This well-quoted passage of scripture goes on to proclaim that the increase of His government and peace will not end. Really?? The peace of Christ increasing, even in this sin ravaged, war torn world? We have to assume peace means more than the absence of strife and turmoil. Have we missed something?
The Hebrew word for peace is "shalom", and in this original language it has a much fuller meaning. Shalom means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, and the absence of agitation or discord.
This word explodes with richness and lines up with God's design for our wholeness. In fact, it's part of the atonement package! Isaiah 53:4-5 says, He has taken upon Himself our sicknesses and carried our pains and sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastisement for our [shalom] was upon Him and by His stripes we are healed. This punishment was upon Jesus so that we would have shalom. I don't know if I've ever thought about it this way. Jesus paid the price for my sins, my healing and my eternity with Him, but also for my peace? Along with God's provision for our salvation and healing, He also made provision for us to live within His government of shalom.
Shalom is so important thatit was even part of the angelic news flash in the fields the night the Son of God entered our world. "I bring you good news of great joy!!!! The Messiah has been born...peace has come to the earth..." And, as if to make a radical point that shalom isn't based on anything external, the timing of His birth and peace coming to the earth coincides with the census ordered by Caesar Augustus in an over-crowded, chaotic and stress-filled Bethlehem. Peace isn't contingent on our circumstances anymore than enforcing the laws of the United States government is contingent upon our approval. Could it be that God intentionally chose this time to infuse hope in the midst of darkness and usher in peace in the midst of chaos?
We are Designed to be Governed by Shalom
You must understand peace is more than a feeling. We experience shalom in our bodies and in our minds as well. Our bodies are wired to be governed by shalom in order to be healthy and have an optimal sense of well being. When we're operating the way we are designed and not allowing stress and fear to call the shots, our brain produces chemicals that give us a sense of well being. On the other hand, when we give in to fear and stress, these not only rob us of our peace, but over a long period of time will affect our health as well. Our immune system is compromised which results in colds, viruses, infections and fatigue. Long-term stress hormones left elevated in the body will even produce diseases like colitis, Crohn's, fibromyalgia, diabetes, heart disease and many other ailments.
Psalm 4:8- I will lie down in peace and sleep for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Check this out! The hypothalamus gland (...stay with me and don't start glazing over! ) in our brain regulates many things, one of which is our wake state and sleep patterns. Did you know that when the hypothalamus senses conflict, fear or anxiety in us, it responds accordingly, thus interfering with our peace that can result in insomnia? And you thought insomnia was just a sleep disorder! Many times it is caused because we are allowing something other than His peace to rule.
Maybe that's why it says in Is. 26:3 (AMP version)-[God] will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You. In other words, everything that shalom means: health, happiness, well-being, wholeness and peace happens when we trust the Lord so much that we are consumed with Him rather than the pressures, pains and problems that surround us. No wonder Romans 8:6 says those who are spiritually minded have life and peace. The Apostle Paul breaks this down further in Phil. 4 where he says God will keep our minds and our hearts when we meditate on the right things: things that are true, pure, lovely, praiseworthy and noble, things of good report and just. I wonder if we paid more attention to God's promises than the nightly news, and if we monitored our television programs and movies to eliminate the things that are not pure, virtuous and of bad report, if God's peace would rule our hearts better.
We Are Called to Live in This Government
Let the peace of God govern your heart- Col. 3:15. Jesus said in John 14:27- "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you-not as the world gives...so don't let your heart be troubled or afraid."
Don't you think Jesus knew the turmoil we would face in our life? He even told us ahead of time that we would have tribulation, which by the way, means pressure, stress, anguish, oppression, affliction and adversity. Then He goes on to say, "Take heart, I have overcome the world!" I have overcome the very things that cause the pressure, stress, anguish and adversity. So just receive the peace for which I paid the price. Live according to My government of peace, not the rule of the world. He knew the feelings we'd have when life wrings us out like laundry. He knew how hard it would be when circumstances threatened to ship-wreck our faith and hijack our sense of well being. He knew very well what He was asking of us, because He took the punishment upon Himself. That's why He's called the Prince of this government, our Prince of Peace.
Lord, I confess that too many times I have allowed my soul to call the shots. I want to operate from a place of shalom. Your supernatural peace that resides within my spirit is always ready to preside over every thought and emotion. So when my emotions and thinking try to usurp your government, I ask for Your shalom to rise up like a mighty umpire and rule!