Prince of Peace

Prince of Peace

Home Church Service 12/4/2021

These sermons began as devotionals for my family as we met during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. We have now begun to include our friends and the devotional has now become a full sermon. We are also recording our service and will begin posting those videos in the near future.

When my family and I meet for worship, we like to discuss what we are learning, in the moment. Sometimes that happens right after the message and at other times we will address something during the message. This message was designed to be interactive, discussing what we are learning right after I have addressed each point of the message. You will find the questions at the end of each section. In most formats they will appear in bold. Use these questions as a guide to meditate on the points Paul is making. Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart and above all, be honest with yourself and the Holy Spirit. After all, He knows any way!

“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.” Therefore He will give them up until the time When she who is in labor has borne a child. Then the remainder of His brethren Will return to the sons of Israel. And He will arise and shepherd His flock In the strength of the Lord, In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God. And they will remain, Because at that time He will be great To the ends of the earth. This One will be our peace.”                                                           

                                                                                       Micah 5:2–5 (NASB95)

This time of year, the Christmas season, is special, there is no doubt about that. People just seem to be different this time of year. Well, that is until you go to the store. It is difficult to shop for even the basics of life, let alone a gift for a loved one or family member. People are in a hurry; they are tired and cranky and this makes them grumpy. Everyone wants to find the perfect gift and that makes for the perfect storm of people becoming rude just to get that gift. All the while, over the loud-speakers of the store, comes the strains of Christmas music – “Peace on the earth, good will towards men.”

This time of year is anything but peaceful. The stores are packed with people scurrying around to get their gifts, buy all the extra food for family and in general, things are just plain busier. We are hard pressed to find a peaceful moment during the holiday rush. This week we are looking at the theme of peace. This is not the peace of the world but comes only from the Prince of Peace.

From Bethlehem Ephrathah will come the ruler of Israel, One who has been from the days of eternity. He will shepherd the flock in the strength and majesty of the Lord His God. He is the Prince of Peace and will be great to the ends of the earth.

The One born in Bethlehem, ruler of Israel, is from eternity past and will return once again. In His second coming, He will rule with all the power and authority of God the Father. As the Prince of Peace, He will be seen and known by all people.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “Why do we look for the second coming of the Prince of Peace?”

We look for the second coming of the Prince of Peace because He will be known throughout the created order.

1). We look for the second coming of the Prince of Peace because He is the promised One from the days of eternity.

Bethlehem Ephrathah was a town of little significance, yet it birthed the promised Messiah.

Bethlehem Ephrathah, now known simply as Bethlehem, lies approximately 9 miles SSW of Jerusalem. The origins of the area are not known, and it is first mentioned as Ephrathah. The city is so small it was not named among the clans of Judah in any Hebrew writings. The city rose to prominence after Samuel anointed David to be king. David became king of Judah in approximately 1010 B.C. and king of all Israel in approximately 1003 B.C.

In 2 Samuel 7:8-16, God makes a covenant with David, promising David, “Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.” It is from this covenant that the promised One from the days of eternity comes. From this small, insignificant little town named Bethlehem would come the One prophesied for centuries. Many of the most well-known prophecies come from the prophet Isaiah. This promised One is to be born to a virgin and carry the name Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14); in Isaiah 9:6-7, He is the Son go be given to us; in Isaiah 11:1-3, He is the Branch form the stem of Jesse. And, of course, today’s passage from Micah 5:2-5, confirming the One who would rule Israel is from the days of eternity.  

The birth of Jesus shattered 400 years of silence between God and His people. In beginning His earthly ministry, and affirming that God has broken into human history, Jesus read from the book of Isaiah, chapter 61. This is recorded in Luke 4:18-19 and is a paraphrase of the first two verses of Isaiah 61.

“And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed, To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”  Luke 4:17–19 (NASB95)

After reading this passage, Jesus closes the book, hands it back to the attendant and, with all eyes fixed on Him, Jesus declared, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Because of time and distance, it is hard for Christ followers to fully appreciate the gravity of this statement by Jesus. But time is also somewhat advantageous to us as Christ followers. We have the advantage of being able to read the works of history and the study of others to help us gain perspective. For example, we know that Bethlehem means “House of Bread.” We also know that Jesus makes the claim to be “The Bread of Life,” thus, we can put together “The Bread of Life” coming to the “House of Bread” at His birth.

We also know that Joseph, Mary’s earthly husband, had to return to Bethlehem for a census, because he was from the house of David, the hometown of both king David and Joseph. Thus, Jesus is born in Bethlehem fulfilling the prophesy that the promised One would come through the line of David. But there is one fact concerning Bethlehem that you may or may not be aware of – Bethlehem is where the lambs for sacrifice are born. This is a very important fact for the Christ follower. Once again, we turn to the prophet Isaiah where we read in 53:7 of the Suffering Servant who will be led like a lamb to slaughter.

Why is this so important to the Christ follower? Simply this, in John 1: 29 & again in 36, John the Baptist is standing with his disciples as Jesus passes by. In seeing Jesus, John declares, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” In writing to the church at Corinth, in his first letter, Paul declares that Jesus is “our Passover already sacrificed” (1 Co. 5:7) For the Christ followers today, Jesus is the promised One who takes away the sin of the world – He has come to take away our sin and thus He truly has already been sacrificed for us.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How does knowing that Jesus is the Prince of Peace, the One from the days of eternity bring you peace in today’s world?

How has the Prince of Peace released you as a captive or set you free from oppression?

How does knowing that the Prince of Peace was born as the Lamb of God, impact your understanding and knowledge of the mystery of Christ?

We look for the second coming of the Prince of Peace because He will be known throughout the created order.

2). We look for the second coming of the Prince of Peace because He will rule with strength and majesty.

He will return in great power and majesty to be seen by every eye and known by every heart.

It is also fitting that Bethlehem is associated with shepherds. In Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus Christ, it is the shepherds in the fields who are the first to receive the message that a Savior has been born in the city of Bethlehem. The prophet Micah tells us the Promised One will arise and shepherd His flock in strength and majesty. In John chapter 10 we read one of the seven “I Am” statements made by Jesus, “I am the Good Shepherd.” Jesus makes this statement as a direct contrast between Himself and the current shepherds of Israel – the Pharisees.

As the Good Shepherd, Jesus must indeed shepherd His flock in strength and majesty. Strength is often used to describe physical strength as in power to be exerted. It is also used in a military context to signify strength, power and the ability to perform in battle. The shepherd must indeed have physical strength in caring for his sheep. Many times, a shepherd must dig deep to find water for his sheep, and this requires exerting much physical strength. The parallel for Christ followers is found in chapter 4 of John when Jesus has a conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. Like the woman at the well, Jesus will give us water that will well up and become streams of living waters, if we but ask Him.  

Many times, the shepherd would need to battle predators seeking to devour his sheep. Whether it is bear or lion, hyena or jackal, the Good Shepherd must be vigilant at all times. His rod always by His side, ready to be slung at an invading predator or used as a club to beat off the attack against His sheep, the shepherd is always ready for battle. For the Christ follower, Jesus also protects His people from an enemy that is seeking to destroy them. He has provided us with the armor of God to fight off the attacks, schemes and flaming arrows of the enemy. His word acts as a sword to protect His people, it is sharper than any two-edged sword and able to cut down any enemy attack or cut through the hardest of sins keeping His people in bondage.

The majesty with which Jesus will shepherd His people is the greatness and dignity of God the Father – Jesus will shepherd His flock with all the characteristics of God the Father. This goes beyond just the power and authority of God the Father – it encompasses all that we see in the Father – His faithfulness, His goodness, His comfort, His protection and His provision, just to name a few. All of these must be used by the Good Shepherd in caring for His flock. He must be faithful in His daily leading of the flock from pasture to pasture. Staying in one spot can prove fatal to both the pasture and the flock.

The goodness of the Good Shepherd is seen as He carefully selects the passage to the next pasture, in His diligence in keeping the flock together, and in keeping the tension and stress at a minimum for His sheep. He must see to the comfort of His flock whether it is from the elements, predators or one another. He protects His flock not only from predators but also from deadly weeds and parasite filled waters. He sees they are protected from wind, rain, snow, excessive heat and sudden flooding from melting mountain snow.

As Christ followers we see each of these characteristics from our Lord and Savior each and every day. From His faithfulness at each sunrise and sunset, to the home we sleep in each night, the food, clothing, jobs and even each breath we take, speak to the faithfulness, goodness and comfort we find in Jesus – to say nothing about His presence in the storms of life or the joys we experience each day. We also feel His protection and provision each day. Our safe passage as we drive each day to and from work or running errands; shelter from wind, rain and storms; safety from illness and disease are examples of His protection we experience each day.

Food, clothing and our jobs are provisions we see from Jesus each and every day. As are those people He has placed in our lives to provide love, laughter and balance to our overly busy lives, as well as those who challenge us to be more loving, kind Christ followers and those who have come into our loves to spur us on through accountability, driving us closer to maturity and Christlikeness.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

What battle has the Prince of Peace been engaged in this past week for you?

How has the guidance of the Prince of Peace brought you peace this past week?

How have you experienced the protection and provision of the Prince of Peace this week?

We look for the second coming of the Prince of Peace because He will be known throughout the created order.

It is hard this time of year for many reasons. The most common issue we find is the stores packed with people all in a hurry to find the perfect gift and to buy the food the need for family and friends. All the while we hear the strains of Christmas music – “Peace on the earth, goodwill towards men.”

We all know how hard it is to find a peaceful moment this time of year. As Christ followers we know there is only one place where we can truly find peace, peace that cannot and does not come from the world but rather we find in the Prince of Peace.

As Christ followers, we must remember that peace is NOT something that is manmade. Peace is far more than simply the absence of conflict, whether in our homes, our communities or around the world. Yes, being rid of conflict helps to create peace but true peace can NEVER come outside of a life lived with Christ Jesus. We must learn to see our peace in everything we have discussed in this message as found in Christ Jesus. He is the One who has been promised from the days of eternity to come as the Prince of Peace; He is the Son given; He is the One who has come as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world.

He is also the Good Shepherd who has come to shepherd His flock in the greatness and majesty of the Father. He alone has all of the characteristics we find in the Father, and He alone can protect and provide for His flock in faithfulness, goodness and with the comfort of His flock in mind. Right now, your mind is under siege. Everywhere you turn you are being assaulted to trust the government, or to trust the science. This is an attack on your faith. It may not seem like it and the words that are spoken may not be saying that plainly, but that is exactly what is happening. No man, woman or political party; no sports team or actor; no musician or writer can bring you peace in a troubled world. Trusting anyone or anything outside of Christ Jesus is a futile adventure and will only end in disappointment.

As we eagerly await the second coming of Christ Jesus and the peace He will bring with Him, I challenge you to find time daily to spend time in concentrated focus on the peace you find in Christ Jesus. I know we all have busy lives and schedules, and we might even feel a little guilty by taking time out for something that seems so selfish, but this is a necessary step in caring for your personal spiritual growth, your relationship with Christ and perhaps just as importantly, in caring for your soul. Your soul needs peace but it needs the peace that is found in Christ Jesus. May you find the peace your soul needs in the coming days and weeks as we focus on the second coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

We do all things for the glory of God through Christ our Lord.

Amen and amen.

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