Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.The Gift of Peace
Isaiah 9:6; Isaiah 5:21
What a contrast these two texts present! The wicked—those living apart from God—have no peace; but to those who know the Incarnate Son of God to be their Saviour, He is their Peace—the Prince of Peace. Let us look at Him, and then at the great inward gift that He comes to convey to us.
I. Peace Inherent in Christ's Nature.—Whatever Christ is, He is by nature, not by circumstance. If He is a King, He is so by nature; if He is the Redeemer, it is because He has willed it with His Father and the Holy Spirit; if He is a Saviour, He is the only Saviour, none other can save us; and so when we speak of Him as 'the Prince of Peace,' we see that that peace is inherent in Himself. When He took our nature, He took it into union with His Godhead. We know that He was tempted in all points; we recognize His physical suffering, and, what is more, and much worse, the agony of mind and heart, the iron entering into the very soul. We cannot understand how that is consistent with His abiding in perfect peace, yet we know that it was so. He is the Prince of Peace because He possessed peace in Himself. Peace rests in the Christian's heart just because it belongs to Jesus Christ. What Christ is in other natures that He conveys, and He conveys it by necessity.
II. The Gift of Peace.—He brings, then, peace!
a. He has made you at peace with God. The punishment of our sins has been bought by His satisfaction of the justice of God.
b. He has given you His peace. You remember His own words that seem to sum up all He can possibly do. They are the last, and so, as is usual with Him, the best Listen to them: 'Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you'. And He places His peace, if you will have it, right down in your inmost soul. In these last words He was careful to point out 'Not as the world giveth, give I unto you'. When one of us gives some small pledge or present to a friend, a moment before it belonged to the giver, the next it has passed with affection to the receiver. It has ceased to be the property of the one, and has become the possession of the other. Not so Christ! He does not give in that way; His peace remains His own, not merely because He has parted with none of it, but for a deeper and better reason. The gift which passes between you and me marks our separateness, but the gift that is possessed by you and by Jesus Christ testifies to our union with Him. It is in Him that it is enjoyed, and in Him alone.
III. The Character of Peace.—There is peace and peace! Some persons make a wilderness, burn the towns, sweep the crops, kill the men, and then set up an inscription that they have made peace! There is peace which is a name only. There is a peace which is an end, and there is a peace which is unworthy, and a peace which is crushing. It is not the peace of Jesus Christ. The peace He enjoys, and that He conveys, is the peace of God. It is consistent with the completest and most tremendous activity. No saint ever lived without peace as the rule of his life, but no saint ever found in peace his end. The more that the Prince of Peace dwells in our hearts the greater will be our desire and our capacity to serve Him.
References.—IX. 6.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iv. No. 214; vol. iv. No. 215; vol. v. No. 258; vol. vi. No. 291; vol. xii. No. 724. F. W. Aveling, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxviii. 1890, p. 249. H. Hensley Henson, ibid. vol. lix. 1901, p. 6; see also ibid. vol. lxxi. 1907, p. 9. J. Morgan Gibbon, ibid. vol. lxv. 1904, p. 113. J. Bannerman, Sermons, pp. 108, 128. H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, Sunday Lessons for Daily Life, p. 52. C. J. Ridgeway, The King and His Kingdom, p. 40. W. H. Murray, The Fruits of the Spirit, p. 146. J. Leckie, Sermons Preached at Ibrox, p. 229. H. P. Liddon, Advent in St. Paul's, p. 257; see also Outlines of Sermons on the Old Testament, p. 174. T. De Witt Talmage, Sermons, p. 52. C. E. Jefferson, The Character of Jesus, p. 339. Jesse Butt, The Soul's Escape, p. 5. A. G. Mortimer, The Church's Lessons for the Christian Year, part i. p. 59. J. Keble, Sermons for Christmas and Epiphany, pp. 49, 79. IX. 6, 7.—J. Vickery, Ideals of Life, p. 295. V. S. S. Coles, Advent Meditations on Isaiah, I.-XII. p. 77. Stopford A. Brooke, The Old Testament and Modern Life, p. 303. C. Kingsley, Sermons on National Subjects, p. 346. IX. 7.—J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons (9th Series), p. 232. J. Clifford, The Secret of Jesus, p. 171. J. B. Mozley, Sermons Parochial and Occasional, p. 244. IX. 13.—C. H. Sharpe, Church, Times, vol. xlviii. 1902, p. 48. IX. 16, 17.—C. F. Aked, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxi. 1902, p. 387. IX. 29.—J. Percival, Sermons at Rugby, p. 127. X. 5-19.—V. S. S. Coles, Advent Meditations on Isaiah, I.-XII. p. 81.
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.
For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel.
And all the people shall know, even Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria, that say in the pride and stoutness of heart,
The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones: the sycomores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars.
Therefore the LORD shall set up the adversaries of Rezin against him, and join his enemies together;
The Syrians before, and the Philistines behind; and they shall devour Israel with open mouth. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the LORD of hosts.
Therefore the LORD will cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush, in one day.
The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail.
For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.
Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows: for every one is an hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
For wickedness burneth as the fire: it shall devour the briers and thorns, and shall kindle in the thickets of the forest, and they shall mount up like the lifting up of smoke.
Through the wrath of the LORD of hosts is the land darkened, and the people shall be as the fuel of the fire: no man shall spare his brother.
And he shall snatch on the right hand, and be hungry; and he shall eat on the left hand, and they shall not be satisfied: they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm:
Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh: and they together shall be against Judah. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.