“You must pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
May those who love you rest at ease.”
Beloved, how do you pray for the church? The word that we translate as “pray” in this passage is the Hebrew word, la’v’ (shaal), which more literally refers to the way someone might plead or beg for something. There is a sense of desperation in its tone. Beloved, is this the way in which you pray for the church? Do you plead with God for her purity and for her peace? Are you committing yourself to intercede on her behalf, not just for her witness, but for her genuine peace as well. Just as the psalmist is commending ancient Israel to do this for Jerusalem, how desperately important it is for us to do so for the church—both for our local congregations and for the witness of evangelical churches throughout the world.
But what do we mean by “peace”? The term ~Alv’ (shalom) means more than rest from war or personal comfort without oppression, though certainly those elements are included and those elements should be at the heart of our prayer life. Indeed, we should long for the day when the scoffers and nay-sayers who mock the church are brought into judgment and they can no longer tear down God’s people. At the same time, the call for peace, in the Hebrew tongue also anticipated the coming of the Messiah (for the Hebrews today, it still does—at least in their mindset). It is a longing for the great redeemer that God had promised to send to his people…though the Jewish people rejected Him. And praise the Lord that the Jewish people rejected Christ, for this rejection made way for the Gospel to go out to us, the gentile believers! When we see the mighty plan of God unfolded in this way, all we can do is to say with the Apostle Paul:
“Oh the depth of riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unfathomable are his judgments and inscrutable his ways!”
Thus, when we pray for peace, we pray with the knowledge that God has already sent his Messiah in Jesus Christ and assured for us, his people, the peace that “passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) which will “rule in our hearts” (Colossians 3:15) and be a testimony of a mind that is set upon Jesus Christ (Romans 8:6). Indeed, our Lord, said, “my peace I leave with you” (John 14:27) and it is because of this that our hearts need not fear or be troubled by the things of the world. We have a confidence that the peace of God has been offered in part to us already and that there is a guarantee given to those who are trusting in Jesus Christ that such peace will be enjoyed in its fullness in the world to come, thus as we pray for that peace here and now, we also pray to hasten the day of our Lord’s return. Indeed, “come Lord Jesus, come!” (Revelation 22:20).
Beloved, let us pray for the peace of the church so that our minds and hearts might rest assured. There are many trials and difficulties that must be faced in this fallen world and there are many challenges that must be met, yet the church of Christ has been promised victory; let us be a part of that mighty day and engage the world’s lies with Truth, knowing that the Messiah has come and his name is Jesus Christ.