“Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “In my wrath I will unleash a violent wind, and in my anger hailstones and torrents of rain will fall with destructive fury. I will tear down the wall you have covered with whitewash and will level it to the ground so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you will be destroyed in it; and you will know that I am the LORD. So I will spend my wrath against the wall and against those who covered it with whitewash. I will say to you, ‘The wall is gone and so are those who whitewashed it, those prophets of Israel who prophesied to Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her when there was no peace, declares the Sovereign LORD.'” (Ezekiel 13:13-16)
I was curious why the Sovereign Lord was declaring there to be n o peace when it seems that peace is what is most desired. So I went to a commentary to learn what others had thought and said about these verses. If you are curious too, I encourage you to go to a good commentary (I used Matthew Henry’s Whole Bible commentary ).
What I discovered was that the false prophets were telling the people of Jerusalem and Judah that there is peace between the people and God (that God is pleased with them), and that the enemies of Jerusalem and Judah will not prevail against God’s people. The Lord says, through Ezekiel, that this is not true and that this thin veil of flimsy lies will be torn down by God’s wrath, and the false prophets exposed.
It is with great care and hesitation that I would point out any parallel between this situation and our modern nations; with even great gentleness I would give the United States and the nations where they are military presence as examples. But it seems that there have been a great many “flimsy lies” and a good deal of “white washing” going on and spoon-fed to the United States populace. (Did I come close to being “political” there?)
What I want to focus on is the expectations that the people of Jerusalem and Judah had. For the most part the people who live in the houses that line the streets of Any Town, Some State, USA want peace, or at least the promise of no more hostilities. Whether supporters of war or advocates of peace, both groups want the fighting to stop and the men and women who are away from home brought safely back. So the promise of peace and – for those who care about such things – the bestowed benevolence of God are important and desired things. If one were lied to (and again treading carefully here), one would get upset. Imagine how God would feel if the Divine’s promise of shalom was so ineptly and fraudulently applied to such a situation.
It is here, at this juncture of understanding, that we see that God’s shalom is not the same as the promise of peace that the world uses. As the world sees it, peace is the quelling of violence through the defeat and submission of the other; peace at a cost. But God’s peace is a peace that comes to all people equally without one side being oppressed by another. There is still a cost, but the cost is laying down the desire to conquer and taking up the intention to be in harmony with everyone. And for some it is a heavy cost, too costly. They would rather white wash the situation and call the false paint “peace”.
Now, I think perhaps, the words of Ezekiel could sound in our ears. And the wrath of the Lord might come whirl from biblical times to our times. May you gentle reader know the peace of God in your heart, and may you see it clearly. Selah!