Archive for the ‘14th Symbol: Olive Branch’ Category

14th MESSIANIC SYMBOL for the Advent Season: Olive Branch

December 13, 2009

DECEMBER 14: Micah 5:5a

And he will be their peace.

Many contemporary Christmas cards say something about peace. We think about peace at Christmas because of the song that the angels sang when they told the shepherds about Jesus’ birth: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14).

The Old Testament word for peace was shalom, which means “completeness” or “well-being.” Every day our news is full of reports of wars and conflicts and other terrible events. Sometimes we know personally someone whose home has burned or who has been robbed or who is sick with a life-threatening disease. Most Americans felt their sense of peace shattered after September 11, 2001, when thousands of people died in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. We wonder if terrorists will strike a new target where we live. We also are disturbed by conflicts in our interpersonal relationships. Where is the peace that God promised to bring through Jesus?

Our peace begins with peace with God. If we are not at peace with God, we will not experience the completeness or sense of well-being shalom brings. The Bible tells us that because of sin, we were actually God’s enemies (Colossians 1:21). But Jesus paid the penalty for our sins so that we could have peace with God once again. Many people cannot understand why they do not have peace in their lives. By accepting what Jesus did for us, we can have the inner peace He came to bring.

That inner peace comes after we make peace with God. Philippians 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This kind of peace does not depend on the absence of bad things happening around us, but from the knowledge that God is in control and will take care of us. Jesus promised to give us peace in the midst of the world’s trouble.

We use an olive branch as the symbol for peace. Often the olive branch is pictured in the mouth of a dove. After the flood, Noah sent out a dove to see if the land had dried up. The first time the dove went out, it returned because it could not find a place to light. The second time the dove came back it had an olive branch in its mouth. Since then both the dove and the olive branch have been used as symbols of peace. In the story of Noah the dove and olive branch showed that God was continuing to love and to provide for Noah and his family.

Someday Jesus will return and end all wars and bring peace. In the meantime, He promises to give us peace with God that enables us to have an inner contentment in the midst of a troubled world.

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth
To touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, goodwill to men,
From heav’n’s all-gracious King!”
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heav’nly music floats
O’er all the weary world:
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hov’ring wing.
And ever o’er its Babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.

For lo, the days are hast’ning on,
By prophets seen of old,
When with the ever-circling years
Shall come the time foretold,
When the new heav’n and earth shall own
The Prince of Peace their King,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.

Edmund Hamilton Sears (1810-1876)

Thank God that Jesus Christ is our peace—that He came to fill us with shalom—completeness.

Ask God to so fill us with His peace that people around us are attracted to the peace of God.

Christ our God, King of peace, grant us your peace,
establish for us your peace and forgive our sins.
For yours is the power, the glory,
the blessing and the might, for ever. Amen.

Coptic Blessing