Bible Background for the Peace & Peacemaking Rotation
Memory Verse: Matthew 5:9 - “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God.”
Micah 4:3c-4 - “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
The focus of this rotation is “Missions,” unquestionably, a vast topic. Although we will explore a number of kinds of needs and ways they are or can be met, our primary focus will be on peace and peacemaking. Of course, we will
only scratch the surface. We will continue to scratch that surface by devoting one rotation each school year to the subject of Missions.
The prophet Micah is believed to have been a contemporary of Isaiah and Hosea. The time of Micah’s prophesying is stated in the introduction to the book of Micah) to be in the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, that is, between 757 and 699 B.C. Micah prophesies the coming and reign of the Messiah. Chapter 4, verses 1-10 describe prosperity and the peace of the Kingdom of Christ.
In Matthew 5 Jesus himself describes the character of the Kingdom in what is known as his Sermon on the Mount. The verses known as the Beatitudes describe the character of those who will be with Jesus in the Kingdom. We could and will delve deeper into the wisdom of the Beatitudes in future rotations. For now we choose just one small part (from Matthew 5:9) - “Blessed are the
peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God.”
Biblical Meanings of “Peace”
The Bible is full of references to shalom, from the Hebrew and eirene, from Greek. That alone may be enough to share with the children, especially in the younger grades. However, for your interest and to provide you with everything you always wanted to know and oh so much more, the following illustrations and references are offered.
The Hebrew word ‘shalom’ includes such English ideas as peace, well-being, wholeness or health, welfare, prosperity, and safety.
The fulfillment of God’s purpose for creation is described as a covenant of shalom (Numbers 25:12, Isaiah 54:10, Ezekiel 34:25-31; 37:26). Within this covenant relationship people know God and live in community in which people and nature flourish. Although given by God, shalom is not to be passively awaited but actively pursued (Psalm 34:14).
Shalom involves positive relationships between peoples and persons. In Genesis 28:21 Jacob looks forward to a time when he can return home to his brother Esau in shalom. Judges and true judgments enable the people of Israel to live together in shalom (Exodus 18:23, Zechariah 8:19). The unity of all nations worshipping God together is an important part of the vision of shalom in Isaiah 2:2-4 and in Micah 4:1-4.
Positive relationships within the community mean that the needs of all persons are met and there is material well being, economic security, and prosperity for all (Isaiah 54:13; 66:12, Jeremiah 29:5-7, Psalm 37:11; 72:3). For this to occur, righteousness must characterize the people and justice the society (Isaiah 9:6-7; 32:17; 59:8; 60:17, Jeremiah 8:10-11, Psalm 72:1-7; 85:10). There is no peace without justice.
Shalom involves absence of war (Deuteronomy 2:26, Joshua 9:15; 10:1, 4, Judges 4:17; 2 Samuel 10:19, 1 Kings 5:12, 2 Kings 9:17-19; 1 Chronicles 22:9). In Joshua and Judges victory in war is gained through God’s miraculous action, not human weapons. Isaiah (chapters 30-31) insists that Judah rely on God, not on the weapons and military might of Egypt. The expectation that in God’s kingdom swords will be beaten into plowshares (Isaiah 2:2-4 and Micah 4:1-4) looks forward to a time when resources will be poured not into military technology but into meeting basic human needs.
The full meaning of shalom can only be grasped when human well being is balanced within the welfare of all of creation (Isaiah 11:1-9, Zechariah 8:12, and Job 5:23).
The Greek word ‘eirene’ means absence of war, but in the New Testament includes all of the meanings of shalom: good relationships among peoples and nations (Mark 9:50, Romans 12:18-19, Ephesians 2:15, Hebrews 12:14), healthy relationships within the community (Acts 9:31, Romans 14:19, 1 Corinthians 14:33, 2 Corinthians 13:11, Ephesians 4:3, and 1 Thessalonians 5:13), a quality of life in the Spirit or in relation to God (Luke 1:79, Romans 3:17; 4:17; 15:13, 33; 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:11, 2 Thessalonians 3:16, Philippians 4:9, and Ephesians 4:3), a gift of Jesus (John 16:33, Colossians 3:15), reconciliation effected by or through Jesus (Romans 5:1, Philippians 4:7, Ephesians 2:14-15, 17, Colossians 1:20), a greeting in letters, and a quality to be pursued by humans (Luke 19:42, James 3:18, 2 Timothy 2:22, 1 Peter 3:11, and Hebrews 12:14).
Pursuing peace does not mean avoiding conflict and indeed it may cause conflict with forces opposing peace. The “Magnificat” (Luke 1:47-55) pictures the kind of peace Jesus brings, the kind that led to his crucifixion. Colossians 1:19-20 affirms that it is only through this ultimate conflict that God makes peace, reconciles all things to God.
In Romans (5:1) Paul understands the reordering of relationships through Christ as peace with God. Peace with God brings reconciliation with other persons and communities of people (Ephesians 2:13-18, Galatians 3:26-28). The primary phrase used by the gospels to talk about a world reconciled to God is the Kingdom of God. Those who participate in this kingdom, who are the children of God, are peacemakers (Matthew 5:9).
The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss
Although The Butter Battle Book has all the charm and silliness of classic Dr. Seuss, it has an unmistakable serious message. It is an allegorical story of two archrivals, the Yooks and the Zooks (the United States and the Soviet
Union), who seem similar except in the way in which they eat their bread - either butter side up or down. Each is convinced their way of buttering is the best, nay the only way. Each is willing to prove it in battle. Sticks and stones quickly become outdated and bigger more powerful weapons are designed by both sides.
Where will it end you ask? The story was published in 1984, when the Cold War was not yet over. Dr. Seuss did not know how to properly finish the story since it was unclear exactly who would win the war. The last page shows the Yook narrator on top of the wall dividing the two sides. He is holding a glowing egg (the glow indicates its radioactivity) over the Zook other side, facing his enemy who is holding an identical glowing egg. The book ends without a definitive answer as a young Yook asks his grandfather:
“Who’s going to drop it?
Will you . . .? Or will he . . .?”
“Be patient,” said Grandpa. “We’ll see.
We will see. . .”
“The War Prayer” by Mark Twain
Mark Twain wrote "The War Prayer" during the Philippine-American War. It was submitted for publication, but on March 22, 1905, Harper's Bazaar rejected it as "not quite suited to a woman's magazine." Eight days later, Twain wrote to a friend to whom he had read the story, "I don't think the prayer will be published in my time. None but the dead are permitted to tell the truth." His editor was "responsible to his Company," he explained, "and should not permit laughs which could injure its business." Because he had an exclusive contract with Harper & Brothers, Twain could not publish "The War Prayer" elsewhere and it remained unpublished until 1923 when his literary executor, Albert Bigelow Paine, included it in Europe and Elsewhere.
The story relates a patriotic church service held to usher the young men of a town off to war. The minister begins with the invocation:
‘God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest
Thunder, thy clarion, and lightening, thy sword!’
The service continues with a "long prayer" for the victory of the country's military. As the prayer closes, an "aged stranger" enters the church and walks up the aisle to the front of the church where the minister is standing. Motioning the startled minister aside, he shares with the congregation the ugly unsaid consequences " that "follow victory -- must follow it, cannot help but follow it." Alas, the messenger is taken for a fool, his message ignored.
Alfred Nobel & The Nobel Peace Prize
Alfred Nobel was born in 1833 in Stockholm, Sweden to a family of engineers. His family was descended from Olof Rudbeck, the best-known technical genius of Sweden's 17th century era as a great power in northern Europe. After the family moved to Russia he and his brothers were given first class education in the humanities and natural sciences by private teachers.
Nobel invented dynamite in 1866 and later built up companies and laboratories in more than 20 countries all over the world. A holder of more than 350 patents, he also wrote poetry and drama and even seriously considered becoming a writer.
He died in his home in Italy on December 10, 1896. Nobel’s final will and testament stipulated that monies were to be used for five prizes. The prize for peace was to be awarded to the person who “shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding of peace congresses.”
The Nobel Prize has been given yearly since 1901 for achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and peace. The prize consists of a medal, a personal diploma, and a prize amount.
Recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize since 1960 are:
2002 Jimmy Carter
2001 United Nations (U.N.), Kofi Annan
2000 Kim Dae-jung
1999 Médecins Sans Frontières
1998 John Hume, David Trimble
1997 International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), Jody Williams
1996 Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, José Ramos-Horta
1995 Joseph Rotblat, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs
1994 Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin
1993 Nelson Mandela, Frederik Willem de Klerk
1992 Rigoberta Menchú Tum
1991 Aung San Suu Kyi
1990 Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev
1989 The 14th Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso )
1988 United Nations Peace-keeping Forces
1987 Oscar Arias Sanchez
1986 Elie Wiesel
1985 International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War
1984 Desmond Mpilo Tutu
1983 Lech Walesa
1982 Alva Myrdal, Alfonso García Robles
1981 Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) 1980 Adolfo Pérez Esquivel
1979 Mother Teresa
1978 Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat, Menachem Begin
1977 Amnesty International
1976 Betty Williams, Mairead Corrigan
1975 Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov
1974 Seán MacBride, Eisaku Sato
1973 Henry A. Kissinger, Le Duc Tho
1972 The prize money for 1972 was allocated to the Main Fund
1971 Willy Brandt
1970 Norman E. Borlaug
1969 International Labour Organization (I.L.O.)
1968 René Cassin
1967 The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section
1966 The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section
1965 United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
1964 Martin Luther King Jr.
1963 Comité international de la Croix Rouge (International Committee of the Red Cross), Ligue des Sociétés de la Croix-Rouge (League of Red Cross Societies)
1962 Linus Carl Pauling
1961 Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjöld
1960 Albert John Lutuli
- “Biblical Basis for Peacemaking” by Peggy Cowan, Department of Religion, Maryville College www.nobel.se
Written by Ruth Kroboth, Elmgrove United Methodist Church
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