The True Meaning of Peace
John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Given 21-Sep-94; 79 minutes
We went over to the Worlds of Fun. I have always wanted to try something that had the loop-the-loops in it, so we went on the Oriental Express, which is designed to separate your body from its members! It is a roller coast that is about a minute in the “serious” part of the ride. You go up this very easy slope, and you travel around the top, then you come to this totally sheer precipice and go all the way down to the bottom. Then you come up and you go into one big loop—“boy, that was something!” Then you go into a tight loop, and then I did not feel good. Then it goes into a horizontal thing, and then it comes out. We got off, and I only had one crack in my neck, and I felt pretty good.
Later on, we went over to the porpoise show. I would really recommend the porpoise show that you go there and sit in the first row—no, sit at least three rows back. A little boy in front of me, about 10 years old, said, “Have you been on the Oriental Express?” And I said, “Yes! But I’m too old for that.” He said, “You aren’t too old.” And I said, “What is too old?” And he sat there and he thought, he did not just give me a flippant answer. He just thought. After about ten seconds, he said, “You’re too old when you can’t do anything.”
So none of you here are too old, because you all came here. So as long as you can do something, you are not too old.
Shortly before we discontinued our cable TV, about a year and a half ago, we decided we had too much coming into the house. We never did have the movie channels, but we decided to get rid of cable TV. But just before then, we copied a movie that I am sure you have all heard of. I do not know that it was up for an Academy Award, but I am sure that once I mention its name you will all recognize it: Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss.
It was a movie that I am sure never went anywhere, but it was a movie that I can relate to, and I really liked it—and I am sure that all of you are going to try to rent it one of these days.
It was a story narrated by a boy who had grown into manhood, and he was looking back over his family’s annual vacation. It was really a touching movie. It was the story of a middle-class family. The father, an office worker, smoked like a chimney. It was the story of the family preparing for the annual vacation they took every year. The father was hard-working, and the wife was simple, but she was enthusiastic about everything, even when the child got sick—“Oh, isn’t that wonderful!” Nothing dissuaded her.
The son, who was narrating the story, had his first job, which was moving refrigerators, upstairs, five floors up. He had to carry them up, and he would come home at night exhausted. He had a little brother and sister.
The story portrayed each of their lives, and the hustle-and-bustle of the ‘50s. It showed the strain of getting ready for the vacation: the dog got lost and nobody would go without the dog. They had to pack the old family car, with its idiosyncrasies; you had to kick it, and do a certain thing to get the starter going. The car looked like a mountain of things going on vacation.
They were all finally prepared to go to Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss. That would not mean a thing to you: it was just an assortment of run-down, old cabins on a lake. But at Ollie’s, all the work world, all the pressure of society and the trials was behind them, and it was an area and a place of peace for them. When they pulled into Ollie’s in their car, “Ollie, we’re here! How’s the fishing?” And of course you know what Ollie said—“You should have been here last week!” That is what they always say. I am an old fisherman, and they always tell me that.
As he was looking back on it, when they got into their cabin, the father would walk out onto the pier, and he stood and looked over the lake, with one boat out there. Then it started to rain, and the rain came through the ceiling. It dripped, and they put pots and pans under all the drips. But you could just feel the wistfulness in the young man’s voice, as he reflected back on the peaceful times that the family had always had. He just longed for them tremendously.
When we lived in Oakland, California, I would skin dive quite a bit, and eat all of the unclean things out of the bottom of the ocean. We had our Haven of Bliss, called Red Barn, about 125 miles north of San Francisco, on the coast. It was a private sheep ranch. You would pay your $2 to go through the gate. You had to carry in your water. There were no outhouses, I know that would probably stop half of you.
It was about 300 acres of sheep ranch. Where we camped, there was a small grove of pine trees, and there was burial plot there, where five or six people who had died in the 1800’s from influenza, the entire family.
We would camp there and set up our tent—talk about peaceful! There would be eight or ten people for 200 acres. The ocean was crashing in down below. When Brian was young, we tied a rope around his waist, and tied it to the bumper of the car so that he could not walk off the cliff. He would drag the rope through the fire and things like that.
The clean air, the surf thundering in below—at nighttime, the wind would turn off at 6 o’clock. God always saw to it that He turned the wind off. Then the stars would start to come out. We had our campfire, and we would tell jokes. I am not given to telling jokes, but nevertheless, some people would tell them.
Once in a while, the Bodega Bay fishing fleet would pull up outside of our little Haven of Bliss, and they would anchor off the coast. You could look out there with the moon on the water, and the lights would be bobbing. Sometimes the sea lions would come and serenade us all night long.
One time, my wife and I walked up the coast, and we walked on a little trail over the bluff and nestled down on some big rocks. We had our coats wrapped around us, out of the wind, and you could feel the ground tremble from the surf thundering in.
Talk about peace.
I can recall times going up there with business pressures, having a knot in my stomach, and I could literally feel the knot unwind. To me, when I think of a place of peace, I think of Red Barn. It was temporary peace to be sure, but Red Barn is probably the place that I think of as the most peaceful place on the face of the earth for me. It just was.
I would imagine that each of us, looking back in our past, can remember a place where we felt truly at peace. When I talked with Daryl Henson, he will talk about the Alaskan wilderness, and his eyes just sort of get glazed over, and he is not in the room anymore. Talk to him, he will tell you what it is like up there—the air is sweet and pure, no temptations, the forest is lovely, and he is at peace.
I feel that finding peaceful moments in this life can be very difficult. Some may find it in their gardening, some may find it in reading a good book, some may find peace in some other way, being with a family, being here at the Feast is a peaceful time.
But brethren, the reason why peace does not stay with us very long is because we can see the pain, the disaster, the strife, the confusion, and the agony in this world. The reality of what is on the horizon is ever-present with us, and it has its effect, not only on us, but on the people that we deal with in the world, as well.
With the exception of those who make profit from confusion, hatred, fear, and war, the whole world longs for peace. It truly does. Even overseas, the Chinese that fought against us would rather be home taking care of their rice paddies and their families. Nobody wants to fight. Nobody wants war.
My subject, as you can tell, is peace. God wants us to be at peace with each other. He wants us to be at peace individually. He wants us to be at peace with those in the world around us, and He wants us to be at peace with Him.
We are at the Feast, where peace is. Everyone is happy here, and I can tell by the handshakes, the pummeling on the back, that this is just a wonderful time. In fact, Greg Hutchinson, who is a man of few words, when we came to look at the hotel, could not help but comment, “You are going to meet a wonderful group of people! They are wonderful!” The hotel lady was nodding, and Greg was just enthusiastic about all of you. Even though he did not use the word peace, he told about all of the wonderful attitudes that you have, and that peace would be here, because of the way that you conduct yourselves, because of God’s Spirit.
Unger’s (Bible dictionary): “Peace—1. Frequently, with reference to outward conditions of tranquility, and thus of individuals, of communities, of churches, and nations. 2. Christian unity. 3. In the deepest application, spiritual peace, through restored relations of harmony with God.”
The Reader’s Digest Dictionary: “A state of mental or physical quiet or tranquility; calm, repose.”—I am going to go to sleep here, it sounds so wonderful—“Public tranquility and order; freedom from riot or violence. A state of reconciliation after strife and enmity. Freedom from mental agitation or anxiety; a state or condition of order and harmony. The absence or cessation of war.”
Peace. Does this world ever need peace! We do not see a lot of this around today.
We do not see it today, but in the Kingdom of God, peace is going to burst out. There will be no lack of peace. It will spring out from everywhere.
Isaiah 66:9 Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?” says the Lord. “Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?” says your God.
God is saying, “I haven’t brought you this far to not come through with it, don’t kid yourself!”
Isaiah 66:10-14 “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all you who love her; rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn for her; that you may feed and be satisfied with the consolation of her bosom, that you may drink deeply and be delighted with the abundance of her glory.” For thus says the Lord: “Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream. Then you shall feed; on her sides shall you be carried, and be dandled on her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” When you see this, your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like grass; the hand of the Lord shall be known to His servants, and His indignation to His enemies.”
God is going to bring peace.
Jeremiah 30:7-11 “Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble but he shall be saved out of it. ‘For it shall come to pass in that day,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘That I will break his yoke from your neck, and will burst your bonds; foreigners shall no more enslave them. [We will be coming out of captivity.] But they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them. Therefore do not fear, O My servant Jacob,’ says the Lord, ‘nor be dismayed, O Israel; for behold, I will save you from afar, and your seed from the land of their captivity. Jacob shall return, have rest and be quiet, and no one shall make him afraid. For I am with you,’ says the Lord, ‘to save you; though I make a full end of all nations where I have scattered you, yet I will not make a complete end of you. But I will correct you in justice, and will not let you go altogether unpunished.’”
Zechariah 8 describes a time that is going to be so beautiful. I think that, living in Los Angeles, we appreciate Zechariah 8 more than perhaps some of you who live elsewhere.
Zechariah 8:1-8 Again the word of the Lord of hosts came, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘I am zealous for Zion with great zeal; with great fervor I am zealous for her.’ Thus says the Lord: ‘I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, the Mountain of the Lord of hosts, the Holy Mountain.’ Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each one with his staff in his hand because of great age. The streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets.’ Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘If it is marvelous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, will it also be marvelous in My eyes?’ says the Lord of hosts. Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Behold, I will save My people from the land of the east and from the land of the west; I will bring them back, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. They shall be My people and I will be their God, in truth and righteousness.’”
Here we have a picture of families, of old age—I can be a great-grandfather, that would be wonderful, to sit out and to watch the little children play. They would not be watching television or doing the wrong things. They would be out there enjoying themselves.
As we have gotten older, look at how we all enjoy talking here. Can you imagine every night this way? Going out, sitting on your front porch, sitting at a park bench with your friends that you have known all of your life, and talking—about how God called you, what He did for you, the blessings you had, recounting all of the wonderful things that God has done, and having the joy of seeing your children, and your children’s children, and possibly even your children’s children’s children out there, playing in the streets, safe and sound.
We do not have that in Los Angeles. We have gangs. L.A. has 54 shootings every weekend, Santa Ana is close to that. Our nation is not that way today, there is not that kind of peace.
Jeremiah 31:1-12 “At the same time,” says the Lord, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people.” Thus says the Lord: “The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness—Israel, when I went to give him rest.” The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you. Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel! You shall again be adorned with your tambourines, and shall go forth in the dances of those who rejoice. You shall yet plant vines on the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant and eat them as ordinary food. For there shall be a day when the watchmen will cry on Mount Ephraim, ‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God.’” For thus says the Lord: “Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise, and say, ‘O Lord, save Your people, the remnant of Israel!’ Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the ends of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and the one who labors with child, together; a great throng shall return there. They shall come with weeping, and with supplications I will lead them. I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters, in a straight way in which they shall not stumble; for I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is My firstborn. “Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd does his flock.’ [Tender love and concern.] For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of one stronger than he. Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, streaming to the goodness of the Lord—for wheat and new wine and oil, for the young of the flock and the herd; their souls shall be like a well-watered garden, and they shall sorrow no more at all.”
All of the anxiety will be gone, and peace will be everywhere. In Isaiah 11, even the animals, with their vicious natures, will be changed, and there will be peace on the earth there too, with the animal kingdom.
Isaiah 19:21-25 Then the Lord will be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the Lord in that day, and will make sacrifice and offering; yes, they will make a vow to the Lord and perform it. And the Lord will strike Egypt, He will strike and heal it; they will return to the Lord, and He will be entreated by them and heal them. In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will serve with the Assyrians. In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria—a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.”
Peace is going to spring up. We will not turn to Revelation 21, but it says there in the fourth verse that there will be no more pain, no more suffering, that all of the tears will be dried—and there will be peace everywhere, just everywhere. What a wonderful time that is going to be!
The world tomorrow will be filled with peace, with accord, with unity, agreement, fellowship, with concurrence, with harmony, with reconciliation, all of the things that pertain to peace. Serenity, cooperation, tranquility, and freedom from strife. That will be available, that will be in the world tomorrow.
Why? Because it is in this environment that true growth, joy, and accomplishment can be produced, in the environment of peace. Peace and love are the products produced by living God’s way, they just are.
I know that some have questioned over the years, “It’s going to be too easy for them in the world tomorrow, because doesn’t it say in Revelation 20:6 that ‘blessed are those who have part in the first resurrection?’” Well, yes, it does. “And haven’t we had it tougher? It’s going to be a lot easier for them.” I would not count on that. Trying to attain the character of Jesus Christ is going to be some stress and strain on everybody in the world tomorrow.
Too, there will be the trials of everyday living in the world tomorrow, on getting along with one’s wife, with one’s husband, children, employer, your neighbor, getting along with yourself. There will be the character building effort that is required. Keeping up the farm, keeping up the house. Doing all of the things of everyday living that develops our character.
Proverbs 24:30-34 I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; and there it was, all overgrown with thorns; its surface was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken down. When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction: a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest; so shall your poverty come like a prowler, and your need like an armed man.
Here we see that mankind is still going to have to maintain their wall, their farm, things like that. It will take right choices, it will take priorities—all of this will be involved.
In Isaiah 30, we will see an area where you will be involved, because man is not going to have a free ride in the world tomorrow, believe me.
Isaiah 30:20-21 And though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, but your eyes shall see your teachers. Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.
You are going to hear the teachers. Who do you think will be the teachers? Who is going to be encouraging these people to go the right way?
Human nature is still human nature, and it is going to have to be dealt with in the world tomorrow. The wrong thoughts, wrong ideas, wrong procedures that start to take place—how far we will choose to let those go, I do not know. Lessons will be learned. There will be teachers to help the people, and they will develop and build godly character.
I think that most of us feel that we are at peace in this country. We have not been attacked heavily, we have not been bombed out. Overall, things seem peaceful. You all got here safely. But to get a true picture of peace, we have to look and see what the lack of peace has produced in the world, to get a proper perspective. Until we learn to hate hatred and anger, I do not think that we are going to really appreciate peace.
Since mankind has been on the earth, John Ritenbaugh gave some statistics on death, war, trouble, and earthquakes. But during the 6,000 years of mankind, they estimate that only 240 years have been without wars. From the time that America was formed, 5/6 of the time it has been involved with wars.
What does war produce? I do not think that we realize that in this country at all, unless we have lost a loved one. What it produces is costly combat and conflict, hostilities, slaughter, carnage. It produces enmity and loathing; destruction of all sorts.
I could not help but be moved in the recent Memorial Day services for D-Day, because there were so many touching stories about the landing at Normandy. The newspaper had in their coverage, a listing of all of the American casualties, as compared to D-Day. It included the killed, wounded, and missing in action. In the Tet offensive in Vietnam, in the first week they lost 3,173 people. On D-Day, in the first 24 hours, they lost 6,603. In the Pearl Harbor attack, they lost 3,681 people. In Chancellorsville during the Civil War, 29,000 people were killed. In Gettysburg, 43,000 were killed. In Chickamauga, 34,700 were killed.
When you stop and think about soldiers, General Eisenhower commanded 2.5 million soldiers that had to go to war and fight. Pershing, almost 2 million, General Grant, half a million.
What does war produce? It produced death camps. Remember Auschwitz, Dachau—the story there: annihilation. Destruction of cities, destruction of ways of life. Who suffers? Normally, those who did not start the war are the ones who suffer.
What was the cost of the war? What could that money be spent for to help our people in this country, or the world? What percentage of the budget does a war cost?
Careers are shattered. Loved ones are separated. Futures are put in doubt.
Wounded. War produces blind, lame, amputees. I remember when I was in the amputee ward, there was a man from the Korean war who had lost all four limbs. I do not know if you can picture what that would be like. It is one thing to be in with everybody else that has something amputated, but not to be able to, pardon the expression, wipe your bottom, wash your face, go to the bathroom by yourself, scratch your ear. Things that we take for granted. War and hatred produce this.
It robs the fathers and mothers of the nation. It robs the nation of its future because of the tremendous loss of young lives, the financial debt incurred, and the rebuilding required in structures and in lives.
We have been lucky in this country. We do not have any idea what it is like to see our cities decimated. We are not England, where they were totally destroyed. We have not been Hiroshima or Nagasaki. We have not been all of Europe, and France, and Germany, where they had their buildings wiped out. We are fat and sassy, and it is going to come as a real jolt to us when it comes. We do not expect it, we do not think that it is going to happen. We somehow think we are going to be spared all of this, as a nation. Nothing has ever touched our cities, but that time is coming.
The world does not understand that in war, and in anger, and in hatred, nobody wins. Nobody.
Let me ask you a question: is peace just the absence of war? Is peace the absence of open conflict? Does peace or war live in the mind? I will quote from writer Dorothy Thompson:
They have not wanted peace at all. They have wanted to be spared war, as though the absence of war was the same as peace.
She is saying they did not want the war, but hey wanted to keep their hatred and their anger, and their miserable attitudes, as though that was peace. As though the absence of war was peace.
Tennyson wrote: “Why do they prate of the blessings of peace? We have made them a curse, and the lust of gain, or the spirit of Cain, is it better or worse in the heart of the citizen, hissing in war?”
He was saying, “Look, you don’t want war, but being anxious to put the guy in business out of action so that you can get a job—that’s hatred, that’s war.” Maybe it is the absence of war, but trying to get ahead, putting your competition out of business, that is the spirit and attitude of war.
As is being pointed out here, hatred of any kind is the same as war.
Harmony, unity of accomplishment, and love cannot grow in an attitude of hatred, even though the angry attitude is hidden from all. One with an attitude of hatred and bitterness, though it may be hidden from those around him, is seen by God with a different attitude. This is something that we have to remember: God looks into our heart.
Remember with King David, when Samuel went to anoint David king, they brought Eliab out, and said “Look at him!” And Samuel said “Wow, what a hunk—broad shoulders, big strong looking man,” and God said, “No. Not at all. You see, Samuel, you look at the outward appearance, but I look on the heart.”
That is where God looks on us, on our heart.
What is the heart? The heart is the rational, spiritual nature of man. When a man does something, it is said that he presumed in his heart to do so. The heart is the seat of love and hatred, the center of feelings and affections, the center of moral life. The heart is the laboratory and place of issue of all that is good and evil in thoughts, and in words and deeds.
That is where God looks, in our hearts. Do we have any hatred? Because hatred is going to blot out peace.
One of the most wonderful things about our relationship with God is that we cannot fool Him. You can get on your knees before God, and you might as well be like Adam and Eve without a stitch on, because He knows what is going on. That is why when you sin, when you make a mistake, and you try and hide that mistake, it does not do any good.
That is beautiful part because then you can say, “Father, you know what I did. You know the feeling I had in my heart. I’m going to own up to it, and just say it like it is.” That is the beautiful part about having a relationship with God—you cannot fool Him. So you may was well come clean. When you come clean, then you can start to turn around and repent, and that is what God wants.
Does God want us to allow hatred in our hearts? I think you know the answer, the answer is no.
Some years back, we had a good friend that came into the Worldwide Church of God. For some reason, she glommed onto my wife and me like long-lost parents or grandparents. She told us everything, she told me things that would turn my face red. She just opened up to us and told us about her life, everything that was going on.
It was approaching the Passover season, and we brought that up. There was a lady in the congregation that she hated. I do not know what the lady had done, it was some silly thing, but I said, “Look, this is coming to the Passover season, and it would be really wise for you to go talk with this woman and make friends.” And she said, “No, I’m not going to do that.” And I said, “Look, you may have to wash her feet!” She said, “I’ll never wash her feet!” She would not do a thing, she kept the hatred in her heart.
You did not see it spring out every day, in everything that she did. But gradually, her attitude started to go, and when times got tough in the church, there she went. You cannot keep hatred in your heart, it does not fly that way. It is going to have its effect in bitterness, turning you sour.
God does not want hatred there. If you insist on keeping it, then God is going to watch you slowly drift away and leave the church. God does not want us to have hatred.
Leviticus 19:17-18 You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
In case you wondered, God said you shall not have hatred in your heart. You shall not have an evil thought of any kind, and you shall not harbor any grudges or hatred toward anybody. God says, do not do that, that is not the way of peace.
Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins.
Hatred makes mountains out of mole hills. You scuff my shoe, it becomes a problem. You said this not quite right, therefore I am offended. A little tiny molehill now becomes a giant mountain.
Hatred pours oil on the fire and builds it higher. Love makes a molehill out of a mountain, and pours water on the fire, and puts it out. Love seeks peace.
Love conciliates, removes aggravations, tries to see everything from a positive view, and pours water on the fire, not oil, and tries with all of its heart to produce peace. You cannot always do that, but one that has God’s Spirit in love will try to do that.
Proverbs 10:18 Whoever hides hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool.
Here he is saying that he who hides hatred with lying lips and utters slander is a fool. We become full of resentment, we plot revenge. But in this case, it is done with a smile on the face, but all the time, we are planning to get even. And God says, “Don’t plan to get even. That’s not part of it. Forget the indignities.”
This individual will resort to slander and will be found out. A commentary brought out that God calls him “a fool, and stupid, and silly” for planning that and trying to do that.
Proverbs 26:24 He who hates, disguises it with his lips . . .
Politicians are like this. “I think you’re a wonderful person. Yes, he’s running for the same office that I am, but he’s really a nice guy.” But in the back of his head, he is saying, “He’s a dirty rat, and I know all of his dirt.”
You have had people smile at you with a big, broad smile, and then say something behind your back. I think we have all done this from time to time.
Proverbs 26:24-26 He who hates, disguises it with his lips, and lays up deceit within himself; when he speaks kindly, do not believe him, for there are seven abominations in his heart; though his hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness will be revealed before the whole congregation.
Even though you can do something like, you can get by with it for a while, we have a Father who is not going to allow this to continue. You can do it, you can hide it, you can try and just not face it, but God will not let it continue. He is going to see that it comes out, and it will be before the whole congregation.
Proverbs 15:17 states “better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred.” It is better to be poor, in poverty conditions with love, than to have everything with hatred.
In Galatians 5, peace is a fruit of God’s Spirit, and hatred is a fruit of the flesh. We do not want that.
Who is the father of hatred? I know that you all know. We know that hatred and confusion cause division, backbiting, that is the result of hatred of the truth, of not loving God’s Word. The being that fits that job description is Satan. He was the being that longed to destroy Job. He did not have any compunction about killing Job’s children—“Let me at them”—it did not mean a thing.
He tempted Jesus Christ, to destroy Him, and also to destroy God’s plan so that you would not be here. He longed to have Peter, to sift him as wheat. And he has probably asked God for each of you, to sift you as wheat, and God said, “No.”
In Mark 13:19, in the Parable of the Sower of the Seed, we see that as soon as anyone hears the word of the Kingdom and does not understand, Satan snatches it away, as quick as he can. He is the one who put hatred in Judas Iscariot’s heart, to betray Jesus Christ. He lied to Adam and Eve, telling them they would live forever. He is the prince of the power of the air. He does everything he can to destroy mankind off the face of the earth. This is Mr. Hatred, the sum of all foul miserable deeds.
In John 8 we will put a cap on this, because then we are going to get into how to have peace.
John 8:39-44 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You do the deeds of your father.” Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, [and I would add, you would not hate Me] for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.”
If Satan can get us to hate, we start to go toward him, because he is filled with hate. He is filled with hate at the opportunity that each of us have to become members of the God Family, the opportunity that he threw away. So if he can get us to reflect him in any way, then we are going toward him and away from God. So that is what we have to face with hatred.
And I know that aside from Satan, that we have been raised with prejudices, things of this type, that we have to work to overcome. But if we know the enemy, if we know who is the father of it, and we start to recognize the attitude in ourselves, then we can start to say, “No, I’m not going to allow that to be there. Just not going to happen.”
How important is it that we live in peace, now? Brethren, it is extremely important that we live in peace now. We are in training for the Kingdom of God. The environment of the Kingdom of God is going to be peace, and if we choose not to learn to live in peace now, we may well not have the opportunity to learn to live in peace then, because now is the time to put all of these things into practice. We are in training; we are in school.
What do all of God’s laws point to? What do the Ten Commandments point to? What do they promote? I am going to go through them in short form.
1) “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.”
What happens if you have other gods before the one true God? You start to go in different directions. You have the god of business, the god of success, the god of money. I have had friends, who, the more they got prospered, the further they went away from church, until it was all gone. Does that promote peace? Not in the end. Keeping the one true God that saves you is what is going to promote peace.
2) “Do not make any graven image or bow down to it.”
We do not bow down to idols today, but we can craft our own idols in our mind. We can have our own ways of thinking, opposite from God’s way. We can decide to do things differently and start to worship those things—lust of the flesh, lust of eyes, pride of life. We can have those; does that promote peace? No. It promotes all kinds of trial, anxiety, and problems.
3) “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”
Certainly, that means not to take God’s name in slang and cursing. But you are wearing, your name is “God.” You reflect God by how you live, by what you are doing. When you do that, you promote peace. When you do not live by God’s ways or by His laws, and you reflect His name incorrectly, then you promote hatred, anger, strife, and confusion. Carrying God’s name correctly is going to promote peace.
4) “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.”
God set the Sabbath day apart, to be a time of peace. It has become a time of peace, not too many years back, it was not a time of peace. It was a time of frustration and confusion. But if we are obedient and keep the Sabbath properly, our family—in the Old Testament, our manservant, our maidservant, our animals—all enjoyed peace. We reflected on what we were taught, and what we were taught told us to be like God. Becoming like God is promoting peace.
5) “Honor your father and your mother.”
What a wonderful example this is to the entire community! A family today that honors his father and mother promotes peace, it promotes peace in the family and gives proper instruction to the younger children. “Look, mom and dad are taking care of Grandma and Grandpa.” Not to mention making the mother and father pleased, that they had made all the sacrifices for you. You are promoting peace there, as well. God’s laws promote peace. Even if the parents are difficult to honor, you still put out the effort to do so, because some day they are going to be called and they will see what you did. It is going to produce peaceful results.
6) “You shall not commit murder.”
Would that this one commandment was kept in the world today, would there ever be a lot more peace than there is. There was a young mother in Los Angeles, she had her shopping cart, pushing her baby. She was going toward her car, and all of a sudden, two gang factions started to fight. The mother left the cart, grabbed her baby, and ran to the car. She huddled down in the front seat, putting the baby next to her breast to try to protect it. They found her holding the child. She had been killed, a bullet went to her heart. “You shall not kill.” These gangs do not even care—“Everybody’s got to die sometime, big deal! They are just vics.” That is what they call them, “victims.” They even shoot to mark territory, killing a stranger, just to mark that they are in charge, like a dog lifts its leg.
War, hate, crimes, abortion are all caused by not obeying this one commandment, “You shall not kill.”
7) “You shall not commit adultery.”
Does that promote peace? You bet it does! You have happy homes, marriages that are solid, kids that just look up to you. When I used to kiss my wife, or I would pat her on the bottom, my daughter would say, “X-rated, daddy, x-rated.” But do you know what that told her? God is in heaven, mom and dad are OK, my home is secure. It promotes peace.
It promotes peace to a town, a city, and the country. It does away with broken homes, jealousy, divorce, hatred, guilt, and sometimes killing occurs because of committing adultery. When this law is rejected, industries spring up all over the world to promote kiddie porn, pornographic things of all types, and it reflects in the nation and tears it down—and Israel is in big trouble, just because of this law.
8) “You shall not steal.”
Having your possessions secure, never having to lock your door—what a blessing this is. That is really peace.
I just speak for Los Angeles, but I am sure it is the same elsewhere. There was one man who had a guard dog, bars on his windows, electronic surveillance, and a TV camera. He made a comment to the press, “I think I’m the one in jail.” He had to be behind all of these things to protect his home. Is that peace? No, that is not peace. That is “You shall not steal.” People steal, they rob, and they kill.
9) “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
Is it a blessing not to have something said about you that was false, to start a rumor? I wish my mouth had always been as good as it should have been, I truly do. Gossip comes easy. How many reputations have been ruined?
How many of you enjoy hearing politicians speak about the competition? “He is this, she said this in the paper, boy oh boy!”—and away they go, they just tear them to shreds. It is not going to happen [in the world tomorrow]. Not bearing false witness promotes peace. God is after, in case you have not gotten the idea, peace.
10) “You shall not covet anything of your neighbor’s.”
Coveting promotes jealousy, envy, anger, it takes your eyes off God, you being too focused on the thing, whatever it is, and it can end up causing bitterness. It can spread throughout the community and the nation.
I saw a cartoon in the Los Angeles Times that showed Moses on the mountain, with the Ten Commandments. There was a salesman there that said, “Please don’t list the last one, about ‘Thou shall not covet,’ because then we couldn’t sell anything.” It would ruin marketing, we cannot market to make you covet.
Being a salesman, I took that in stride. But not coveting what others have, not trying to keep up with the Joneses, brings peace. When you are trying to keep up with somebody who is better fixed than you are mentally, and better fixed financially, it is an endless struggle and you will never make it. Put your eyes back on God, and let God bless you.
These Ten Commandments, and all of their amplification, give us the basic instructions for peace, for getting along. God wants us to be peacemakers.
In Mark 9:50, Jesus says, “Be the salt of the earth.” Do not lose your savor, do not lose your salt. And by the way, be at peace with your fellow man, be peaceful. Have peace with one another.
Do you want to see God? Seek holiness and peace, with all men. It does not say, just within the church, it says with all men (and all women, in case someone wants to be technical).
Matthew 5:3-10 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Notice the rewards. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God” Why? Because the peacemaker is one who imitates the very nature of God, who takes on the very character of God. One commentary said, “There is no more God-like work to be done in this world then peacemaking.”
Who is the supreme peacemaker? I do not think that you have any doubt about who that is.
Ephesians 2:10-22 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. [One of the good works is peace.] Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands—that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
Here is the example of Jesus Christ. It says that we are His workmanship, and that we are built for peace. Referring to them, Paul says to remember that in times past, you were without God. You were called “heathen” and “unbelievers,” and there was no peace between you, and there was no peace between us with God before we were called.
Paul said you were far off, and strangers without the true God. Then God came, and this tremendous sacrifice was given, and you began to understand about God. And peace, even though you did not recognize it, was coming into your life—peace from understanding.
We were made near to Christ, or to God, by the sacrifice of Christ. That was a peace offering. Christ died for the Jew and the Gentile alike, He became a peace offering for them, to bring them together, and to each other, to bring them to one people. We have people from all races here, and yet we are all one family because the sacrifice of Jesus Christ brought us together.
In doing this, He abolished “the wall,” the wall of Jewish commands, that kept them apart, and He brought them into His church. By His death, He not only made atonement for all men, but He sent forth a doctrine of reconciliation and a doctrine of peace, that mankind might be reconciled to Him and to God the Father, and that there might be peace in the world. He reconciled the Jew and the Gentile together, and they were both reconciled to God. In doing so, He slew enmity and He slew anger, and He slew hatred. God the Father gave His Son for a peace offering. Therefore, that makes God a peacemaker as well, because He gave His Son for us, and His Son gave Himself for us. God is a peacemaker.
Then, Jesus Christ gave us the Holy Spirit, that we might be able to war against anger and hatred, and produce peace, and lead us to God the Father, producing peace in our life and the lives of those around us.
Paul said, we are no more strangers or foreigners, but we are filled with understanding. No more anger, we are going towards God’s way of life. Members of God’s household that should always try to produce peace.
Ephesians 2:20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.
We get the idea that if He is the chief cornerstone, and He is the God of peace, that we had better try and build, and we are being built into that temple. As the chief cornerstone, He sets the entire building, and the entire building is for peace. If we want to follow Jesus Christ, we had better be the same way.
We are living in a world that is filled with confusion, anxiety, and fear of the future. How do we have peace? We are facing the end of the age, the most difficult time to come upon the earth—ever. It is going to be difficult. We had the stability of our past affiliation taken away from us, we have all been cast adrift, so to speak. We have been found again. That is, God has placed us where He wants us, and that is good. We have strength here, but there have been so many things that have been taken away from us, as far as stability.
The world around us is starting to become so unstable. How can you have peace in a situation like this? In the beginning, we have physical steps.
Romans 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
That is a tough one to handle! If you are going to persecute me, I have a little temper left, even though I am a great-grandfather now.
Romans 12:15-17 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.
Here it is, brethren:
Romans 12:18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
Did you get that? “As much as depends on you.” You have to do your part at being peaceful. The other person may not want it, but as far as your part, you have to promote peace.
I Peter 3:8-9 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing [So when you are reviled, you are to return a blessing.], knowing that you were called to this, so that you may inherit a blessing.
When you do that, you will inherit a blessing. You were called to return a blessing for evil, to set the example for others. They may not realize it now, but later, they will.
I Peter 3:10-12 For “He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
What Peter is saying is that we are not to render evil for evil, reviling for reviling. We are to refrain our tongue from evil, we are to speak no guile, to hate evil, and to do good—even in the business world!
Suppose your boss really “does a number” on you? Suppose the corporate atmosphere is not good?
I returned change one day. I was at a show in Los Angeles, and this grouchy old guy was selling hot dogs (kosher hot dogs). He gave me 15 cents too much change, and I gave it back to him. He got mad at me, and the guy behind me got mad at me. He said, “Why did you give him the change back?” I said, “Because it’s the right thing to do.” You will be laughed at.
One year, our corporation had its annual meeting that “nobody ever goes to,” it is the “command performance” for the year. I said, “I can’t go, because I have to do what is right.” Even there, do good things. I thought I might be fired. When I came back to corporate headquarters six months later, people came up to me, saying “You know, we really appreciate your standing up for what you believe.” These were just people who walked up—“We missed you, but we know why you weren’t there, and we are proud that you stood up for your convictions.”
God says to make peace, even if it does not feel right. Maybe you work with a bunch of angry people, do it anyway. You do what is right, always. We are to do good and we are to seek peace.
That sounds easy, but in Psalm 120:6-7, it asks, what do you do if you are for peace, but those around you are for war? Maybe you are for peace—“Hey, I want peace!”—but they hate you inside. You cannot do much about it.
Matthew 5:22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.
Did you ever wonder what that meant? I did, for years. Why would you be angry without cause? What Jesus is talking about is those that have a rotten, lousy nature, an angry spirit within. Have you ever seen people like that? They just want to fight at the drop of a hat. They were born angry, and they are now 97, and they are still angry, and they have never seen the other side of the coin. Jesus says, “Don’t be that way. Whoever is angry at his brother without cause shall be in danger of the judgment.”
If you find that you tend to have an angry nature that way, sometimes it is going to take a physical step to promote peace. If you feel the anger well up, shut your mouth, walk out the door, walk around the block in a driving rainstorm, and come back in, and you will feel better—wet, but better. But do something to curb the angry, do not let the anger stay there.
Matthew 5:22-24 “And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
What is God saying here? He is saying if you have hatred in your heart, toward anybody, then why bother to come to Me and pray? I just told you what to do: you have hatred, you go see the person and say, “I’m really sorry. I’ve heard that I’ve done something against you. Let’s be friends.” Then you go get on your knees and say, “Father, I have made peace, and now I can come before You.” And God says, “Thank you,” and He is thrilled that you are there. And then blessings start to come.
Matthew 5:39 “But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”
He says, do not resist the evil person. Do not allow the nature in you to get even—“I’ll fix his wagon! I’m going to get him!” Do not do that! It will not promote peace, but just the opposite.
Does anybody here remember the Hatfields and the McCoys? That went on for generations, it may still be going for all I know. “I’ll get even with him, I’ll show him. He got one of us, I’m going to get one of him!” I have seen movies of that where a son of the Hatfields married a daughter of the McCoys, and trouble! I am sure it was all fictitious, but in the movie, they were trying to promote peace.
Matthew 5:43-45 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ [Here comes the hard one again.] But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you[Why?], that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
If you do what God says, you will be a son of His. That is what He is after.
“Do good to those that hate you.” Give your enemy every proof of your concern for him. We are talking “coals on the head,” every proof that you are concerned. If he is thirsty, give him a drink; if he is hungry, you feed him. That is how you promote peace. He may hate you, but he has to say, “He was nice to me. Why did he do that?”
“Pray for them who spitefully use you.” You can only do so much to cause an angry heart to change. You can do your part, but a true change of heart has to come from God. God has to intervene there. If one is continually harassing you, take it to God and ask Him to make peace possible. Pray that God will bring your enemy to conversion and salvation. That is a real way to get even with him. You pray for his conversion, that he is going to understand what he did. It is going to be a beautiful thing. Pray for his conversion, pray for God to call him, and if not at this time, when the time is right.
When you stop and think about it, Jesus Christ asked God to forgive those who were persecuting and killing Him. That is the example of a peacemaker.
Psalm 119:165 Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.
Keeping God’s law protects you. Meditation upon what God is doing gives you tremendous peace and comfort.
Obedience to what God instructs and what He tells us to do trains our minds. We are able to respond to difficult situations peaceably because of the constant applying of God’s request to be peaceful in every situation. It trains us with the habit of peace. It promotes peace in us, so that responses will come automatically, to promote and to keep peace. This is why we have to do it now, and why we have to work at it, because it will give us the habit of producing peace. That is what will carry over in the world tomorrow.
All of the proceeding and much more helps us to have peace with those around us, but how can we have peace, inward peace, toward the conditions around us? You may have no congregation to meet with, you may be by yourself.
Having your eyes on God is an absolute must. You cannot give God “lip service,” you cannot give him “lip service” in study. You have got to put your heart into drawing close to God, in study, prayer, fasting, and mediation. If you do not, you will not have the peace—I am not saying that you will not be afraid from time to time—but that is what is going to promote peace, to fast and to trust in God. That is what is going to be required to stay close to God.
Isaiah 26:1-3 In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: “We have a strong city; God will appoint salvation for walls and bulwarks. Open the gates, that the righteous nation which keeps the truth may enter in. You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”
When our mind stays on Jesus Christ, when it is fixed there, we are going to have peace, to be able to stand at this end time. The promises of God are going to be what is going to encourage us.
Philippians 4:4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
We are to go to God in peace and thanksgiving, and to take our problems to God. Not being anxious for what we see coming around us.
The effect of righteousness is peace. When you are right with God, you have peace, and when you are trying to be right with God, you have peace with God. That is also very comforting. Knowing what God is doing brings peace at this end time.
One thing they tried to do with the American soldier was to give him the idea of what the entire battle plan was, so that he knew that he was not just some little cog without having an idea of what was going on. I think this made the soldiers a lot better, because they understood the whole plan.
We understand the whole plan, as well, as to what God is doing. That is going to give us comfort, because we can see what is coming on the world, and understand that it is part of the plan. As Mr. Armstrong said, “I read the book, and we win!” So that can be encouraging.
We are able to see what is taking place in God’s plan, and we can have some comfort from that. God has given us a look into the future, and we know the end of the story, and the end is that there will be peace. We will be members of the God Family. Mankind will be saved, and have a real chance to understand, their first chance. This can help our mind to be comforted, and to be at peace.
It says, “Without vision, the people cast off restraint.” With vision, the people can be saved and can be encouraged.
The promises that God gives us can give us peace of mind:
Philippians 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
That is a promise from God. He called you. If you stay close to God, do your part, He will complete the promise and the work in you.
Hebrews 13:5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
I always think of Richard Ritenbaugh when I read that. I can hear Richard saying this means, “I will never, never, never, never, never leave you. I will never forsake you; not even will I forsake you; by no means will I leave you, forsake or desert you, or leave you behind, in any place, or in any state, or in any condition. I will never leave you.” That should produce peace and confidence in your heart and in your mind.
In Matthew 28, Jesus said, “I will be with you always.” Always includes the idea that He will be with us in oneness and totality, or in the whole. He will be with us in all seasons and all days; He will be with us. You do not have to fear, you can be at peace.
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you . . .
He gives you peace as a possession, to have and to own and to keep. He gives you peace when you draw close to Him and are obedient.
John 14:27 . . . not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Jesus Christ gives you peace.
Brethren, it is the end time. And in this end time, it is our lot to draw close to God. That is what we have to do. I cannot stress that enough. Those who heard the “Minefield” sermon, they are out there, everywhere. It is our lot to draw close to God; it is incumbent that we do so. There is no question about it. We have to have faith in the promises that God gives us, to be obedient as best we can, and to pursue peace with all men.
Though there will be trials, we will stand out as a light and as a proper foundation for the world around us, for those in the church and in our family. In a world of deception, anger, and greed, your obedience to the values of God will prepare you for the world tomorrow, and be a model and a pattern for others to follow.
In the beginning, I mentioned Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss and Redbar. These were temporary sanctuaries of peace, places to be able to go to enjoy peace for a short time. In the world tomorrow, it is not going to be that way, you are not going to go to places to have peace for a short time, because peace will be everywhere.
Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, the Author of peace, and the Dispenser of peace, will be expanding His government to the very ends of the universe, and on the leading edge of His expansion will be peace.
Isaiah 9:6-7 For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Brethren, be of good cheer. Peace is coming!