Did Jesus of Nazareth fail as the Prince of Peace? Many Jews claim that Jesus' failure to bring world peace disqualify Him from being the promised Messiah. Let's look at the prophecies to determine their original meaning.
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
The prophet Isaiah goes on to say that even the animals will live in peace among each other:
And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the kid, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze; Their young will lie down together; And the lion will eat straw like the ox. (Isaiah 11:6-7)
Although Jesus was greeted with shouts of hosanna,1 which means "Oh save,"2 when He failed to overthrow the rule of Rome, as they thought He had come to do, those shouts later turned to "crucify him!"3
So, did Jesus fail in His mission to rule as the "Prince of Peace?" Certainly, Jesus never governed the Jews, and the leopard does not now lie down with a young goat, unless the goat is in the leopard.
What is peace?
The Hebrew word translated "peace" is shalom, which also means "completeness," "soundness," "welfare," "tranquility," "contentment," and "friendship."4 In particular, it also refers to peace with God through a covenant relationship.4 However, since the Jews were under the domination of the Roman Empire at the time Jesus came, they saw shalom only as referring to freedom from oppression.
Peace with God
The Jewish people should have been well aware of the need to be at peace with God. In the Old Testament, the people of Israel would often make a sacrifice called a "peace offering" before the Lord. In fact, it is recorded 87 times in the Old Testament.5 The Old Testament declares that those who follow God's laws will have peace:
- Those who love Thy law have great peace, And nothing causes them to stumble. (Psalm 119:165)
- The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. (Isaiah 32:17)
- How blessed is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding... Her [wisdom's] ways are pleasant ways, And all her paths are peace. (Proverbs 3:13, 17)
However, those who hate God and His laws will have no peace:
- "There is no peace for the wicked," says the LORD. (Isaiah 48:22)
- "There is no peace," says my God, "for the wicked." (Isaiah 57:21)
- They do not know the way of peace, And there is no justice in their tracks; They have made their paths crooked; Whoever treads on them does not know peace. (Isaiah 59:8)
The new covenant of peace
Isaiah tells us that the Messiah would provide good news of peace, happiness and salvation:
How lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace And brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, "Your God reigns!" (Isaiah 52:7)
Both Isaiah and Ezekiel tell us that this good news would be a covenant of peace:
- "For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, And My covenant of peace will not be shaken," Says the LORD who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:10)
- "And I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. (Ezekiel 37:26)
The prophet Micah foretold that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.8 This would not be an ordinary ruler, but one "from the days of eternity."8 Micah goes on to say that He would shepherd the flock of Israel and "this one will be our peace."9
The New Testament explains that the peace promised by the prophets is peace with God:
- "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased." (Luke 2:14)
- Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (Romans 5:1)
This peace was provided through the justification provided by the "guilt offering" sacrifice of the Messiah, as predicted by the prophet Isaiah:
But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:10-12)
Jesus explained that He came to provide the means to obtain personal peace with God through Him.
- "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. (John 14:27)
- "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
The New Testament explains that friendship with the world system results in hostility to God.10 Jesus provides not only peace for the individual, but peace between Jews and Gentiles who follow Him:
For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, (Ephesians 2:14-15)
What about Messiah's rule?
The New Testament indicates that the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament were referring to multiple visits by the Messiah. When we read all of these prophecies, we realize that they could not possibly be all fulfilled at the same time. Some prophecies required that the Messiah die as the guilt offering of God (see Isaiah 53 above). Others required that He rule with the authority of God and change the nature of the creation (Isaiah 9:6, 11:6). These events must represent separate visits by the Messiah. Jesus fulfilled the first part of the messianic prophecies at His first coming11 and will fulfill the remainder at His return.12
The Old Testament prophecies claiming the Messiah would be the Prince of Peace were referring to peace with God through the new covenant of peace. Through this covenant, the Messiah would justify sinners through His sacrifice as the guilt offering of God. Those who accept Jesus as Savior experience the peace provided by God's Spirit.13 This peace surpasses all comprehension14 for those who have never experienced it before.
"'The LORD bless you, and keep you; The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.'" (Numbers 6:24-26)
- Prophecies of Jesus Christ as Messiah
- Jesus Christ - Messiah of the Rabbinical Writers
- God's Chosen People, the Jews: Isn't God Unfair in Showing Such Preference?
- The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Hosanna in the highest!" (Matthew 21:9)
- From Strong's Greek Definitions:
ho-san-nah' Of Hebrew origin [H3467] and [H4994]; oh save!; hosanna (that is, hoshia-na), an exclamation of adoration: - hosanna.
- And answering again, Pilate was saying to them, "Then what shall I do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?" And they shouted back, "Crucify Him!" But Pilate was saying to them, "Why, what evil has He done?" But they shouted all the more, "Crucify Him!" (Mark 15:12-14)
- Brown-Driver-Briggs' Hebrew Definitions:
shalom (Strong's H7965)
- completeness, soundness, welfare, peace
- completeness (in number)
- safety, soundness (in body)
- welfare, health, prosperity
- peace, quiet, tranquility, contentment
- peace, friendship
- of human relationships
- with God especially in covenant relationship
- peace (from war)
- peace (as adjective)
A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from H7999
Same Word by TWOT Number: 2401a
- completeness, soundness, welfare, peace
- Exodus 20:24, 24:5, 29:28, 32:6, Leviticus 3:1, 3:3, 3:6, 3:9, 4:10, 4:26, 4:31, 4:35, 6:12, 7:11, 7:13, 7:14, 7:15, 7:18, 7:20, 7:21, 7:29, 7:32, 7:33, 7:34, 7:37, 9:4, 9:18, 9:22, 10:14, 17:5, 19:5, 22:21, 23:19, Numbers 6:14, 6:17, 6:18, 7:17, 7:23, 7:29, 7:35, 7:41, 7:47, 7:53, 7:59, 7:65, 7:71, 7:77, 7:83, 7:88, 10:10, 15:8, 29:39, Deuteronomy 27:7, Joshua 8:31, 22:23, 22:27, Judges 20:26, 21:4, 1 Samuel 10:8, 11:15, 13:9, 2 Samuel 6:17, 2 Samuel 6:18, 24:25, 1 Kings 3:15, 8:63, 8:64, 9:25, 2 Kings 16:13, 1 Chronicles 16:1, 16:2, 21:26, 2 Chronicles 7:7, 29:35, 30:22, 31:2, 33:16, Proverbs 7:14, Ezekiel 43:27, 45:15, 45:17, 46:2, 46:12, Amos 5:22.
- Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and named it The LORD is Peace. To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites. (Judges 6:24)
- The LORD will give strength to His people; The LORD will bless His people
with peace. (Psalm 29:11)
He will redeem my soul in peace from the battle which is against me, For they are many who strive with me. (Psalm 55:18)
- "But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity." (Micah 5:2)
- Therefore, He will give them up until the time When she who is in labor has borne a child. Then the remainder of His brethren Will return to the sons of Israel. And He will arise and shepherd His flock In the strength of the LORD, In the majesty of the name of the LORD His God. And they will remain, Because at that time He will be great To the ends of the earth. And this One will be our peace... (Micah 5:3-5)
- You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4)
- See Prophecies of Jesus Christ as Messiah
- And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)
- But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (Galatians 5:22)
- And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)
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