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Peace: Perfect Peace

By Lloyd John Ogilvie
"This is unlike other 'super superlatives' in the Bible," according to my friend Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, the founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. "In this instance, the second use of the word shalom is not so much for emphasis as it is for definition and interpretation. For example, we might say, 'John is a fine man, fine in the sense that he is good to his children.' This can be proven by the fact that in the Hebrew text there is a vertical line in between the two words of shalom to show precisely this idea: shalom/shalom."

This idiom of duplication distinguishes pseudo peace from God's peace: total peace encompassing all dimensions of the mind, emotion, will, and body as well as relationships, sense of righteousness, and perception of justice for living.

The first step to this kind of peace, according to Isaiah, is to stay our minds on God. "You will keep him in shalom, shalom whose mind is stayed on You."

The Hebrew word for mind used here is yeser. It means "the constitution or tendency of the mind," what we might call a "frame of mind" or a "mindset" -- a total way of looking at things. Another way of putting it would be the "focus of our attention" or "what we have on our minds most of the time." Yeser corresponds closely to the Greek word phroneite as used in Philippians 2:5: "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." Accurately translated, it means: "Let this be your attitude."

As J.N. Oswald points out in his commentary on Isaiah, yeser means "mind," from the root idea "to form." It is to reflect on Oswald's footnote: "As a noun, yeser frequently refers to that which is formed, often thoughts, purposes, or intentions. As reflected in the present translation, the Hebrew seems to place 'the steadfast mind' in an emphatic position in an independent clause at the beginning of the sentence." Practically, this means that God's superlative peace is given to those whose minds are intentionally riveted on God. Paternus said to His son, "Bear God on your mind constantly. See Him everywhere for there is no place where He is not."

We must keep our minds stayed on God. The Hebrew word for "stayed" is samuk. The wonderful thing is that samuk is a passive participle. It's something God does. He stays our minds on Him. As we start the day, we need only say, "Lord, I belong to You. I've been called out of this world to glorify You, to experience Your love and forgiveness, and to know peace in spite of what's going on around me. Lord, I ask You for what You are more ready to give than I am willing to receive. Stay me, Lord. Stay me on Yourself. Interrupt me. Stop me. Permeate my thoughts. Call me back to You. Keep me stayed on You."

And He'll do it. If your mind wanders off, then it wanders off to a place that God wants you to deal with. Don't worry about a wandering mind. Just follow the wandering, and you'll end up some place where God wants you to deal with an issue, a relationship, a concern, a problem. Too many people complain, "I begin to pray, and my mind wanders off." I say, "Wonderful! Let it wander and then bring God with you, and if you bring Him into your wandering, you'll soon find out the thing that's keeping you from Him."

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