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Blessed Are the Peacemakers


“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”  (Matthew 5:9)

What did Yeshua (Jesus) mean when he included peacemaking in the list of blessings during His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5?

To answer that, we need to understand what a peacemaker is in Scripture.  

Then we can see what God is asking us to do, and not to do, as a peacemaker who is to be called a child of God.

An Orthodox Jewish father and his children walk in Jerusalem.

“Peacemakers Will Be Called Children of God”

The Jewish Apostle John tells us who has the right to become a child of God:

“To all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.”  (John 1:12)

And Rabbi Shaul (Apostle Paul) confirmed that we are  “sons of God through faith in Messiah Yeshua.”  (Galatians 3:26)

Olive branches are a symbol of peace in Israel and the Mediterranean region.

Once we become a child of God through faith in Yeshua, people will call us His children because they see that we are like Him.

“No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them;  they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.  This is how we know who the children of God are …”  (1 John 3:9–10)

Since one of God’s many names is YHVH Shalom — God of Peace — followers of Yeshua (Jesus) are Children of Peace.

Sermon on the Mount, by James Tissot

God’s kind of shalom is not always absence of strife or war but a sense of wholeness, well—being, and prosperity that is only available from the God of Shalom.

As well, shalom is related to the word shlemut, meaning perfection — the kind that we will experience in the Messianic era when God’s justice, truth and peace rules our daily lives (Isaiah 2:4–5; 11:1–9).

In that Messianic era, we will live in perfect peacefulness and holy purity, the kind we are called to create now in the world we live today.

 

 

Godly Peacemakers Put Purity First

The order of Yeshua’s blessings in His Sermon on the Mount help us to understand that before making peace (in verse 9), we should try to put our hearts in right standing with God (verse 8).

Yeshua says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”  (Matthew 5:8)

What does someone with a pure heart look like?

They have:

    • Godly motives  (Proverbs 16:2),
    • upright conduct  (Proverbs 21:8),
    • a heart full of the Word of God, which is pure  (Proverbs 30:5),
    • a righteous tongue  (Proverbs 10:20),
    • no envy of the arrogant, nor of the riches created by the wicked (Psalm 73:1 3), and
    • no attraction to falsehood or deceit  (Psalm 24:4).

James, the half—brother of Yeshua, not only placed purity before being peaceful and a peacemaker, he said it is a sign of wisdom from above:

“The wisdom that comes from Heaven is first of all pure; then peace—loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”  (James 3:17)

One way to understand what it means to make Godly shalom is to look at what happens when we simply try to “keep the peace” in the home.

Godly Peacemakers Are Not Always Peacekeepers

“Where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”  (James 3:16)

An Orthodox Jewish boy in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City.

Believers are not called to turn our eyes and ears away from ungodly actions in our families, communities, or the world.

When we give in to acts that are not in line with God’s sense of purity and shalom, we see tragic consequences.

We find this truth in King David’s later years when his son Adonijah becomes a willful, proud, and rebellious rival toward his father — all traits of a worldly spirit. He doesn’t even wait for his father’s death before he exalts himself, saying, “I will be king!”  (1 Kings 1:5)

David did not challenge his behavior.

“His father had never crossed him at any time by asking,  ‘Why have you done so?’”  (1 Kings 1:6)

Actively confronting ungodly behavior is the will of God.

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”  (Hebrews 12:11)

King David Gives Charge to Solomon in 1 Kings 2:1. (Image from The art Bible, p. 427, 1896)

It seems that David allowed Adonijah to follow his own headstrong ways and, eventually, it cost Adonijah his life (1 Kings 2:25).

However, David’s last act before he died was to ensure that his son Solomon took the throne, just as God had intended                       (1 Chronicles 28:5–7).

Solomon asked God to give him abundant wisdom to rule Israel and with that wisdom led the people in unprecedented peace for forty years.

Indeed, Solomon, whose name in Hebrew is Shlomo — שְׁלֹמֹה, means peaceable.

Godly Peacemakers Will Reap Righteousness

“Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”  (James 3:18)

Abraham Caressing Isaac (1637), by Rembrandt

In contrast to David and Adonijah, Abraham’s son Isaac so respected and trusted his father that he was willing to receive his direction and guidance even with something as important as the choice of a wife — and this was when Isaac was already 40 years of age!

And when Abraham died, Isaac’s inheritance went unchallenged by his brothers.

Abraham’s ability to govern his family in peace is perhaps one of the reasons YHVH Shalom chose him to be the father of our faith.

It is also an example of how true peacemaking results in a Godly righteousness that people take notice of.

Godly Peacemakers Will Experience Persecution in the World

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”  (Matthew 5:10)

In Yeshua’s order of blessings, persecution follows Godly peacemaking, perhaps because making Godly peace results in righteousness.

However, the world has a problem with righteousness!

Paul, for example, devoted His life to bringing the peace of God to the Gentile nations.

As a result, he was constantly criticized by the Romans; he was flogged, imprisoned, and often went cold and hungry.

Yet, He never deviated from speaking the truth in love.

Trial of the Apostle Paul before Herod Agrippa II in Acts 26 (1875), by Nikolai Bodarevsky

Although chaos seemed to loom around him and those he led to Yeshua and the Creator, he advised them:  “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”  (Romans 12:18)

How do we be at peace with those who persecute us?  “Bless and do not curse,” Paul says.

How do we bless an enemy?  If he is in need, we can help him.

Paul says, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink. …  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  (Romans 12:18–21)

We can also greet him with a smile and a “hello” instead of crossing the street to avoid him.  This is loving our neighbor.

If our enemy refuses our kindness and good deeds toward them, we are not to take revenge or repay evil with evil.  God says, “Vengeance is Mine; I will repay.”  (Deuteronomy 32:35; Romans 12:19)

What a relief to know that God has our back!

Even so, sometimes Godly peacemaking does require engaging in war.

Soldiers stand at the Western (Wailing) Wall Plaza. On June 7, 1967, Israel reclaimed all of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, from Jordan, who occupied it in 1949 at the end of Israel’s War for Independence.

Godly Peacemakers Sometimes Go to War

God understands that war is sometimes obligatory to defend a city or a country from attack.

So, the Book of Deuteronomy chapter 20 includes several laws relating to “how and when” to make war.

Trying to make peace with neighboring peoples is one of those laws.

When warring with cities outside the Promised Land, God ordered Israel to first make a mandatory offer of peace.

“When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace.”  (Deuteronomy 20:10)

In November, 2018, Gaza sent nearly 500 rockets into Israel over 48 hours.  Israel responded by destroying 160 strategic sites.  Yet, it also dropped several thousand leaflets warning people when and where they would bomb so that lives would be spared.  And it swiftly entered into a ceasefire agreement brokered by Egypt.

God’s Ultimate Strategy for World Peace

“To us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders.  And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  (Isaiah 9:6)

Since God is YHVH Shalom, it is fitting that His only begotten Son would be our Sar Shalom (Prince of Peace).

Yeshua not only restored physical wholeness and well—being to thousands of blind, deaf, mute, and diseased people, He mediated the ultimate peace agreement for each and every one of us.

“Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah).”  (Romans 5:1)

Today, you can Help Jewish People make peace with God by learning about their Messiah Yeshua.

 

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