Jehovah—“The God Who Gives Peace”
“May the God who gives peace be with all of you.”—ROM. 15:33.
THE place is close to Penuel, near the torrent valley of Jabbok on the east side of the river Jordan. Esau has heard that his twin brother, Jacob, is returning home. Even though 20 years have passed since Esau sold his right as firstborn to his brother, Jacob fears that his brother may still harbor a murderous grudge against him. Accompanied by 400 men, Esau marches toward his estranged brother. Anticipating a hostile reception, Jacob sends Esau wave upon wave of gifts amounting to over 550 domestic animals. With each group of animals, Jacob’s servants tell Esau that they are a gift from his brother.
2 The moment finally arrives! As Jacob courageously walks toward Esau, he bows down—not once but seven times. Jacob has already taken the most important measure he can take to soften the heart of his brother. Jacob has prayed to Jehovah for deliverance from Esau’s hand. Does Jehovah answer this prayer? Yes. “Esau went running to meet him,” the Bible tells us, “and he began to embrace him and fall upon his neck and kiss him.”—Gen. 32:11-20; 33:1-4.
3. What do we learn from the account of Jacob and Esau?
3 The account of Jacob and Esau shows that we should make earnest and practical efforts to settle matters when problems arise that may threaten the peace we enjoy within the Christian congregation. Jacob sought to make peace with Esau, but not because Jacob had erred against his brother and owed him an apology. No, Esau had despised his birthright and had sold it to Jacob for a bowl of stew. (Gen. 25:31-34; Heb. 12:16) However, the way Jacob approached Esau illustrates the extent to which we should be willing to go to preserve the peace with our Christian brothers. It also shows that the true God blesses our prayerful efforts to make peace. The Bible contains numerous other examples that instruct us to be peacemakers.
A Superlative Example to Exhort Us
4. What is God’s provision for saving mankind from sin and death?
4 The most outstanding example of a peacemaker is Jehovah—“the God who gives peace.” (Rom. 15:33) Think of the extent to which Jehovah went to enable us to have a peaceful relationship with him. As sinful descendants of Adam and Eve, we deserve “the wages [that] sin pays.” (Rom. 6:23) Still, out of his great love, Jehovah arranged for our salvation by sending his beloved Son from heaven to be born as a perfect human. And the Son willingly complied. He allowed himself to be put to death by God’s enemies. (John 10:17, 18) The true God resurrected his beloved Son, who afterward presented to the Father the value of his shed blood, which would be a ransom to save repentant sinners from eternal death.—Read Hebrews 9:14, 24.
5, 6. How does Jesus’ shed blood affect the damaged relationship between God and sinful mankind?
5 How does the provision of the ransom sacrifice of God’s Son affect the damaged relationship between God and sinful mankind? “The chastisement meant for our peace was upon him,” states Isaiah 53:5, “and because of his wounds there has been a healing for us.” Instead of being viewed as God’s enemies, obedient humans can now enjoy a peaceful relationship with him. “By means of [Jesus] we have the release by ransom through the blood of that one, yes, the forgiveness of our trespasses.”—Eph. 1:7.
6 The Bible states: “God saw good for all fullness to dwell in [Christ].” This is because Christ is the key figure in the fulfilling of God’s purpose. And what is Jehovah’s purpose? It is “to reconcile again to himself all other things by making peace through the [shed] blood” of Jesus Christ. “All other things” that God thus brings into a peaceful relationship with him are “the things in the heavens” and “the things upon the earth.” What are they?—Read Colossians 1:19, 20.
7. What are “the things in the heavens” and “the things upon the earth” that are brought into a peaceful relationship with God?
7 The provision of the ransom makes it possible for anointed Christians, who “have been declared righteous” as sons of God, to “enjoy peace with God.” (Read Romans 5:1.) They are referred to as “the things in the heavens” because they have a heavenly hope and “are to rule as kings over the earth” and serve as priests to God. (Rev. 5:10) On the other hand, “the things upon the earth” refer to repentant humans, who will eventually attain to everlasting life on earth.—Ps. 37:29.
8. How are you affected by reflecting on the extent to which Jehovah went to enable mankind to be at peace with him?
8 Expressing his heartfelt gratitude for Jehovah’s provision, Paul wrote to the anointed Christians in Ephesus: “God, who is rich in mercy, . . . made us alive together with the Christ, even when we were dead in trespasses—by undeserved kindness you have been saved.” (Eph. 2:4, 5) Whether we have a heavenly hope or an earthly hope, we are deeply indebted to God for his mercy and undeserved kindness. Our hearts are filled with gratitude as we consider the extent to which Jehovah went to make it possible for mankind to enjoy peace with him. When we are confronted with situations that threaten the peaceful unity of the congregation, should not our appreciatively reflecting on God’s example move us to be peacemakers?
Learning From the Ways of Abraham and Isaac
9, 10. How did Abraham prove himself to be a peacemaker in dealing with Lot when tension arose among their herdsmen?
9 Concerning the patriarch Abraham, the Bible states: “‘Abraham put faith in Jehovah, and it was counted to him as righteousness,’ and he came to be called ‘Jehovah’s friend.’” (Jas. 2:23) Abraham’s faith was made evident by his peace-loving ways. For example, as Abraham’s flocks and herds increased, tension developed between his herdsmen and those of his nephew Lot. (Gen. 12:5; 13:7) The obvious solution was that Abraham and Lot separate. How would Abraham deal with this delicate situation? Instead of using his age and status with God to tell his nephew what to do, Abraham proved himself to be a true peacemaker.
10 “Please, do not let any quarreling continue between me and you and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen,” Abraham told his nephew, “for we men are brothers.” The patriarch continued: “Is not the whole land available to you? Please, separate from me. If you go to the left, then I will go to the right; but if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.” Lot chose the most fertile part of the land, but Abraham held no grudge against him. (Gen. 13:8-11) Later on when Lot was taken captive by invading armies, Abraham did not hesitate to rescue his nephew.—Gen. 14:14-16.
11. How did Abraham pursue peace with his Philistine neighbors?
11 Think also of how Abraham pursued peace with his Philistine neighbors in the land of Canaan. The Philistines had “seized by violence” a well of water dug by Abraham’s servants at Beer-sheba. How would a man who had rescued his nephew by overcoming the four kings who had captured him respond to this act? Rather than fight back and repossess his well, Abraham chose to remain silent about the matter. In time, the Philistine king visited Abraham to make a covenant of peace. Only after he got Abraham to swear to him to be kind to the Philistine king’s offspring did Abraham bring up the matter of his stolen well. Shocked to hear about this, the king restored the well to Abraham. As for Abraham, he continued to live peacefully as an alien resident in the land.—Gen. 21:22-31, 34.
12, 13. (a) How did Isaac follow the example of his father? (b) How did Jehovah bless Isaac’s peace-loving ways?
12 Abraham’s son Isaac followed the peace-loving ways of his father. This is evident from the manner in which Isaac dealt with the Philistines. Because of a famine in the land, Isaac moved his household north, from Beer-lahai-roi in the arid region of the Negeb into the more fertile territory of the Philistines at Gerar. There Jehovah blessed Isaac with bumper crops and increased his livestock. The Philistines began to envy him. Not wanting Isaac to prosper as his father had prospered, the Philistines stopped up the wells that Abraham’s servants had dug in the region. Finally, the Philistine king told Isaac to ‘move from their neighborhood.’ The peaceful man Isaac complied.—Gen. 24:62; 26:1, 12-17.
13 After Isaac moved his encampment farther away, his shepherds dug another well. Philistine shepherds claimed that the water was theirs. Like his father, Abraham, Isaac did not fight over a well. Instead, Isaac again had his men dig a well. The Philistines also claimed this one for themselves. For the sake of peace, Isaac moved his large encampment away to yet another location. There his servants dug a well that Isaac named Rehoboth. In time, he moved to the more fertile region of Beer-sheba, where Jehovah blessed him and told him: “Do not be afraid, because I am with you, and I will bless you and multiply your seed on account of Abraham my servant.”—Gen. 26:17-25.
14. How did Isaac prove himself to be a peacemaker when the Philistine king sought to make a covenant of peace with him?
14 Isaac surely had the ability to fight for his right to use all the wells that his servants had dug. After all, the Philistine king and his officials came to visit him in Beer-sheba and sought to make a covenant of peace with him, saying: “We have unmistakably seen that Jehovah has proved to be with you.” Still, for the sake of peace, Isaac had more than once opted to move rather than fight. This time too Isaac proved himself to be a peacemaker. The historical record states: “He made a feast for [his visitors] and they ate and drank. Next morning they were early in rising and they made sworn statements one to the other. After that Isaac sent them away . . . in peace.”—Gen. 26:26-31.
Learning From the Son Whom Jacob Loved the Most
15. Why were Joseph’s brothers unable to speak peacefully to him?
15 Isaac’s son Jacob grew up to be “a blameless man.” (Gen. 25:27) As discussed at the outset, Jacob sought to make peace with his brother, Esau. Undoubtedly, Jacob had benefited from the peaceable example of his father, Isaac. What can be said about Jacob’s sons? Of his 12 sons, Joseph was the one whom Jacob loved the most. Joseph was an obedient, respectful son who cared deeply for his father’s interests. (Gen. 37:2, 14) However, Joseph’s older brothers became so jealous of him that they were unable to speak peacefully to him. Cruelly, they sold Joseph into slavery and tricked their father into believing that Joseph had been killed by a wild beast.—Gen. 37:4, 28, 31-33.
16, 17. How did Joseph prove himself to be a peace-loving brother to his siblings?
16 Jehovah proved to be with Joseph. In time, Joseph became Egypt’s prime minister—second in power only to Pharaoh. When a severe famine brought Joseph’s brothers to Egypt, they did not even recognize him in his official Egyptian attire. (Gen. 42:5-7) How easy it would have been for Joseph to repay his brothers for their cruelty to him and to their father! Rather than seek revenge, however, Joseph tried to make peace with them. When it became clear that his brothers had repented, he made himself known to them, saying: “Do not feel hurt and do not be angry with yourselves because you sold me here; because for the preservation of life God has sent me ahead of you.” Then he proceeded to kiss all his brothers and to weep over them.—Gen. 45:1, 5, 15.
17 After the death of their father, Jacob, Joseph’s brothers thought that Joseph might take vengeance on them. As they expressed their fears to him, Joseph “burst into tears” and replied: “Do not be afraid. I myself shall keep supplying you and your little children with food.” Peace-loving Joseph “comforted them and spoke reassuringly to them.”—Gen. 50:15-21.
“Written for Our Instruction”
18, 19. (a) How have you benefited from considering the examples of peacemakers discussed in this article? (b) What will we consider in the next article?
18 “All the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction,” wrote Paul, “that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4) How have we benefited from considering not only the superlative example of Jehovah but also the Scriptural accounts of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph?
19 Does not appreciatively reflecting on what Jehovah has done to heal the damaged relationship between him and sinful mankind move us to do all we can to pursue peace with others? The examples of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph show that parents can have a good influence on their children. Moreover, these accounts also show that Jehovah blesses the efforts of those who try to make peace. No wonder Paul refers to Jehovah as “the God who gives peace”! (Read Romans 15:33; 16:20.) The following article will consider why Paul stressed the need for us to pursue peace and how we can be peacemakers.
What Did You Learn?
• In what way did Jacob seek peace when he was about to meet Esau?
• How have you been affected by what Jehovah did to enable mankind to be at peace with him?
• What have you learned from the examples of the peacemakers Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph?
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What was the most important step taken by Jacob in making peace with Esau?