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July 9, 2014 – Joshua 11

Click here to read Joshua 11 on BibleGateway.com

stormPeace. We talk about it all the time in church; sometimes we even sing about it attending our souls. We love the idea of it; sitting around in our jammie pants drinking chai tea (or coffee, should you be one of “those” people) and watching the sunset over the ranch.

Is that really what the Bible means by peace? A quiet evening with nothing going on?  When nobody is punching us in the face, and no dogs barking in our ear?  When everything is just going smooth as the top of the pudding? Or perhaps peace has nothing to do with lack of struggle, and everything to do with how we live with it.

PAUSE…OK, RESUME

In Joshua 11, we read about some of the, to be blunt, slaughter of various tribes that lived in Canaan before the Israelites got there. The Bible says that Joshua destroyed just about anyone he came into contact with, and destroyed a few cities to boot. And then the chapter ends with this little postscript: “then the land had rest from war.”

Rest. Not an end. If you continue reading the Old Testament, you’ll see that it wasn’t long before war came again (and again, and again) to the Israelites. We may need to face facts: there will be no peace in our lifetime; or anyone’s lifetime.  Not “peace in the Middle East,” or pretty much anywhere else for that matter. Sometimes you’ll hear people say “when the Prince of Peace comes, then there will be peace on earth.” Apparently some of those people haven’t read the back of the Bible yet; when Jesus comes, one of the first things that happens is war. And not just any war; the biggest war the world has ever seen. That’s not too peacey if you ask me.

What about the Fruits of the Spirit, you say? Isn’t one of those peace? Without a doubt, but this is our attitude of peace with others, not a ceasing of struggle in the world. There are many Christians who are serving the Lord and serving in the Armed Forces.  Some may see that as a contradiction, but it seems the Bible draws a distinction between “peace” that Jesus brings, and “no war” in the sense that we view peace today.

Should we pray for peace? Absolutely.  We should pray for peace in our lives, and in the lives of all those fighting actual wars at the moment. We are even told specifically  to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.  There is much suffering and sometimes very little good that comes from war.    The point in Joshua is not that war is good or bad; it just is.

LO ALWAYS

Here’s the point: if you are fighting a battle – spiritual, physical, emotional – right now and you are praying for peace, keep it up. You should keep praying, you should keep seeking God more. But if and when the battle ends and the peace comes, understand that it is simply a rest. There will be another battle coming.

Until the day when we were are actually in God’s presence forever, the fight is not going to end. Jesus is clear: you will have trouble in this world. The point is not to avoid trouble; the point is to cling tightly to Jesus when the trouble comes. Enjoy your rest when it comes, catch your breath, and buckle up. The peace that Jesus promises isn’t an exemption from the fight, but a calm assurance that He has a plan and purpose for each and every battle.

You may even get time to catch a chai now and then.

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