RELIGION COLUMN: The violence of ultimate peacemaking

Published 10:50 am Monday, April 7, 2014

By Jake McCall

When we think of something peaceful, we often think of something in nature like a stream or a valley, and then we imagine ourselves there, wanting to escape from where we currently are. This suggests that often without realizing it, we connect peace with the Bible’s description of the Garden of Eden. God has placed a knowledge of his original creation within us and whether someone knows the first pages of Genesis or not, they long for the peace of it. Genesis also tells us how that peace was lost in the fall, and because of that fall, peace is now something that must be restored if it is to exist. One of the clearest indicators that peace was lost is when we see that Adam and Eve hid in the garden and they were ashamed. Consider the last time you hid from something or you were ashamed. Were you at peace?

As the pages of God’s Word unfold, descriptions of peace are given to describe a restoration in our relationship with God and our relationships with that which was created. In Leviticus 26:6, God makes this promise: “I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid. And I will remove harmful beasts from the land, and the sword shall not go through your land.”

Peace is also connected with being re-united to the voice of God. This is described in Psalm 85:8: “Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints.” These promises can only find their hope in Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, and this pursuit of peace that can only be found in Christ is above all other pursuits of peace.

As we look back to the devastating results of the fall, we see that enmity was put between the serpent and the woman, and between her offspring and his offspring (Genesis 3:15). If we read just that, we may shrug it off and fail to consider the magnitude of that prophecy, but as the Bible continues, we see that this means that the devil has waged war on the offspring of Eve and his purpose of existence is to do away with the One who will restore peace. Satan longs to block the glory of God, block the redemption of the Son and block the hope of the world. But God has purposed restoration through the person of Jesus Christ. When we are able to view ultimate peace, ultimate restoration through the lens of Holy Spirit-inspired Scripture, we can then see that there is a central gospel theme running throughout Scripture.

The second person of the Trinity, God the Son, must become man in order to take on the role of the second Adam. God’s design was for his Son to perfectly fulfill the obedience that was lost, and then take on the sin of the first Adam. Any peacefulness that would have taken place at the expense of the coming of the Messiah would have been peacefulness that led to death. Therefore the wars, bloodshed and violence that is seen throughout the Bible can be traced back to Genesis 3:15, and we can trust that any lack of peace is necessary in order to bring ultimate peace. And when we question that, we can look to the war, bloodshed, violence and forsakenness of the cross.

On the cross, God the Son became the ultimate enemy of God the Father. He embodied darkness, hatred and rebellion while on the cross and it generated war between the Father and the Son, and while the Son was on the cursed cross, peace between the Father and Son was lost and the crushing wrath of God was poured out. The hope of the world died. And yet, he rose—crushing the head of the serpent and proving that ultimate peace is coming.

—Jake McCall is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. He is the pastor at Grace Fellowship Presbyterian Church. His column appears each Thursday.