By Femi Aribisala
God is the God of peace. (Romans 15:33). When He speaks, even to the storm, peace is established. (Mark 4:39).
The psalmist says: “I will hear what God the LORD will speak, for He will speak peace to His people and to His saints.” (Psalm 85:8). Joseph told the pharaoh who wanted the interpretation of his dream: “God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” (Genesis 41:16).
Rest of God
One of the names of God is Jehovah-Shalom. Shalom is the Hebrew word for peace. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the gospel of peace. (Romans 10:15). The sons of God are sons of peace. (Luke 10:6). When Gideon built an altar to the Lord, he called it “The-Lord-Is-Peace.” (Judges 6:24).
The peace God gives is very precious. It is completely different from the peace of men. Men often conceptualise peace as the absence of war. This is then negotiated through diplomacy and international peacekeeping. But God’s peace cannot be obtained at the United Nations. It is not the transient peace of the world.
God’s peace is the peace of the heart and mind. It is an internal, as opposed to external, peace. It is the peace that comes from confidence in God and faith in Him. Isaiah says to God: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3).
People often say in frustration: “I just want some peace and quiet!” When you hear this, you know the complainant is seeking elusive peace of the world. For there to be peace in the world, there must be calm and quiet. Not so with the peace of God.
The peace of God remains even in turmoil. It persists even in the middle of storms. It resides in the confident assurance that the word of God can never fail. Jesus says: “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.” (John 16:33).
River of peace
The peace of God is constant and unrelenting. It is immune to situations and circumstances. It is likened to a river. God says: “‘Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river.” (Isaiah 66:12).
Rivers flow in one direction without stopping. So it is with the peace of God.
The peace of God is inscrutable. It does not make sense. But it is amenable to prayer. To have it, you must be: “Anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7).
God’s peace stands protective at the door of our hearts and does not allow worries to enter.
Heritage of peace
Jesus is our peace. He mediated peace between God and man. He mediated peace between the Jew and the Gentile. He gives us peace of mind.
We are often particular about what God has not given while overlooking what He gives. The main thing God gives and withholds is peace. He says to Jeremiah: “I have taken away My peace from this people.” (Jeremiah 16:5).
When Jesus was going back to heaven, He willed peace to believers. He said: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27).
This means the person that has received peace from God must guard it jealously. “A man of understanding holds his peace.” (Proverbs 11:12). He does not relinquish it.
We are inclined to guard our material possessions. We burglar-proof our houses. We put our treasures in safes. We put our money in the bank. We put our gold in Fort Knox. But our hearts are wide open. This is foolish.
There is no greater instrument of peace than the word of God. Therefore, God counsels: “My son, give attention to My words; incline your ear to My sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:20-23).
Worriers worship problems. They run from pillar to post, increasing their blood pressure. God worshippers are different. Like Jonah, we sleep through storms because God “gives His beloved sleep.” (Psalm 127:2). When we invite God into our situation, the very first thing He does is flood our hearts with His peace.
This peace is the signature of Jehovah Shalom. It tells us the ever-present God is manifestly there. That is why Moses, in his wisdom, was not in a hurry to take the children of Israel out of Egypt to the Promised land.
He said to God: “If You don’t go with us, we are not going.” He knew without God’s presence they would know no peace on the way. Therefore, God reassured him: “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14).
However, the Israelites did not have faith in God. They could not trust Him to protect them against their enemies. Therefore, they could not enter God’s rest.
Blessing of peace
Jesus renews the invitation to God’s peace to all humanity. He says: “Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29).
We may be labouring for money. We may be burdened because we do not have a child. We may be depressed because we do not have any pride of life like a job, a car, or a home. But the Lord does not promise any of these.
He is not a God of money. Neither is he a God of children. He does not say: “Come to Me all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you a job, car or property. He says: “I will give you rest.”
Contrary to what we may have been told, God does not bless people with houses, cars, lands, or jobs. He blesses people with peace. The psalmist says: “The LORD will give strength to his people; the LORD will bless His people with peace.” (Psalm 29:11).
The Lord visited me and led me through the early chapters of Genesis. He told me He planted a garden, east of Eden. In it was every kind of precious and luscious fruit. The garden was planted by the rivers of water, and the trees brought forth their fruits seasonally.
Then the Lord suddenly turned the entire episode on me. He said to me: “Femi, I have planted this garden in your mind. I want you to tend the garden, to keep it and dress it. Every plant that I have not planted must be uprooted.”