Thursday, December 7, 2017:
His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom.
Isaiah 9: 7
The context of this passage is likely Assyria and its looming threat over Judah (or the southern kingdom of Israel). Isaiah’s prophecy is relevant in its own time, as well as in ours because of our Gospel lens. In Isaiah’s time, this “prince” of peace might be Hezekiah who is young and will soon sit on the throne of David. He will avert disaster with Assyria by ruling differently than his predecessors, emphasizing peace and using creative means of resistance to survive an attack (and archeologists confirm this is historically accurate).*
To survive the attack, Hezekiah ordered an underground tunnel for fresh water be constructed, a significant undertaking, and a description matching that of the Siloam Tunnel. Some archeologists have dated this tunnel to the time of King Hezekiah, and an inscription can be found to this day commemorating the meeting of tunnel diggers who were digging from two different ends of Jerusalem’s wall.
What’s peace got to do with it? The story of Hezekiah is one example of a ruler who trusts in God’s provision, clears Jerusalem of idolatry, tries to avert violence and war by skillful negotiation, and uses his God-given abilities for creative resistance against destructive forces—this is a glimpse of peace at work.
For Christians, we see this prophecy of Isaiah as one that also points to a future Prince of Peace, who shows us how to trust in God’s provision, to rid ourselves of idols and worship the one true God, who calls relentlessly for peace, who creatively mocks political and religious leaders as He reorients them to God. Jesus calls peacemakers blessed, and He himself makes peace between God and ourselves through the cross. That is Good News!
Prayer: Lord, I surrender my anxiety, fear, shame, guilt, pride, greed, and bitterness; help me trust that you will provide, that I don’t have to fight the world to get the love I need. Lord, I give up the idols of my heart—my career, my money, my children, my need for approval—and give my life over to you. Help me to forgive friends, enemies, family, and even you, embracing the forgiveness offered in Jesus Christ. I pray for peace in our war-torn world. I pray for reconciliation amongst nations, races, classes, and genders. Empower us, by your Spirit, to creatively resist the work of sin by celebrating and em-bodying the gift of grace. In Christ’s name, Amen!
Creative Call-to-Action: How do we make way for peace, participate in peace, live in peace? Take 5 minutes today and write down the people, places and things you need to make peace with. Simply write them and pray over them, surrendering it to God. Then display this list prominently.
—Rev. Edwin Estevez
*I am greatly indebted to Dr. Brennan Breed at Columbia Seminary for these insights.