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Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn king;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled!”
The message spoken by the angels to the shepherds, immortalized in this famous carol, sounds wonderful in theory but impossible in reality. Where do we find peace on earth when we’re constantly confronted with news of political division, a global pandemic, natural disasters, and unrest in the streets?
The Prince of Peace himself was born into a distressing period of history. The violent oppression of the Roman Empire precluded any measure of peace for the Jewish people, and that didn’t change the moment Jesus entered the world as an infant.
So how did the Messiah bring peace if his coming didn’t end violence, injustice, and oppression?
Maybe peace is less about what Jesus did and more about who he is.
Consider the prophecy of the coming Messiah which Micah spoke to Israel during a time of national uncertainty:
Mobilize! Marshal your troops! The enemy is laying siege to Jerusalem. They will strike Israel’s leader in the face with a rod.
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf.
The people of Israel will be abandoned to their enemies until the woman in labor gives birth. Then at last his fellow countrymen will return from exile to their own land.
And he will stand to lead his flock with the Lord’s strength, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. Then his people will live there undisturbed, for he will be highly honored around the world.
And he will be the source of peace.
Micah 5:1-5, NLT
With the prophecy of the Messiah came the promise of ultimate and lasting peace, because he would be “highly honored around the world” and his people would “live there undisturbed” (“dwell secure” in the ESV). Now, Jesus has come, and he gives us peace not only by reconciling us to God (see Romans 5:1) but also by giving us himself: God incarnate, God with us.
The good news is that nothing can take away this personal peace that we have, despite the chaos of pandemics and elections, natural disasters and social unrest. One day, all that division will be healed when Jesus comes again to establish his rule over the earth, and nothing will be able to stop the ultimate peace he brings with him.
And so Advent continues in its divine paradox: Christ has come and will come again; we have hope both now and for the future; and while we await the lasting peace of the Messiah’s reign, we enjoy the peace of Christ himself now, God with us.
Lyrics from “Hark! the Herald Angel Sing” by Felix Mendelsshon
For more Advent devotions, visit Tyndale’s Online Advent Calendar here.
Download the free printable coloring page below from All is Bright by Nancy Guthrie!