There are always people around who say, “Peace, peace!” when there is no peace. And there are always people around to believe them. We’d like any easy peace, the kind you don’t have to fight for.

That familiar quote comes from two Old Testament books, Jeremiah (6:14, 8:11) and Ezekiel (13:10). They lived close to the same time, and Ezekiel may have borrowed the saying because people were already familiar with Jeremiah’s use of it.

The two prophets use different metaphors to show how empty such false assurances are. Jeremiah said:

They have treated the wound of my people superficially, saying, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace.

The nation’s moral wound was real, deep and painful, but these false comforters covered it with a little salve and a band-aid. Even a slight cut can prove fatal without proper care, but they were treating lightly a spiritual condition that was really critical.

Ezekiel draws another striking picture, saying:

They have misled my people, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace. When the people build a wall, these prophets smear whitewash on it. Say to those who smear whitewash on it that it shall fall. There will be a deluge of rain, great hailstones will fall, and a stormy wind will break out. When the wall falls, will it not be said to you, “Where is the whitewash you smeared on it?”

The word translated wall actually describes a makeshift pile of field stones, rather than a well-constructed barrier. They’ve thrown together a puny line of defense, and putting a coat of whitewash on such a “wall” will not make it any stronger.

Jesus prophesied that throughout the ages of human civilization. there would be “wars and rumors of wars” (Matthew 24:6), and history has certainly proven him right. In the 239-years of America’s existence, for instance, the nation has been at war 222 years, or 93% of the time.* Right now, we’re involved militarily on three continents. We’ve had politicians come along and promise “Peace, peace,” but we usually know better than to believe them.

But when it comes to our personal quest for peace, we’re much more gullible. We still find ourselves attracted to the voices that seem to offer an easier way to peace in our lives, a band-aid on the raw wounds we’re suffering from, a fresh coat of whitewash on the flimsy defensive “wall” we’re trusting in to keep us safe.

Our 2017 Advent theme is “Looking for More This Christmas?” and the first emphasis is MORE PEACE. Sunday’s sermon will focus on the way in which Jesus’ coming into the world can bring us true peace deep within. We will learn that this is not an easy peace, a band-aid peace, a whitewash peace. In Isaiah’s Christmas prophecy, one of the names give to the coming Messiah is “Prince of Peace.” When this Prince says “Peace, peace,” he delivers!

— Pastor George Van Alstine