Practice makes perfect

The theme of “peace on earth” is a common one every year as we move through the Christmas season. But, as the excitement of the holiday season fades and the bright lights of December give way to the gray winter days of January, talk about peace tends to fade. We’re left with resolutions that may or may not stick. We look to the new year with determination. But peace? That’s old news, tucked away with the ornaments and trees and lights, waiting to come out again next Christmas. Or is it?

I was recently reminded of the story of Elisha and his servant in 2 Kings 6. The king of Aram was angry. Every time he set up a new campaign against the king of Israel, Elisha was there, exposing the plan and protecting the Israelite army from defeat. So, the king of Aram decided to do something about this inconvenient prophet; he sent his army to Dothan to capture Elisha. Elisha’s servant got up that morning and, seeing the army, ran back to Elisha with the terrifying report that they were surrounded. Elisha’s calm response was to pray that his servant would see what he did: an angelic army in chariots of fire, one vastly greater than Aram’s army.

When we picture the angelic hosts in Luke 2, we don’t necessarily see them the same way that we see the fiery chariots of 2 Kings 6. But maybe we should! His hosts – His army – declares the arrival of the King, either for conquering or for peace. Throughout the Old Testament, we see the former as God fights on behalf of His people – or against them, as the case may be. But in Luke 2, they come for a different purpose. They come to declare perfect peace through the arrival of the newborn King. Instead of arriving to implement God’s judgment, this army comes to invite mankind into the presence of God Himself, without fear of destruction because of our sin. This army is no less intimidating and terrifying than the army depicted in 2 Kings. But, the message is far more incredible than mere protection from an earthly king.

The promise of peace on earth is not the promise of no conflict among family members, in our nation, or between governments. The promise of peace on earth is one that pours over those He favors, those of us who are adopted sons and daughters of Almighty God. We are surrounded by His righteousness. We will forever be recipients of His eternal victory.

That’s no Christmas-only message. That’s a powerful truth to walk in even as the winter gloom envelops us. Thanks to the message of the heavenly hosts, we will never lack peace.

May we begin our year fully immersed in that truth. May we walk in peace every day of 2020. And may we make it our utmost priority to share that peace, that others may join us as God’s favored sons and daughters.

Ann Hibbard is a member of East End Baptist Church, East End. Read her blog at annhibbard.com.

© Copyright 2019 Arkansas Baptist Newsmagazine, Inc. Use of this article in print or through electronic means a violation of copyright. Request permission to reprint here.

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