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The Radical Dream of "Peace on Earth" ^ | December 25, 2013 | Jeff Jacoby

Posted on 12/26/2013 6:52:09 AM PST by Kaslin

Christians regard Jesus as the "prince of peace," and the dream of a world at peace is woven into the story and meaning of the holiday celebrating his birth.

As an angel shared good tidings of great joy with the shepherds abiding in the field, the Gospel of Luke recounts, the heavenly host sang of "glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." Two millennia later, what could be more familiar than Christmas cards sharing a wish for peace on earth, or the tender carol "Silent Night," with its image of a mother and her newborn sleeping "in heavenly peace"?

Our world has never been a paradise of tranquility and benevolence, yet the yearning for such a utopia is deeply rooted. It can feel especially compelling at this time of year. One of history's most astonishing illustrations of Christmas goodwill occurred 99 years ago this week, during the early months of World War I, when tens of thousands of British and German soldiers took a break from slaughtering each other along the bloody Western Front. In a remarkable series of unofficial truces, troops on both sides silenced their machine guns and emerged instead into the No Man's Land between their trenches to exchange Christmas greetings with the enemy, sharing souvenirs, exchanging cigarettes and liquor, singing carols, and in some cases even playing soccer.

We take it for granted that the world would be a better place if only such interludes of peace and brotherhood were the norm — if only the butchery and cruelty of warfare could be banished forever. "On earth peace, good will toward men," the angel says in Luke. Nearly eight centuries earlier, the Hebrew prophet Isaiah had expressed the ideal of peace with arresting eloquence:

"And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." Those words are carved on a wall facing the headquarters of the United Nations, an organization created, in the opening words of its charter, "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war."

What decent person wouldn't want such a world? Universal peace and harmony would be an unqualified blessing: What could be more self-evident?

In fact it was anything but self-evident in antiquity. That war is an unspeakable curse and peace among the greatest of treasures is not a value human societies have always inculcated. "We may be sure," writes David Wolpe, the well-known rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, "that no one in ancient Assyria stood up and cried, 'How can we fight like this? It is cruel! After all, we are Assyrians!'" Isaiah's vision of nations at peace must have sounded preposterous to the martial nations of his day. "Assyrians fought untroubled by conscience," Wolpe remarks. "Romans cheered the brutalities of the arena."

This point was vividly driven home to me this year when for the first time I read The Iliad, Homer's great epic of the Trojan War. In scene after scene, Homer depicts warfare in gruesome and hellish detail. On nearly every page he graphically describes the killing of Greek and Trojan warriors, portraying their deaths with an intensity and focus — the severed limbs, the shattered skulls, the screams of agony — that are shocking in their barbarity.

Shocking to a modern reader, that is. Homer plainly isn't shocked or upset by the savagery he details. On the contrary. The culture of the Iliad is one in which slaughter is the key to glory and the total destruction of the enemy — women and children not excepted — is exhilarating. At one point the Trojan hero Hector, in the company of his beloved wife, prays that their infant son will grow up to be a great warrior in his own right, admired by all as he returns from battle, "having killed his enemy, carrying back in triumph the gore-stained armor to gladden his mother's heart."

To the ancients, it was obvious that a mother would be proud to see her son return from the battlefield with the "gore-stained" armor of the man he has just killed. That was the world into which the Jewish prophets long ago brought their messianic message of peace on earth, goodwill to men. In time, Christianity would spread that radical ideal across the globe. Its impact may be gauged from the fact that on this day, as Christians mark the birth of their "prince of peace," it is hard to imagine there could ever have been an age when good people everywhere didn't long for a world without war.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial

1 posted on 12/26/2013 6:52:09 AM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin
John 14:27 - New International Version (NIV)
" Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

2 posted on 12/26/2013 6:59:32 AM PST by loveliberty2
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To: Kaslin

Peace comes when people and nations stop violent actions toward others. Judging from the history of the world, this is not likely to happen. Individuals have free will and can choose to attack others. Countries are led by individuals, whose individual decisions commit entire populations to action.

To have peace, you have to be ready to repel the agressor.

3 posted on 12/26/2013 6:59:47 AM PST by I want the USA back (Media: completely irresponsible traitors. Complicit in the destruction of our country.)
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To: Kaslin
Peace comes from having a defense stronger and more determined than your enemies aggression.

4 posted on 12/26/2013 7:08:42 AM PST by BitWielder1 (Corporate Profits are better than Government Waste)
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To: BitWielder1

It sure does

5 posted on 12/26/2013 7:09:15 AM PST by Kaslin (He needed the ignorant to reelect him, and he got them. Now we all have to pay the consequenses)
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To: loveliberty2


6 posted on 12/26/2013 7:12:57 AM PST by Kaslin (He needed the ignorant to reelect him, and he got them. Now we all have to pay the consequenses)
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To: Kaslin

Peace to us is the absence of war. Peace to the totalitarian is the absence of opposition.

7 posted on 12/26/2013 7:14:17 AM PST by Daveinyork (IER)
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To: Kaslin

In the end, it will be when the great King of Kings comes back in His full glory and not, like the first time, a helpless little baby then REAL peace will come.

8 posted on 12/26/2013 7:23:11 AM PST by Biggirl (“Go, do not be afraid, and serve”-Pope Francis)
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To: loveliberty2

Also Isisah 9:1-6 speaks about that peace as well.

9 posted on 12/26/2013 7:24:35 AM PST by Biggirl (“Go, do not be afraid, and serve”-Pope Francis)
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To: I want the USA back
Peace comes when people and nations stop violent actions toward others.

No... peace is not mere absence of war, but the presence of Justice.
This is why God tells his people to do justly. (See tag-line.)

10 posted on 12/26/2013 7:42:32 AM PST by OneWingedShark (Q: Why am I here? A: To do Justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God.)
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To: BitWielder1

That’s not the peace that Jesus, the Messiah of Israel brings - when he sets up his one-world government and rules over the nations of the world (the USA, UK, France, Iraq, Egypt, Russia, North Korea, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and all the rest).

All the military capability will be taken away from the nations of the world.

11 posted on 12/26/2013 8:26:08 AM PST by Star Traveler (Remember to keep the Messiah of Israel in the One-World Government that we look forward to coming)
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To: Biggirl

You bet! And we know the real reason for Christmas and the Gospel Message that comes from it.

We’re going to say “Merry Christmas” regardless what the atheists, pagans and anti-Christians think about it!

SO ... Merry Christmas to one and all ...

Matthew 1:18-25

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.

19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.

20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.

21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife,

25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.

Luke 1:26-35

26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,

27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.

28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.

30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.

31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.

32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.

33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.

Luke 2:4-20

4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,;

5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.

6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.

7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.

10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.

11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”

16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.

17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.

18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.

20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

John 1:1-18

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2 He was in the beginning with God.

3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.

8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.

11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.

12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ “

16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.

17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

12 posted on 12/26/2013 8:28:44 AM PST by Star Traveler (Remember to keep the Messiah of Israel in the One-World Government that we look forward to coming)
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To: Star Traveler
It's up to us to reject all the false Messiahs until then.

13 posted on 12/26/2013 10:12:09 AM PST by BitWielder1 (Corporate Profits are better than Government Waste)
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