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Real Peace is Coming...
11/28/2004
Scripture: Isaiah 2:1-5
Track 13 of 17 in the Living in the Light of His Coming series
Running time: 41 minutes, 29 seconds.


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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.


Sermon for Sunday, November 28, 2004
13th sermon in a 17 part series
"Real Peace is Coming. . . ."
"Living in the Light of His Coming"
(Isaiah 2:1-5)
Copyright 2004 G. Charles Sackett


. . . . . .Bibles open, we're going to start in Isaiah 2, the text that Dan just read for us.

It's a very clear image of peace. It stands in the courtyard of the United Nations in New York. Was actually a gift from the Soviet Union back in 1959, in the era of the cold war when they were trying to proclaim that there could be a time when there would be a absence of war. It's a large bronze of a man literally beating his sword into a plowshare.

Comes right out of this text which has a parallel in one of the other prophets. Except that isn't what this is talking about. That literal beating of a sword into plowshares, as if somehow we could arrange through peace treaties or conversation with warring nations that they would just simply stop fighting. We've seen that happen. I suppose you pay attention enough to the news to know that there have been a dozen peace treaties signed that were broken within hours of each other. But it's an attempt. It's an attempt to get at this issue of what it means to live, literally, in peace with each other.

There are some other nations that are trying to do similar kinds of things. Make that kind of overt effort at creating a spirit of peace. They are literally turning arms into art. Eritrea, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, countries that have been at war for now generations are collecting the guns, the tanks, the arms and they are turning them into pieces of art works, sculpture and selling them around the world and taking the money in receipt to try to rebuild their nation in a statement of peace.

Except that the peace that this text talks about is not the peace that implies the absence of war. It's a different kind of peace.

If you were paying attention during the recent campaign, you recognized that there were a number of opportunities for people to go back to the 9/11 event where we were rudely and viciously attacked from outside and have asked the government over and over again, "Can you guarantee us that it won't happen again? Are there things in place now that will prevent that? Will we have an early enough detection system that we can be adequately warned so that it will never happen on our soil again?" As if somehow assuring the American population that we are adequately prepared will give us a sense of peace. It's not that kind of peace.

Come back to Isaiah 2. Let's look at this text one more time and ask ourselves some questions. Isaiah This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem: In the last days the mountain of the Lord's temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.

To talk about peace, Biblical peace, real peace is to try to understand what he's driving at in this particular text when he talks about pounding those swords into some kind of plowshare, into some kind of farming tool.

The number of questions that surface. For example; he says in verse 2 In the last days. . . . One of the things that you've gotta ask is, "When in the world is that?" And it's a term that isn't used consistently in any one particular way in Scripture. It's used in a variety of kinds of ways. Ah, two or three in particular surface regularly. For example; in Hosea 3:15 it's a very clear indication that after the exile that will be considered somehow the last days as if, after they have been taken captive, they will have entered a new era. There are a few occasions, most of the time it's in the singular In the last day as opposed to the last days when it refers to the very far end of time. The final day, the day of judgment. But it's almost always singular when it's used that way.

But consistently, when you see the phrase In the last days (plural), it refers to an era

of time. There are three fundamental eras in the life of God's people. There was the era of the patriarch. From the time of Abraham ‘til the time of Moses, God chose to deal with his people primarily through the fathers of the families. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob.

Then we have the giving of the law. God arrives on Mount Sinai. There is this demonstration of power. There is this location, a place where God can be identified. Moses goes up and receives the ten words and from then on we have what is known as the Mosaic era. It lasts until the coming of Jesus.

And then we have the Christian era. Post-Christ arrival. In the last days almost always refers to that last era. The days of Christ. In fact, let me just ask you to look at two or three texts that would help us with that.

Acts 2. And of course Acts 2 is the beginning of the Christian era, if you will. It's the beginning of the church age. It's the time when the apostles have gathered in Jerusalem to wait for what it is that God is going to do. Jesus has died and been raised and has now ascended and has promised them that if they wait there, something unusual will happen. In Peter's sermon that particular day, verse 16 says, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: verse 17 "In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. And he launches into that sermon about the coming of Christ and how the Spirit has now arrived in the hearts and minds of those who believe in Jesus. In the last days. . . .

In Hebrews 1 over near the other end of your New Testament. Hebrews 1 the writer of Hebrews says, In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things,

. . . .in these last days he speaks to us through his Son identifying this era that we live in, under the Lordship of Christ as those last days.

Go just a bit further in your New Testament to 2 Peter, just a book or two over to 2 Peter 3:3 First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, "Where is this ‘coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation."

In Peter's day, people were scoffing. They were raising the question, if Jesus is coming or said he was coming right away, where in the world is he. And Peter says, in those last days there will be people like that who will scoff, who will wonder where is Christ and why hasn't he arrived. Peter identifies his own era as the last days.

So when I read back in Isaiah 2 that In the last days the mountain of the Lord's temple will be established I'm looking at a day and an era in which we're under the Christian time. In Christ this prophesy is going to be fulfilled. In these last days. . . . the days that you and I live in there's going to be something happen that somehow brings us in contact with this text. . . . . .the last days. . . . .

Well, the second question that arises for me is what in the world does it mean that the mountain of the Lord's temple will be established on Zion? Verses 2 and 3

There's interesting language here: In the last days the mountain of the Lord's temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

Those listeners in Old Testament era would have understood that a shift had just occurred. Fundamental change was about to be in place In these last days. . . . because in the previous era, in the day that they lived in as Israel under the law, it wasn't Zion that was the chief mountain, it was Sinai that was the chief mountain. God had come to Sinai. He had arrived there. He had stayed there. He had spoken from there. He had been surrounded by thunder and lightening and smoke from there. Moses had gone up and received a word from God from there. Sinai was the chief mountain, not Zion.

But In the last days. . . . . Zion would become the chief mountain. Something fundamental would shift in these last days.

Look at the book of Hebrews again. Hebrews 12:18. Hebrews being written to this early Jewish Christian community. Verse 18 You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: "If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned." The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, "I am trembling with fear."

It's a reference to Sinai. There was this moment in Israel's history when God arrived at the mountain on Sinai and the law was given, the word was spoken. Don't touch the mountain. Moses will go up by himself, but you don't touch it. If even an animal touches it, you have to put it to death. It was a frightening time in Israel's history. Forty days Moses stayed on that mountain and there was this absence and yet, there was the presence of God and they knew that, but not in the last days. In the last days there's a shift that occurs.

Look at Hebrews 12:22: But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

There is this fundamental shift in the last days of the mountain of the Lord is no longer the law of fear, no longer this mountain where fright occurred, but now a mountain from which the word of the Lord goes forth. A mountain from which a new covenant is established. A mountain where there is the presence of God without fear.

That fundamental shift begins to be seen clear back in Luke 1. Something of unique proportion begins to occur as the New Testament unfolds before us. As you recall, there were four hundred years of silence between Malachi and the arrival of John the Baptist. God had taken a hiatus from his people. He was not to be found nor seen and then there's this experience of angels beginning to show up and talk to people. And one of the people that the angels talked to was Elizabeth and she was told that she would have a son. And Zechariah, her husband, found that to be utterly unbelievable and is put to silence until the birth of John the Baptist. When John is born here is Zechariah's song. Luke 1:68

His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:

"Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us--to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

Notice the similarity of language. It sounds as if we're talking about some kind of absence of war, some kind of a peaceful situation where we can carry out our lives in normal kinds of ways. And yet, that's not what he's driving at. Keep reading.

And you, my child, (talking about John) will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace."

Zechariah sees in the coming of Jesus, the onset of the fulfillment of the promise of peace. That from Jerusalem, from this place, would go forth a word from God that would speak into the lives of people a radical shift in the way they viewed life.

Luke carries that theme all the way to the other end. Go to the last chapter in Luke 24. Jesus has appeared on the road to Emmaus to the two disciples. He has now come back and is appearing to the rest of the disciples.

Luke 24:44 He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms."

Then he opened their minds so that they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."

And we know that in Acts 1 the Holy Spirit came just as he promised in Luke 24. This Spirit of Christ coming on to the people so that the word could go forth from Jerusalem. Now the promise in Isaiah 2 is that, that word would go forth and many nations would stream into Jerusalem.

Come to Acts 1 where you have this promise fulfilled that Jesus just made. It's repeated for us in Acts 1:4 "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised," Acts 1:7 "It's not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

But notice what happens in this chapter. Come over to Acts 2. There is this amazed crowd of people.

Acts 2:8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Capadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome, Cretans and Arabs--

Do you hear what he's saying? There are people from every nation present to hear the word of the Lord and not only that, but from Jerusalem, this word will go out to all of the world. That was Isaiah's prophesy. That there would be from Jerusalem, from this mountain of the Lord, from the temple of the Lord's presence, a word would go out that would change the lives of the people of the world. That would be a real peace in which people would know God personally.

That prophesy occurs in Jeremiah 31. There would be a covenant, a new covenant, not like the old covenant, but a new covenant that would come into the lives of God's people in which people would no longer have to say to their neighbors, know the Lord, because everybody would already know the Lord if they were part of this covenant. When you read Hebrews 8 he says, in Christ that covenant is fulfilled. In Christ people know the Lord and you don't have to say to people who are Christians, who are part of the new covenant. You need to know the Lord because in order to be a part of the covenant, you already have to know the Lord. That's how you get into the covenant, is in knowing Him.

In the last days from the mountain of God will go forth a word that produces real peace and the image that he uses is this military image of changing from military arms to implements of farming. That there will be no more war. That nation will not rise up against nation any more. And if we're not careful, we're going to read into that something that isn't true, at least judging from the news that I watched last night. There is still plenty of war going on. So what is the peace that is promised? If it's not literally the absence of war. If it's not the absence of trouble. What kind of peace is it?

Well, you remember this season of the year, right? I mean, we're now post-Thanksgiving, so it's now Christmas. Of course it's been Christmas in the stores since October.

One of the things that we're going to read over and over again and we're gonna hear over and over again and we're gonna hear it in the songs of the season. We're gonna read it in the stories that we tell. We're gonna see it on the Christmas cards that we receive. That there was a great host that showed up in the heavens above a bunch of sheep and shepherds and here's what they cried. "Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men", peace on earth. There was something about the coming of Jesus that was going to produce a kind of peace that we could experience.

When you come over to John 14, a text that was up on the screen earlier, if you were reading those as they were going by. John 14 In Jesus closing words to his disciples at the end of his life in this lengthy passage in John 14:27 he says, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. (don't miss this) I do not give to you as the world gives. This is a peace, he says, is not like anything the world has to offer. This is a different kind of peace. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Come over to John 16. He will make it even more explicit in John 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." There is a peace that comes into the life of someone who believes in Jesus that is different than the peace the world offers. In fact, you may still say, I have lots of trouble and still have peace according to this text.

Or come over to Ephesians 2 where this peace is talked about again. Ephesians 2:14 For he himself (talking about Christ) he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. There were Gentiles and there were Jews. There were those who were far off and those who were near and they both come to God the same way, in Jesus Christ. And in coming to Christ, coming through Christ to God, they are brought together in peace. This wall of division that had existed between Jew and Gentile historically, literally, a wall outside the temple that said that no Gentile could come across this line except at the cost of their life. That wall was broken down in Christ and these people were brought back together through the blood of Jesus. That, he says, is peace.

Look at Philippians 4, just a few pages on in your New Testaments. Philippians 4:7

Paul says, the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

There is a peace that is unlike anything the world has ever known that isn't about the absence of conflict. It is not about the absence of war. It is not being ultimately prepared so that no one can ever surprise you again. It's different than that. It's not like the world has to offer . It is a peace that is radically new.

It may be best expressed in Romans 5. Where the apostle Paul says in Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. We have been given peace with God. Real peace. The kind of peace that Jesus came to give is a peace that exists between man and God. It's a relationship that we can share with God through Jesus Christ. It doesn't mean the absence of conflict. It doesn't mean the absence of war. It doesn't mean the absence of difficulty in your life. It doesn't mean that everything is going to run smoothly. It means you have a personal relationship with God and there is no longer any fear of Him. It's a kind of peace that may, in fact, produce trouble for you because the rest of the world will not understand the kind of peace that you're talking about. But it means that there is a presence in your life that allows you to view things differently than you have ever viewed them before. Real peace, among other things, means living at peace.

Romans 14; Romans 12, both call us to this statement. As much as it is possible, as much control over it as I have, he says, live at peace with all men.

Romans 14:19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God he says for that which is a personal opinion of your own. You have a responsibility as one who has been given peace, to be one who is a peacemaker. Did you notice that in the Beatitudes the last time you read Matthew 5. Blessed are the peacemakers.

In Romans 12 in this great statement about what it means to live in a relationship with God because of the death of Jesus, verses 1 and 2 he says down here just a bit further when you come to verse 14. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

I make it a habit not to be out of my house on the Friday after Thanksgiving. I don't do lines well. I certainly do not do 4:00 a.m. lines waiting to buy things well, but I could imagine that there are those who have a difficulty living out this text at 6:00 a.m. in a line when you've been standing in the cold for two hours to buy your "sponge Bob pants" or whatever you're buying. As long as it has anything to do with you he says, be at peace with all men.

Not only do we live at peace, something that we're not particularly good at. In fact, William Sloan Coffin(??), one of the early preachers of the previous century said, "We have learned to soar through the air like birds, to swim through the sea like fish, to soar through space like comets. It's high time we learned to walk on earth like the children of God. As much as it is within us," he says.

Express the peace that you have with God in your relationship with other people. But not only do we live at peace. We do maintain a spirit of unity.

Ephesians 4 is the expression of this kind of relationship that we have where the walls have been broken down between us. That's what Ephesians tries to paint for you in Ephesians 2, is that the wall, the division that divides people from one another has been destroyed by the blood of Christ. He, himself it says, is our peace with each other. And then he comes to Ephesians 4:1 and he says, As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

I can't create unity. It's not a possibility. It's not something you can do. It's not something I can do. Unity is something that exists outside of either of us. We are one in Christ not because of any effort we make. We are one in Christ because of the blood of Jesus. But we have this responsibility, to maintain unity. To live in such a way that we do not create division and disharmony. And to live in such a way that when that kind of harmony has been fractured, that if it has anything to do with us, we take the responsibility to seek the reconciliation. If there is someone who has gone against you, if there is a broken fracture in a relationship with a brother or a sister in your relationship, it is incumbent upon you to seek that person out and to create peace.

Matthew 18 is the expression of what it means to be in the body of Christ and to maintain a spirit of unity. Not to talk to your neighbor, but to talk to the person. Not to go to somebody else, but to go to that person and reconcile in the Spirit of Jesus. That's the kind of peace that he brings. That's different than the world has. We don't do that anywhere but the church. We live at peace. We maintain unity. We learn in the midst of this kind of peace to trust God. When everything else seems awful, you trust God.

One of my favorite texts is Proverbs 3. Most of you probably know it already. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. But in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.

I would paraphrase it this way. You trust him and he'll give you peace.

I have mentioned to you several times my friend Jack. Probably because he's been on my heart a great deal lately.

Fifteen years ago his daughter was abducted and murdered. About that same time he learned he had cancer. God was gracious and had removed that cancer from his life for fifteen years. In God's great grace, he brought is back together in an email interchange here recently and I was reminded of how deeply I appreciate him, only to learn that he's now battling cancer again. But every email that I get from him is such a statement of peace. I just--well, I have said to some of you and I have said to my friends who are close to me, around me, "I think I am more upset about his cancer than he is." We've been having this exchange because Gail and I really want to go see them sometime around the first of the year when he's on the other end of one of his "chemo" treatments and is able to withstand a visit. So in the course of making those travel arrangements, I had gotten a response back from his wife Carolyn, saying that we needed to time the visit after a "chemo" treatment and I wrote back to her and just asked. I said, "Every time I hear from him it sounds like he is at such ease about this whole situation. You must see a different side of him than I do." This is Carolyn's response. "The only lack of ease he has is from time to time expressing that he's tired of feeling lousy. Otherwise what you hear, is what I live with. God has really blessed him with peace. God has really blessed him with the peace you sense in his letters. As for me, I feel an assurance that the treatments did the job the last time and gave him fifteen years. This may not be the case this time around, but until proven otherwise, I'm going to believe in the same result. God has proven faithful in helping us get through some very difficult times in the past and he continues to do so now."

That's real peace. It's not the absence of trouble. It's the presence of God that produces real peace. It's this absolute confidence that no matter what life brings, we're okay. Because it isn't about us. It's about Him and our relationship with Him. And when I read that Romans 5 passage I am reminded so clearly that the world has a kind of peace that they think is going to be chalked up to somebody's peace treaty written someplace or some signature on a piece of paper or maybe we can pound all of our bombs into some kind of farming implement and that will assure us that we have a kind of peace in the world. And it isn't the kind of peace that God is interested in. It's not what he's talking about. He's talking about a relationship with himself.

Romans 5 says, . . .we have been justified through faith and since that's true we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have gained access by faith into grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

It's another word for peace. We rejoice not in the absence of anything, but in the presence of the knowledge that we have come into a relationship with God through his Son Jesus Christ that assures us of our future. Doesn't matter what life brings in this life. Oh, it doesn't make it less uncomfortable. Doesn't make it less painful. Doesn't make it less difficult, it just means that it's not bigger than God. And we have the absolute confidence that on the other side of this thing we call death, there is a life beyond our imagination that is ours because of what Christ has done for us. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. So Paul says, how much more we have that kind of assurance in that, will we have assurance in our relationship with him?

Real peace is a peace that is established between us and God because of our faith and His grace in Jesus Christ. And it is a peace that exists between you and me because of His grace.

And so from time to time churches do this thing where they pass the peace. They say to one another, "The peach of Christ be with you." And people respond by saying, "And with you." Or they just walk up and give each other a hug and let them know that as brothers and sisters in the Lord we live together in this peaceful, reconciled relationship between us, and us and God.

And so our invitation this morning is going to be a little different.. Our invitation is going to be our greeting time. We're going to invite you to simply stand and pass the peace. In the light of the real peace that comes in Jesus Christ, we just simply want you to share with each other that peace this morning. So would you stand with me and just take a few minutes to greet one another and share the peace of Christ.