In the final part of these essays on wealth and poverty, another aspect on Bible conditions for wealth is examined. The wealthiest of Bible heroes, was named Solomon – the Hebrew name Shelomoh which was derived from Hebrew “shalom” meaning peace. Solomon was King of Israel, the son of David, renowned for his wisdom. His birth was foretold.
1Ch 22:9 Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days.
Solomon did not earn peace – rather it was peace given by God. Peace is required for wealth and prosperity … and is worth a closer study. There are nations like Iceland, Japan, Norway, Switzerland known as havens of peace … they are also wealthy countries especially when we measure wealth in terms of quality of life and not just disposable income. When Europe was ravaged by two world wars, the United States of America benefitted from an economy preserved from devastation … resulting in status of economic world power. Where you find wealth, there must be peace given or sustained over a significant period of time.
Heb_12:14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
The abundance that God gives is attained if we follow ways of peace … if we learn how to seize opportunities that will bring peace and rest to situations. The first thing we must understand is that peace does not come without cost. Justice and chastisement …or punishment must often precede peace. Peace needs an object of sacrifice, a scapegoat who voluntarily withdraws from gains and self-satisfaction. Christ was the embodiment of this principle as the Prince of Peace.
Isa_53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
Christ who bore the chastisement and paid the price in full at Calvary is our great justifier and pacifier hence saints have peace that the world cannot know.
Isa_57:21 There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked. The wicked have no peace because they keep abhorring truth, law and order. They will not find justice or forgiveness and only can show a selective mercy. Hence, they are caught in an endless cycle, hunting for recriminations – to appease offenses that never seem to cease. But even when the God of grace gives a peace that is not earned how do we follow it? What are the lessons for nations that must prosper? A few scenarios are instructive.
In South Africa, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) hearings helped reconcile it to its devastating wounds as many were encouraged to come forward to confess atrocities in an environment that embraced forgiveness, mercy and new beginning. The rights of the aggrieved for revenge was voluntarily sacrificed as families of victims embraced the predators. A healthy foundation for a post-apartheid nation is laid. Justice, fairness, equity and amending wrongs are all vital to following peace.
Although forgiveness, mercy and habits of reconciliation are key, great courage, discipline and sacrifice are the indispensable must-have virtues for peace – knowing that every armistice must have its victims, the ones who will unjustly but voluntarily bear the costs of the mess. The armistice after the World War I was faulted in that it imposed unbearable costs on the defeated Germans … only setting the ground for World War II. Churchill however insists (in open disagreement with Stalin) after the defeat of the Nazis in 1944, that Germany is not humiliated but given a fair chance to return back to nationhood but without the motivation or means for another war. Today, Germany’s leadership of Europe’s economy owes much to sacrifices and positions made to guarantee its peace. Peace is not accidental …it requires a strategy of “following”.
For thirteen days in October 1962, the world awaited hopefully for a peaceful resolution to the Cuban Missile crisis. In a separate deal brokered by President Kennedy, which had to remain secret for more than twenty-five years, the United States agreed to remove its nuclear missiles from Turkey… the defense of Europe is a secret sacrifice that prevented a nuclear war.
In another scenario, November 1990, Margaret Thatcher is to stand down as prime minister after her Cabinet refused to back her in a second round of leadership elections even when Britain was riding an economic boom and popularity with voters was not in question …” Once again Margaret Thatcher has put her country’s and party’s interests before personal considerations” remarked Conservative Party Chairman Kenneth Baker. A peaceful transition ensues as Thatcher withdraws, ushering in the unprepared and surprised John Major as Prime Minister, and who builds on the gains of Margaret’s policies. The United Kingdom continues to prosper.
As war ends and Germany is denied of weapons where did the weapons flow? “The weapons poured into Africa by both sides during the Cold War are still there, and they contribute to political chaos and civil wars that block development and cause enormous human suffering.” Scales Avery. Where there is no peace and only troubles you will often find selfishness, greed and inability to release gains, to let go and move on … the result is poverty. Tribal skirmishes has always been the bane of many regions in Africa … more die from hunger, trauma, disease and poverty than from the wars actually fought.
Nelson Mandela who dreamt of an Africa at peace with itself once said “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”
But it is only God who makes your enemy to work peaceably with you. Pro_16:7 When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.
How can we work with the enemies of our progress and still move towards our goals? Again, the God who gives peace and asks us to follow peace with all men can cause hostile situations to bow and yield to accord.
Gal 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
If leaders please men it means their faith is small … especially when we please those we admire or who look up to us, or nudge us into actions … we are more likely on the path that alienates God. Finding the popular response is not often the response that leads to peace. Peace requires a more unusual and less populist approach, a response that surprises friends and detractors alike.
Divorce is extremely costly and wasteful. In The US, $28 billion a year is spent annually to separate what God puts together (not including the additional costs of living apart and non-financial toll and trauma). In a final scenario, a couple approaches a pastor for counselling on a troubled marriage. The Pastor asks “which of you is the more mature saint that will bear the costs and release his or her rights … be the sacrificed Christ – so that there will be peace in this marriage?” No answer.
Can the saints be more like Christ and be in similar fashion, instruments of peace, paying the price others will not pay or will they rather war for gains? Indeed those who Christ loved the most – notably John, were destined to end their lives most like Christ – bearing heavy costs in self-sacrifice in Patmos from where the book of Revelation was inspired and written for us. If you will not be a sacrifice for the peace of others, at least do not be found basking in the hatred of the Almighty who hates the spreading of discord.
Pro 6:16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
In closing, be reminded that Christ – our peace, also says He has not come to send peace but a sword that His will may be established. Lord, reveal your gift of peace to us and how we may be instruments of peace and follow after your peace; Teach us Lord when to withdraw and leave the sword in your hands. Lord, fight all our battles. The saints are not foolish when they hand over their battles to the Lord.
As the year 2013 comes to an end even as we remember the season of the birth of Christ, in this final blog for the year, I leave you with the words of the angel Gabriel.
Luk 2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men
I pray 2014 will be a year of an overflow of peace in our lives and in the nations as we receive grace to wait on God more than ever for His peace and to follow. Amen