The Seeking of Peace
“Let him seek peace and pursue it. For Jehovah’s eyes are upon the righteous and his ears are toward their supplication.”—1 Pet. 3:11, 12.
1. How does one want life to be, and how do Solomon’s proverbs picture this desire?
WHAT is life without peace? Who wants life, even everlasting life, without peace? Not the average man or woman. Life with no quietness or freedom from nagging disturbances makes one long to get away. This was well pictured in the proverbs of the much-married King Solomon: “The contentions of a wife are as a leaking roof that drives one away.” ‘Better is it to dwell upon a corner of a roof than with a contentious wife, although in a house in common.” (Prov. 19:13; 21:9) Although living in a big, roomy house, a person would prefer to take refuge in the most remote corner of it to escape from the irritator and disturber.
2. What question is raised concerning the man wanting life, and how do we happen to have the inspired and proved answer to the urgent question?
2 Today, when there is no remote corner on this spacious earth to which to escape from the troubles, dangers and evil effects of this nuclear-bomb, space age, who is there that does not want life with peace, that he may see good days? That question is old, no doubt as old as the existence of trouble and injustice on our earth. Happy was the man who raised the question, not in hopelessness and helplessness, but with the ability to give the proved answer to the urgent question. His answer was something to sing about with musical accompaniment, and so it was included in the inspired Book of Psalms. It has been preserved for more than three thousand years for our benefit in this day of world trouble, distress and fear of more terrible things yet to come. Speaking as an experienced teacher to his pupils, the psalmist David, who became king of Jerusalem and the father of King Solomon, said:
3. How did David both pose the question and answer it in a psalm of his?
3 “Come, you sons, listen to me; the fear of Jehovah is what I shall teach you. Who is the man that is delighting in life, that is loving enough days to see what is good? Safeguard your tongue against what is bad, and your lips against speaking deception. Turn away from what is bad and do what is good; seek to find peace and pursue it. The eyes of Jehovah are toward the righteous ones, and his ears are toward their cry for help. The face of Jehovah is against those doing what is bad, to cut off the mention of them from the very earth.”—Ps. 34:11-16.
4, 5. (a) How did the apostle Peter show that David’s words were advice also for Christians? (b) In support of what exhortation does Peter quote David’s words?
4 Let no one today think that this is advice only to Jews. More than a thousand years after King David, a Christian apostle quoted David’s words and addressed them to Christians in various parts of Asia. He was the apostle Simon Peter, who had changed his religion from the corrupt Judaism or Jews’ religion of his day to the pure Christianity as originally established by Jesus Christ nineteen hundred years ago. Thus the apostle Peter made David’s inspired words a part of the Christian Scriptures. He showed that David’s words were advice also for Christians. Peter imitated Jesus Christ, who many times quoted from the psalms of David and applied them to Christianity. In his first letter to Christians Peter tells them to be different from what Christendom is today, for Christendom’s course has not led to the blessing of everlasting life with peace and good days. Therefore Peter quotes David’s words and says:
5 “Finally, all of you be like-minded, showing fellow feeling, exercising brotherly love, tenderly affectionate, humble in mind, not paying back injury for injury or reviling for reviling, but, to the contrary, bestowing a blessing, because you were called to this course, so that you might inherit a blessing. For, [now quoting David’s words] ‘he that would love life and see good days, let him restrain his tongue from what is injurious and his lips from speaking deceitfully, but let him turn away from what is injurious and do what is good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For Jehovah’sa eyes are upon the righteous and his ears are toward their supplication, but Jehovah’sb face is against those doing injurious things.’”—1 Pet. 3:8-12, footnote.
6. Why may the question about loving life seem hard to answer nowadays, but how did Jesus tell Christians to react to events and conditions since A.D. 1914?
6 Do we delight in life? Do we love life? Such a question may seem hard to answer now when our living into the future may mean our taking the risk of running into the worst trouble, the worst days that mankind has experienced since its creation, with hardly any hope of surviving. True, the battle of Armageddon, “the war of the great day of God the Almighty,” is fast approaching. (Rev. 16:14, 16) But God’s great Prophet, who foretold both that universal war and all the terrible events that would precede it from A.D. 1914 forward, told his true followers to take an optimistic view of these very events and conditions: “But as these things start to occur, raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near. . . . Note the fig tree and all the other trees: When they are already in the bud, by observing it you know for yourselves that now the summer is near. In this way you also, when you see these things occurring, know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I say to you, This generation will by no means pass away until all things occur.”—Luke 21:26, 28-32.
7. Why, then, should we rightly be “loving enough days to see what is good”?
7 Good days, the best days yet, are ahead of us, and there is something, yes, everything, to live for. We ought to delight in life, we ought to love life, for without life we would never be able to enjoy these good days under the established kingdom of God. Rightly, then, we should, as David the psalmist said, be “loving enough days to see what is good.”
PEACE WITH WHOM?
8. To have our delight and love toward life fulfilled, what do David and Peter say we must seek, and that with whom?
8 However, if we want our delight in life, our love of it, to be fulfilled, both David and the apostle Peter say we must seek peace and find it, first. Properly the question comes up, Peace with whom? Peace with man, with our fellow humans? Yes. But this is not possible except we attain to peace with someone else first. It is because Christendom has not attained to peace with this all-necessary one that there is no peace between even the nations, tribes and families of Christendom. Who, then, is that all-important one? Just who that one is was correctly pointed to by the famous British statesman of the eighteenth century, William Pitt, the earl of Chatham, when he said to his nephew: “If you are not right toward God, you can never be so toward man; and this is forever true, whether wits and rakes allow it or not.”
9. (a) To be really at peace with man, what is required, and how did David and Peter say more than did statesman William Pitt on this? (b) To that end, what will we accept, and why will we not wish his face to be against us?
9 It is equally true that, if one is not at peace with God, one cannot really be at peace with man, the creature of God. Both the psalmist David and the apostle Peter said this, although more than a thousand years apart. In fact, they said more than William Pitt did, for they named or identified the God with whom we need first to be at peace. Proving that it is absolutely necessary to find peace with God first, David followed up his advice to seek to find peace and pursue it by saying in the very next verses: “The eyes of Jehovah are toward the righteous ones, and his ears are toward their cry for help. The face of Jehovah is against those doing what is bad, to cut off the mention of them from the very earth.” The apostle Peter quotes the verses of David’s psalm in the same order. Moreover, David’s counsel on enjoying good days follows his exhortation to lovers of life: “Come, you sons, listen to me. The fear of Jehovah is what I shall teach you.” If we have intelligent fear of God, whose name is Jehovah, we will first of all desire to seek peace with him and hence we will accept the teaching that we need. We will not wish Jehovah’s face to be against us, for that would mean the very loss of life, the cutting off of all mention of us from the very earth, the blotting out of our very name.
10. Does Luke 2:14 mean that all mankind is at peace with God and has his good will, and how do we know whether that is so?
10 Why, though, is it with Jehovah God that we have to seek peace? Is it not true that, at the birth of his heavenly Son Jesus in Bethlehem, a multitude of angels said the words that Christendom sings around Christmas time: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men”? Yes! But the words as the angels chanted them do not mean that all mankind is at peace with God and has his good will. (Luke 2:14, AV) Both the English Revised Version of 1881 and the American Standard Version of 1901 render the angelic words: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased!” An American Translation reads: “Peace to the men he favors!” Monsignor R. A. Knox’s Roman Catholic version reads: “Peace on earth to men that are God’s friends.” The margin of the New World Translation reads: “Upon earth peace among men whom he approves.” It is only with the men whom Jehovah God favors and approves and who are therefore his friends that he is at peace. It is only upon them that his eyes are favorably. Only to their cry for help are his ears open.
11. Why should this be so, although the first man was the direct creation of God?
11 Why should this be so? Is not man the direct creation of God? Yes, the perfect man Adam was the direct creation of God. Hence Luke 3:23-38, when tracing the human line of descent of Jesus Christ back to the first man on earth, ends up by saying “the son of Adam, the son of God.” However, we are all the descendants of Adam after he had sinned against his Creator and had lost his human perfection. The wisest king of ancient times, Solomon, said: “There is no man that does not sin.” (1 Ki. 8:46) Also King David said: “They have all turned aside, they are alike corrupt, there is no one doing good, not even one.” (Ps. 14:3) A thousand years later the Christian apostle Paul said: “There is no distinction. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, . . . through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.” (Rom. 3:22, 23; 5:12) We are all, whether natural Jews or non-Jews, descended from the sinner Adam. Thus all of us came under the rule of sin, and all of us are facing the wages that sin pays to its servants, which is death. “By the trespass of the one man death ruled as king through that one . . . For the wages sin pays is death.” (Rom. 5:17; 6:23) The very fact that all men are dying proves that they are all sinners against Jehovah God, who pronounced the condemnation of death.
12. As to man’s relationship with God, what was it that sin destroyed, and what scriptures show to whom mankind are rendering obedience?
12 It was sin that destroyed man’s peace with God, man’s right standing with God. Mankind became servants to sin and to the wicked spirit who started sin throughout the universe, Satan the Devil, the chief adversary of Jehovah God. Men who are self-righteous may not like being told that they are the servants of the author of sin, but they betray whom they serve by obeying that one. The Word of God says: “Do you not know that if you keep presenting yourselves to anyone as slaves to obey him, you are slaves of him because you obey him, either of sin with death in view or of obedience [to God] with righteousness in view?” (Rom. 6:16) One of the last books in the Bible to be written says, sweepingly: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19) Even to the Christians it was written: “You were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you at one time walked according to the system of things of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit [Satan] that now operates in the sons of disobedience. Yes, among them we all at one time conducted ourselves in harmony with the desires of our flesh, doing the things the flesh and the thoughts willed, and we were naturally children of wrath even as the rest.” (Eph. 2:1-3) “Indeed, you who were once alienated and enemies because your minds were on the works that were wicked, he now has again reconciled.”—Col. 1:21.
13. What do all men need as regards their relations with God, in harmony with what Paul and Timothy begged as ambassadors?
13 If men who are Christians not in name only but also in life were once alienated from God and were enemies of His because of their minds and works, certainly, then, all men who have not become true Christians must be alienated and enemies toward Jehovah God. They need to be reconciled or be made friends with God, if they long to cease being “children of wrath” subject to destruction during the oncoming “war of the great day of God the Almighty.” They need to do what the apostle Paul and his missionary companion Timothy begged to do: “All things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ . . . , and he committed the message of the reconciliation to us. We are therefore ambassadors substituting for Christ, as though God were making entreaty through us. As substitutes for Christ we beg: ‘Become reconciled to God.’”—2 Cor. 5:18-20.
14. Anciently, what did sending out ambassadors mean, and why are the terms of the one who sent out Paul and Timothy unusual?
14 In the days of Paul and Timothy, when ambassadors were sent out, it meant, not peaceful relations between countries or governments, but hostilities. Ambassadors were sent to those who were hostile to try to set up peaceful relations between those at enmity. In the case of Paul and Timothy, however, it is not the weaker of the hostile parties that sends out the ambassadors. It is the Almighty God Jehovah who does so. He shows his mercy in doing so, in order to spare as many as possible from destruction who become reconciled with him. Being enormously the stronger of the two parties, Jehovah God is the One that makes possible peace with himself. So, in Isaiah 45:7, he says: “Making peace and creating calamity, I, Jehovah, am doing all these things.” He therefore dictates the terms for peace. It is not we who set the terms for peace. Yet his terms are not harsh, but merciful and practicable; and it is in our best interests to accept them gratefully.
HOW TO SEEK
15, 16. (a) In seeking for peace with Him how do we show faith and sincerity, and through whom is the way to peace? (b) How had the natural Jews been seeking a right standing with God, but what did they need for their sins?
15 What, then, are his terms? How can we as “children of wrath” seek and find peace with Jehovah God? His terms for peace are plainly stated in his written Word, the Holy Scriptures, the sacred Bible. In seeking for peace with God we take the right course, and we show our faith and our sincerity by studying the entire Bible, not merely the old Hebrew Scriptures that Jesus and his apostles had, but also the Christian Greek Scriptures. God’s Word squarely states there is only one way through which we may become reconciled or become friends with Him. That way is through his beloved heavenly Son Jesus Christ. Jehovah God sent this Son from heaven to earth, to the nation of Israel. Accordingly, this Son was miraculously born of a Jewish virgin and hence was born as a Jew, an Israelite. For three and a half years, or A.D. 29-33, he preached God’s kingdom exclusively to the Israelites, both publicly and privately. The sinful Israelites or Jews had long been trying to get out from under the condemnation to death by striving to keep the Law that God had given exclusively to the Jewish nation; but because of the perfection of the Law the Jews were unable to keep it.
16 God’s law given through the prophet Moses only made their sinfulness more manifest. It expressly condemned the Jews as sinners. This was why they had to offer up animal sacrifices year after year in order to procure a pictorial cleansing from sin and keep on in their covenanted relationship with Jehovah God. They needed a better sacrifice than animal victims. They needed a perfect human sacrifice to be offered for them and for all mankind.
17. How was the needed sacrifice provided, how were the Israelites informed, and how did they take to the information?
17 No man even in the nation of Israel was perfect in body and mind and able to offer himself as an acceptable human sacrifice. So God was obliged to send down his heavenly Son, let him be born as a perfect human child with a heavenly Father, let him grow up to perfect manhood like that of Adam in the garden of Eden and then let him offer up himself as the needed perfect human sacrifice. Before dying as a sacrifice for the sins of all mankind, Jesus Christ and his twelve apostles and seventy other evangelists preached to the Israelites in Palestine. Thus the Israelites or Jews were not left ignorant of what the way was for them to enter into a lasting peace with God. It is written: “He sent out the word to the sons of Israel to declare to them the good news of peace through Jesus Christ: this One is Lord of all others.” (Acts 10:36) Out of the millions of Jews under God’s law through Moses, only a remnant accepted the good news and entered into peace with God through Jesus Christ. The rest of the Jewish nation tried to create their own right standing or justification with God by proudly but fruitlessly keeping on trying to fulfill God’s law through Moses with its ineffective animal sacrifices, subhuman sacrifices.
18. How did God show himself to be the one providing the conditions or means for peace with himself, and therefore what is he called?
18 The fact that God is the One who created the conditions or means for peace with himself is revealed by his providing his only-begotten Son from heaven as a perfect human sacrifice. “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) God not only sent his Son to earth and let him die at the hands of God’s enemies as a perfect, sinless human sacrifice, but also made it possible for the value of this sacrifice to be presented to Him in heaven in behalf of men who want peace with God. How did God do this? God by his all-power raised up Jesus Christ from the dead as a heavenly, spiritual son once again and had him return to heaven. Thus, with the value of the lifeblood of his sacrifice, Jesus could enter into God’s presence in order for a new covenant of peace to be made. In making such provision for peace with humankind Jehovah is the God of peace. In this special regard he is called the “God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep with the blood of an everlasting covenant, our Lord Jesus.”—Heb. 13:20.
19. In seeking peace, what do we need to get for full guidance?
19 We can therefore appreciate why, in seeking to find peace, we need to get knowledge, accurate knowledge, not only of Jehovah God but also of his lovingly sacrificed Son Jesus Christ. Through their thirty-nine books in Hebrew of the Holy Bible the Jews can at most gain only partial knowledge. That is not enough. The additional knowledge of the twenty-seven books of the Christian Greek Scriptures written by inspired Jewish followers of Jesus Christ is also necessary to complete our knowledge and understanding and to make our knowledge accurate. If we do not have the accurate knowledge, which embraces the knowledge not only of God but also of Jesus, we cannot secure the peace we desire. That is why the inspired Bible writer Peter, in expressing his prayer for the peace-seekers to whom he wrote his first letter, said: “May undeserved kindness and peace be increased to you [how?] by an accurate knowledge [of what?] of God and of Jesus our Lord, forasmuch as his divine power has given us freely all the things that concern life and godly devotion, through the accurate knowledge of the one who called us through glory and virtue.”—2 Pet. 1:2, 3.
20. So, to enjoy peace with God, what must we accept in faith?
20 Seek how we may, we shall never find peace with God if we do not get accurate knowledge concerning Jesus Christ and accept the sacrifice for sins that God provided in his Son. The Jews, because of partial knowledge, try to establish their own righteous standing with God apart from the cleansing from sin that the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice provides for us. Instead of relying upon our own works of righteousness according to the Law given to the Jews through Moses, we must put full faith in the sin-removing sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Otherwise we cannot enjoy any peace with God.
21. (a) Because of being declared righteous, what do Christians enjoy? (b) How did Isaiah foretell the need of Jesus’ sacrifice, and what does our resting our hope in Jesus result in?
21 Hence to the Christians who had righteousness ascribed to them through faith in God’s Son, the apostle Paul wrote: “Therefore, now that we have been declared righteous as a result of faith, let us enjoy peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Much more, therefore, since we have been declared righteous now by his blood, shall we be saved through him from wrath.” (Rom. 5:1, 9) The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is absolutely necessary to making our peace with God and escaping his wrath. Long previously the prophet Isaiah had predicted concerning Jesus’ sacrifice: “He was being pierced for our transgression; he was being crushed for our errors. The chastisement meant for our peace was upon him, and because of his wounds there has been a healing for us.” (Isa. 53:5) Peace with God brings joy, but we cannot have God fill us with such peace unless we believe in the Son whom he chastised for our peace. It is written: “‘On him nations will rest their hope.’ May the God who gives hope fill you with all joy and peace by your believing, that you may abound in hope with power of holy spirit. May the God who gives peace be with all of you.” (Rom. 15:12, 13, 33) If God is with us, we shall indeed know fullness of peace.
22. Why is it in vain that to this day the natural Jews trust in their circumcision in the flesh?
22 The natural Jews continue to trust in having their foreskins circumcised for a show of righteousness. Doing so, they will never enjoy peace with Jehovah, who was once the God of natural Israel. Fleshly circumcision is not what now counts with their one-time God. What counts is our walking or conducting ourselves according to the principles or rules of a new Christian personality, a new spiritual creation over which Jesus Christ is head. That is what will result in peace with the God of spiritual Israel. Our hearts must be circumcised or purified for righteousness. The Jewish convert Paul gave up his proud reliance upon his fleshly circumcision as a natural Jew and wrote to believers in Jesus Christ: “For neither is circumcision anything nor is uncircumcision, but a new creation is something. And all those who will walk orderly by this rule of conduct, upon them be peace and mercy, even upon the Israel of God.”—Gal. 6:15, 16; Phil. 4:9; Gal. 5:25; 2 Cor. 5:17.
THE “GREAT CROWD” OF PEACE-SEEKERS
23. In agreement with Isaiah 27:1-5, how have the spiritual Israelites of today made peace with God, but particularly since 1935 who have followed them in this course?
23 In this day when Jehovah God will kill the great symbolic Leviathan (the Devil’s visible organization) but when he will constantly safeguard his spiritual vineyard (his own visible organization on earth), Jehovah’s friendly advice to everyone that wants to enjoy protection and preservation is: “Let him take hold of my stronghold, let him make peace with me; peace let him make with me.” (Isa. 27:1-5) The believers who make up the spiritual vineyard of Jehovah, the spiritual Israel of God, have made peace with him by coming out from under the Devil’s Leviathan organization. In recent years, however, particularly since 1935, there have been hundreds of thousands of persons who are not members of the spiritual Israel of God who have heard and acted upon the advice of Jehovah God. They have followed the remnant of the spiritual Israel of God in coming out from the sea of humanity in which the wicked Leviathan operates, and they have made peace with Jehovah God through the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. In Revelation 7:9, 10 they are pictured as a great crowd, out of all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues, and they ascribe their saved condition to God and his Son Jesus Christ, saying: “Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
24. How does Revelation 7:14-17 describe the way in which they came into their peaceful condition?
24 Because the ones in this unnumbered great crowd seek peace with God and gain a clean, right standing with him through faith in the cleaning blood of Jesus Christ, Revelation 7:14-17 describes how they came into their peaceful condition, saying: “They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. That is why they are before the throne of God, and they are rendering him sacred service day and night in his temple, and the one [God] seated on the throne will spread his tent over them. They will hunger no more nor thirst any more, neither will the sun beat down upon them nor any scorching heat, because the Lamb [Jesus Christ] who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them, and will guide them to fountains of waters of life. And God will wipe out every tear from their eyes.”
25. By whom in the ancient city of Jericho was this “great crowd” pictured, and in what respects?
25 This “great crowd” was anciently pictured by the Canaanite woman named Rahab in the days of Joshua, the successor of Moses. Rahab’s city in Canaan was Jericho and it was doomed to destruction with all its inhabitants. Rahab and her family escaped destruction when Jehovah God shook down the walls of Jericho and the men of Israel, who had marched around Jericho for seven days, moved into the exposed city and killed off its wicked population. How so? Because she made peace with the God of Israel. She did not betray the two spies whom Joshua sent into the city and who found lodging in Rahab’s inn. (Josh. 2:1-21; 6:1-25) On this the Christian Greek Scriptures say: “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been gone around for seven days. By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish with those who acted disobediently, because she received the spies in a peaceable way.”—Heb. 11:30, 31.
26. By the men of what city in Canaan were the “great crowd” of survivors prefigured, and in what procedure?
26 This same “great crowd” of survivors of the coming “war of the great day of God the Almighty” was also prefigured by the men of the city of Gibeon. This city in Canaan was also doomed to be destroyed by Jehovah’s Israelite armies under Joshua. The name Joshua was pronounced Jesus by the Greeks; and, in fact, Joshua was a prophetic figure of Jesus Christ, who has become God’s Officer for executing divine judgment. (Acts 7:45; Heb. 4:8) Strangely, the city of Gibeon and three neighboring cities escaped the destruction that Joshua executed upon the other cities of Canaan. How so? Again it was a case of making peace with Jehovah God before his executioner arrived. Days before Joshua and his forces got near, the Gibeonites sent out their ambassadors under a disguise to Joshua’s camp and sued for peace with Jehovah God and his people. They offered a full surrender of themselves to Him through Joshua.
27. Similar to the result to those ancient men, what will be the result to the “great crowd” of peace-seekers?
27 What was the result? The record answers: “And Joshua went to making peace with them and concluding a covenant with them to let them live, and so the chieftains of the assembly [of Israel] swore to them.” (Josh. 9:15) Like those ancient non-Israelite Gibeonites, the “great crowd” of peace-seekers of today surrender themselves in full dedication to Jehovah God through Jesus Christ now before Armageddon breaks out. Therefore the Greater Joshua, Jesus Christ, spares them from destruction in that universal war. Like the remnant of spiritual Israelites, that great crowd loves life. They desire to see an eternity of good days under God’s kingdom. So they follow today the counsel of David and of Peter about peace.
a As shown in footnote a on 1 Peter 3:8-12 of the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, nine different Hebrew translations of the Christian Greek Scriptures have “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” here because the apostle Peter is quoting from David’s words in Hebrew, where this name of God Almighty is found.
b As shown in footnote a on 1 Peter 3:8-12 of the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, nine different Hebrew translations of the Christian Greek Scriptures have “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” here because the apostle Peter is quoting from David’s words in Hebrew, where this name of God Almighty is found.