The Advent Theme of Peace

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(This is an excerpt from the chapter "Son of David" from the book Good Tidings of Great Joy.)

Matthew 2 juxtaposes temporal rulers—Herod, his son Archelaus, and, by implication, even Pharaoh of Egypt—with the Babe of Bethlehem. In contrast to these violent, even murderous rulers, the true King of Israel was to be the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). However, the peace that Jesus brings is as often internal and spiritual as it is external and temporal. While the prophecies of Isaiah describe the era of world peace that Christ will establish in the Millennium, the joyful message of both Christmas and Easter is that we can have peace in this life now, regardless of the earthly circumstances in which we might find ourselves. Through Jesus Christ, we can be reconciled to God, having peace of conscience and the quiet, strengthening support of his Spirit in times of trouble and heartache. Once we are at peace with God, we can then work, heart by heart, at being at peace with those around us.

In the New Testament, Paul describes “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), and in the Doctrine and Covenants we are promised that we can have “peace in this world” as well as “eternal life in the world to come” (D&C 59:23). Accordingly, on the last Sunday of Advent, the last Sunday before Christmas itself, we celebrate the peace that the birth of Jesus promised and the Atonement of Jesus accomplished. Some scriptures about the peace of Christ that reflect this Advent theme include the following:

“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth. . . .

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious” (Isaiah 11:1–4, 6–10; emphasis added).

“And behold, I say unto you, this is not all. For O how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that is the founder of peace, yea, even the Lord, who has redeemed his people; yea, him who has granted salvation unto his people; for were it not for the redemption which he hath made for his people, which was prepared from the foundation of the world, I say unto you, were it not for this, all mankind must have perished. But behold, the bands of death shall be broken, and the Son reigneth, and hath power over the dead; therefore, he bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead” (Mosiah 15:18–20; emphasis added).

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27; emphasis added).

If a family celebration of Advent includes recalling the covenants that God has made with his people through the generations, the fourth candle can also be used to remember the covenant that the Lord made with David, namely that in his line there would always be a king in Israel. This promise has received its glorious and final fulfillment in Jesus Christ, who as King of Kings and Lord of Lords will establish peace in our hearts, in our homes, and, one day, throughout all the world.

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