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Jesus: Our Everlasting


Peace: A Shalom as Everlasting as the Lord

Tuesday, December 12 | Dr. Michael Whiting

Today's Reading

Judges 6:24

Shalom is the traditional greeting of Jews to this day. It literally means completeness and wholeness, and to say Shalom to someone is more than just to acknowledge their presence like we commonly say "hello," but to wish flourishing and every good to them. For the Jew, it is ultimately peace that is sought. Hope, joy, love: all these point to peace: peace in the land, peace with one another, peace with nature, and peace with God. Peace is everything in its rightful ordered place, the resolution of conflict, and the establishment of justice.

Jehovah Shalom: "The Lord is Peace." This is the name given to God by Gideon at the altar he built as he prepared to deliver the people of Israel from the Midianites. Israel had been disobedient to God again, forsaken His covenant, and lived with ingratitude to God for His blessings. As a result, God allowed the Midianites to devastate the land and livestock of Israel for seven years to discipline them to repentance. "Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help" (Judges 6:6).

In a response of mercy, the angel of the Lord met with Gideon under an oak tree as he was threshing wheat, summoning him to be Israel’s deliverer. However, Gideon’s first response was not one of faith but of doubt, first of all in God’s faithfulness, and secondly in his own capacity to carry out this promise of salvation. When the angel of the Lord declared that Yahweh was with him, Gideon argued that this was apparently not so; otherwise, "why has all this happened to us"? Gideon was speaking for all of Israel when he interpreted their hardship as defining their reality. They lacked the hope that things could turn around for them, believing they were forgotten and rejected by God entirely. After seven years, the root of hope had become little more than a flimsy wish.

Gideon also considered his family background as the weakest clan in Manasseh and then considered that he was the weakest of the weak. Yet Gideon could not see past his own self-worth to realize that God does not need his strength but his obedience and that it was the commandment of God that was to be His confidence. Like Joshua, he was to be assured victory because it was God who gave the command to go. Likewise, when Jesus commanded Peter to come out of the boat to walk to Him on the water, Peter should not have considered the height of the waves or even the strength of his own faith but the fact that Jesus was the one who had commanded him to step out of the boat.

God reiterated to Gideon that He would be with him, but Gideon asked for further proof to assuage his lingering doubts that this was, in fact, the God of Israel speaking with him. Gideon brought back an offering of meat and broth, which was consumed by fire from the rock. Gideon immediately recognized that he was in the Lord’s presence and considered that he was as good as dead. However, the Lord comforted him to be at peace and not to be afraid. Struck by the presence of God and rightfully humbled and feeling unworthy, the grace of God moved Gideon to set up an altar in worship with a new – or perhaps renewed – understanding of His faithful character: Jehovah Shalom, "The Lord is Peace."

Throughout the Scriptures, Old and New, when God is about to do a work of redemption, He greets His people with peace and the encouragement to not be afraid. In the valley of hardship, He declares that salvation is coming. Israel’s peace through Gideon was only temporary (keep reading through the Book of Judges!). When Jesus came centuries ago, He came to a people and a world already in exile. Yet He did not come to condemn but to save (John 3:17), and the salvation and peace that He brought would be everlasting.

He is our Jehovah-Shalom. When Jesus left the apostles on earth, He did not leave them without trouble. Instead, He assured them of hardship, but He left them with the promise of His peace and the encouragement not to be afraid.

Even now, though we will have to live through all kinds of troubles, and we are tempted to define our reality by our present hardships, we have the promise that eternal salvation will come as assuredly as the name given to the babe born in Bethlehem, Jesus (Yeshua), means "the Lord is salvation." In Him, we are promised eternal salvation. In Him, we have peace. He is our Jehovah-Shalom. When Jesus left the apostles on earth, He did not leave them without trouble. Instead, He assured them of hardship, but He left them with the promise of His peace and the encouragement not to be afraid as they did what He commanded and followed in Him in faith. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. … I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. ... In this world you will have trouble. ... But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 14:27; 16:33).

Dr. Michael Whiting serves as Associate Professor of Christian History and Leadership and Director of Written Content at Dallas Baptist University.

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