“So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.”
– Genesis 3:23-24 (We suggest reading all of Genesis 3 if you have time.)
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”
– Isaiah 9:6-7
“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’”
– Luke 2:13-14
In the beginning of the story, God created the world and everything in it and declared it good. Very good. All was as intended. Complete. Whole. Humanity and divinity walked together in peace. As the writers of the Old Testament would say in Hebrew, there was “shalom.” Before our Savior laid in a wooden manger or hung on a tree to die, there was a garden full of plants to provide fruit and blossoms, protection and beauty; with one tree not to be touched.
When sin entered the world in Genesis 3, Adam and Eve lost the peace of Eden and we are given the first foreshadowing of Jesus in the Bible. There was to be enmity between the offspring of the woman and the snake, but he would ultimately crush the serpent’s head (3:15). As God drove his people out of paradise and placed angels as guards, conflict had clearly started.
In so many ways, it hasn’t stopped since. The longing to be back in paradise —to live in right relationship with nature, each other, and our Creator— continues to drive society. We want, and desperately need, restoration. Peace was always the plan and we are all familiar with the tension of not fully having it here in the middle of the story.
This second week of Advent is a reminder that God has made a way for peace. That first Christmas, the angels showed up and told people not to be afraid. They had an important announcement. What had been prophesied in numerous ways before was actually happening —the prince of peace was here. A time of peace was coming. Peace on earth wasn’t an unattainable ideal that had slipped through our hands forever when the gates to the garden closed. Instead, it was God’s entire aim. He had created things complete and whole in the beginning, and through the birth of Jesus, he would bring shalom once again.
Holy Creator, In the beginning you designed a very good world. We are grateful you wanted to walk alongside us in the garden. We acknowledge that we messed that up and continue to do so daily. But we long for wholeness, restoration, and shalom. Thank you for your plan to bring peace through Jesus. On this second week of Advent, we need that peace personally and globally. Glory to you who is willing and able to make all things right. May it be so as you reign forever. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
› In your own words, how would you define the biblical meaning of “shalom”? In what ways have you witnessed it in your life?
› What does Christ being the Prince of Peace mean to you? What does it mean for the world?
› In what areas of your life do you need restoration? How does that longing to be back in paradise drive you to pursue peace?
PRAYING FOR PEACE
Whether it is as you go about your day or if you take some time to step away, here are ways you can intentionally be praying for peace this week.
When hearing a siren: Pray for peace for those who are hurt or in danger, and for those who are helping.
When driving, or when seeing a vehicle: Pray for those who are traveling or plan to travel.
When passing homes: Pray for those feeling stuck in their homes, for those that fear losing their homes, and for those who do not currently have a place to call home.
When you see flags: Pray for the government and local leaders.
When passing schools: Pray for teachers, students, and families.
When you see businesses: Pray for those who are working and pray for those who are out of work.
When you see a cross or church: Pray for those in ministry and the church body as a whole.