WHAT DOES PEACE look like to you? What does peace sound like? I’m sure everyone pictures something different, but I’m sure we can all agree that it’s something to look forward to. You won’t be surprised to know that the Bible has a lot to say about peace. Ultimately, it’s what the Bible promises for the whole earth.
Sadly though, we live in a world which knows no peace on many different levels: personal, local, national and international. Again, the Bible promises solutions for all those things. In this article we’re going to consider ‘inner peace’ and ‘world peace’. How might our knowledge and understanding of the Bible help us with our inner peace, and how might the promises of the Bible give us hope for future world peace?
The economy of the developed world relies largely on dissatisfaction, and the idea that we should always be looking for (and ideally buying) the next big thing. Whether it’s a kitchen utensil, a new pair of trainers, or a new self-help book or gym membership—there’s always the next thing to have. How can we have peace within when this is the world around us? How can we find peace and happiness now, when this is what we are exposed to on the radio, TV or social media? Social media particularly has lots to answer for when it comes to our inner peace, with influencers sharing their ‘perfect’ bodies or their idealised family lives. Things seem hopeless from that point of view!
What might be the answer to this? While we can’t say that a belief in God and a life following the example of Jesus is going to solve all these problems, we can find comfort in our lives now from what we read in the Bible. Peace in the Bible is often put alongside ‘righteousness’, the idea of being right in God’s sight. How different this sounds from the world around us now. Looking forward to a time in the future, the prophet Isaiah was moved to write that ‘the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust for ever’ (Isaiah 32:17). This is something we can try to live up to in our lives now to help us with our inner peace, in spite of what others around us might be chasing after.
Something the Bible encourages us to do, which will help us find ‘inner peace’, is to change our perspective from looking for the next new thing, to looking forward to the coming Kingdom of God. Jesus teaches that we should not worry about our lives and possessions now. In Matthew 6:31 we read, “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’” Instead Jesus tells us to look only for the Kingdom of God. If this becomes our focus, our worries and concerns about today or tomorrow can begin to drift away.
Throughout the Bible there are examples of those who rejected the riches that were on offer to them, instead throwing their cares upon God. We’re told that Moses ‘considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward’ (Hebrews 11:26). The change of focus from the here and now to the things of God can enable us to find inner peace today.
Having considered the idea of inner peace, what about peace on a global scale?
Some parts of the world have enjoyed a sustained period of peace for many years following the Second World War, and many have known the threat of war. However, there are many conflicts in progress across the globe—some of them we hear about in our newsfeeds, others we don’t. The idea of lasting world peace is a foreign concept, even for those who enjoy peace at home.
The Bible’s promise is for war and conflict to cease, for there to be lasting world peace. The Bible makes reference to this promise many times, and of course it is the hope of the Christian. As God created a paradise in the Garden of Eden way back in the beginning, as recorded in the first chapters of Genesis, so He will make the earth like this again. In the prophecy of Isaiah, God describes the wilderness becoming like Eden—a paradise, a place of real and lasting peace (51:3). Isaiah is full of pictures of peace. In chapter 2 we see there is going to be a wonderful change in the earth when Jesus is king. We’re told in Isaiah 2:4 that Jesus will ‘judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more’. This will be the time when there is true and lasting peace. When Jesus will rule as king with love and integrity from Jerusalem, and the nations of the earth will be interested in ensuring their people have enough to eat, rather than worrying about weapons and warfare.
We might be able to think of times of peace and prosperity which have existed on the earth before. However, any time of peace has ultimately come to an end. The Bible records one of those times, during the reign of King Solomon. As a wise and faithful king, he was able to rule over the nation of Israel, making peace with the nations around him, and making sure his subjects were able to benefit from this peace. In 1 Kings chapter 4, we read of the great abundance that there was during the reign of Solomon and of how people came from all around to hear what he had to say. And what of his subjects during his reign? Their happy existence is described in verse 25 of 1 Kings 4: ‘And Judah and Israel lived in safety, from Dan even to Beersheba, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, all the days of Solomon.’ This idea of being under a vine and fig tree describes peace and prosperity. No need to worry about attack, or of shortage of food. Those things will be in the past.
Of course, in the time of Solomon it came to an end, just like all periods of peace have done. But there is a time of everlasting peace to come, when people will again sit under their vine and fig tree. We’re told this in Micah 4:4: ‘They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.’
The Bible assures us that this time is coming, so we can be certain of it. While the world around is uncertain, and weapons of war are proliferating, we can have the quiet assurance that these things won’t last for ever, and the peace promised by God will become a reality in the earth.
Peace On Earth
We have seen then, that the Bible promises peace. A lasting peace for all the earth. Leading this peace will be Jesus as he rules with justice and integrity from Jerusalem, and his subjects will enjoy lives of unprecedented peace.
To conclude I want to share two lovely pictures of this peace to come, firstly from the Psalms: ‘Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other’ (Psalm 85:10). And finally to Revelation, looking forward to a time of inner peace, as well as global peace: ‘He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away’ (Revelation 21:4).
We began with the question, can there be true peace? The answer is of course, yes, and this can give us comfort and confidence now, as well as a sure hope for the future.