Month 3:07, Week 1:6 (Sheshi/Kippur), Year:Day 5936:066AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Sunday 27 May 2012
Are You Happy? VI
In Search of Authentic Peace
Continued from Part 5
"They will seek shalom (peace), but there shall be none" (Ezek.7:25, NKJV).
One of the great errors of secularism is to equate peace with happiness. On the face of it that propbably doesn't make a lot of sense until you understand the way the world defines 'peace'. For most, peace is simply an 'absence of war' or an 'absence of any king of conflict between people' - it then becomes a 'state of harmony between people or groups'. Others would perhaps define it as 'an absence of mental anxiety' and yet others 'a state of stillness, silence, or serenity'. Certainly the English word 'peace' has all of these shades of meaning. But are they realisable in this world and is this what the Bible means when it uses the Hebrew word shalom?
The answer is, no. And perhaps one of the best definitions of shalom that I have ever heard, though by no means excluding other nuances, is that of Martin Luther King who said:
You see, the Hebrew word shalom does not refer simply to an inner tranquility but to chayim (life) in all its aspects, outward and material as well as inward and spiritual. Shalom is the state of well-being which Yahweh intends for life in this world, with all its perplexities and difficulties. It is not primarily referring to the shalom that exists in heaven or the shalom that will prevail during the Millennium when Messiah reigns. The shalom that we may enjoy here, and should enjoy, is a function of that happiness we have been discussing so far, the happiness that comes from Yahweh alone. It does not proceed from a life without tension but a life that lives justly according to Yahweh's Torah and in divine tavnith (pattern). The peace the world seeks is not the shalom that Yahweh offers. And that is why we, as believers, should use the Hebrew term in order to emphasise the difference.
Listening to politicians today you would think that peace was somehow the the highest good. The social utopians offer us the peace which comes from a life without conflict but always at a high price: our liberty, since it's forcibly imposed even down to regulating thoughts and speech. When the Bible speaks of shalom it is more often than not warning us against this false 'peace' and the false happiness that supposedly accompanies it:
This kind of peace that the people seek is simply not available in this world and it is futile to seek for, or try to realise, it. Indeed, what did Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself say He had come to do?
"Therefore thus says Yahweh-Elohim: 'Because you have spoken nonsense and envisioned lies, therefore I am indeed against you,' says Yahweh-Elohim. My hand will be against the prophets who envision futility and who divine lies; they shall not be in the assembly of My people, nor be written in the record of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am Yahweh-Elohim. Because, indeed, because they have seduced My people, saying, 'Peace!' when there is no peace" (Ezek.13:8-10, NKJV).
This does not, of course, mean that Yah'shua (Jesus) was a jihadist however Muslims may wish to make Him out to be. All Yah'shua (Jesus) is saying is that division and opposition is inevitable when you sow emet (truth) into the world. Indeed, He goes on to say that it rips families apart (vv.35-37), not because He wants divided families but because people will always choose to reject emet (truth). As the Emet (Truth)-Bearer, He Himself suffered the wrath of those who prefer lies, whose ears itch, whom Ezekiel says "speak nonsense" and prophesy lies. The happiness and peace available to us down here on earth must always be seen within this context of tension between light and darkness that sometimes erupts into violent conflict. Such happiness and shalom (peace) that is available must come from Yahweh within - it is in very short supply, if not entirely absent, from without.
"Do not think that I came to bring shalom (peace) on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword" (Matt.10:34, NKJV).
In obtaining a correct and biblical perspective of peace we must therefore ask Yahweh to show us the kind of peace we should seek, the kind of peace we must give, the kind of peace we can keep, the kind peace we must forego, and above all cling to that set-apart (holy) shalom which alone comes from Yah'shua (Jesus).
Once you contrast this kosher shalom (clean peace) with the dirty 'peace' of the world you soon come to realise that there is an entire universe of difference between them, and that true happiness only comes through the former.
There is not a soul alive who is not desperately seeking for some kind of peace because everyone knows that peace and happiness are closely linked. Here, as believers, we must be realistic so that we don't waste our time and energy in a quest for the unreasonable and impossible. If Martin Luther King was right - and I believe he was - then there is always going to be a degree of restlessness present in our lives because of the tensions generated by colliding spiritual worlds - the domains or good and evil, of light and darkness. On the one hand, we must totally search for and obtain that absolute and eternal shalom that comes from Yahweh within but we must also learn to be content with what is highly limited and rationed in the outside world.
What this means, practically, is that there is never any completeness, rest or peace in the secular meaning in this world. Impossible. We are placed by Yahweh in this unsatisfactory domain precisely so that we will search for that absolute shalom (peace) that comes from Yahweh alone and forsake the counterfeit offered - yet predictably withheld, like a carrot-on-a-stick - by Satan in the outer world. Only in this way - by this built-in tension - is a man finally forced to admire and thank the Giver of shalom instead of the gift of shalom itself. Yahweh leaves man with a certain restlessness that he might always press on to find his true rest more deeply in Elohim (God) Himself.
We must be on the constant outlook for imposters who come in the name of peace but who would sidetrack us from the real shalom (peace) that comes from Messiah alone. We must ever remember the promise made by Yah'shua (Jesus) concerning authentic shalom:
I believe that one of the main reasons people bury their heads in the sand over the emet (truth) of what's going on in the world is that they lack the fortitude to cope with it all without having that shalom (peace) Yah'shua (Jesus) promised. I dig deeper than most and every now and then I just have to step back and re-immerse in Yah'shua's (Jesus') shalom (peace) otherwise I would be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the evil, the depth of the conspiracy of lies, and the unspeakable collective suffering of humanity in such satanic bondage. How do you expect people to deal with the world as it really is and enable them to reject the lies and adhere closely to the emet (truth) without them first acquiring this divine shalom (peace)? They will only be able to go so far. And that is why the world remains in delusion and in bondage because those in it will not accept the tools of empowerment that will allow them to face reality without being utterly drowned by it.
"Shalom (Peace) I leave with you, My shalom (peace) I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your lev (heart) be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27, NKJV).
As understanding this heavenly shalom (peace) is so critical to finding happiness I shall speak more of this next time.
Continued in Part 7