"Then Gideon built an altar there unto the LORD, and called it Jehovah shalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites." (Judges 6:24 KJV)
Today the world is crying for peace. All over the world, people are fleeing their homes traveling to the far countries searching for a place of peace. Sadly when they arrive, they find that there is no peace. To say it mildly there is not a place here in this world that is a place of peace. Never shall it be as long as the world is in rebellion towards God. Peace is not the absence of conflict; it is not the absence of the noise of confusion, as peace does not come from our surroundings but comes from within our spirits. Peace is only obtained by a right relationship with God our Creator. God is Jehovah-Shalom, the God of Peace.
At a time when Israel was in rebellion to God’s Word, the Lord allowed them to face judgment at the hand of the Midianites. The Midianites came into their land, and they were forced to flee and hide in the caves. Their food was taken, their tools and their livestock were taken away from them. The purpose of God allowing judgment to come upon His people is to humble them and make them realize their dependence upon Him. The Israelites understood the message, and they cried out unto the Lord God for deliverance from the Midianites. (Judges 6:1-10) The Lord raised a judge named Gideon to lead the people back into the paths of righteousness and to guide them in their deliverance from the Midianites. In the act of faith in what God would do Gideon built an altar to the Lord and named it “The God of Peace” Jehovah-Shalom.
The translation of the word Shalom is peace. Looking at the further meaning of this word it is to be in harmony with or to have reconciliation in a relationship. It may be the payment of a debt or satisfying requirements of a contract. When our relationships with people are debt-free, there is a level field of communication, the association is reconciled, and there is peace.
Living in peace is one of the deepest desires of the human heart. As we go through life, we are going to have conflict, we are going to have trials and tribulations, but if our heart is at peace, we can manage the overall formalities of life. If we have inner contentment and satisfaction, then we can deal with the obstacles that life will throw into our path.
The Lord God knows us better than we could ever know ourselves. He is our Creator, and intimately has made us. He knows every part beyond the view of the microscope, and He placed them together in perfect harmony. God knew us before the foundations of creation. "For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb." (Psalm 139:13) There is none better to mend us than the potter who formed us from the clay.
When His children are in distress, God knows and understands their turmoil. God has the wisdom and the power to the effect that which is needed to mend the causes of pain and sorrows. God is not an impersonal supreme deity that has no time for the likes of one, but a personal God that is concerned for each of us individually. He has proven Himself throughout the ages as a loving God, our provider, and our Savior. Such as He did for His people the Israelite nation when enslaved in Egypt. "The LORD said, "I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings." (Exodus 3:7)
God is a loving Father who desires to provide for us every good and perfect gift that’s needed for our wellbeing. There is nothing second best that comes from God as he does not need left-overs as He is the Creator. "Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." (James 1:17) True peace is a gift that returns peace. The gift of God’s peace to us returns our peace towards Him that we may abide in holy fellowship. "For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11)
The turmoil of the Israelites because of the Midianite invasion caused Gideon to ask God to explain the reason that there was no peace in Israel. "Then Gideon said to him, "O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, 'Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?' But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian." (Judges 6:13) Sin is the barrier between man and God. God is a holy God and sin cannot be in His presence. If we are filled with un-repented sin, then we have placed a barrier between our heavenly Father and us. "But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear." (Isaiah 59:2) Obstruction is why we are to confess our sins and repent to clear the pathway of sins obstacle between God and us. The Israelites had forsaken God and lived in a way that seemed right to them, yet, they were living in sin. God did not forsake them; they had forsaken God. When we remove God from our presence we also remove our peace. There is no peace apart from God’s presence.
As His people, we must seek the Lord always. It is our priority to seek the Lord in all our dealings. "Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near." (Isaiah 55:6) His presence is our peace; His word is the guide for our path through life. We cannot overcome this world apart from Him. If we stay near to Him He will be near unto us. "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded." (James 4:8)
Is it not so for those who have forsaken the Lord God Almighty? They live their lives chasing after the desires of this world giving no concern for where they will spend eternity. They may live in their view of having everything they could want and desire. Or, they live in complete poverty of the world’s offerings. But this is what we see, what about inside in the secret place. Are they at peace? Do they have peace in their spirit? Where will that spirit go without the redeeming love of God’s of peace? "But the wicked are like the tossing sea, For it cannot be quiet, And its waters toss up refuse and mud. "There is no peace," says my God, "for the wicked." (Isaiah 57:20-21)
Peace is not found in our goodness nor our impossible attempt at obeying the Ten Commandments of God’s Law. The purpose of the law was not to save us but to convict us of our shortcoming in righteous living. That we would know of our need of a Savior from the evil spiritual forces arrayed against us are beyond our power. If that were not true there would be peace in the world. Jesus Christ finished His work on the cross of Calvary that we might be reconciled unto God through Him. That we can be redeemed unto God by His shed blood that atones for our sin debt. Jesus has overcome the pit of this world and won the victory over our adversary and by His grace gives us that victory. From Jesus we have peace with God the Father. "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." (John 14:27)
There is a debt that must be paid for disobedience towards God’s Word. That debt requires the life of the sinner. "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)Jesus paid that price for all men, and there is no need for any man to suffer the second death, but most will. By the Grace of the loving God we can be saved by our acceptance of the sacrifice that Jesus made for each one. No one needs to be lost through eternity. "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8) Through our faith in Jesus we are justified in the court of heaven and the eyes of God the Father, as we are seen in the righteousness of His Son Jesus Christ. "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1)
Justification is how we can be restored to a right relationship with God the Creator. Justification is how we can have peace during the storms of this world by placing our focus on the world in which we will spend eternity. It that perspective it does not matter what we endure here; what matters is it does not overcome us. As we will have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ both now and forever. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." (Philippians 4:6-9)
Thomas N Kirkpatrick
First Baptist Church of Durant, September 6, 2015