The Prince of Peace

The Prince of Peace

Isaiah 9:6-7
by Bob Burridge ©2019

Several years ago I was organizing some notes for a Christmas sermon. In the background I was playing some Christmas music on my computer while I worked. I also had my office TV tuned in to one of the news channels with the sound turned down.

As “Silent Night” was softly playing on my computer, the news was showing very unpeaceful images. There were scenes from conflicts going on around the world. There were reports about Terrorists, and violence in some of our own cities. Then there was a segment showing our elected Representatives and Senators angrily debating. Next they showed some environmental extremists screaming and rioting in our streets. Not much has changed since back then.

It reminded me of the chilling version of “Silent Night” in the 1960’s sung by Simon & Garfunkel. As they sang a very soft and beautiful version of the song, they added in the background the sound track of the 7 O’Clock news. As they sang you could hear news reports about violent murders, and the Viet Nam war. It drew a most troubling contrast between the news and the lyrics of “Silent Night“.

One of the names for the promised Messiah in the Bible is, the Prince of Peace.
Hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, Isaiah 9:6-7 said this, “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.”

Jesus came as that Prince of Peace over 2000 years ago! Yet we’re aware that there seems to be very little peace on earth. There are wars in foreign countries, concerns about terrorism here at home, hateful intollerance, violent crimes, kidnappings, mass shootings, and abductions.

So where’s that promised peace on earth? Certainly God’s able to deliver on his promises. So what’s the problem? It’s a matter of seeing things as they really are.

Simon and Garfunkel saw something important, but they misunderstood what they saw. There’s an awful depravity in the world that we can’t ignore. But there’s more to be seen, something more important going on.

There’s covetousness, greed, hatred, violence, the killing of unborn babies, and intolerance. These are evidences of the spiritual war that’s been going on since Adam’s fall in Eden. But God’s conquest over sin’s damage is advancing steadily toward total victory.

Before anything was created, our Eternal God had a plan to display his power and glory. He would dramatically overcome enemies, and transform some of them into his own children.

When first Eve, then Adam, broke God’s moral law, Satan thought he’d won the war. He thought he messed up God’s plan.

But — it was far from over. God told Satan how it would all all work out in Genesis 3:15. He said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

One day, a woman’s child would deal a death blow to Satan! The devil’s head will be crushed, but the God-sent conqueror would simply bruise his heel.

The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem was the arrival of the King to re-claim his territory. Jesus came to take back what was held captive by Satan.

One of the most exciting periods of Roman history centers on Julius Caesar. He was a very successful and popular general and military genius.

After his famous Gallic Wars, Caesar was up in Gaul with his troops. Back in Rome, Pompey and the Roman senate were plotting to keep Caesar from returning to Rome. They knew that if he and his well trained and experienced army came back their glory, and temporary power to rule over the Empire would end. The senate sent a letter to Caesar commanding him to disband his army. Then they declared Pompey to be the Emperor instead of Julius Caesar.

Within an hour of receiving the senate’s notice, Caesar mobilized his army for war and headed south to reclaim Rome. Once he crossed the Rubicon River back into Italy, he was technically at war. Inside the boarders of the Roman Empire his legal authority to lead his troops had been taken away. But the Roman Empire had been taken captive, and Caesar was coming to take it back.

Today, there is an expression “crossing the Rubicon”. It means taking that step of commitment to something to the point of no return, no turning back.

As soon as Caesar’s feet landed on Roman soil, there was no turning back. His quick response caught Pompey and the senate by complete surprise. Caesar quickly took Rome and drove Pompey out of the country.

When the feet of Jesus touched this planet at Bethlehem, a great battle was engaged. They were the small feet of a baby, but they belonged to the Creator and Ruler of everything. He had come to re-conquer his kingdom which had been compromised since the fall in Eden.

Mary was told that she would be the Messiah’s mother. She said in Luke 1:52 that in coming, her son “… has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate”. Up to that point in the mind of Satan God’s promise back in Eden was just a threat. But when that baby was born the promise made in Eden was beginning to be fulfilled in real time.

In a desperate attempt to stop the advance of God’s Kingdom there was a flurry of demonic activity. Nothing like that had ever taken place before that time. Many attempts were made to derail his mission before Jesus could finish his work.

When the Pharisees tried to discredit him, Jesus spoke clearly about his mission. In Matthew 12:22-29 Jesus restored sight and speech to a demon-possessed man. The Pharisees accused Jesus of using “satanic power” to cast out demons. Jesus not only showed them how completely foolish their idea was, he also revealed what was really taking place. Jesus said in verse 28, “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Therefore, since he did cast out demons, the Kingdom of God had obviously come! The long awaited confrontation was taking place. Jesus would bring that inescapable and decisive victory promised so long ago.

But something had to be done first. In Matthew 12:29 Jesus said, “… how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.” Just as a strong man has to be restrained first before what he owns can be taken away from him, Jesus was about to bind Satan, and crush the head of that old Serpent. Then he would re-claim those held captive by him. He was retaking ground claimed by the Kingdom of Evil. The spiritual Rubicon had been crossed. There would be no turning back. Jesus said in John 12:31, “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.” The Apostle Paul later in Colossians 2:15 explained Jesus’ victory: “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”

Something exciting had happened when Jesus was born! Christ’s reign had been re-asserted. He would oust Satan from his imagined power. It wasn’t completely enforced yet. The victory would be finally completed at the cross.

Today we who are redeemed by grace enjoy the benefits of that promised victory by Jesus. The enemy’s defeated, but he still desperately fights back even though he’s doomed. But now he has to operate under narrow limits imposed by a Sovereign God.

Revelation 20 says he was bound so that he can’t keep God’s truth from the nations any more. Satan prowls here on earth under a sentence of eternal damnation. But as he lurks around like a hungry lion, desperate to do us harm, he can’t keep souls blinded as captives in his grip any more.

There’s another principle of war that’s important to remember:
captured ground needs to be defended. Though Pompey was driven from Rome, he continued to struggle for power. While in exile in Greece he planned to re-take the Roman Empire by force.

In 48 BC Pompey lined up his infantry between the hills around Pharsalus and a stream. The stream secured his right, and he massed his cavalry to the left. The town itself was bounded by hills making it secure. Caesar lined up his war wearied troops facing Pompey’s forces, but he appeared outmatched. Pompey had a superior cavalry. He could easily push through Caesar’s weaker line, while coming up behind Caesar’s troops.

But Caesar had some surprises ready. He had a plan too! When Pompey’s horsemen began to attack, Caesar ordered his cavalry to retreat. Pompey’s men shouted in victory and charged ahead. But once behind enemy lines Pompey’s men found themselves in a trap!

Caesar had secretly shifted 6 Cohorts of his army to the rear where they could close in around them. Pompey’s unsuspecting horsemen were taken by surprise. They were now surrounded. The next surprise came when Caesar’s once retreating cavalry turned. Their attack caught Pompey’s best men in a two front battle. They were cut off behind enemy lines and quickly defeated. Once Pompey’s cavalry was out of the way Caesar ordered his horsemen to circle behind Pompey’s infantry. Then Caesar ordered his reserves in an unrelenting attack against the enemy’s center line.

Those who weren’t killed – either surrendered or tried to run away. Caesar pursued what was left of his unyielding enemy to Egypt, where Pompey was killed.

As things stand today, Satan’s been ousted from power and condemned, but he still fights on. We shouldn’t underestimate evil. But Satan is a condemned creature; defeated, bound, and doomed; Dethroned by the Prince of Peace.

We who rest in Christ need to remember that Satan has no power over us. When Jesus set foot on our planet as a baby in Bethlehem, victory was assured. He came! He saw! He conquered! Satan was defeated. On the cross, the guilt of all God’s people was paid for. Today our Resurrected Savior lives on to strengthen us, and defend us against the lies and lures of sin.

One day, the feet of Jesus will touch this planet again in final judgment. Satan will make his last attempt. He’ll be loosed for a “little season”. But he stands no chance.

Revelation 20:9 describes that last battle. Satans forces “… surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them.”

That’s it! That’s the final battle! It all ends in a sudden cascade of judgment! — no real battle at all. The devil and those who followed him are cast into the lake of fire. There, as Revelation 20:10 says “… they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

The enemy thinks he’s winning the spiritual war that goes on behind the scenes in our world, but he’s charging foolishly into an inescapable trap and certain defeat. His kingdom is already fallen. He now rules a fantasy kingdom. His power today is a lie. Evil is only appearing to win.

The decisive victory was secured about 2000 years ago. When the tiny feet of that new-born infant touched this planet the promise became history. As he grew, those feet took his message to God’s covenant people. Then those feet rested against the upright of a cross. As the heel of his foot was bruised by the rough wood, did anyone, did Satan, think of the words God spoke to the Devil in Eden? “he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

The Christmas message is all about this victory. We sing, “O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant!” That should be our attitude when we sing that song; a sense of joy and triumph. It should be our outlook when we’re not singing, but living through our day-to-day challenges. Don’t cower at the popularity of the lies. Don’t be fooled by the seemingly large numbers in that fantasy doomed Kingdom that surrounds us. There’s no real joy in the hearts of those who think breaking God’s law can make them happy.

We sing, “Joy to the world! the LORD is come: let earth receive her KING.” “Joy to the earth! The Saviour REIGNS:” Believe it! Jesus is the Sovereign Lord today and always. Don’t be blinded by the deceptions of the deceiver.

Our triumphant King is in many of our songs at Christmas: “Hark! The herald angels sing, Glory to the new-born KING” We sing, “Come and worship, Come and worship, Worship Christ the new-born KING.” Jesus, our Savior, is KING, the Prince of Peace. He’s not just a religious symbol in a manger. Don’t be tricked by Satan, that defeated liar. Christ reigns today in His kingdom, and he calls us to join in his victory.

At Christmas we should renew our trust in the promises God gives us in his written word. Believe that word, instead of the doubts whispered by the enemy. Grow with the advancing Kingdom of the Conquering Christ.

The enemy and his deceived followers love to point to the gloom and doom. While we sing about the victory and joy of Christmas, Satan would like you to focus on the background of bad news (like the version of “Silent Night” by Simon & Garfunkle).

Look behind the news. See it as the frantic death throws of a defeated enemy. When life brings it’s challenges, it’s pain, sorrow, and disappointments, remember the all-powerful hand that holds you, and will not let you go. It’s the hand of your loving and victorious Savior, the conquering King of all kings. While you go through the hard times that always come along, he reminds you — it’s all part of something bigger, something better – trust him!

Sin and evil are real, but their promises and power are lies. Don’t be discouraged or taken in by the lure of the lies. The joy of Christmas is found in a victory already secured by the Prince of Peace.

(Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.)

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