Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed. - Psalm 85v10
I like history and politics. Therefore I have been aware of political news and historic events for most of my life. One of the images that sticks out in my mind is from September of 1978. With flags waving and all kinds of hoopla President Jimmy Carter announced the Camp David accord. It was a great chance for a photo op and they took advantage of it. President Carter stood between Anwar Sadat and Manacheim Begin. With smiles all around there is a triple handshake as the Camp David Peace Accord was announced. It was happy days all around. Those happy days did not last, but that is not the point here. At the moment two enemies were shaking hands in agreement.
It is the image of the handshaking that stuck in my mind when I read this passage. If the peace talks had not been hosted by a westerner the agreement would not have been sealed with a handshake, but with a kiss on each others cheeks. It is this kiss of agreement that is our focus.
The psalmist writes that mercy and truth have met together. What a great truth that is well worthy of expansion, but today I want to focus on the second half of the verse – 'righteousness and peace have kissed.' For us westerners we might say – righteousness and peace shook hands.
So what does that mean? Why is it such a big deal?
God's righteousness demands perfect justice. Since He is perfectly right in all that He does He cannot ignore sin. Sin must be dealt with. Sin makes us enemies of God. It creates what could be an irreconcilable difference between God and man.
On the other hand we have peace with God. There is this perfect, harmonious, loving, and restful status with God.
How then are God's righteousness and His peace drawn to the point where they can shake hands?
'Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.'
Christ is the great mediator between righteousness and peace. On the cross he drew the two together to shake hands in agreement. Righteousness was satisfied, peace was assured.
While Carter's peace agreement between Begin and Sadat was fleeting, the peace that Christ mediates between righteousness and peace lasts forever.
Praise God that righteousness and peace shook hands at the cross.