A PERFECT PEACE THAT WILL NEVER CEASE
The prophet Isaiah has been rightly called The “Messianic” prophet because he had so much to say about Jesus the Messiah. He probably wrote more about the salvation that Jesus was to bring than any other Old Testament writer. (Percentage wise, Zechariah may have said more, but he only wrote fourteen chapters compared to Isaiah and his sixty-six).
Paul wrote that the “Holy Scriptures” (Old Testament Scriptures) are “able to make us wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:14-16). A study of Isaiah proves that to be true. I like to think of the book of Isaiah as “The Gospel according to Isaiah”. We are all familiar with the gospel according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, but there is also the gospel according to Amos’s son (Isa. 1:1)
Isaiah tells us about the Lord’s Birth (7:14, & 9:6), the Lord’s Behavior (11:1-5), the Lord’s Bruises (53:4-11), and the Lord’s Blessings (61:1-3). Isaiah saw the Lord’s Glory (6:1-5), specified the Lord’s Government (2:2-4; & 9:6-7), spoke of the Lord’s Grief (53:3,4, & 10), and stressed the Lord’s Grace (45:25; 49:8-10; & 53:11). Isaiah refers to the Lord’s Position (52:13-14), the Lord’s Preaching (61:1-3), the Lord’s Pain(50:6), the Lord’s Pardon (53:4-12), and the Lord’s Peace (9:6-7; 53:5). What he says about the Lord’s “peace” is what we want to focus on in this particular study. Two of my favorite verses in the Old Testament are, and have been since the first time I read it them, Isaiah 26:3 & 4. These verses read as follows:
“You will keep him in perfect peace
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
Trust in the Lord forever,
For in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength.”
As we study these verses I want us to observe the PROMISE, the PERSON, and the POWER.
Notice, first of all, the promise, “You will keep him in perfect peace”. (Isa. 26:3a) Observe carefully that this peace is “perfect”. This means it is “Without fault or defect, satisfying all the requirements.” (Webster). It means “completeness” (Strong). When I think of the word perfect I think of words like, pure, ideal, flawless, exact, absolute, complete, whole, precise etc. It is “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:6). It is the peace that only Jesus gives. He said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you” (Jn. 14:27). It is the “peace with God” that we have in Christ that Paul referred to in Romans 5:1. It is the “peace from God” that is referred to in almost every book of the New Testament. For example:
a. Peace from God (Romans 1:7).
b. Peace from God (1 Corinthians 1:3)
c. Peace from God (2 Corinthians 1:2)
d. Peace from God (Galatians 1:3).
e. Peace from God (Ephesians 1:2).
f. Peace from God (Philippians 1:2).
g. Peace from God (Colossians 1:2).
h. Peace from God (1 Thessalonians 1:1).
i. Peace from God (2 Thessalonians 1:2).
j. Peace from God (1 Timothy 1:2).
k Peace from God (2 Timothy 1:2).
l. Peace from God (Titus 1:4).
m. Peace from God (Philemon 1:3).
(See also the other books of the New Testament such as Hebrews 13:20; James 3:18; I Peter 5:14; 2 Peter 1:2; 2 John 1:3; 3 John 1:14;; Jude 1:2; and Revelation 1:4.)
Observe it is: Peace of God (Phil 4:6).
Peace with God (Rom. 5:1).
Peace from God (Rom. 1:7).
Isaiah said, “Lord, You will establish peace for us” (Isa. 26:12). Notice that this something the Lord is going to do “for us”. It is not something we are capable of doing ourselves. How would He establish this peace? He answers in chapter 53:5, “The chastisement for our peace was upon Him.” He “made peace through the blood of His cross” (Col. 1:20).
As Paul said, “He Himself is our peace” (Eph. 2:14). Jesus “Himself is our peace” because He established “peace for us” when He suffered “the chastisement for our peace” and thus “made peace through the blood of His cross”. That is how He keeps us in “perfect peace”. It is not partial peace, it is perfect peace. It is not temporary peace, it is permanent peace. It is a perfect peace that will never cease.
Who is this person who has this perfect peace? It is the one “Whose mind is stayed on You” (Isa. 26:3b). It is the person whose mind is stayed on the price He has paid. It is a person whose mind is fixed and focused on Jesus. God will keep in perfect peace those who trust in Jesus and His sacrifice. This does not necessarily mean that we will be at peace within ourselves all the time, but it does mean that we will be at peace with God continually.
Illustration: No one who is married and/or has children can have peace within (much less perfect peace) for any length of time. Like one husband wrote on his wife’s tombstone:
Here lies my wife and let her lie.
She’s now at peace and so am I.
Or the wife who said, I knew I married Mr. Right But I had no idea that his first name was “Always.”
Too many times we may think that our peace with God depends on our peace within. But we can be torn apart within and still be at peace with God. Why? Because our peace with God is based on our trust in Jesus and what He has done for us, and not on the absence of trouble in our own lives. For example, Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation…” (Jn. 16:33). Furthermore, Paul knew that “having been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). However, there were times in his own life when he was troubled and not at peace internally. For example note the following statements he made on certain occasions:
a. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling (1 Cor. 2:3).
b. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed, we are perplexed, but not in despair…(2 Cor. 4:8). Note: The word “perplexed” means “to be without a way, embarrassed, in doubt” (Vine); “to be in doubt, not knowing which way to turn, or what to do” (Strong); “uncertain” (McCord).
c. We were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears.. (2 Cor. 7:5).
d. Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us.. (2 Cor. 7:6). Note: McCord’s translation says “lowly”.
e. Our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life (2 Cor.1:8). Note: The New Living Translation has, “We were crushed and completely overwhelmed, and we thought we would never live through it”.
f. I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother.. (2 Cor. 2:13). Note: The NIV has “I still had no peace of mind..”; the NCV translates it, “But I had no peace…”
The point is, when Paul uses words like: weakness, fear, much trembling, hard-pressed, perplexed, troubled, inside were fears, downcast, burdened, despaired, and no rest in my spirit, we know he did not always have peace of mind. He worried about others, he worried about himself, he let problems get to him at times, and he had the same fears and weaknesses that are common to us all. And yet, no matter what the problem, or how he let it affect him, he still always had “peace with God” because he was “in Christ” (Rom. 5:1). The thing we must remember is that God has established “peace for us” and He keeps those who trust Him in “perfect peace”, regardless of the circumstances, or frame of mind, we may sometimes find ourselves in at times. We may not always have total peace internally, but we do have perfect peace eternally, because of what Jesus has accomplished for us.
Finally, I want us to observe the power that makes this perfect peace possible for this pardoned person. Notice that Isaiah says we are to “trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord is everlasting strength” (Isa. 26:4). He “will establish peace for us, For You have also done all our works in us” (Isa. 26:12). As Paul said, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God” (2 Cor. 3:6). God has begun a good work in us and He will complete it (Phil. 1:6). It is God who works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13). He works in us what is well pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ (Heb. 13:20-21).Therefore, as the song says:
When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say
It is well, It is well, WITH MY SOUL.
Why is it always well with my soul even when “sorrows like sea billows roll”? The answer is in these two great verses in the Old Testament:
YOU WILL KEEP HIM IN PERFECT PEACE
Whose mind is stayed on YOU,
Because he TRUSTS IN YOU.
TRUST IN THE LORD FOREVER
For IN JEHOVAH, the Lord, is
Conclusion: We have learned that God has supplied for us A PERFECT PEACE THAT WILL NEVER CEASE. It is a perfect peace for a pardoned people even though we may have personal problems that may sometimes rob us of our own peace of mind. It is a peace based on His promise, His pardon and His power. It is a peace that does not depend on our perfection, our performance, our productivity, or even on our perceptions (we may not even fully perceive the peace we really have, but He keeps us in perfect peace whether we fully realize it or not). This perfect peace depends on our trust in Him and Him alone. He Himself is our peace. (Eph. 2:14). And we receive His peace when we receive Him into our hearts and are baptized into His name (Col. 2:6 & 12).