Every Friday is a holiday here, and despite the current unsettled political situation, today we discipline our hearts and minds to go into a moment of obedience, to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. The electronic billboards blink “Shabbat Shalom (Peaceful/Good Sabbath)!” The women cook enough food for tonight and tomorrow and make preparations for a family night. The kids are off of school and there is a half-day at the offices to give people a chance to get home and settle in for Shabbat. In the streets and at the stores, “Shabbat shalom! Shabbat shalom!” It is the holy-day (holiday) of rest and Israel is invited into it every Saturday. Since the Jewish day starts the evening before, Shabbat technically starts at sunset Fridays. That’s when the busses and trains stop running. The streets get quiet. Everyone is home or at someone’s else’s home.
The invitation to rest is an ancient one. In the book of Genesis we hear about God resting on the Shabbat (the name refers to the number sheva, seven). In the ten commandments, we are told to separate the seventh day to the Lord for holy rest and worship and do no work. But there is a Sabbath yet to be entered, it is the rest from not just work, but works (Hebrews 4:10). We enter into a rest of faith, trust in God–and we find our peace is what He’s been wanting for a VERY long time.
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.” Isaiah 30:15
Look closely at those four words. Repentance. Rest. Quietness. Trust. How many ways have we rebelled against these things out of fear and pride. But, we say now, with hearts full of trust, we ARE willing, Lord. We want your peace and we will pursue it–both for our own hearts and for Israel.
Seek peace. And pursue it.
That’s what David wrote while He was being pursued and oppressed by King Saul. When there was no place to rest. David was seeking and praying for peace, health, safety, and well-being— the end of the pursuit. He was tired and seeking rest and restoration of relationship so he could show his face again in public without fear for his life! In fact, the warrior who killed Goliath and thousands of others in battle, eventually would move his capital to Jerusalem, an ancient city whose very name came to mean shalom “peace,” where peace was made possible in his Jerusalem by David’s consistent victory over the armies of the land. It’s no wonder they were expecting a warrior Messiah. The prophets speak of a warrior Messiah. But Yeshua brought a different kind of peace, a “Shalom” that is not just a greeting, not a political peace, but a peace of complete faith, or trust.
He had a way of seeing right through people’s reputations and words—our big talk and our small talk, and He saw our burdens, our hurts, our scars, our fears. He knew that shalom of community is not possible without first restoring relationship and having “peace” with God, through forgiveness of sins, and so he offers us the one necessary thing to meet our most crucial need—peace through His death on the cross and life in His Spirit. He humbled himself and became our shepherd servant, our sacrifice, our provider, our living water, our resurrection, our healing, our hope, our burden bearer, and yes, our peace.
“The punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds
we are healed.”Isaiah 53:5
He took the punishment that brought us peace and healing. He is the one who made peace possible. Before that, it was just a dream, a distant memory of a barely remembered past in a garden, where we last had peace with God. He brought us back.
When we pursue Yeshua, it is a pursuit of peace.
When we pursue peace, it is a pursuit of Yeshua.
He is our peace. When we gather in worship to Yeshua and put our eyes on
Him, all else fades away. For all of us who need peace with God, and peace in
our storms, and peace within our families, peace in our countries, Jesus is who
we need to be pursuing. But how do we do that? I mean really? What does it mean
to seek Him out?
Seek peace. And pursue it.
May Israel seek Yeshua. And pursue Him.
Lord, today we just enter your rest and we thank you for the rest you give your people. We lean back into repentance, rest, quietness, and trust today. We declare over Israel your peace, your shalom.