Blessed are the Peacemakers
December 23, 2019
by Barry Fike
What does it mean to be a peacemaker? This term is never used of men in the Old Testament but only God. The Greek word ‘eirene’ usually means the absence of war. However, the Hebrew word ‘shalom’ basically means to make complete or whole. In many ways it denotes a person’s healing or salvation.
The term “sons of God” you’ll find in Hosea 1:10 which says, “Yet, the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass that, in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.” Who are the sons of the living God? Those who are making peace. What is the Hebrew word for peace? Shalom which can mean whole, complete, perfect, at peace, at rest, saved, secure… Blessed are those who are bringing men and women into wholeness and completeness. These are the people who are called sons of the living God.
In the Bible when someone is asking about another’s well-being, they simply ask, “How is your peace?” The word refers to the absence of war, the alleviation of strife or the resolution of a conflict. But it can also have reference to a person’s health, spiritual state, or even his or her prosperity. In essence it includes every aspect of an individual’s well-being and inner strength.
Blessed are those who are calling men into wholeness. Blessed are those who are assisting men and women into becoming whole. Blessed are those who are calling men to peace that only God can give. This is what the children of God do. This is what those who are a part of the kingdom do. This is what kingdom people do. They seek to reduplicate themselves.
Someone who is saved from difficulties in his or her life has experienced the peace of God through the wholeness that comes by divine grace and favor.
Hillel, a contemporary rabbinical authority, with Jesus (30 BC to 10 AD) describes Aaron, brother of Moses and the priest of the people, as pursuing peace. He desired wholeness for the people. This is extremely important as background for the teachings of Jesus. This portrays the high Jewish idea of harmony among Gods people. Hillel taught, “Be among the disciples of Aaron who love peace and pursue peace. They love people and draw them near to the Torah.” (Avot 1:12)
In rabbinic legend Aaron was the great peace-maker. Aaron took it upon himself to mediate problems where reconciliation seemed impossible. The idea here is that Aaron not only loved peace but actively pursued it. The implication is that peace must be pursued and that sometimes one must be willing to exact a high price in order to obtain it.
The Dead Sea Scrolls have further isolated the audience, as the term “poor in spirit” has now been shown to possess a clear social context. The Dead Sea community referred to their members as “poor in spirit”. This term reminded the disciples of Jesus of a whole network of scriptures from the Old Testament, such as Isaiah 61:1 and 66:2, where words such as the “poor” or the “humble” are mentioned. These biblical phrases describe the followers of Jesus. Did Jesus speak of his followers in similar terms? We have strong evidence that he did. These words “poor in spirit” alluded to a rich biblical heritage that possessed profound significance for Jesus’ Jewish disciples. The social context of the Beatitudes may then be identified in Jesus’ disciples. They are blessed. They possess divine approval and affirmation. But they must strive to live up to their description. They are the “poor in spirit,” they are the “humble,” and yes, they are the “peacemakers.” God himself is described in Scriptures as making peace: “...he makes peace in his high heaven” (Job 25:2).
To make peace requires effort and costs something. In the cause of peace, one should be willing to compromise for the sake of another. He or she may need to sacrifice personal dignity in order to make peace. The price of peace with a neighbor is of great significance because wholeness and inner strength for each individual is linked to their relationship with God. The blessing and divine approval that is given to the peace maker comes from God. It is vital. To make peace with God implies that a person has been able to make matters right with others. To be whole in the Hebrew meaning of shalom includes accepting oneself, loving others and entering into the right relationship with God.
They shall be called sons of God-
“Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered; and instead of its being said to them, You are not My people, it shall be said to them, Sons of the Living God!” (Hosea 1:10)
In Hebrew the term “son of...” often makes reference to the disciple of a person. The disciple imitates his master and becomes like him. To be like Aaron means to promote peace through reconciliation. When Hillel encouraged the people to be among Aaron’s disciples by pursuing peace, they were to follow Aaron’s example.
In the Jewish mind it was natural to think of Aaron as a peacemaker. He was commanded by God to bless the children of Israel with the powerful words, “Say to Aaron and his sons, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, The LORD bless you and keep you: The LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you: The LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace” (Num. 6:23-26). As priests, Aaron and his disciples were mediators not only between God and his people but also between individuals’ who had broken relationships. So to be a disciple of Aaron, or a son of, one must pursue peace. To make peace, or to diligently seek and pursue peace, requires effort. It costs something to make peace especially when great disputes arise between family and friends, or others who have a close relationship. The price of peace with a neighbor is of great significance because wholeness and inner strength for each individual is linked to their relationship with God.
To make peace with God implies that a person has been able to make matters right with others. To be whole in the Hebrew meaning of shalom includes accepting oneself, loving others and entering into a right relationship with God.
True (shalom) peace is not easy to give. The teachings of Jesus give insight into the way of life that produces spiritual wholeness and well-being. It requires decisive effort. By referring to the “peacemakers,” Jesus placed a high value upon a full and meaningful life, lived in peace and harmony with God and other people because one can only be whole in God.
Jesus placed a high value upon a full and meaningful life, lived in peace and harmony with God and other people (Jn. 14:27). Blessed are those who are bringing men and women into wholeness, completeness, salvation…blessed are those who are getting men and women saved because these are the ones who are called sons of the living God.
Before we look at vs. 10-12 let’s look back and see what we’ve seen in the Beatitudes so far. The poor in spirit means those who are sorrowful for their sins; who have repented, turned to God, love his word and keep his commandments. Those who mourn means essentially the same thing. Those who mourn who despair because of their own spiritual lack and who cry out to God in helplessness and despair. Meek means righteousness; hungering and thirsting for righteousness means those who are hungering and thirsting seeking after God’s salvation because these are the kinds of people that are saved and are getting saved. Mercy means those who are forgiving. Those who are forgiving receive forgiveness. Pure in heart means those who have not lifted themselves up to falsehood nor swore deceitfully. Peacemakers are those who are bringing men and women in the wholeness and completeness into health, into security, into salvation in Christ Jesus because these are called the sons of God.