Divine Peace for Those Taught by Jehovah
“All your sons will be persons taught by Jehovah, and the peace of your sons will be abundant.”—ISAIAH 54:13.
1, 2. On what does the enjoyment of peace depend?
PEACE! How desirable it is! Yet the record of humankind has been anything but peaceful. Why is this so?
2 The enjoyment of peace is closely connected with respect for authority. And who is the highest authority in the universe? The Creator, Jehovah God. An approved relationship with him is therefore essential to peace. (Psalm 29:11; 119:165) If that most important relationship is shattered, it is impossible to have true peace with God, with one’s fellowman, or within oneself.—Isaiah 57:21.
Why the World Does Not Have Peace
3. How was humankind’s relationship with God spoiled?
3 As we well know, it was shortly after the dawn of human history that a spirit son of God rebelled against Jehovah. Rebellion is a state of war. That peace wrecker, who came to be known as Satan the Devil, urged Eve not to let God’s law stand in the way of her doing something if she felt it would be to her advantage. The Devil twisted the facts to make her think she was being deprived of something good by paying attention to God. The appeal was to selfishness, to a me-first attitude. Soon her husband joined her in lawless conduct, and as a result, all their offspring have been infected by that spirit.—Genesis 3:1-6, 23, 24; Romans 5:12.
4, 5. (a) To what extent has Satan succeeded in influencing the thinking of mankind? (b) What effect has this had on man’s efforts to achieve peace?
4 It is not just a small segment of mankind that shoves aside divine law. The Scriptures tell us that Satan is “misleading the entire inhabited earth.” (Revelation 12:9) Some people are grossly lawless, showing complete disregard for God and for their fellowman; others are less so. But so successful has Satan been in influencing the thinking of mankind that the apostle John could say: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19) Whether people profess to believe that the Devil exists or not, they do what he wants. They obey him, so he is their ruler. As a result, mankind is alienated from God, is at enmity with him. In such an environment, is it any wonder that human efforts to achieve peace have been frustrated?—Colossians 1:21.
5 Nevertheless, a growing number of people out of all nations are experiencing divine peace, peace that has its origin with God. How has this come about?
The Satisfying Peace That God Gives
6. (a) What emphasis does the Bible place on peace? (b) By means of whom is it possible for us to enjoy the peace that God gives?
6 At Romans 15:33 Jehovah is appropriately described as “the God who gives peace.” From the very beginning, it has been God’s purpose for all his creatures to enjoy peace. Over 300 times his inspired Word, the Bible, refers to peace. It makes clear that Jesus Christ is the “Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6, 7) He is the one commissioned by God to break up the works of that foremost peace wrecker, Satan the Devil. (1 John 3:8) And by means of the “Prince of Peace” it is possible for each one of us to enjoy the satisfying peace that God gives.
7. (a) What does God-given peace include? (b) Why is it not something that we must wait for until the old system is gone and we have finally attained perfection?
7 What a marvelous peace this is! It is more than the absence of war. The Hebrew word sha·lohmʹ, which is usually translated “peace,” implies health, prosperity, and welfare. The peace of God that is the possession of true Christians is unique in that it does not depend upon their environment. This does not mean that unpleasant surroundings do not affect them. But they come to have an inner strength that enables them to avoid contributing to the turmoil by retaliating when it touches them. (Romans 12:17, 18) Though a person may be physically ill or have little materially, he can still be healthy and prosperous from a spiritual standpoint and thus enjoy the peace that God gives. Obviously, the peace that such ones experience will be enhanced when this selfish world is gone, and it will deepen when all mankind has attained perfection. But the divine peace that is possible right now is a calm condition of mind and heart, an inner state of quiet regardless of what may be taking place on the outside. (Psalm 4:8) It springs from an approved relationship with God. What a priceless possession!
Sons Taught by Jehovah
8. Who were the first to enjoy this peace with God through Jesus Christ?
8 Who have such peace because of being taught by Jehovah and paying attention to his commandments? In reply, the Bible directs our attention first to those who make up spiritual Israel. They are spoken of at Galatians 6:16, where we read: “All those who will walk orderly by this rule of conduct, upon them be peace and mercy, even upon the Israel of God.” These are the 144,000 who have been chosen by God to share heavenly life with Jesus Christ.—Revelation 14:1.
9. What was the “rule of conduct” associated with spiritual Israel’s enjoyment of peace?
9 Back in the first century, those of spiritual Israel were learning a basic truth, a “rule of conduct,” that was directly connected with their enjoyment of peace. It was vital that they grasp this rule of conduct. For over 15 centuries, Jehovah had used the Mosaic Law to set out shadows of good things to come. But after the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, the requirements of the Mosaic Law were no longer binding. (Hebrews 10:1; Romans 6:14) This was manifested by the decision of the Christian governing body in Jerusalem on the issue of circumcision. (Acts 15:5, 28, 29) It was emphasized again in the inspired letter to the Galatians. The good things that the Mosaic Law foreshadowed had gone into effect. Patiently Jehovah was impressing on the minds and hearts of Christ’s anointed followers the significance of His undeserved kindness expressed through Christ. By exercising faith in this provision, by conducting themselves in harmony with it, they could enjoy peace of a sort that had never before been possible for sinful humans.—Galatians 3:24, 25; 6:16, 18.
10. (a) Spiritual Israel was experiencing fulfillment of what promise recorded at Isaiah 54:13? (b) How has Jehovah’s disciplining of them been a factor in their experiencing peace?
10 Those of spiritual Israel were experiencing fulfillment of the grand promise recorded at Isaiah 54:13. There God himself said to his wifelike organization of loyal spirit creatures: “All your sons will be persons taught by Jehovah, and the peace of your sons will be abundant.” Of course, her principal Son is Jesus Christ himself, brought forth as the Messiah when he was anointed with holy spirit in 29 C.E. But Jehovah’s heavenly “woman” has more sons—144,000 others who become the secondary part of the seed foretold at Genesis 3:15. Jehovah promised that he would be the Grand Instructor of all these sons. He has taught them the truth about himself and his purposes. He has told them how to serve him. At times, he has had to discipline them. This has been necessary when they have failed to heed his Word. Discipline can be hard to take. But they have humbly acknowledged their need of it and made the required changes, and that discipline has yielded good results—“peaceable fruit, namely, righteousness.”—Hebrews 12:7, 11; Psalm 85:8.
“A Great Crowd” Instructed in God’s Ways
11. (a) Who else is being taught by Jehovah in our day? (b) How do they demonstrate that they fit the description found at Isaiah 2:2, 3, and with what effect on others?
11 In our day, spiritual Israel is not the only group that Jehovah is teaching. During the past half century, attention has also been directed to others. Isaiah was inspired to write about them in Isa chapter 2, verses 2 and 3: “It must occur in the final part of the days that the mountain of the house of Jehovah will become firmly established above the top of the mountains, and it will certainly be lifted up above the hills; and to it all the nations must stream.” Yes, those who embrace the worship of the only true God give it the most highly exalted place in their lives. Thus it stands out as elevated above every other sort of worship in which they formerly engaged and in which the world around them continues to engage. People of all nations have observed this. They have seen that, regardless of demands made by worldly authorities or the prevalence of unchristian practices in the world, those who worship Jehovah put their relationship with him above everything else. Observers have also seen the fruitage that this produces in the lives of such worshipers, and many want to share in true worship. So upwards of three million people are now saying to others: “Come, you people, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.”—See also Zechariah 8:23.
12. How are those mentioned at Isaiah 2:2, 3 benefited by having God as their Instructor, and what is an outstanding part of the instruction he gives them?
12 Just think what that means—having God as their Instructor! Those who receive such instruction and truly appreciate its source are not plagued by constant mental conflicts. They do not find themselves torn between two opinions or on the horns of a dilemma as to what is right. The truth from God’s Word is crystal clear. And what does Isaiah 2:4 indicate would be an outstanding part of the instruction they receive? It involves how to enjoy peace in a strife-torn world. Thus, regardless of what others choose to do, those taught by Jehovah take the initiative to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. They learn war no more.
13. From what backgrounds did the “great crowd” come, but what has made them the sort of people they are?
13 It is this same group that is depicted at Revelation 7:9, 10, 14 as survivors into God’s peaceful new earth that follows the coming “great tribulation.” The surviving “great crowd” come out of all ethnic groups, tribes, peoples, and tongues. Many of them formerly belonged to factions that were at war with one another. Others simply pursued a course of life that was basically selfish; yet, that too interfered with enjoyment of peace. But now these who have come out of all nations are a peace-loving, peace-promoting people. And what has made them that way? They have been taught by Jehovah.—Isaiah 11:9.
A Unique Kind of Peace
14. On what is the peace of Jehovah’s people based, and how is this so?
14 The peace with which Jehovah favors his people is truly unique. It is not the sort of thing that results when a shaky agreement is made between two parties that do not trust each other. It involves no compromises. It is based on righteousness. (Isaiah 32:17) But how can that be true of peace that involves imperfect humans? As sinners, what righteousness do any of us have? Well, by faith we can enjoy a righteousness that is made possible through the sin-atoning value of Jesus’ sacrifice.
15. During Jesus’ earthly ministry, what was Jehovah teaching his prospective sons that was vital to peace?
15 This helps us to appreciate what Jesus said as recorded at John 6:45-47. There he was speaking to Jews who were not drawn to him as the Messiah and so were murmuring against him. But it was with reference to his disciples that he said: “It is written in the Prophets [specifically, at Isaiah 54:13], ‘And they will all be taught by Jehovah.’ Everyone that has heard from the Father and has learned comes to me. Not that any man has seen the Father, except he who is from God; this one has seen the Father. Most truly I say to you, He that believes has everlasting life.” Those disciples accepted the instruction that Jehovah was giving them. They were drawn to Jesus. When others rejected the things he taught and forsook Jesus, his apostles stayed. As Peter said: “We have believed and come to know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:69) Because of their faith in Jesus Christ, it would be possible for them to come into a peaceful relationship with Jehovah God, a relationship that carries with it the assurance of everlasting life.
16. (a) Starting at Pentecost 33 C.E., how did Jesus’ followers benefit from the provision made through Christ? (b) Thereafter, what was required of them?
16 Starting at Pentecost 33 C.E., the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice began to be applied to those faithful followers of Jesus. What Paul later wrote at Romans 5:1 came to be true of them: “Now that we have been declared righteous as a result of faith, let us enjoy peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” By birth all of these were descendants of Adam. As sinners, they were alienated from God. No good works that they might personally have done could have canceled out their inheritance of sin. But by His undeserved kindness, Jehovah accepted the sacrifice of Jesus’ perfect human life in behalf of Adam’s offspring. For those who exercised faith in this provision, it now became possible to have righteousness credited to them and for them to be adopted by God as sons with heavenly life in view. (Ephesians 1:5-7) But was more required on their part? Yes, they had to walk in Jehovah’s ways. No longer were they to make a practice of sin. But they realize that whatever righteousness they have is a result of God’s undeserved kindness expressed through Christ. As the scripture says, they ‘enjoy peace with God through Jesus Christ.’
17, 18. (a) Do the “other sheep” enjoy such peace with God? (b) What further questions deserve consideration?
17 What about those to whom Jesus referred as his “other sheep”? (John 10:16) Do they enjoy such peace with God? Not as sons of God, but Colossians 1:19, 20 does include them as recipients of divine peace. It says that God saw good through Christ “to reconcile again to himself all other things by making peace through the blood he [Jesus] shed on the torture stake, no matter whether they are the things upon the earth [that is, those who will be favored with eternal life on a paradise earth] or the things in the heavens.” These with earthly prospects are declared righteous and enjoy peace with God even now, not as sons, but as ‘friends of God,’ as was Abraham. What a favored position that is!—James 2:23.
18 Do you personally enjoy that peace? Are you experiencing it as fully as is possible for humans who are living during this most significant time in history? In the following article, we will consider some of the things that can help to make that possible.
□ Why does the world not have peace?
□ What is the peace that God gives now?
□ Who can enjoy such peace?
□ How is righteousness a vital factor in this peace?
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“Everyone that has heard from the Father and has learned comes to me”