The Peace of Jerusalem
In May of every year, the State of Israel celebrates its birthday as an independent nation. Its declaration of independence stated its desire for peace with its neighbors, but since May 14, 1948, it has experienced years of continual conflict. Iran's leader said this week that the nations around Israel would destroy it if given the "smallest and briefest chance." Threats like this are nothing new; the various factious groups in those nations threaten its existence almost daily.
But God will protect Israel. The Bible predicts that God Himself will go to battle for Israel in the end against the nations that oppose it. And Jerusalem, the center of God's prophetic and salvation program for the world, is where Jesus Christ will reign when He returns.
Jerusalem means "city of peace." When you go to that city, you're always greeted with "shalom," which means "peace." At this point it's a prayer, but one day it will be a reality. After His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the disciples expected Jesus to set up His kingdom immediately and to reign as the Prince of Peace, as He is called in Isaiah 9:6. But that event didn't happen, and we're still waiting for it. And every time some disturbing news comes from the Middle East we ask, "When will there be peace?"
I want you to know that there can be peace now -- but that peace is inside of us. The Bible says that peace is not the absence of conflict on the outside. It is the presence of Christ on the inside. When Jesus was born, the angels announced, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests" (Luke 2:14). You can have peace in the midst of conflict because 2,000 years ago the Prince of Peace came to take away sin and to bring peace inside. He will eventually come again to take away sorrow and to bring peace outside.
God willing, there will be peace for the nation of Israel. We are instructed to pray for it. The Bible says, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May they prosper that love thee" (see Psalm 122). But we should remember that peace in that area is only temporary.
I always have a two-fold response when I hear troubling news from Israel: One is "Oh, no!" The other one is "All right!" Because I know where this is going to lead. And so we should be calm, whatever happens. The real peace of Jerusalem is near, because the coming the Prince of Peace is near.