"For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end." Isaiah 9:6-7
The words of Isaiah 9 are most often associated with Christmas. As you read the words of this great passage you may hear the music of Handel’s Messiah playing in the background of your mind. I had a such an experience as I watched the news of the horrifying terror attacks that occurred in Israel and Gaza over the past week. As I saw the terror and hatred in the faces of the people, this passage and the music so closely associated with it came to my mind. I found that I was singing these words quietly to myself as I watched the horror unfold. In them I found comfort and hope. More accurately, in the One to whom they refer I found comfort and hope.
The statistics of war are staggering. Depending on what organization you look to as a source, and depending on what you define as a war, it is reported that there are anywhere between fifty-five and one-hundred active wars currently being fought. In the past week in Israel over two thousand three hundred people were killed and another eight thousand wounded. According to the New York Times, five hundred thousand have been killed or wounded in the invasion of Ukraine. The loss of life in Ethiopia is confounding, over one hundred thousand deaths in 2022 alone. That is roughly equal to the total of lives lost in all other conflicts combined. All these numbers do not take into account those who bear the scars of war in their emotions and souls.
The terror, hatred, and atrocities of war know no boundaries. It is hard to believe that they are an outpouring of the contents of the unredeemed human heart. War is a symptom of the primary issue that plagues humanity. Sin. Praise God, it is the human heart that the Prince of Peace has come to address.
To the Prince of Peace, each life is precious no matter which side of any conflict they are on. That can be hard for us to accept. Each one of us has within the tendency to divide people into ‘us’ and ‘them’. Each one of us holds convictions about the rightness or wrongness of those involved in the conflicts around the world. Yes, there are just causes that we must stand for, but we do well to remember that God loves all the combatants and his heart breaks over all the suffering and death that comes with war.
In Psalm 122, the Psalmist admonishes us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. This we ought to do! Let us also remember to pray for all those in this world who are impacted by war. Let us pray that they will meet the Prince of Peace and that their shattered lives and broken hearts would be eternally mended by him. Jesus is the only way that peace can be brought to this war ravaged world.
One more thought, if I may. Let us also pray for the return of Jesus. One day the Prince of Peace will come and put an end to all war. The Prophet Micah declared, “The Lord will mediate between peoples and will settle disputes between strong nations far away. They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore.” Micah 4:3.
Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!