Jehovah-Shalom – the Lord our Peace
I can only imagine what I would feel like if God suddenly came to me with the assignment that I would be the leader who would deliver my country from their enemies. Actually that’s not true; I can’t really even imagine it. The whole idea is so foreign to me that it is easy to dismiss it as a fantasy film. Clearly no one like me would ever be called to do such a thing.
And that is exactly how Gideon felt when God appeared to him as he was threshing wheat and said; “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?” (Judges 6:14) By contrast, remember King David, a shepherd boy with enormous courage? He boldly pulled lambs out of the mouths of lions and bears as he shepherded his father’s flocks and he aggressively slew the giant Goliath when he was only a youth. Later he went on to become King over all of Israel. He was a great warrior who won battles and subdued Israel’s enemies. You could think of Gideon as the polar opposite of David. Not courageous. Not bold. No leadership skills.
Gideon had only one thing going for him: God called him. God addressed him this way: “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!” (Judges 6:12) There was nothing in the natural to suggest that this was true. Gideon replies back to the Lord; “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) He was just being honest. It sounds like Gideon was more realistic than the Lord in his self appraisal. In fact, when God appeared to him he was threshing wheat in secret inside a winepress so as not to be observed and possibly attacked by the Midianites who were riding roughshod all over Israel.
God saw Gideon differently than Gideon saw himself. God saw the secret weapon with which he had equipped Gideon: HIMSELF. God said; “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.” (Judges 6:16) Oh my goodness, the stark terror that Gideon must have felt at that moment! I know I would have wanted to go running in the opposite direction with my ears covered. Probably as a delay tactic, Gideon asked for a sign about who was really speaking to him and then begged to prepare a meal for his guest. He probably hoped no one would be there when he got back with the meat and bread.
But God was still there, waiting, when Gideon returned. The Lord told him to lay the meal on a rock as an offering and pour the broth over it. Then God touched the sacrifice with the staff in his hand “and fire rose out of the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread.” (Judges 6:21) Then he disappeared. Now Gideon understood beyond all doubt that he had been talking face to face with Jehovah. That scared him worse than what God was calling him to do.
So the Lord said to Gideon, “Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die.” And then Gideon built an alter in that place and called it THE-LORD-IS-PEACE: Jehovah-Shalom. Why did the Lord reveal himself as PEACE at that time? Why not “The Lord is Courage” or “The Lord is Strength”? I think it is because the Lord’s peace is so profound that it overcomes every other consideration. Peace was the real thing that Gideon needed. Peace is the real thing each of us needs when we are up against the wall.
In the natural world, weakness such as Gideon had is a trait to be despised. Certainly we try to hide our weaknesses from exposure to other people. In the spiritual realm however, weakness is our greatest asset. Strange, but true. Here are some things God says about weakness in his Word.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
“For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10b)
“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
Don’t you see? God deliberately chose Gideon because he WAS weak. Then he clothed Gideon in the power of his peace and enabled him to defeat Israel’s enemies. God’s peace can sustain you through impossible circumstances. Beyond that, you can conquer with God’s peace. Peace is the antidote for fear; peace is the antidote for weakness. Gideon is our example of this truth.
Where are you right now? Has God called you to do something that you can’t do? That’s good. Are you facing something that you have no natural ability to face? Wonderful. I know how scary it is. Don’t focus on the problem or the circumstance right now. Focus on Jehovah-Shalom. When you get hold of the revelation of The-Lord-is-Peace you will be more than a conqueror!
Note to readers: I suggest you read Gideon’s whole story if you never have before. This part was only the beginning and it gets much more exciting as it goes along. Read chapters 6 through 8 of the Book of Judges in the Old Testament.