Knowing God by His Names ~ Peace 9
Knowing God by His Names – 9
Jehovah-Shalom The LORD is Peace
* Judges 6
* Key Verse: So Gideon built an altar to the LORD, and called it, ‘The LORD is Peace’, to this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites. (verse 24)
* Today’s Focus: We have jumped ahead some 200 years since we have last seen the Israelites, back in Exodus, when we looked at Jehovah-Mekadesh (the LORD Who Sanctifies you). If at all possible read chapters 6-8 of Judges, giving the complete story of Gideon. I am fascinated by the fact that Gideon was called from the ordinary, to do extraordinary for his God. Many experience their walk with God at a steady pace, where some are thrust into a ‘whirl wind’ walk of obedience. Gideon was among those, one day the ‘norm’ the next, called to get up, go – do – be for God. Yet he had a revelation of God like no other, ‘peace’, this enabling him to do as told. Let’s walk this story out carefully, as we bend over and pick up the treasures left for us.
The theme throughout the book of Judges, sadly to say as chapter 6 opens with verse one: ‘Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD’. They were in and out of relationship, obedience and worship to Jehovah. Throughout the generations, grandparents told grandchildren and so forth, of the many blessings and deliverance of the LORD, yet, they still fell away, again and again.
Here, the Israelites are being oppressed by the Midianites, we first see this people appear way back in Genesis 25, but if you will recall, Moses had a great tie with these people early on. Exodus chapter 2, Moses flees from Pharaoh as a young man to the Midianite people and marries Zipporah. There he remains for many years until Jehovah calls him to go back to Egypt and free His people. I must point out, the Midianites obviously no longer hold alliance with God’s people, read again verse 3, see that they are now among the Amalekites… hm… remember them?
The people of God cry out, and God sends them a prophetic word, saying (in short) He delivered them, in return He demands they worship Him, and Him alone, they fail at that. Verse 11, an angel appears to Gideon and makes a strong statement. Think on this, Gideon just going about his business, (his case, survival) imagine if that were you, sitting at your computer, or at the kitchen sink, or driving your Toyota in rush hour, and an angel suddenly appears and says, ‘God is with you,’ and gives you a title like, ‘mighty warrior’, that would be like God calling me ‘great accountant’ (those who know me best are now rolling on the floor).
I love Gideon’s response, so human, so honest… the NIV says ‘But sir’, the King James best reflects his response, ‘oh my Lord’, the Hebrew carries what is called a ‘particle’ (those small connecting words like, the…and…of…etc), here Gideon says… ‘oh’, meaning ‘excuse me please’, I do not believe it is said out of disrespect, but possibly of lowered head and soft tone of voice. The Lord sees in us, what we do not see in ourselves, for He knows that as we mix His presence, ‘I am with you’ (v. 16) with who we are, ‘go in the strength you have’ (v. 14) there is power in our obedience. God will use our bodies (the temple of the Holy Spirit), and our voices as a mouth piece for Him.
God is so completely patient with Gideon, as he processes all this. Allowing him to go and prepare a meal offering, then we see all the continuing requests as he places a fleece before the Lord. How many of us, have been in Gideon’s place, we hear God’s voice, but find it difficult to believe, than repeatedly throw things out there for God to ‘prove’ to us, it is as He says… like the man who would prefer to be fishing instead of at work, approaching a traffic light while on his drive to work, whispers beneath his breath, ‘Lord if it is Your will I go straight to work, then keep the light green, if not, turn it red, and I turn here – detour to the fishing hole,’ (just kidding). We can at times play games with God, subconsciously or not, it only delays what we really know to be true, ‘do as He says’.
Gideon’s response to all this is… fear, who wouldn’t… (verse 22) he had finally realized he was in the presence of the Most High God. Hebrew tradition was that to be in the presence of Holy God and be mortal man, and to live… was very slim. Gideon exclaims – Lord God!, this is also translated Sovereign LORD. The Lord has his attention. He is first assured he was not going to die, ( phew!) God promised him peace and well-being, but it was not for him alone, the peace was to include the restoration of Israel’s freedom and prosperity. Gideon is so relieved and grateful of this, he builds an altar, and calls it ‘The LORD is Peace’.
Peace (Shalom) is one of the most significant terms in the Old Testament. Speaks of a restored relationship between God and man. We must first have peace with God before we can have the peace of God. In Gideon’s generation, Israel knew no peace, because they no longer knew God’s presence. Can you imagine with me, a bumper sticker on the back of a camel, ‘no Presence – no Peace’. The general meaning behind the root word (shlm) and it’s variations, is of completion and fulfillment of entering into a state of wholeness and unity. Peace in this case is much more than ‘the absence of war’, yet I believe Gideon would have been happy with that, however, God gave him so much more. It can be rendered ‘unimpaired relationship with others and fulfillment in one’s undertaking’, (think on that). When you visit Israel today, you will hear ‘shalom’ frequently, used as a greeting and as a blessing when departing. It has been said that in this use, it is rendered Jehovah’s Presence be with you.
Isaiah declares in the Messiah’s birth announcement that He is to be, ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6). We see the fulfillment in Jesus. Numerous times Jesus speaks of peace, ‘peace I leave with you; My peace I give you…’ (Jn. 14:27) and it is spoken of Him,
‘But now in Christ Jesus you who once were
far away have been brought near through
the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace…’
Peace in the Greek (New Testament) is ‘eirene’ this is the Christ ruling power within our circumstances, mindset and desires. ‘Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts’ (Col. 3:15). It is in our hectic and chaotic lifestyles that we assume the lack of peace is circumstantial, no – it is a ruling of Lordship. We are allowing Christ to rule on the throne of our life, being totally assured that He is completely capable of taking care of us. It is our relationship with Him, and confidence in knowing that our choices (one’s undertaking) is indeed in line with His word.
Gideon goes on to accomplish great exploits for God, this is due to his first revelation of God, God is Peace, God’s presence goes before us and with us, God’s peace rules! Shalom to you, May Jehovah’s presence be with you!
1. Isaiah 26:3 says, ‘You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, whose thoughts are fixed on You!’ What does this mean to you, and how can you apply it to your life?
2. In practical terms, how do you maintain peace?
3. Upon your understanding of Jehovah-Shalom, how would you describe Him to another?
4. Gideon had only one thing going for him: God called him. What is God calling you to, that may be difficult for you to see right now?
In Him, DeDe