Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:13-14
What is in the heaven on that first Christmas day are the angel armies of Yahweh (see prior post). The angel armies of God declare to Satan and all that is evil, “Game on.” What Game is on?
The Game of bringing peace. Peace–which, as we can guess from the fact that an army proclaims it is not simply the absence of conflict.
The idea of peace (shalom in the Old Testament) in the Bible is the full-orbed. Shalom is a rich biblical world woven into the scriptures. Shalom is so much more than how western people think of peace.
Shalom is the Father’s restoration of all things through Christ to the glory of God and for the good of the world. Shalom is the way things are supposed to be.
Shalom is about
– having a restored relationship with our Creator
– human flourishing, a flourishing creation, and justice
Shalom speaks to
– relational wholeness in families, between genders, and between ethnic groups
– relational wholeness in the body of Christ
Shalom speaks of healing
– the rift between nations and beating our swords into plowshares.
Shalom is about leaders and nations
– that end oppression and lift up the poor.
Shalom brings healing to the broken systems of nations and the world.
Shalom is unmistakably beautiful.
As the angels proclaim this peace, the reality is that people have the faintest vision of it in the Roman empire because of Caesar Augustus, whose efforts have brought the Pax Romana, the Peace of Rome. But this peace is pale compared to the peace proclaimed by the angels.
Pale, incomplete, huge holes, colossal brokenness–but the hope of the peace of Rome gave people a vision into the peace that the angels spoke of when they, in essence, declared to Satan and all evil, “game on.”
But as often happens, the way to peace flows through conflict and confrontation.
As we look at the ministry of Jesus, we see this way to peace. He comes not with earthly armies to defeat an earthly foe, but he comes with the armies of heaven to defeat a spiritual opponent and establish the reign of God. I like how VerBrugge says it,
“…the Old Testament prophets…look ahead to the coming of a powerful divine warrior who will establish God’s reign. The New Testament gospels and letters reflect…Christ’s earthly ministry the work of a conqueror, the divine warrior. There is an undercurrent of the theme of (spiritual) warfare between Satan and his hosts and the Lord during the earthly ministry of Jesus. The stage for this cosmic battle is set in the Nativity.”
Christmas is the beginning of Game on
Every victory won in “game on” is a move toward fulfilling that promise of peace (shalom) on earth. Every victory won is another step toward a world of beauty, justice, well-being, prosperity, security, and reconciliation with God.
Game on. And as the Game is on every confrontation, every battle ends with Jesus winning.
Tomorrow we will look at some of those battles.