(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
“Shalom, Shalom! ” It is still used in Israel (and among observant Jews worldwide) as a greeting and/or a parting blessing – usually said twice, with the emphasis on the first syllable of the word. When I was in Israel, I and two young men in our tour group would go walking around Jerusalem. We had a contest: who of the three of us could get the most return greetings from the locals in the Old Jewish Quarter. I won hands down!
Shalom in Hebrew is שָÑלוֹם, pronounced “shaw-lome’.” According to Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Definitions it can have several related meanings: “…completeness, soundness, wellfare, peace…safety…health, prosperity…quiet, tranquility, contentment…friendship [with God and/or man]….” In combination with Jehovah, it appears only once, hyphenated in several Bible versions as “…Jehovah-Shalom…”; and translated in several others as “…the LORD is Peace….” It was the name Gideon gave to the altar he built. Here is Judges 6:12 and 22 through 24:
And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him [Gideon], and said to him, “The LORD is with you mighty man of valor!” ...Now Gideon perceived that He was the Angel of the LORD. So Gid- eon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For I have seen the Angel of the LORD face to face.” Then the LORD said to him, “Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die.” So Gideon built an altar there to the LORD, and called it The-LORD- Shalom [Jehovah-Shalom]. To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
“…the Angel of the LORD…” is recognized as a theophany of the pre-incarnate Christ (a theophany is God appearing in human form). In many translations, the distinction between an angelic being and the pre-incarnate Christ is shown by the definite article, “…the Angel of the LORD…” as opposed to the use of the indefinite article, “…an angel…,” (as in I Kings 19:5).
These three verses of the featured Scripture above set the context introducing Jehovah-Shalom, but a lot happened around and between verses 12 and 22!
- The Israelites, because of disobedience, were oppressed and greatly impoverished by the Midianites, a strong Canaanite nation (see Judges 6:1-6).
- When God addressed Gideon, saying, “The LORD is with you mighty man of valor!” (verse 12), Gideon protested, “…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…” (Judges 6:13).
- Gideon was then commissioned to “…save Israel from the hand of the Midianites.” (Judges 6:14). But he didn’t buy it! “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” (Judges 6:15).
- This unlikely hero of Israel several times challenged the LORD to prove He was truly calling him to fight the Midianites:
✡ Judges 6:17 and 18 – “If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who talk with me. Do not depart from here...until I bring... my offer- ing and set it before you.” The Angel of the LORD honored Gideon’s request and proved He was God by supernatural fire consuming the offering! Then He disappeared! (see Judges 6:19-21). ✡ Judges 6:36 and 37 – “If You will save Israel by my hand as you have said — look, I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece only, and...dry on all the ground, then I shall know....”
God honored this test also! The next morning
Gideon wrung a
bowlful of dew out of the fleece, but the ground was dry!
). But even that wasn’t enough!✡ Judges 6:39 – “Do not be angry with me….Let me test…once more…let it be dry on the fleece, but on all the ground let there be dew.”
Again, God was patient! The next morning, it was exactly as
Gideon had requested! (see Judges 6:40).
✡ One more test occurred, but this time it was the LORD who
set the parameters!
“Arise, go down against the camp [of the Midianites],
for I have delivered it into your hand. But if you
are afraid...go down to the camp with Purah your ser-
vant, and you shall hear what they say; and afterward
your hands will be strengthened to go down against the
There, Gideon heard one soldier telling another of a dream – a
barley cake rolled into the Midianite camp striking a tent and
collapsing it! The listener then interpreted the dream: “This
is nothing else but the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man
of Israel; for into his hand God has delivered Midian and the
whole camp.” (Judges 7:14).
Gideon attacked – with just 300 men chosen by God! (see Judges 7:1-8). But they didn’t even have to fight! The 300 stationed themselves at night around the Midianite camp, and at a given signal, they created a great confusion of noise and fire! And the enemy, in a panic, attacked and killed one another! (see Judges 7:16-25).
God brought peace to Israel “…for forty years in the days of Gideon.” (Judges 8:28).
“…Jehovah-Shalom…the LORD is Peace….” Remember how it started: Gideon, after the initial calling of the Angel of the LORD, built an altar in honor of this heavenly encounter. And he named the altar, Jehovah-Shalom! Yes, there were challenges, but God brought the needed peace – to Gideon personally, and to Israel nationally! And in the end, Gideon discovered he actually was God’s “…mighty man of valor!” (Judges 6:12).
There is an abundance of Scripture passages concerning peace! Here are just a few. But notice: in each of the following references, there is something we must do in order to experience God’s peace!
- This is out of order with the following Scriptures as presented in the Bible, but let’s start with Romans 5:1 – “…having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ….”
It is only by trusting Jesus Christ to save us that we can be reconciled to God! (see Colossians 1:10-22).
- Proverbs 16:7 – “When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be a peace with him.”
We have to make sure our lives are pleasing to God! (see Colossians 1:10).
- Isaiah 26:3 and 4 (English Standard Version) – “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.”
We have to keep our minds focused on God! (see Colossians 3:1-3).
- Isaiah 32:17 – “The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteous-ness, quietness and assurance forever.”
We have to be righteous (right) before God! (see II Corin- thians 5:21).
- John 14:27 – “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
We have to keep our hearts (minds) untroubled! (see Matthew 6:31-34).
- John 16:33 – “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
We have to learn and trust in what God says! (see Colos- sians 3:16).
- Romans 8:6 (Easy-to-Read Version) – “If your thinking is controlled by your sinful self, there is spiritual death. But if your thinking is controlled by the Spirit, there is life and peace.”
We have to train ourselves to think God’s way! (see Phi- lippians 4:8).
- Philippians 4:6 and 7 – “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 passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
We have to give our troubles to God in prayer! (see I Thessalonians 5:17).
- Philippians 4:9 – Paul wrote, “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”
We have to follow godly examples! (see I Corinthians 11:1).
- Hebrews 12:14 (International Standard Version) – “Pursue peace with everyone, as well as holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.”
We have to be holy, separated to God! (see Leviticus 20:7, 8; Romans 12:1, 2).
So live out the holy life to which the Lord has called you…and He will give you peace!
Are you experiencing Jehovah-Shalom?