Yahweh Shalom: The Lord Is Peace

| Sherri Callery

“May we continually fill our hearts with God’s word and worship Him for who He is so that our faith, love, and obedience will increase.”

Judges 6

Israel was languishing under Midianite oppression, and Gideon surely felt discouraged, abandoned, and afraid when the angel of the Lord appeared to him offering comfort, courage, and a divine commission, rooted in God’s presence and promises which bring perfect peace. The angel of the Lord greeted Gideon with words that should have encouraged him.

“The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” (Judges 6: 12)

Secretly threshing wheat in a winepress where he hoped the Midianites would not find and steal it, Gideon could not have felt very valiant, and his response in verse 13 indicates that he did not sense God’s presence. He was too consumed with his own problems and the suffering of His people to look up to the omnipresent, sovereign God who mercifully meets us where we are in our low places, transforms us into who He created us to be, and equips us for His good and perfect purposes (Jeremiah 29:11). In trying times, do we, like Gideon, become anxious and afraid or do we rest securely in God’s presence (Proverbs 18:10), praying always with thanksgiving and supplication? (Philippians 4:6)

When the angel of the Lord commissioned Gideon to save the Israelites from the hand of Midian (verse 14), Gideon hesitated and made excuses, but God promised to go with him and to deliver Israel. Such reluctance to accept God’s calling flows out of a heart of unbelief. Gideon had heard of God’s mighty deeds as He delivered Israel out of Egyptian bondage (verse 13), yet he initially resisted the Lord’s calling, just as Moses had.

The Bible is filled with historical accounts of God’s faithfulness and provides all we need to grow in faith, wisdom, and understanding of His great love for us (Ephesians 3:14-21). We need only study, believe, and apply it. Yet, how often do we worry and fret, living as if God is not present or does not even care? How many times have we resisted a calling as simple as sharing our faith or meeting a physical need without any lurking dangers or significant risks at all? We do not obey when we give in to fear or selfish desires. Faith waivers when we focus on our weaknesses instead of on God’s almighty power and His certain promises. True strength and courage come as we step out in faith, trusting that His power is made perfect in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) May we continually fill our hearts with God’s word and worship Him for who He is so that our faith, love, and obedience will increase.

Unconvinced, Gideon asked for a sign, and our loving Lord provided what Gideon needed to finally believe. Then the Lord gave him another promise: “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die” (verse 23). Comforted by the Lord’s presence and promises, Gideon built an altar to the Lord and called it “Yahweh Shalom”, which means, “The Lord is peace.”

How desperately we need the Lord’s peace in our frenzied, chaotic, immoral, angry, and divided culture where billion-dollar industries peddle harmful products and services that falsely promise to offer some measure of peace. Those manmade substitutes never satisfy and only leave us desperate for more. Our world needs to know that all we really need is Yahweh Shalom.

Only God’s peace is perfect, surpassing all human understanding. (Philippians 4:6) His peace calms the wind, the waves, and the storms that rage within our restless hearts. (Mark 4:39) God’s peace gives courage, comfort, and strength through tribulation (John 16:33). The Lord of peace protects His people and turns enemies into allies. (2 Chronicles 14:7) Our Savior’s deep, soul-satisfying peace envelops us as we meditate on His love which frees us from bondage to sin and death, washes us in forgiveness, and reconciles us with God and one another.

Even after tasting God’s perfect peace, Gideon became fearful again when the Lord instructed Him to tear down his father’s altar to Baal and the Asherah beside it. Gideon obeyed without making excuses this time, but he took ten servants with him (presumably for protection) and carried out God’s instructions at night when he was less likely to be seen. Gideon was growing into the valiant leader God called Him to be, but he still lacked sufficient confidence in the Lord. Gideon would not be free from fear and fully experience God’s lasting peace until he removed the idols and trusted in God alone. Similarly, we must throw off all the idols that consume our time, treasure, and trust in place of God. In addition, we must let go of the lesser idols we lean on for backup, should God not deliver as we would prefer.

Are we willing to face our greatest obstacles in God’s power alone, knowing that He will never fail us? (Joshua 21:45)
God protected Gideon from the wrath of the Baal worshipers, and the Spirit of the Lord “clothed” him as a great army of men followed him. Yet, Gideon sought additional reassurance. So, he set out a fleece two different times for more confirmation from the Lord. Longsuffering is our Lord, for He answered Gideon’s tests, further strengthening Gideon’s faith and preparing him for the battle ahead.

As we undergo the sanctification process, our faith may falter as Gideon’s did. We may not feel God’s presence or His love. Like Gideon, we may be tempted to believe that God has forsaken us. When fear sneaks in and shakes our faith in God’s presence, power, and love, we must look to the ultimate fleece that Christ provided us on the cross. The cross of Christ confirms His unfailing love for us. His resurrection is proof of God’s power over all, even sin and death. His indwelling Holy Spirit assures us that we are never alone or forsaken and provides evidence of His power in and through us.

6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

His inerrant word provides an abundance of confirmation and strengthens our faith as we feed on it regularly. As we lift up our eyes to God (Isaiah 40:26), keep our minds steadfast on Him, and trust Him, God’s perfect peace abides in us. (Isaiah 26:3)