Bible Study Commentary on the Names of God
Gideon experiences Jehovah Shalom, the Lord our Peace
by I Gordon
Shalom! It is a nice sounding word don't you think? It is the Hebrew word for 'peace' and is something that we all need. A friend of mine had a great little story from his own life that emphasizes the need to both receive and give shalom. It came when he was teaching his young son how to ride his first bike. His son was quite wobbly as he rode along the foot path with his Dad close at hand but before long the wobbles got too much and he crashed into a very expensive looking parked car putting a nice long scratch down its side! Ooops. The owner of the car soon arrived and without saying anything he looked at the scratch, looked at my friend's son, looked at his bike, looked at my friend and then said one word - 'Shalom!' With that he got into his car and drove off. Now this really spoke to my friend. Who would just say 'shalom - peace' and leave it at that? Well, my friend would soon find out if he would! That same night my friend went to church and left his car in the car park. During the service there was the sound of a crash coming from the car park outside. Soon the message came from the pulpit... 'Can the owner of the car with license plate BN2451 please meet out in the car park'. Well this was my friend's license plate! So outside he went to see that another car had just backed into his car! Ooops. So what did my friend do? He looked at the other car, he looked at his car, he looked at the reversing-challenged owner of the other car and said one word - 'Shalom!' And then left!
Peace received is peace that can then be given. But what is the source of this peace? Well, that's why we are looking at the next name of God in our series and that is Yahweh or Jehovah Shalom - the Lord our peace. What we will see is that this name was revealed to someone that was in desperate need of the peace of God. Let's have a look!
The life and times of a man (and nation) in need of peace
Judges 6:1-12 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. (2) Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. (3) Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. (4) They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. (5) They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count the men and their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. (6) Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the LORD for help... (11) The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. (12) When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, "The LORD is with you, mighty warrior."
Judges 6:14-16 The LORD turned to him and said, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?" But Lord, Gideon asked, "how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family." (16) The LORD answered, "I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together."
Here is the background context to the times in which Gideon lived and it is fair to say that it isn't exactly peaceful! Israel at this time was in a state of apostasy and God had allowed their enemy Midian to dominate and control them. Now Midian means 'strife' and that was what life was like at this time. Israel was meant to be living down in the fertile parts of a land flowing with milk and honey but instead they were hiding in caves and in the mountains! If that is not enough to unsettle the nerves they had to watch as their raiding enemies would come through like locusts and destroy their crops and livelihood! And there was nothing they could do about it but hide and wait it out. They would lose their sheep, oxen, their produce... and no doubt they would lose their peace as well! (And let's not even go into what it was doing to their nervous system!) They would have had great concerns on whether they would die by the sword of the Midianites... and if they survived the sword, the concerns would morph into questions on how they were actually going to live. What were they going to eat? How would they feed their family? And remember... this didn't just go on for a month or two... but seven years!
It is with this backdrop that we are introduced to our hero Gideon. And where is he first found? Well, he is on a winepress, threshing wheat! This again shows the desperation of those times. The Bible Knowledge Commentary states:
"Gideon's act of threshing wheat in a winepress reflected both his fear of discovery by the Midianites and the smallness of his harvest. Normally wheat was threshed (the grain separated from the wheat stalks) in an open area on a threshing floor (cf. 1Ch_21:20-23) by oxen pulling threshing sledges over the stalks."
It is into this setting that the Angel of the Lord appears and calls out to Gideon saying 'The LORD is with you MIGHTY WARRIOR!' Now do you think that Gideon was feeling like a might warrior at this time? As Gideon explains in verses 15-16, his tribe is the least of all the tribes of Israel and within that his family is the least of all the families. And to cap it off, he is the least within his family! So, according to Gideon, if you want feeble, you've found him! And yet the Lord calls him a might warrior! Maybe, just maybe, the Lord sees what we can and will be in Him and not what we are in ourselves! Now I have written specific studies on Gideon here and here so I encourage you to read those as I won't restate the whole story again but I do want to focus your attention on the end of this passage because it relates to our topic of 'Shalom'
The God of peace doing what only He can do!
Judges 6:22-24 When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the LORD, he exclaimed, "Ah, Sovereign LORD! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!" (23) But the LORD said to him, "Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die." (24) So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The LORD is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
|"If God be our God, He will give us peace in trouble. When there is a storm without, He will make peace within. The world can create trouble in peace, but God can create peace in trouble."
So what is the outcome of this encounter between Gideon and the Angel of the Lord? Well, an altar is built and a revelation is received! Anxious Gideon learns something about this God that He serves... The Lord is Jehovah Shalom - the Lord is (or our) peace! The task before Gideon is still daunting for he is being told to go up against Midian as one man (verse 16)... and yet there is a peace! He has met the God of peace and there is an inner knowledge that all will be well! Let me ask you, have you experienced that peace? Do you have that peace today? Can you remember what it was like before you came to know the Lord? let's look at a few verses that give different aspects of this 'shalom' that is a blessing of the Lord whom we serve.
||Isaiah 57:20-21 But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud. (21) There is no peace, says my God, "for the wicked."
||There is no peace for the wicked for they will not submit themselves to the God of peace. When adversity hits, they only have the unsure resources of their own devices to rest on. And there is no rest there.
||John 16:33 "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."
||The believer stands is direct opposition to the position of the unbeliever in the first verse. Yes we will have trouble. It is a promise of Jesus! But in it He has also desires that we experience His peace for He has overcome the world. And He is our source of courage!
|What believers should NOT let happen
||John 14:27 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.
||The Bible speaks of letting some things happen and not letting other things happen in regards to God's 'shalom'. Here we are told to not let our hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. Now obviously we are but clay and fear comes easily! The only way our hearts can be free from trouble and fear is to experience God as the Lord our shalom by practicing what it says in the next few verses
|What believers SHOULD let happen
||Colossians 3:15-17 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (16) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. (17) And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
||How do we LET the peace of God rule in our hearts? By doing the things mentioned in the following verses. By being thankful, by allowing the word of Christ and who He is to dwell in our life richly. That is, we renew our minds with the truth of the situation that we find ourselves in by bringing God into it. We meditate on who He is and thank Him that He is enough for any situation!
|The believers battle for peace starts in the mind
||Isaiah 26:3 You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You. (AMP)
||Here is a great promise for the one whose mind is set on the Lord. There is a perfect and constant peace from Yahweh Shalom, the Lord of Peace.
|Believe HAVE peace WITH God
||Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ
||Many believers still struggle knowing that things are good between them and God. But the truth is that all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ have, present tense, peace with God. As the Believers Bible Commentary states 'The war is over. Hostilities have ceased. Through the work of Christ all causes of enmity between our souls and God have been removed. We have been changed from foes to friends by a miracle of grace.'
|Believers CAN and SHOULD experience the peace OF God
||Philippians 4:6-8 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.
||As well as peace with God there is the peace of God. As it says it 'transcends understanding' I'm not going to try explain it! : ) All I'll say is that it is supernatural and gratefully received when needed! But note again the practical means through which it is received - through prayer, with thanksgiving, presenting your requests and setting our mind on that which is pure, lovely, excellent and praiseworthy (sounds like the Lord Jesus!)
Gideon was asked to do a lot. He was not an overly courageous man in himself (far from it) but he experienced Yahweh Shalom and went on to do things that we are still talking about today! The peace of God is real and required. More and more people are struggling in this hectic and chaotic life. Fear and anxiety grip so many today so if that is you ask yourself what it is that you fear. Is it greater than God? Has it taken the Lord by surprise? Is He not adequate to give you what you need during this time?
The following prayer of Paul is my prayer for you:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
May you experience the Lord as Yahweh Shalom, the prince of peace once again this day.