oh save," when He failed to overthrow the rule of Rome, as they thought He had come to do, those shouts later turned to "crucify him!"
So, did Jesus fail in His mission to rule as the "Prince of Peace?" Certainly, Jesus never governed the Jews, and the leopard does not now lie down with a young goat, unless the goat is in the leopard.
What is peace?
The Hebrew word translated "peace" is shalom, which also means "completeness," "soundness," "welfare," "tranquility," "contentment," and "friendship." In particular, it also refers to peace with God through a covenant relationship. However, since the Jews were under the domination of the Roman Empire at the time Jesus came, they saw shalom only as referring to freedom from oppression.
Peace with God
The Jewish people should have been well aware of the need to be at peace with God. In the Old Testament, the people of Israel would often make a sacrifice called a "peace offering" before the Lord. In fact, it is recorded 87 times in the Old Testament. The Old Testament declares that those who follow God’s laws will have peace:
- Those who love Thy law have great peace, And nothing causes them to stumble. (Psalm 119:165)
- The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. (Isaiah 32:17)
- How blessed is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding… Her [wisdom’s] ways are pleasant ways, And all her paths are peace. (Proverbs 3:13, 17)
However, those who hate God and His laws will have no peace:
- "There is no peace for the wicked," says the LORD. (Isaiah 48:22)
- "There is no peace," says my God, "for the wicked." (Isaiah 57:21)
- They do not know the way of peace, And there is no justice in their tracks; They have made their paths crooked; Whoever treads on them does not know peace. (Isaiah 59:8)
Gideon recognized that God provides peace to us and set up an alter that he called, "The LORD is peace." David also realized that God would bless His people with peace.
The new covenant of peace
Isaiah tells us that the Messiah would provide good news of peace, happiness and salvation:
How lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace And brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, "Your God reigns!" (Isaiah 52:7)
Both Isaiah and Ezekiel tell us that this good news would be a covenant of peace:
- "For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, But My loving kindness will not be removed from you, And My covenant of peace will not be shaken," Says the LORD who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:10)
- "And I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. (Ezekiel 37:26)
The prophet Micah foretold that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. This would not be an ordinary ruler, but one "from the days of eternity." Micah goes on to say that He would shepherd the flock of Israel and "this one will be our peace."
The New Testament explains that the peace promised by the prophets is peace with God:
- "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased." (Luke 2:14)
- Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (Romans 5:1)
This peace was provided through the justification provided by the "guilt offering" sacrifice of the Messiah, as predicted by the prophet Isaiah:
But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:10-12)
Jesus explained that He came to provide the means to obtain personal peace with God through Him…
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|Recommended Resources: The Apologetics of Jesus: A Caring Approach to Dealing with Doubters | Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus|