ODB: Pax Romana

December 20, 2015 

READ: Isaiah 9:1-7 

To us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.

Isaiah 9:6


No one can afford the price of war. One website reports 64 nations are currently involved in armed conflicts. When and how will they end? We want peace, but not at the expense of justice.

Jesus was born during a time of “peace,” but it came at the cost of heavy-handed oppression. The Pax Romana (“Roman Peace”) existed only because Rome squashed all dissent.

Seven centuries before that time of relative peace, hostile armies prepared to invade Jerusalem. From the shadow of war, God made a remarkable pronouncement. “On those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned,” the prophet declared (Isa. 9:2). “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given . . . . Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end” (vv. 6-7). Matthew tells us that Isaiah’s prophecy found fulfillment in the Christ-child (Matt. 1:22-23; see also Isa. 7:14).

We adore the tiny baby in the manger scene. Yet that helpless babe is also the Lord Almighty, “the Lord of Heaven’s Armies” (Isa. 13:13 nlt). He will one day “reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness” (9:7). Such a regime will be no oppressive Pax Romana. It will be the reign of the Prince of Peace.

— Tim Gustafson

Father, we can never sufficiently thank You that Your Son came to bring us peace with You through His death and resurrection. Thank You that He will rule in both peace and righteousness.

The Lamb of God is also the Lion of Judah.  

ODJ: war

April 1, 2014 

READ: Joshua 8:1-29 

Better to have wisdom than weapons of war, but one sinner can destroy much that is good (Ecclesiastes 9:18).

Journalist Jeffrey Gettleman asserts, “There is a very simple reason why some of Africa’s bloodiest, most brutal wars never seem to end: they are not really wars. . . . The combatants don’t have much of an ideology; they don’t have clear goals. . . . I’ve witnessed up close—often way too close—how combat has morphed from soldier versus soldier (now a rarity in Africa) to soldier versus civilian.”

While I agree that a majority of Africa’s modern battles (including the infamous Lord’s Resistance Army’s decades of attacks on civilians in northern Uganda) differ from ideological, military-fought wars—such as World Wars I and II—biblical history reveals that attacks on civilians aren’t something new.

In Joshua 8:25-26, for example, we learn that when Joshua and the Israelites attacked Ai (after seeking God’s wisdom), the Lord ensured the victory over their people. This was not simply wanton destruction, but God in His holiness could not permit wickedness to persist in nations including Israel itself (which also faced defeat in battles). War has been used by Him to punish people for their wickedness. There’s a huge difference between evil men committing mass atrocities and the battles that God allowed due to His righteousness.

Scripture teaches that one reason wars occur is due to our hearts not being fully committed to God (2 Chronicles 16:9). “Quarrels and fights . . . come from the evil desires at war within” (James 4:1). God has allowed battles to occur at times to promote real peace and righteousness. He alone possesses the wisdom and righteous eyes to do so. May we strive for peace—and not battles—in all our relationships today.

—Roxanne Robbins

365-day plan› 1 Samuel 25:1-42

Read Ecclesiastes 3:8 and consider how we should seek God’s wisdom during these times. 
What do you think the difference is between a “warrior” of God (Joel 3:11) and a man or woman who wages wrongful war (through words or weapons)? How can we follow Jesus’ example in promoting peace? 

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