Study 8 THE PROMISE OF PEACE IN THE MIDST OF STORM
GREAT PROMISES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
by Francis Dixon
(Key verse: Isaiah 26:3)
This promise was given by God in the darkest period of Israel’s history, yet it will be a great help to us now when we are surrounded by much gloom and depression, constantly threatened with the three enemies of doubt, fear and worry. When all is going well it’s easy to read a promise like this in a superficial way, but when disappointment and trial comes these words become precious. There is no promise in the Bible to suggest that here on earth we shall ever experience freedom from trouble, war, trial, temptation, anguish, loss etc., but something far better is promised: it is the promise of perfect peace in the midst of all these. Of what value would freedom from these troubles be if we had no inward peace? Yet it’s possible in the fiercest battle for the trusting soul to experience a deep-down calm, an inward peace and a quiet confidence - look up Isaiah 30:15. Do you long to experience perfect peace?
1. NOTICE WHAT THIS BLESSING IS THAT IS OFFERED TO US
It is described as “perfect peace”, but can we define that? Yes, it is a condition of freedom from disturbance; it is perfect harmony reigning within us. The Hebrew word ‘shalom’ has in it the idea of soundness of health, so that to be filled with perfect peace is to be spiritually healthy and free from discord within our souls. There can be no room for jealousy, envy, uncontrolled temper, selfishness, pride, intolerance, harsh criticism, fear or anxiety in the soul that is filled with peace; all these things are disturbing factors in our hearts and discordant notes. The peace which God offers and which by His grace we may experience is very practical. It is a great calm which He commands (Mark 4:39). God calls His peace “perfect peace”. In what sense is it perfect?
- 1. It is perfect in its quality. That is to say, it is perfect in the kind of peace it is. There is an imperfect peace; there is the imperfect peace of ignorance when we imagine that all is going well, whereas in fact all is not well (Jeremiah 6:14). There is the imperfect peace of stagnation. The pool of water may be calm and peaceful but underneath it is foul and green with slime. Many men and women know only a peace like that, and one day the shock of God’s judgment will stir up their pool and they will find that they have no real peace at all (Isaiah 57:14). Then there is the imperfect peace of dependence, which is a peace dependent upon some thing or some person in this world. The ‘thing’ may fail, the person may die - and where then is their peace? In contrast, God’s peace is perfect.
- 2. It is perfect in its quantity. That is to say, the supply of it is sufficient and it exactly meets our need. The marginal rendering of “perfect peace” is “peace, peace” - that is double peace. Notice the significance of this in Philippians 4:7 where we read that this double peace is the peace of heart and of mind; and that is the kind of peace we need, a peace that garrisons our mind and calms our heart. It is also double peace in the sense that it is peace with God (Romans 5:1) and the peace of God (Philippians 4:7), and we can never know the peace of God until we know peace with God.
- 3. It is perfect in its constancy. It is permanent and not intermittent. The promise says, ”You will keep…” - compare Psalm 121:4.
2. HOW DOES THIS PERFECT PEACE COME TO US?
- 1. By Christ Jesus. In Philippians 4:7 we read that the Lord Jesus Christ is the source from whom God’s peace flows into our souls. It is the possession of the Christian alone; there is no peace for anyone who does not possess Christ and who is not resting on the finished work of Christ for salvation, thereby “making peace through his blood, shed on the cross”. Read Colossians 1:19-20.
- 2. By the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus Christ procured peace on the Cross of Calvary and it is offered to us by Him as the source; but it is conveyed to our hearts and minds by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). As the Holy Spirit fills and floods our lives, so He produces this fruit within us.
- 3. By His Word. Have you ever noticed the great promise made in Psalm 119:165? A better rendering of ’stumble’ is ‘disturb’. How often things and people disturb us! But here is a promise of perfect peace to those people who love, meditate in and obey the Word of God.
- 4. By our obedience. Please look up Leviticus 26:3-6 and be sure to notice that the most important word here is the word ‘If’. God guarantees to us that if we will do our part He will surely do His part.
- 5. By plenty of prayer and praise. Notice that the promise of Philippians 4:7 is preceded by the conditions mentioned in verse 6.
3. TWO CONDITIONS MUST BE MET IF WE WOULD EXPERIENCE PERFECT PEACE
Who will God keep in perfect peace? The one “whose mind is steadfast” and the one who “trusts”. Both these expressions denote faith but one is a head word and the other is a heart word. What is the difference? With the head we believe that God is the author and giver of peace and that He is able and willing to give it; and with the heart we trust Him to do it, so receive it by faith.
Isaiah 26:3 begins with God and ends with God; it begins with “you” and ends with “you”, and the trusting soul goes in between. Perfect peace is the Lord Himself within us - not an experience, a doctrine, an ’it’, a code of belief - but the Lord Himself!