Posted On August 26, 2015

Jehovah-Shalom: The Lord is Peace

by | Aug 26, 2015 | Featured, The Character of God

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to help our readers think through what the character of God is and it’s importance to the Christian faith.

CharacterGod_website-960x350-300x109God does not get anxious. He is not prone to worry, concern, or tremors. “I Am” does not fret over what will be. This is not merely because God is sovereign, omnipotent, and omnipresent. His confidence is not merely a result of His foreknowledge, omniscience, or foreordination. No, God’s lack of anxiety is owing to the reality that God is peace. The divine Lord is the essence of peace.

The Aseity of God is a foundational doctrine to understanding the Almighty’s character. We speak of the characteristics of God in distinct form. God is love, God is just, God is sovereign, and God is peace. Yet these are not different features of God’s personality, as if God is sometimes loving and sometimes just. That’s the way we operate. We are loving sometimes, and at other times we are angry. God, rather, is all those things at once. They are always in play in the character of God, they are part of the one essence of God. So, to say that God is peace, is not to suggest that God is sometimes peaceful and at other times wrathful. Rather, God’s is both peaceful and wrathful all the time. But Aseity isn’t just about the totality of God’s character. Aseity teaches us also that God is the very essence of peace. He does not merely possess peace, He is peace. It is not a characteristic that God acquires, it is who God is. God is peace.

The Scriptures reveal as much to us. In several places Paul identifies God as the “God of peace” (Rom. 15:33; 2 Cor. 13:11). That is, He is identified by peace; it is embedded in his very nature. More pointedly, perhaps, Jesus is hailed as the “Prince of Peace,” again a moniker that identifies Him with the attribute (Isa. 9:6). Even when God promises us peace He does so with rather unique language, speaking of “my peace.” Two passages illustrate this well:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27)

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

In both passages peace is connected intimately to Jesus and our experience of peace is connected intimately to our knowing Jesus. Peace is not merely some attribute God possesses, it is part of the essence of His nature.

The significance of this cannot be overstated for us as believers. As a counselor I regularly assign counselees the task of meditating on the attributes of God. Meditating on the “God of peace” in particular can fuel a level of trust and confidence that is grounded in who God is and His relationship to us. This is precisely why Peter directs us Godward when he addresses the subject of anxiety with the Christians in Asia Minor.

There are all kinds of reasons why a person might suffer from anxiety. There are biological and biochemical reasons (heart arrhythmia, imbalances in thyroid, etc.) that need medical treatment to be addressed. Yet, where the causes may be psychological/spiritual the Bible’s solution is to look to the “God of peace.” Peter says it this way:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)

The passage outlines a path to peace that is grounded in the character of God.

Peter urges the anxious Christian to start towards peace by resolving to “humble” themselves before God. Demanding humility seems like a strange thing to ask those already anxious to do. After all, the anxious person already feels pressed down, overcome by their worries. But there is a strong relationship between pride and anxiety. As I previously wrote:

Anxiety seeks control…The desire for control can cultivate all kinds of negative, sinful… responses in us. Worry is related to control…When we can’t control things, we worry. We worry because it gives us the illusion of control, but in reality it only escalates our problems. (“Humility and Anxiety”)

William Berry agrees when he adds:

Behavioral psychology purports that every behavior or action has a reward. In the case of worrying, the reward is to foresee a problem and take action. Unfortunately worrying continues when no action is possible. Worry then becomes an attempt to control, or a wish to control, what is uncontrollable” (“Let Go, Be Happy” in Psychology Today).

So the demand to “be humble” is a right demand from Peter. If anxiety is related to pride, to control, then the first step in addressing it is rooted in knowing the God of peace and humbling ourselves before Him.

The more we know of this God, the more we can access the peace He gives. He adds that we can “cast” our anxieties upon Him because “He cares.” The God of peace is also a God of love. We note again how Aseity in the person of the Godhead works. He is peace and love and these two things fit together perfectly. I have often compared the “humbling” of ourselves “under His mighty hand” as the idea of submitting to the loving hand of a good daddy. His “mighty hand” is not oppressive, weighing us down, it is not like the anxious thoughts that dominate a person’s mind. In a previous article I said it this way:

We might think of God’s hand like that of a parent who is preparing to help their child cross a busy intersection. The child might fear the roar of the traffic, be anxious about crossing the road, even worry that she might be struck by a speeding car. A good parent will stick out his hand and take hers, wrapping his strong fingers around her tiny palm. She submits to his hand, takes those steps off the curb and follows his lead because she trusts that her daddy cares for her. This is what it looks like for us to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. (“Humility and Anxiety”)

God’s loving hand brings us peace. His love and sovereignty, in this case, work to bring us His peace.

The anxious person can find comfort and reassurance in coming to God. His character brings calm to the anxious soul. His character fuels our own resting. The attributes of God are active in that as He communicates Himself to us, the divine essence is communicating peace to us. God is peace, and those who know Him find they too can have peace.

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