Author Archives: Gerald F. Ward

About Gerald F. Ward

I am a husband and father, a Librarian, and a "want-to-be" theologian. I am also a photographer and writer. One of my jobs is helping people self-publish and print books.

Morning Prayer

O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. (Psalm 5:3 ESV)

God wants us to listen to Him and talk to Him. Praying to God upon first awakening from sleep is evidence of a person’s devotion to Him and desire to intimately know Him.

Morning is not the only time to pray. Morning is a good time to pray. We should pray always, at all times of the day. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 6:16-18 ESV). There is something about morning and prayer that has captured the discipline of many of the greatest spiritual leaders, beginning with Jesus. “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed”(Mark 1:35 ESV; see also Luke 4:42). Throughout His ministry Jesus prayed often at all times of the day.

Sleeping in the Psalms may mean resting with eyes closed and moving into the physiological state where one dreams. But it may also mean death. Jesus raised people from the dead and was, Himself, resurrected from death. Sleep is not death but the word is often used for someone who has died. Death is an enemy for the living in this world because it symbolizes God judgment. But sleep is a time of peace and rest that shows God’s pleasure and protection. “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8 ESV). Jesus was not afraid of His enemies during His ministry, nor of death and dying, for He controls death, it does not control Him.

Morning is used twice in this verse. Morning is the time to direct special attention to God. The ESV adds the word “sacrifice” to this verse, and sacrifice may be implied. Prepare means to direct, to arrange, order, furnish, as in to prepare a sacrifice or a meal or some other special experience. Watch means to keep close look out, to spy, observe or watch closely. The Psalmist suggests he has an anticipation of something important happening during his morning prayer. Praying in the morning prepares him for the meeting with God, insuring all is in order and ready for him to receive what God is giving. Our morning sacrifice is ourselves to His purpose and will.

Dreams and visions are times when God speaks to people about themselves and their relationship with Him. God spoke to Joseph about Mary, his future wife, in a dream (see Matthew 1:18-25) telling him to marry her even though she was pregnant with Jesus. After Jesus’ birth, God spoke to Joseph again in a dream, telling him to take his family to Egypt to escape the murderous wrath of Herod the Great (see Matthew 2:13-15). In Scripture dreams have special meanings. However, outside of Scripture, dreams are often misinterpreted, giving the dreamer an excuse to act on a superstitious belief. Nostradamus dreamed and led many people astray. Other times dreams will frighten and keep a person from acting. Sometimes God speaks to people in their dreams. Most often dreams reveal the innermost thinking of our hearts, often suppressed because of pain and discomfort. That which we long for may be revealed in dreams. Often, we dream and immediately forget our dreams upon waking.

Praying in the morning becomes a way to prepare for the day after a night of rest and dreaming deeply. Intimacy with God begins from the moment we awake. Or, a lack of intimacy is shown by removing thoughts of God from our hearts and minds from the moment we awake because of the “great” things we must face or accomplish. Praying in the morning becomes a discipline of obedience and love for God.

Jesus charges those who are His to stand ready for His return at a moment, driving home His instructions with several parables about those who lost because they were not prepared and ready for the return of their Master. He is speaking about His second coming “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:44 ESV) and “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25:13 ESV). Jesus characterizes His coming as a thief in the night. “Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!” (Revelation 16:15 ESV).

Discipline involves every thought and action. We are at war with sin, our own flesh and Satan and the world. Each of these enemies would storm our lives and enslave us, dragging us away from God. God’s Spirit in us, and the Word of God, gives us the tools we need to fight this war. It is a war fought in the heavens while the battlefield is within each person. “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” ( Genesis 6:5 ESV). Jesus does not fix the old heart, the dead person. He makes a new person with a new heart that hungers and thirsts for Him and His righteousness, driving the recreated person to intimacy with Him. We are left in this world for two reasons. First, we are witnesses to the grace and truth of God before the world. Secondly, God is preparing us for eternity with Him. Our preparation begins at the moment of salvation and continues in eternity.

Advertisements

Misunderstood

Alien-Immigrants and Strangers

Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul (1 Peter 2:11).

Christians live as both alien-immigrants in the world and as strangers, visitors just passing through the world, picking up those things needed for eternity.

Peter’s letter has three sections. Section one is chapter 1:1-12. God the Father works eternally in the lives of those who are alien immigrants in the world. Section two is from chapter 1:13 through chapter 2:10. The Holy Spirit has set apart the Christian and they are strangers in the world looking forward to their home in eternity.

Finally, the third section is in 2:11-5:14, the work of God the Son is made known through both suffering (for righteousness’ sake) in the world and with obedience to the Divine will. Peter combines both words (parapedemos and paroikos) into one phrase (2:11) to show the essential dichotomy faced by Christians as they live in a world which causes their suffering while remaining obedient to Jesus Christ, their Lord and Savior, who also suffered for them.

Scripture recognizes the difference between the alien-immigrant and the stranger, between those who accept the host county as their own or those who are just passing through using the host country to meet their needs. During the exodus, in the Hebrew Scripture, God is clear on His position concerning the alien-immigrant and the stranger in the larger context of His people. As the nation of Israel was exiting Egypt, God commanded them to eat a Passover feast, and to celebrate this feast and their miraculous release from slavery by the powerful hand of God.

And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the statute of the Passover: no foreigner shall eat of it, but every slave that is bought for money may eat of it after you have circumcised him. No foreigner or hired worker may eat of it. It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones. All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.” (Exodus 12:43-51 ESV)

Foreigner means the son of an alien or someone who does not consider Israel their home, either by birth or by decision. No person who refuses to identify with God or His people may eat and celebrate the Passover. Non-native people can celebrate the Passover. A servant or slavewho is circumcised, and by circumcision has identified with Israel, may eat the Passover. This is an important distinction. God recognizes the difference between those who are separated out from the world and dedicated to Him, and those who are separated from Him and identify with the world. The Passover was an annual celebration of remembering those who are God’s being saved from death as the Destroying Angel kills all the first born of those people who are in rebellion against God. In this case it is the Egyptian, and any who were in the borders of Egypt during the last plague.

Peter calls the Christian alien-immigrants and strangers. “Beloved, I urge you as alien-immigrants and strangers to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” (1Peter 2:11). Those who identify with Christ are citizens of the kingdom of heaven, temporarily residing as citizen of an earthly kingdom. They are refugees, unable to return to their real home until the war is over and God calls them home. Their attitude is one of knowing they are different yet accepting the citizenship in a place without embracing all of the cultural norms of the citizen of that place. They are displaced for a time and placed by God where they are His witnesses. They are the parapedemos.

But, Christians are also the paroikos, the stranger who is temporarily in a place to gain what they can before returning home. God is preparing the Christian for eternity and uses the trials and persecutions of the world to form the Christian into a spiritual being fit for eternity with Him. Because Christians are not citizens of the world and do not identify with the cultural traits of the world, the world and those in the world hate them, are suspicious of them and disdain them.

Christians live their lives in dichotomy. On one hand they live and vote and act like citizens of an earthly kingdom while knowing they are not. Our home is in eternity with God but we must act like our temporary lives in the world have significance and purpose. On the other hand, we reject the morality and culturally acceptable practices of the world when they conflict with God’s will. We act like our temporary lives in this world and the things we have and collect have no eternal value because we look forward to an inheritance that is eternal. Is it any wonder Christians and Christianity is misunderstood, compromised and disparaged?

Prayer

Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. (Psalm 5:1-2 ESV)

Everyone asks God for something, at some time during their life. Most of these requests are for comfort, to make life easier, to fulfill some want, to remove some obstacle. How many people want God to peer into their deepest thoughts and emotions, to uncover and lay bare and expose the wounds caused by sin? No one wants such exposure.

Asking for God to hear the thinking of the heart in prayer is a major theme in the Psalms. Many Psalms are prayers, seeking God’s direction or forgiveness, the writer pouring out his heart before the LORD. This Psalm, like Psalm 4, seeks God’s attention at the beginning. “Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!” (Psalm 4:1 ESV). Or Psalm 3, where he knows he is surrounded by enemies. “O LORD, how many are my foes” (Psalm 3:1 ESV). While many of King David’s circumstances fit these descriptions, he prophesied the feeling and thinking of Messiah, coming in flesh.

Spoken to God in the first person, Jesus laments the sin of His adversaries compared to His devotion to God. Groaning means to murmur or whisper. The Authorized Version translates the word groaning as “meditation.” Cry means to shout. The Psalmist is requesting God listen to His supplications when He whispers them or when He shouts. Jesus, even knowing God always hears, asks God to pay special attention to His whispered prayer thoughts and shouted frustrations.

Did Jesus ever shout? He was angry on a number of occasions. But, the Gospels give no indication, other than the anger of His actions and words, that He ever shouted. We view Jesus as cool and collected, never losing control, even in His anger. There are two instances in Scripture where Jesus confronted sin with violence. Jesus violently drove people away from the temple courts, once at the beginning and once at the end of His ministry, before His crucifixion.

The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” (Psalm 2:13-16 ESV)

Jesus viewed the temple as the house of God, His Father’s house, and a place of prayer. When He travelled to Jerusalem He always taught and prayed in the temple. Temple means a sacred place. In this case it is the designated place where God dwells and where His people can come to worship Him.

Before he was given the plans for the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, Moses would pitch this tent outside of the camp. People would come to this place to seek the LORD. Moses would enter the tent and God would descend in a cloud and the LORD would speak to him. They worshipped as God spoke to Moses. “Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent” (Exodus 33:11 ESV; see Exodus 33:7-11).

God wanted His people to build Him a sanctuary so He might live among His people. “And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst” (Exodus 25:8 ESV). Instead of being outside of the camp God’s tent was built and stayed in the middle of the camp, surrounded by the twelve tribes of His people.

David wanted to build a permanent Temple in the middle of Jerusalem but was restrained by God. David had killed too many people, so God declared his son Solomon, a man of peace, would build the house of worship.

“You shall not build a house to my name, because you have shed so much blood before me on the earth. Behold, a son shall be born to you who shall be a man of rest. I will give him rest from all his surrounding enemies. For his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel in his days. He shall build a house for my name. He shall be my son, and I will be his father, and I will establish his royal throne in Israel forever” (1 Chronicles 22:8-10 ESV).

Though Solomon was the son of David who built the house of the Lord, it is Jesus, the Son of David, who builds the eternal House of the Lord. Solomon used physical stones. Jesus uses living stones to build His house. “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:4-5 ESV). Neither Jesus nor God tolerates sin in their eternal presence.

This temple Jesus cleansed was not just God’s house, the house of His Father. It was His house, a physical representation of a spiritual reality. God listens to His Son because He is sinless, the blessed righteous Man in whom are all who are His declared righteous. His Body and His Church is pure and is becoming pure and will for eternity, be pure.

 

Strangers in the World

Studies in First Peter

Conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile (sojourning) (1 Peter 1:17 ESV)

Peter’s second section of his epistle, in 1:13-2:10, shows the work of the Holy Spirit inside of each Christian making them ready for heaven through the three-part process of sanctification. Peter uses the word paroikos, a different word than used in 1:1, to show the kingdom of heaven on earth and the power of the Holy Spirit to set the Christian apart for holy service. A paroikos is a person from another kingdom who lives in a place for only a short time in order to accomplish a specific goal or purpose. They are citizens of God’s kingdom and are simply passing through the world to their true home.

Paroikos is the second Greek word Peter uses and is also translated exile but actually means a person who is stopping over or staying for a short period of time as they travel from once place to the next. They may be a businessman or even a tourist. “And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile (sojourn) (1Peter 1:17 ESV). Other writers of the New Testament use the same word in the same sense, referring to those who are simply traveling through a country for a short time, unlike the immigrant who will stay indefinitely.

During Paul’s first missionary journey, he traveled to various cities speaking to the local Jews and others who would listen. In Antioch of Pisidia, on the Sabbath, Paul gave those who were listening a history lesson about the nation of Israel. “The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay (dwelt as strangers, paroikia) in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it” (Acts 13:17 ESV). Stephen, before he was murdered, gave the history of Israel as part of his witness and defense of the gospel. “And God spoke to this effect—that his offspring would be sojourners (paroikos) in a land belonging to others, who would enslave them and afflict them four hundred years”  (Acts 7:6 ESV). Paul wrote to the Ephesians stating that where they had been estranged from God they were now able to live in His presence. “So then you are no longer strangers (xenos) and aliens (sojourners, paroikos), but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19 ESV).

Unlike the parapedemos, the alien immigrant, the paroikos, stranger,  has decided to be in the host country for a short, designated time. There is no thought of adopting the culture, language or identity of the visited country because they are not going to stay. They are a traveler, a tourist, a businessperson, who is only in the country to gain something the country has and then return to their own country. They may just be travelling through on their way to another place or on their way home. The may be visiting out of curiosity, for an experience. They may be on a business trip, to gain a product or a treaty. They are using the host country to meet their needs, wants or desires.

The Christian, not a citizen of this world, still lives in the world, and is extended rights and privileges commensurate with that standing.  Those who are reborn are no longer native-born citizens and therefore will not conform to the standards demanded by native-born citizens. The Christian is a foreigner, residing for a short time in a place not his home. God uses the world in which we live as a training ground for eternity, teaching us that which we need to know about Himself and His kingdom before He finally brings the Christian home. Christians are citizens of the kingdom of heaven in the world for only a short time. Life may seem long, but when compared with eternity, which is not constrained by time, is only a blip on the timeline of history.

Peace and Rest

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.(Psalm 4:8 ESV)

Peace and rest go together, like justice and righteousness and repentance and faith. You cannot have one without the other. Peace and rest do not demand a circumstance outside of knowing God and being known by Him. Temporal circumstances may rob temporary peace and rest but cannot change that which God has established in eternity. Peace and rest are spiritual realities sometimes reflected through physical circumstances.

In this world there is neither peace with God, nor rest in Him, outside of a relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. In the Psalms God tells us He intimately “knows the way of the righteous” (Psalm 1:6 ESV). They are those He has declared righteous because they are in His Son. He then directs those who are unrighteous to “kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way” (Psalm 2:12 ESV). He offers an escape from His wrath through His Son. Jesus Christ is the One who is their life and the Righteous Judge of all. Only in Jesus Christ is there deliverance from the sentence of sin and rescue from separation from God for eternity. “Salvation belongs to the LORD” (Psalm 3:8 ESV). Only in Him who faced God’s wrath as a righteous man, living His earthly life without sin, is there peace and rest. Only in eternity with God is there life and rest and security from the presence and effects of sin.

It is better to have the eternal blessings of God than the temporal, haphazardly found lack of conflict that masquerades as peace in the world.

As Jesus walked among the people, working and teaching and confronting sin, He never acted or spoke out of a place of turmoil or desperation. His actions and speech were measured and filled with pointed compassion for those He met. He was not in a hurry, driven by anyone to do or act or be in a particular place.

As Lazarus lay dying, Jesus and His disciples were a two-day journey away. When word reached Jesus that Lazarus was sick, He did not immediately arise and go to him. John tells us Jesus’ feelings toward the sisters and brother. “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was” (John 11:5-6 ESV). He knew Lazarus would die but still told His disciples “this illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (John 11:4 ESV). How could Jesus say the illness would not lead to death knowing Lazarus would die? Jesus knows what He will do. He will raise Lazarus from the dead, restoring his life, even after four days in a tomb. He will do this as evidence of who He is and of His purpose for coming.

Knowledge gives control. He who knows all, has control over all. God is both omniscient and omnipotent. Jesus works from a place of peace and rest, able to lie down and  of His peace with God, who gives Him rest from the havoc of sin and makes Him dwell in safety.

Everything Jesus did fulfilled the purpose given Him by God for coming into this world as a human. After raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus set His face to go to Jerusalem, where He would endure an agonizing death. As completely God, He eternally knew the outcome of His sacrifice would bring absolute glory to God. His sacrifice is the ultimate worship of God. As a servant found in human form, He faced the physical and emotional anticipation of His coming agony.

Jesus was both eager to complete His mission and troubled by what He would endure. “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name” (John 12:27 ESV). Facing death, Jesus felt inward agitation and was anxious and distressed. His human part wanted release from what awaited Him outside of Jerusalem. Though facing the opposite of peace and rest, Jesus submitted Himself to God and finished that which He purposed from eternity.

God answered Him for people to hear. “Then a voice came from heaven: ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again’” (John 12:28 ESV). God is glorified by what His Son does on the cross. His sacrifice brought peace with God to those whose sin He took upon Himself and who are covered by His blood. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV). In peace He, and we in Him, lie down and sleep, even die. For God alone makes us dwell in this world and throughout eternity, in His secure presence. Jesus is our refuge and our peace and in Him is eternal life, and with life, eternal rest.

Alien Immigrants

Studies in First Peter

To those who are elect exiles (immigrants) of the Dispersion (1 Peter 1:1 ESV)

Our true home is not in this world but in eternity with God. Those who are citizens of His kingdom think differently about God, about themselves and about the world in which they live, than those who are citizens of the world. Peter uses the word exiles, people who are foreigners or aliens (parepidemos), to show the focus of the Christian remaining on God the Father.

In the first section of his letter, 1:1-12, Peter affirms it is God the Father who determines to provide and assure salvation for each citizen of His kingdom. He guarantees their place with Him in eternity and gives protection while they His live in a corrupt world.

When most people think of the word exilesthey imagine persons displaced by war or natural disaster, whose home or country is so violently attacked or destroyed they can no longer safely live there. Or, they think of someone who, for political or criminal reasons, has been forcibly removed from their home country as a punishment. For those displaced by war the exile flees for their own safety. Those punished are forcibly removed from their country. But this is not what the Greek word (parepidemos) means. A better translation is either alien or immigrantor both. An immigrant may have had to flee their country because of persecution or war. But immigrants usually want to come to a new country to live and to become a citizen of that country. They purposefully move from one country and culture, which was theirs, to another country and culture they make theirs.

According to Thayer’s exile (immigrant) (parapedimos) means one who comes from a foreign country to live side by side with those who are natives of the host country. They are foreigners who live in a strange place. “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles(read immigrants) of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (1Peter 1:1 ESV). In the context of 1 Peter 1:1, Christians are those who hold citizenship in heaven while living their lives on earth. Peter is writing to all Christians, but especially the Jews, who are part of the dispersion, the Diaspora. They are Jews scattered throughout the nations of the known world. Currently, the term Disapoa may also refer to Christians scattered throughout the world. Christians have dual citizenship. While living on earth the Christian lives according to the customs and culture of the nation in which they reside while remaining constantly aware of their citizenship in heaven.

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews couples the word alien immigrant with the word xenos. “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers (xenos) and exiles (parapidemos) on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13 ESV). Xenosmeans foreigner or stranger, or someone who is not familiar with the country in which they find themselves. They are not immigrants, though they are alien. Thus, the writer of Hebrews describes those who wait patiently and faithfully for God to act and consider themselves strangers even while they are living in the culture of a host country.

Jesus describes the citizen of the kingdom of heaven as both salt and light.

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:13-16 ESV)

God does not physically separate out those who are His from the world though He does separate them out as His. He disperses them throughout the world as witnesses of the Gospel. Christians live in the world as full citizens of the kingdom of God, temporarily removed from their true home, which is in eternity with God.

True Peace

Meditations on the Psalms

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8 ESV)

People want peace. Most every person who has ever lived has wanted to live in peace. There are some, a handful of disturbed people, who thrive on conflict and war. As they inflict as much pain as possible, they are quickly stopped so the remainder of the people can have a peaceful existence. There is no peace without God. Having peace with Him guarantees eternal peace but also guarantees temporal persecution. The world cannot offer or guarantee peace, only danger and conflict and turmoil. Any longing for peace comes from the inherent image of God found in each person. Any actual peace comes only with an intimate relationship with God. All of the turbulence and instability of the world is a direct result of sin. Where there is sin, there is no peace. Sin causes turmoil with all relationships.

Both the Psalmist and Jesus demonstrated their reliance upon God by declaring their trust in Him to protect them when they sleep. Peace is the word shalom and means completeness, safety, soundness, welfare, prosperity, quiet, tranquility, contentment, friendship. To lay down and sleep are the same words used in Psalm 3 and can mean to take rest over a long time or, euphemistically, to die. “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the LORD sustained me” (Psalm 3:5 ESV). David was not afraid to die because of his trust in God. Jesus was not afraid to die, knowing the purpose of His ministry was to die. He anticipated being tortured to death but walked to His death with confidence and peace with God.

It is God only who gives anyone peace, allowing them to dwell,or abide, remain, to have one’s home and inhabit, in safety or security. Our peace and security is God, not just in God. One of God’s many promises to the nation of Israel, as He led them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, was peace and security, provided His people continued to follow and obey Him.

 “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.

See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” (Deuteronomy 30:11-20 ESV)

As the nation of Israel entered the Promised Land they were given orders by God. They were to obey the commands, decrees and directions of God. They were to not adopt or practice anything done by the people of the land they are entering. The people of the land worshipped idols, not God, and practiced evil. God strictly warned His people to devote the inhabitants of the land they were possessing to destruction, to kill them all, otherwise they would lead His people away from God. “You shall make no covenant with them and their gods. They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you” (Exodus 23:32-33 ESV). God commanded His people to not sin, nor to follow the world or a people who taught and practiced sin.

Peace with God, and living in peace before Him, comes from and through a righteous and obedient relationship. Though we face death, though Jesus faced a horrible death, yet those who are God’s have eternal peace with Him. Out peace is had through Jesus Christ and out identity with Him is in His life, death and resurrection. Jesus promises the Holy Spirit for those who are His. With the Holy Spirit comes guaranteed peace with God.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27 ESV)

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 ESV)

Peace is not circumstantial but wholly dependent upon a vital relationship with God, the Son.