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Barukh Shalom: An Advent Outcome

by +Rt. Rev. Dr. Vince McLaughlin, Th.D., D.Litt., Ph.D,


What does peace look like? Can you have peace in the midst of conflict and turmoil? Can there

be peace in the midst of war? The common western definition of peace is the absence of conflict

or war.

Before we look at this concept of “Barukh Shalom” (Heb. for Blessed Peace), it is important to

look at the two keys words used in Holy Scripture for the word ‘peace.’ The Hebrew word for

peace is ‘shalom.’ “Shalom” is taken from the root word shalam, which means, “to be safe in

mind, body, or estate.” It speaks of completeness, fullness, or a type of wholeness that

encourages you to give back — to generously re-pay something in some way.

True biblical shalom refers to an inward sense of completeness or wholeness. Although it can

describe the absence of war, a majority of biblical references refer to an inner completeness and

tranquility as a result of having harmony with the Almighty God.

In fact, a common greeting In Israel today, when you greet someone or say goodbye, you say,

Barukh Shalom. You are literally saying, “May you be full of well-being or, may health and

prosperity be upon you as a result of being in harmony with HaShem (YHWH).”

In Greek, the word for peace is eirene from the stem eirō with a meaning to join, tie together into

a whole, to attach in an inseparable manner. It conveys the idea of a wholeness, that is, when all

essential parts are joined together in an inseparable unity or union with God.

Now in Philippians 4:7 we see that “the peace of God transcends all understanding.” Most of St.

Paul’s letters began with the words “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the

Adonai Yeshua the Christ.” God’s peace is a state of tranquility or quietness of spirit that

transcends circumstances. The term peace is described in Scripture as a gift from God and

congruent with His character (1 Thessalonians 5:23; Galatians 6:16; 1 Peter 1:2; Hebrews 13:20).

The Holy Scriptures are clear that God is peace, then to know God is to bask in His peace. The

closer we draw to Him, the more of His peace we can enjoy according to James 4:8.

God gives us clear instructions about how to draw near to Him. Psalm 24:3–4 says, “Who may

ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean

hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.” But Scripture

(i.e., Romans 3:10.23) is also clear that we cannot make ourselves clean enough or pure enough

to earn the presence of the Lord. So how do we draw near enough to experience His peace?

Yeshua said, “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). We come into the

presence of the Lord through His Son (John 14:6). When we allow Yeshua’s death and

resurrection to purchase our forgiveness from God, we are counted as righteous (2 Corinthians

5:21). Our sins are forgiven because Yeshua already paid the price for them. Only then can we

have peace or the harmony of union with God (Romans 4:5; 5:1; 1 John 4:10).

The initial peace that comes from having our consciences wiped clean grows as we get to know

God better in an experiential attachment to Him (Hebrews 10:22). 2 Peter 1:2 says, “May God

give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our

Lord” (NLT). When we grow in understanding of the depths and riches of God’s incredible love

toward us (Ephesians 3:18–19; Romans 8:38–39), our minds and spirits begin to rest in His

power and wisdom. We begin to understand that He really will make all things work together for

our good (Romans 8:28). We learn that His purposes will be accomplished (Psalm 33:11;

Proverbs 19:21; Isaiah 45:9; 46:9–11).

As student of His Holy Scriptures, I have always been intrigued with the difference in the New

Testament between the "peace with God," and the "peace of God"? To me, one is like stone, and

the other is like the ocean. One deals with justification, while the other deals with sanctification

in this glorious theological expression of theosis.

The Apostle Paul explained in Romans 5:1 & 2 "our position" as Christians and "our standing" in

Christ: "Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Adonai

Yeshua the Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now

stand."

In other words, the relationship has been established. It is solid. We don't move in and out of it

depending upon how closely we walk with the Lord hour by hour. The connection is rooted in

Christ and therefore constant, just like a child's relationship in the family. Even at those times

when the child is misbehaving, the relationship between parent and child is still locked in place.

It is set in stone. Praise God for that reality.

Now compare that permanent reality to water at a beach. At times, the water is fairly calm. At

other times, waves pound the shoreline. There is an ebb and flow as waves are created by the

friction between wind and the water on the surface. Things can change dramatically from hour to

hour.

This is similar to the way a Christian experiences the "peace of God." Sometimes a believer's

heart is calm, while at other times it feels like an ocean is churning inside of you.

St. Paul addressed this spiritual dynamic when he wrote, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it

again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about

anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to

God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your

minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:4-7)

God's blessed peace is felt by His children. It is experienced. Unlike our "peace with God"

through faith, this "peace of God" is something that may seem to fluctuate, especially when our

personal behavior is erratic. In other words, the more we rejoice, pray, trust, obey, give thanks,

and present various requests to God, the more the "peace of God" seems to fill our soul. There is

a strong correlation between our choices and our peace, or lack thereof. Sometimes our heart is

tranquil. At other times, our emotions are tossing and turning.

This doesn't mean that all of our anxiety is the result of something "we didn't do right."

Sometimes anxiety can rush into our heart even though we have been praying and trusting. As

you know, life has a way of throwing us quite a few curve balls. Challenges come our way all the

time. And we are still human as we are being perfected into the Image and Likeness of Yeshua.

We are prone to getting upset and bothered. We tend to worry and fret over many things. And

yet, God's promise about the "peace of God" remains very much intact for all of His children. It

is always available as a result of our purposeful choice in response to whatever.

Our responsibility as His child in this regard is clear: Rejoice always; be gentle; don't be anxious;

pray; give thanks; and present your requests to God. When we put these things into practice, we

usually experience much more peace in our heart.

While all of these feelings are fluctuating, our relationship with our Father God remains intact. It

doesn't change. We are in His family through faith in Christ, and are therefore at "peace with

God." What a blessing it is to know that our eternity in heaven is secure even when the waves of

pressure and stress are washing ashore in our heart.

A Christian life without angst isn't easy, and it isn't natural. It is natural to worry, and complain,

and try to solve everything ourselves. The life of discipleship, however, is a supernatural

experience empowered by the Indwelling Holy Spirit. It is also one of reliance upon God in all

things. And this practice isn't learned over night. In fact, I think most of us who are His children

fully recognize that we are still a work in progress.

So as a child of God, His beloved, take tremendous comfort in the fact that you have peace "with

God." And then do those things hour by hour that help to facilitate the peace "of God" in your

heart. By doing so, you will enjoy your Christian life much more than when you are worrying

about the details of which in reality you have no real control over anyway. Each one of us is

guilty of worry at times, but we can learn how to bring our anxiety to the Lord in prayer.

Christ is the author of peace with God, which leads to the peace of God. One is like stone, and

the other is like the ocean. And you can have both if you really want them.

One last wee thought: Trust & peace go hand in hand. Trust means we have set our hearts to

believe God, whatever may happen. When we insist on being in control, we sabotage God’s

desire to let us live in peace. When we choose worry rather than faith, we cannot live in peace.

Yeshua warned us often about fear and worry (Matthew 6:34; Luke 12:29; Philippians 4:6).

Worry is the enemy of peace. God invites us to cast our cares upon Him and then let go of them

(1 Peter 5:7).

In closing, remember the angelic Advent Proclamation, “Glory to God in the highest, and on

earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.” As a result of His First Advent, we have

Barukh Shalom with the Almighty God in Christ.



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