I love how studying a name or title of God helps me to better understand him and his relation to humankind. I always find myself challenged in my thinking and understanding of God. It forces me to keep from focusing on my favorite characteristics of God, and teaches me to look at all that He is. Today’s name is no exception. It is found in Judges 6:24. The name is Jehovah-Shalom.
Jehovah is a name many of you are probably familiar with. It is basically translated as God or Lord. More literally it means “The Existing One.” It gives the idea of a God who unceasingly reveals Himself. He is not a God that hides like atheists proclaim He must be if He exists. Who is constantly revealing Himself. Shalom is another word some of you may be familiar with. It essentially means peace. In the end this name for God is translated as The Lord is Peace.
What a name. What a name within the context of it being pronounced. Gideon gave this name after he came face to face with the angel of the Lord and lived. He became terrified when he realized who was in front of him, but the angel of the Lord responded “Peace be to you.” Wow! Blink and you will miss the amazing statement this is. Gideon is being told not to fear because the Lord is sparing his power, might, and wrath upon revealing Himself to Gideon. Gideon has plenty of flaws, but he is also intelligent enough to know that he does not deserve to be in the presence of the Lord because of those flaws. He is to imperfect to be in the face of something of such perfection. God spares him though.
We look at this idea of God is peace and think of the Holiday feelings of peace on earth goodwill towards men. How sadly we miss it. We miss it by a mile. We miss the importance of this name of God by watering it down to something as simple as brother living in peace with brother. Countries setting down their weapons and living in harmony. Everyone sitting around a campfire singing songs. We miss it! We miss it so cleanly that is almost breaks my heart.
When the angels came to the shepherds centuries later to proclaim the arrival of the Messiah they were not speaking of peace on earth between men. They were praising the arrival of the Messiah who would bring about peace between God and man. Peace on earth, and goodwill to those with whom he is pleased. That is a more accurate retelling of the story. Songs reword it though. They encompass the idea of wars stopping and that men would cease fighting amongst each other. That’s not what we needed though. We did not need peace amongst one another. What we needed was true peace between us and God.
We waged war with God. All the way back in the garden we rebelled against God and ever since humankind has been at war with its creator. We have been incapable of putting up the white flag, and we have remained incapable of winning the war. Our rebellion has resulted in the loss of everything worth having. We failed. We have lost favor with God. Being in His presence means death. Being confronted by God should result in destruction.
God stayed His hand though. He came on this earth as a God of peace towards creation. Gideon got it in those moments. He was living in a time where God was constantly pouring out his judgment on Israel for their rebellion. He saw the wrath and jealousy of God (Qualities we will also look at in this series), but in that moment he saw something equally powerful. He saw the peace of God.
How grateful I am every morning as I wake up and realize I worship a God of Many names. I am forever grateful that one of those names is “The Lord is Peace”.