Week Twelve, Day Two
Shalom is a Hebrew word, so much richer in its range of meanings than the English word "peace," which usually refers to the absence of outward conflict or to a state of inner calm. The concept of shalom includes these ideas but goes beyond them, meaning "wholeness," "completeness," "finished word," "perfection," "safety," or "wellness." Shalom comes from living in harmony with God. The fruit of that harmony is harmony with others, prosperity, health, satisfaction, soundness, wholeness, and well-being. When you pray to Yahweh Shalom, you are praying to the source of all peace. No wonder his Son is called the Prince of Peace.
So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The LORD is Peace. (Judges 6:24)
PRAYING THE NAME
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!"
But the LORD said to him, "Peace! Do not be afraid.You are not going to die."
So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The LORD is Peace. (Judges 6:22-24)
Reflect On: Judges 6:1-24
Praise God: For his power to deliver us.
Offer Thanks: For punishments that bring us back to God.
Confess: Any patterns in your life that keep you from experiencing God's peace.
Ask God: To free you from spiritual oppression.
God's people were in a miserable bind. They were living in the Promised Land without enjoying the promised blessings—the milk and honey, the wheat and barley, the peace and prosperity. For seven years Midianite raiders swarmed over their land like locusts, stealing everything in sight. Freed from slavery in Egypt, their idolatry had made them vulnerable to a new oppressor. Finally the Israelites cried out for relief, and God supplied a deliverer in the shape of Gideon, who defeated an enormous army with a mere three hundred men.
Significantly, Gideon's story began with a divine encounter. The angel of the Lord greeted him, saying, "The LORD is with you, mighty warrior," as though to say that God's mere presence would be enough to transform this fearful man into a mighty warrior capable of winning the peace for an entire nation.
Humbled by the encounter, Gideon built an altar, calling it "The LORD is Peace." What a statement! Israel had been bullied, fearful, and defeated. The land was ravaged. People were living in caves. Gideon himself, the "mighty warrior," had been hiding in a winepress when the angel of the Lord appeared to him. Yet the name of the altar was well considered. God was about to deliver his people and bring peace through a series of remarkable events. And he would use Gideon, the weakest man in the region, to bring about a peace that would last forty years—until Israel again fell away from God.
It's a great story, but what does it have to do with us? For one thing it reminds us that the peace we long for comes only from God. We need the reminder because we are so easily fooled into thinking that personal security lies elsewhere—in a fat retirement account, the perfect relationship, a good education, a prestigious job. And if we aren't careful, the blessings we crave may turn into desires that destroy our peace. Real peace comes only from practicing the presence of God.
If you have been feeling troubled and restless, harassed or oppressed, take a look inside. What's stealing your peace? What's making you anxious and frustrated? Have you slipped away from God? Have you become too busy to practice his presence and seek his face? Have you made compromises that have slowly eroded your faith? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, cry out to God as the people of Israel did in Gideon's day. Ask him to draw you more deeply into his presence, delivering you from the enemies of your soul intent on stealing your peace and robbing you of the good things he intends.
For more from Ann Spangler, visit her blogspot on Christianity.com. Be sure to check out Ann's newest book, Praying the Attributes of God: A Daily Guide to Experiencing His Greatness.