A Peaceful and Quiet Life

This is something we all want. I was expecting it. I’m sure you were, too. However, it seems that it is not to be. The societal and cultural turmoil of the last few years has not abated. Laws and regulations are unfairly applied or not applied at all, all across the world. Likely, it will grow worse; especially if reasonable and kind-hearted people band together to oppose this exorable slide into chaos.

I don’t think we talk enough about this turmoil and slide. If we continue ignoring the problem, it will sneak up and overwhelm us. How, then, are we to understand our times?

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528,) Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Lord Jesus Christ, in His wisdom, gave us an explanation. He said,

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.

But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.

John 15:19-21 (English Standard Version)

After explaining to His disciples that they would all abandon Him when agents of the governmental and religious authorities took Him away, He told them,

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33 (ESV)

And we have this same assurance. He also said,

I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear:

Fear Him who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him!

Luke 12:4-5 (ESV)

How then should we fear Him? The scriptures say,

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart, one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame.”

Romans 10:9-11 (ESV)

And, consequently, we have this promise,

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 5:1-2 (ESV)

This is our hope: peace with God. In this, by the power of God, we may thrive, as the scripture says,

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13 (ESV)

But, simultaneously, we must suffer in tribulation,

Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. Revelation 14:12 (ESV)

Therefore, if we endure in doing His commandments and in our trust in Jesus, we will find rest for our souls. But, if we succumb to compromise with the world and deny our Lord and Savior, then we show ourselves to be earth dwellers who have no rest forever.

The world seeks to distract and deceive us from following the way. But it really is this simple to have peace.

What Does It Mean to Accept Jesus Christ? March 18, 2021, YouTube, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

No Rest

We are now planning Mandated Memoranda Publishing’s next novel: Who Shall Be God. We have characters, certain scenes, and even a cover image in mind already. We’re investigating background materials for the theme of the novel. Since it deals with political conflict reflected through two families, we’re reading The Fourth Revolution by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge and Alien Powers by Kenneth Minogue. However, we always have a biblical theme in mind too.

The scripture: Isaiah 57 jumped out at us based on our reading of The Art of Dramatic Writing by L. Egri. Here are the pertinent parts:

The righteous man perishes,

    and no one lays it to heart;

devout men are taken away,

    while no one understands.

For the righteous man is taken away from calamity;

    he enters into peace;

they rest in their beds

    who walk in their uprightness.

Isaiah 57:1-2 English Standard Version (ESV)

But the wicked are like the tossing sea;

    for it cannot be quiet,

    and its waters toss up mire and dirt.

There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”

Isaiah 57:20-21 (ESV)

We commonly know the last verse (repeated elsewhere in Isaiah 48:22, 57:20, 57:21) as the phrase:

“No rest for the wicked [or weary]”.

As we always do, let’s consult Calvin to get his take on Isaiah’s verses:

The righteous man hath perished…And no man layeth it to heart. …The Lord holds out as a mirror this event of his providence, more remarkable than all others, that he takes away good and worthy men out of this life, when he determines to chastise his people severely. But no man considers it, or reflects that it is a token of approaching destruction, that God gathers them, and places them in safety from being distressed by prevailing afflictions.

…The general meaning is, that wicked men grievously deceive themselves by supposing that there is no greater happiness than to have life continued to a great age, and by thus pluming themselves on their superiority to the servants of God, who die early. Being attached to the world, they likewise harden themselves by this pretense that, by nothing else than a manifestation of God’s favor towards them, while others die, they continue to be safe and sound…

Men of mercy are gathered. …But, since God, in many passages of Scripture, represents gentleness and kindness as a distinguishing mark of his children, this may be, as I have said, a definition of true righteousness.

Hence we see that the Lord, at that time, gathered many good men, whose death portended some dreadful calamity, and yet that the Jews [the Prophet’s proximate audience] paid no regard to such forewarnings, and even proceeded to more daring lengths of wickedness; for they thought that all went well with them, when they were the survivors of many excellent men.

Peace shall come. The Prophet describes what shall be the condition of believers in death; for the wicked, who think that there is no life but the present, imagine that good men have perished; because in death they see nothing but ruin. For this reason he says that “Peace shall come,” which is more desirable than a thousand lives full of trouble; as if he compared them to discharged soldiers, who are and allowed to enjoy case and quietness.

They shall rest in their beds. He adds the metaphor of sleep, in order to show that they shall be absolutely free from all the uneasiness of cares, just as if they were safely pleasantly asleep “on their beds.”

Whosoever walketh before him. …as if he had said, “Whosoever walketh before God shall enjoy peace.” Thus, when righteous men die, and their various labors are finished, and their course is ended, they are called to peace and repose. They “rest in their beds,” because they do not yet enjoy perfect blessedness and glory; but they wail; for the last day of the resurrection, when everything shall be perfectly restored; and that, I think, is what Isaiah meant.

By these comments, Calvin seems to echo Revelation 18:4.

Then I heard another voice from heaven saying,

“Come out of her, my people,

lest you take part in her sins,

lest you share in her plagues;”

Revelation 18:4 (ESV)

As for Isaiah’s second couplet, Calvin says:

But the wicked. …But because the reprobate make false pretensions to the name of God, and vainly glory in it, the Prophet shows that there is no reason why they should flatter themselves, or advance any claim, on the ground of this promise, since they can have no share in this peace. Nor will it avail them anything, that God, having compassion upon his people, receives them into favor, and commands peace to be proclaimed to them.

As the troubled sea. That metaphor of “the sea” is elegant and very well fitted to describe the uneasiness of the wicked; for of itself “the sea is troubled.” …Most appropriately, therefore, has the Prophet compared them to a stormy and troubled sea. Whoever then wishes to avoid these alarms and this frightful agony of heart, let him not reject that peace which the Lord offers to him. There can be no middle course between them; for, if you do not lay aside sinful desires and accept of this peace, you must unavoidably be miserably distressed and tormented.

There is no peace to the wicked. He confirms the preceding statement, namely, that in vain shall the reprobate endeavor to seek peace, for everywhere they will meet with war. It is God who threatens war, and therefore there can be no hope of “peace.” Wicked men would indeed wish to enjoy peace, and ardently long for it; for there is nothing which they more eagerly desire than to be at ease, and to lull their consciences, that they may freely take their pleasures and indulge in their vices.

They drive away all thoughts about the judgment of God, and endeavor to stupefy themselves and to repose in indolence, and think that these are the best ways and methods of obtaining peace. But they never shall enjoy it; for, until men have been reconciled to God, conscience will never cease to annoy and carry on war with them.

Saith my God. Thus he represents God as the only author of peace, that he may, by this dreadful threatening, tear from the Jews their dearest pleasures; and calls him “his God,” in opposition to the vain boasting of those who falsely boasted of his name; for they cannot acknowledge God, so long as they reject his Prophet and his doctrine. For this reason the Prophet boldly declares that he has received a command from God to declare perpetual war against them.

There is no rest for the wicked; no rest now or in eternity. Turn away from evil ways and do good.

Triumph of Death, 1562, Pieter Breughel the Elder

Triumph of Death, 1562, Pieter Breughel the Elder (1526/1530–1569), Museo del Prado, Madrid, Public Domain