μακάριοι οἱ εἰρηνοποιοί, ὅτι αὐτοὶ υἱοὶ Θεοῦ κληθήσονται.
A sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS, 27 March 2011
English Scripture quotes are from the NASB translation.
Last week we looked at being “pure,” and this week,
we look at “making peace.”
This follows the list in James 3:17 “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.”
· “The blessed ones are pure toward God, and peaceable toward men; for with reference to both, conscience must be kept void of offence” (Matthew Henry)
· “Not between God and man, for no man can make his own peace with God; nor can any mere creature, angels, or men, make it for him; Christ, in this sense, is the only peace maker: but between men and men” (John Gill)
· Peacemaking is appropriately the seventh and last of the characteristics of people who are blessed.
· Story of Yemeni driver making peace with the shepherds who were offended by my taking a picture of their women at the well: About 12 years ago, I was travelling as a tourist through the country of Yemen. We landed at the airport in the big city of Sana’a, which had a population of over a million souls. After several days in Sana’a, we hired a taxi to drive us to the other side of the country, and I tried to capture some of the beautiful scenery along the way with my camera. At one point, we were driving through a rural area and I saw a group of women standing around a well about two hundred yards off the highway. Their clothes were very colorful, so I told the driver I wanted to try to take a picture. In the big city, we seldom saw any women – they mostly stayed indoors, and when they did venture out, they wore drab black cloth coverings from head to toe, so this was going to be a great picture. The driver stopped the car and got out and opened the door for me. As I stepped out, I realized this was a mistake. The women started panicking and running away screaming, so I decided not to take the picture, and I jumped back in the car. Well, by the time the driver had gotten into the car and re-started it, here comes the husbands of those women from over the top of the hill where they had been herding their sheep. These men were running toward our car with rocks and clubs in their hands, and they looked angry! Just as they were about to drag us out of the car and beat us up, our taxi driver spoke up: “No, no, please don’t do this! We have done no harm to your women. Your women have acted honorably. I have a guest in my car from a country far away and I am showing him the beauty of our country. He wanted to take a photograph, but I told him not to and so he didn’t even take one picture. Please help me treat our foreign guest honorably – he just didn’t know any better.” Actually, he was talking fast in Arabic and that’s just what I imagine he said. Whatever it was that he said, I saw the faces of the shepherds soften, and they backed off and slapped the back of our car as we sped away. That taxi driver in Yemen is one peacemaker I’m mighty thankful for!
· As I think of the Jesus’ example of peacemaking, the image of The Good Shepherd comes to mind. In John 10:14-16, He said, “I am the good shepherd… I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.” Like a shepherd who lays his life on the line to protect his sheep and gather them all together in safety, Jesus “came to seek and save that which was lost.” He laid down His life to pay the price for our rebellion and let God pour out all His anger on Him, then sent God’s spirit to His people and led us to God. As our Good Shepherd, Jesus truly is our peacemaker, who “leads us beside still waters and restores our soul” (Psalm 23). Then He tells us, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”
· O.T. Hebrew roots - TWOT on Peace:
o The general meaning behind the root sh-l-m is of completion and fulfillment – of entering into a state of wholeness and unity, a restored relationship…
o [The different spellings include] the concept of peace being restored through payment (of tribute to a conqueror, Josh 10:1), restitution (to one wronged, Ex 21:36), or simple payment and completion (of a business transaction, II Kgs 4:7). The payment of a vow (Ps 50:14) completes an agreement so that both parties are in a state of shalom…
o Shalom, and its related words… are among the most important theological words in the OT. Shalom occurs over 250 times... The LXX uses various members of the sozo [save], eirene [peace], and teleios [complete] word groups to translate shalom…
o Shalom means "absence of strife" in… fifty to sixty usages; e.g. I Kgs 4:25, reflects the safety of the nation in the peaceful days of Solomon when the land and its neighbors had been subdued. "Peace," in this case, means much more than mere absence of war... Completeness, wholeness, harmony, fulfillment, are closer to the meaning. Implicit in shalom is the idea of unimpaired relationships with others and fulfillment in one's undertakings.
o About twenty-five times in the OT, shalom is used as a greeting or farewell (Jud 19:20; I Sam 25:6, 35)… Note the cognate Arabic salaam.
o Shalom is the result of God's activity in covenant (b'rit), and is the result of righteousness (Isa 32:17). In nearly two-thirds of its occurrences, shalom describes the state of fulfillment which is the result of God's presence. This is specifically indicated in those references to the "covenant of peace" (berit shalom, Num 25:12; Isa 54:10; Ezk 34:25; Mai 2:5) with his chosen representatives, the Aaronic priests and the Davidic monarchs. The peace that marks the conclusion of an agreement between adversaries (Isaac and Abimelech, Gen 26:29), business partners (Solomon and Hiram, I Kgs 5:12 [H 26]), and man and God (Abraham, Gen 15:15) is couched in terms of covenant agreement.
o This sort of peace has its source in God. He is the one who will speak shalom to his people (Ps 85:8 [H 9])… The classic statement of this concept is the Aaronic benediction (Num 6:24-26) which identifies the man to whom God has given shalom as the one who is blessed (barak), guarded (shamar), and treated graciously (chanan), by Yahweh...
o There is also a strong eschatological element present in the meaning of shalom. Messiah, "David's greater son," is specifically identified as the Prince of Peace (sar shalom) — the one who brings fulfillment and righteousness to the earth.
o Paul (Eph 2:14) links these themes in his identification of Christ as our peace. He is the messianic prince who brings wholeness, but he is also God's last word — the "concluding sacrifice" that brings redemption to mankind.
· This N.T. word - εἰρηνοποιοί - peacemakers
o Compound word in Greek (eirene=peace + poiew=making) just as it is in the English translations “peace-makers”
o The word for peace is itself a compound word (εις=into + ἑν=one), “connecting into one: for as War distracts and divides nations, families, and individuals, from each other, inducing them to pursue different objects and different interests, so Peace restores them to a state of unity, giving them one object, and one interest.” (Adam Clarke)
This noun (peace-makers) is a Hapex Legomenon;
also appears as a verb in only one place in the Bible (unless
you count the LXX’s misguided translation of Prov 10:10, but I don’t want to
get into that):
Col 1:19-20 “For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him [Jesus], and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross...”
Once again, we see the character qualities Jesus calls out in His followers are His characteristics to begin with. He Himself was a peacemaker, and He calls us to be peacemakers.
· Related to the verb eireneuw, which occurs 11x in the Greek Bible
o Indicating political peace with surrounding nations either through conquest or through treaty
§ 1Ki 22:44 “Jehoshaphat made peace with the king of Israel,”
§ 2Chr. 14:5-6 King Asa “removed the high places and the incense altars from all the cities of Judah. And the kingdom was undisturbed under him… and there was no one at war with him during those years, because the LORD had given him rest,”
§ 2Chr 20:30 “Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God gave him rest on all sides.”
o Indicating peace with God in the book of Job:
§ Job 3:26 not at ease (ASV, ESV, NAS) not in safety (KJV) have no peace (NIV) context: Job wishes he was dead, "the thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me, I am not at ease...but trouble comes"
§ Job 5:23-24 at peace (ASV, ESV, KJV, NAS, NIV) v. 24 at peace (ASV, ESV) in peace (KJV) is secure (NIV, NAS) context: Eliphaz says that Job is blessed to be reproved by God and that after judgment, God would heal him. "the beasts of the field shall be at peace with you, you shall know that your tent is at peace”
§ Job 15:21 in prosperity (ASV, ESV, KJV) seems well (NIV) at peace (NAS) context: Eliphaz explains the fate of wicked: "in prosperity the destroyer will come upon him"
§ Job 16:12 I was at ease (ASV, ESV, KJV, NAS) all was well with me (NIV) context: Job describes his condition when God's testing fell on him
o And indicating interpersonal peace in the New Testament:
§ Between Christians of different denominations: Mark 9:50b "…Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another." [Context: Jesus’ disciples trying to stop another believer from praying because that believer didn’t associate with them.]
§ Between Christians and their persecutors: Rom 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. [Don’t take vengeance on enemies.]
§ 2Cor 13:11 Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. [Regarding other people in your church congregation.]
§ 1Thess 5:13 and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. [Regarding those in church authority.]
· This is not merely avoiding conflict but actively bringing reconciliation and peace where strife exists.
Matthew Henry - The peace-makers are those
who … preserve the peace that it be not broken, and to recover it
when it is broken; to hearken to proposals of peace ourselves, and to be
ready to make them to others; where distance is among brethren and neighbours,
to do all we can to accommodate it, and to be repairers of the breaches.
The making of peace is sometimes a thankless office, and it is the lot of him who parts a fray, to have blows on both sides; yet it is a good office, and we must be forward to it.
Since God has declared himself reconcilable to us all, he will not own those for his children who are implacable in their enmity to one another; for if the peacemakers are blessed, woe to the peace-breakers! Now by this it appears, that Christ never intended to have his religion propagated by fire and sword, or penal laws, or to acknowledge bigotry, or intemperate zeal, as the mark of his disciples.
o Adam Clarke - But whose children are they who foment divisions in the Church, the state, or among families? Surely they are not of that God, who is the Father of peace, and lover of concord; of that Christ, who is the sacrifice and mediator of it; of that Spirit, who is the nourisher and bond of peace; nor of that Church of the Most High, which is the kingdom and family of peace.
· SUMMARY: William Hendriksen – “True peacemakers are those 1) whose Leader is the God of peace… and pattern their laves after the Prince of Peace… 2) who aspire after peace with all men, 3) [and who] proclaim the Gospel of peace…”
The future tense “they will be called sons of God” does not mean they can’t also be children of God in the present.
1Jn 3:1 “See how great a love the Father has
bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are…”
– Even here, there is both present “such we are” and future “that we might be called”
“…will be called the sons of God” just looks out to the future point in the last day when God himself will publicly declare us to be his beloved children (Rom. 8:23; 1 John 3:2)
Our blessing is viewed from 3 perspectives in scripture – 3 points in the circle. These three perspectives are not mutually exclusive but rather, in context, are inclusive of the two others. The word “for” can be:
· This forms a continuous circle. God pours His blessing out upon His people and they are blessed. As blessed people they live out the characteristics of blessing in the midst of an imperfect world and demonstrate their relationship to God as His blessed people. Then at the fulfillment of time, God’s people will be formally recognized and completed in glory and blessing.
· It’s like someone who is an “A student.” Do you say they are an A-student:
A. because they have the inner character and intelligence to make all A’s?
B. because they actually answer all the questions right whenever they take a test?
C. or because they got an A on their report card?
Obviously, all three go together. If they are an A-student, they have to have it inside themselves to begin with, they have to perform it in their tests, and the teachers will recognize it on their report card. It all goes together, even though it can be compartmentalized into different points of time.
· So it is with peacemakers. God must make peace for us by the blood of Christ shed for us and give us His spirit of peace so we can have peace in ourselves, and if we have that in ourselves, we will necessarily demonstrate peacemaking in our daily life, and then when Jesus comes back for us, He will certainly recognize us as His children.
This beatitude indicates that the work of making peace is the work of God and His family. William Hendriksen put it this way, “…by their promotion of peace, they have entered into the very sphere of their Father’s own activity. They are his co-workers. By their trustful attitude and many good works, performed out of gratitude and to the glory of God, they have become their Lord’s agents who are everywhere engaged in the business of crowding the evil out of human hearts by filling them with all that is good and noble (Rom 12:21; Phil. 4:8-9). They are, as it were, God’s own ‘peace corps.’”
Mat 5:44-45 "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. [If God shows common grace to both the righteous and unrighteous, then His children will do the same by loving their enemies as well as their friends.]
1. Are you pure in heart? First repent of sins and grasp God’s forgiveness through Christ Jesus. Only then can you can be a peace-maker.
2. Cultivate a love for peace: “A peaceable disposition… ‘I am for peace,’ (Ps. 120:7). It is to love, and desire, and delight in peace; to be put in it as in our element, and to study to be quiet.” (Matthew Henry)
3. Are there any relationships you need to restore? - where you are not at peace with someone else? or where two acquaintances are not at peace with each other?
§ with Christians of different denominations: Mark 9:50b "…Have salt in yourselves"
§ with enemies/persecutors: Rom 12:18
§ Regarding other people in your church congregation .2Cor 13:11
§ Regarding those in church authority.1Thess 5:13 “esteem them very highly in love because of their work”
4. Embrace God’s calling in the past to be His child as well as the hope that He will call you His child on the last day, and live according to His character in the present as a peace-maker.
5. Grow into the family business by loving God, holding fast to His word, practicing righteousness, and seeking peace with all men.
§ “The peace-receivers become transformed into peace-diffusers. God is thus seen reflected in them; and by the family likeness these peacemakers are recognized as the children of God. God will own them as such, and herein they will resemble him. He is the God of peace; the Son of God is the Prince of peace; the Spirit of adoption is a Spirit of peace.” (Matthew Henry)