TODAY’S READING: ISAIAH 47-49
In John 14:27, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.”
Jesus has a way of giving peace. The world has a way of giving peace. The two are not the same. The peace that Jesus leaves and gives is not the same as the peace of the world.
The world attempts to bring peace through war, violence, and the power of ruling over others. This false and temporary peace is brought about by forced subjection and fear.
Jesus said his peace that he is giving is not like that. So, what is it like?
Isaiah 48:14 says, “Assemble, all of you, and listen! Who among them has declared these things? The Lord loves him; he shall perform his purpose on Babylon, and his arm shall be against the Chaldeans.”
God is calling all people together to listen to him. He asks those who gather to answer the question “who has declared these things?”
God had declared that Cyrus, the pagan king of Medo-Persian empire, would deliver Israel from its exile in Babylon. God is asking what idols or which wise men and astrologers told you this.
On the surface, this passage is about Cyrus. But, is Cyrus truly the one the Lord loves? Is Cyrus truly the one performs God’s purpose?
Beneath the surface, “The Lord loves him” is actually speaking of Jesus. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, when Jesus is baptized and the Holy Spirit rests upon him, the Father speaks from heaven and says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Jesus is the one the Lord loves.
Therefore, in Isaiah 48:15, the Father says of Jesus, “I, even I, have spoken and called him; I have brought him, and he will prosper in his way.”
I believe that the speaker shifts in verse 16. This is clear in many translations as Isaiah 48:14-16 are in quotation marks, giving the impression that this is all one speaker, the Father. And, the last part of verse 16 – “And now the Lord God has sent me, and his Spirit” – is not in the quotation. Therefore, it is supposedly Isaiah saying that he has been sent by God.
Isaiah 48:16 says, “Draw near to me, hear this: from the beginning I have not spoken in secret, from the time it came to be I have been there. And now the Lord God has sent me, and his Spirit.”
I believe this verse is speaking directly of Jesus.
In Matthew 3, Jesus was baptized and the Spirit fell upon him. At this time, Jesus was sent by God and the Spirit. After Jesus’ encounter in the wilderness with Satan, Matthew 4:17 says, “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'”
Then, Matthew 5:1-2 says, “Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying.” Crowds have drawn near to Jesus to hear him. Here, from the very beginning, Jesus is not speaking in secret.
And, what is Jesus speaking?
Well, many things. But, here are some key things related to peace that Jesus spoke clearly from the beginning in the sermon on the mount.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God…You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil…You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 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.”
From the beginning, Jesus spoke clearly that his people were to be about making peace. And, they would make peace by loving their enemies, praying for the enemies, blessing their enemies. Those who make peace in this way are the sons of the Father in heaven.
In Isaiah 48:18, the redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, who is Jesus, says, “Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river.”
Jesus is saying, “If only you have listened to my commandments to make peace by loving, praying for, and blessing your enemies.”
This makes me think of Jesus’ lament in Matthew 23:37 where he says, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”
Jesus drew near the crowds to hear his commandments, his laws of love, by which he would leave and give his peace. He pleaded for the people to listen. But, they weren’t willing. And, because they weren’t willing to follow his way of peace, Jesus prophesied about the destruction of Jerusalem. Not that Jesus was going to cause this destruction, but the destruction would come because Jerusalem would attempt to have peace according to the world’s way of peace – violence, war, and power.
But, Isaiah 48:22 says, “‘There is no peace,’ says the Lord, ‘for the wicked.'”
The wicked are those do not follow the commands of Jesus to love their enemies. This is how God loves. This is how Jesus loves. And, it is how his disciples are to love.
When we love our enemies, we draw near to Jesus and have peace. But, there is no peace for those who aren’t willing to draw near and listen to Jesus.