Kris Jensen – Frances LaPrairie – Brooklyn Casillas
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies; your tongue mutters wickedness. Their webs will not serve as clothing; men will not cover themselves with what they make. Their works are works of iniquity, and deeds of violence are in their hands. Their feet run to evil, and they are swift to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; desolation and destruction are in their highways. The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths; they have made their roads crooked; no one who treads on them knows peace.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Advent Reading: Advent Reality in Peace by Dr. Stephen Isaac
Christ Himself is the peace between Jewish and non-Jewish believers, but between all peoples of all race, color, and culture. In reality, He has in and through Himself made any divided groups one - having destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility. “Peace” is mentioned four times in verses 13-18, of the 2nd chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians church. There has always been intrigue as to the meaning of the “dividing wall” which is mentioned only in the New Testament - not in the Old. Some say it refers to the wall in the Jerusalem temple sectors that separated the Court of the Gentiles from the Court of the Jews. But this wall was still standing when Paul wrote this epistle. Some think it meant the curtain in the temple between the Holy place and the Holy of Holies. But that was a curtain, not a wall. Others believe it means the “fence” around the Law mentioned by some Rabbis. But that referred more to the protection of the Law than to the hostility mentioned in this context. As we navigate what is one of the more intense and obvious Advent seasons of our lifetime it is clear that Paul is describing a spiritual “dividing wall” and not a physical one. You and I are living in the hostility of this spiritual division. The dividing wall is the spiritual condition of humankind when we choose to live, love, and believe outside of the only true peace we have ever been given - Christ Jesus the Messiah. Unless we are reconciled to Christ, humankind will never know or be at peace within ourselves or with one another. We will only know hostility and separation.
Since He destroyed this hostility and separation for all mankind through the death and resurrection of His first Advent - followers and believers in Christ should have no hostility.
Here is how He ended that hostility and separation and established His peace for those who follow and believe in Him. He rendered the Old Law “obsolete” in believers’ lives. Jews and non-Jews were enemies because the Jews have forever fought to keep the Law with its endless commandments and regulations, whereas non-Jews saw the old laws as non-essential and have forever fought against them. This difference was like a barrier or “dividing wall” between them. But once the Old Law became obsolete for those who are in Christ Jesus (by accepting Christ as the Messiah), peace becomes available to all who believe in Him. The need and reasons for any hostility is gone. Christ destroyed the Old Law by fulfilling its promises and prophecy thereby creating Peace.
The first purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace. The word “new” (kainon) means new or fresh in character or in quality rather than “new” (neos) in the sense of recent time. Non-Jews do not become Jews, nor do Jews become Non-Jew. Instead believing Jews and non-Jews, as well as people of all race, color, and culture become Christians, a whole new single entity and identity. We are being made new in Christ Jesus.
Christ’s second purpose in destroying hostility was to reconcile all believers to Himself in… one body. This reconciliation was accomplished through the cross, by which Christ killed (put to death) the hostility between mankind and God. Though He was put to death, He in turn put to death the need and cause of human hostility. Spiritual reconciliation is the removal of hostility and the presence of peace between man and God, and man and mankind. Again without Christ there is no peace for anyone anywhere. Not only is Christ “our peace”, but His message is peace.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:5-7
Advent Candle: Light the front (rose) candle to your left and ask all to read together…
We light the candle of Peace as we proclaim the Advent of our Savior and deliverer Jesus Christ! Until He returns we will shine His light and proclaim the peace of Christ to all humankind. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ! In peace, we proclaim that Christ Jesus is the light of the world – He is coming again!
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