Sunday, September 4, 2022

Jehovah Shalom: The God of Peace in the Dangers

If you go on Youtube or other streaming services, you can find livestreams from nature centers. Something I like to do is watch live streams of eagles. The nature preserve will set up cameras pointed at the nest, and you can just watch the birds hanging out. And last night I put on the livestream from the BirdLife Australia Discovery Centre, Sydney Olympic Park. Sure enough, there was a beautiful eagle sitting in her nest, caring for her young.

The tree was blowing back and forth in the strong winds. And I settled in to watch thinking ah, wonderful, perfect to reflect on our message for dinner church today, the name of God Jehovah Shalom, which means God our peace.

But then I noticed there was an unwelcome visitor to the nest area. This big black and white bird began swooping back and forth, from one branch to another, swooping over the eagle. It kept cawing and swooping over, hoping to draw the eagle off of her young so it could get at them, I assume. So instead of a peaceful scene, instead, there was conflict. This bird did not give up, it kept swooping over and over and over. And the eagle had no rest, it kept striking with it’s beak toward the bird as it flew over again and again and again. It would turn it’s head and watch the bird, careful not to move from the protective position over it’s young.

We see a similar situation in the context of the name of God Jehovah shalom. It had been 200 years since God had revealed himself to Israel as Jehovah jireh and Jehovah rophe and Jehovah m’kaddesh. Moses was gone. Joshua had long since died. Israel was in the promised land. They had made it. But all was not well.

You see the generation that saw God’s miracles, saw God leading Israel, they served God all their days, stayed close to Him. But the generations after, having never seen the miracles of God, they drifted away from God. They went their own ways. And eventually they had abandoned God all together.

That’s where we meet Gideon. And to illustrate just how far they had gone from God, there is a statue to other gods over the city he was in. The people were serving the idols and false gods of the people who had originally inhabited the promised land.

How terrible!

And living in the United States today, we could say the same thing. There are many idols, and Michigan has forgotten the God who planted us here in this land. We worship at bars and clubs and theaters and marijuana shops and party stores. We worship money, and influence, and power, and entertainment. Yet there are still many churches, and many believers even in our city. There is a faithful remnant. It’s similar to Gideon’s day.

A faithful few still knew Jehovah God, and followed him, but most had abandoned Him.

We see in Judges chapter 6, God sends his messenger to meet with Gideon.

It says, in Judges 6:11-24, “The angel of the Lord came, and he sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash, the Abiezrite. His son Gideon was threshing wheat in the winepress in order to hide it from the Midianites. 12 Then the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “The Lord is with you, valiant warrior.”

13 Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened? And where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about? They said, ‘Hasn’t the Lord brought us out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to Midian.”

Gideon is wondering, where is God in all our struggles and difficulties? Where was the God of peace and provision and healing? Gideon was right, God was not with them. Because they were not with God. They had abandoned Him. And when a nation abandons God, there is no peace. There is no rest.

Just like the Eagle whose nest was being harassed by a bird, so Israel, having left God, were being harassed and attacked by a foreign enemy called the Midianites.

It continues in verse 14, “14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and deliver Israel from the grasp of Midian. I am sending you!”

15 He said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I deliver Israel? Look, my family is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s family.”

16 “But I will be with you,” the Lord said to him. “You will strike Midian down as if it were one man.”

There we see the solution in verse 16. God says, I will be with you. That is the solution. God will be at the center, and all will work out. And if we keep God in the center of our lives, not on the side, but at the very center, then we will be victorious in our Christian lifestyle.

It continues, “17 Then he said to him, “If I have found favor with you, give me a sign that you are speaking with me. 18 Please do not leave this place until I return to you. Let me bring my gift and set it before you.”

And he said, “I will stay until you return.”

19 So Gideon went and prepared a young goat and unleavened bread from a half bushel of flour. He placed the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot. He brought them out and offered them to him under the oak.

20 The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat with the unleavened bread, put it on this stone, and pour the broth on it.” So he did that.

21 The angel of the Lord extended the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened bread. Fire came up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. Then the angel of the Lord vanished from his sight.

22 When Gideon realized that he was the angel of the Lord, he said, “Oh no, Lord God! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!”

23 But the Lord said to him, “Peace to you. Don’t be afraid, for you will not die.” 24 So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace. It is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites today.”

Gideon asks for a sign, and God gives him a sign. Gideon gives an offering to God on a stone, and fire consumes the offering. Then the angel disappears.

Gideon is terrified because he realizes he’s been talking with the living God.

But God says to him, peace to you.

And Gideon built an altar to God, and called it Jehovah shalom, The Lord is Peace.

This idea of peace really gives us a picture of the state God wants us to operate in. And the purpose for which he gives life. The purpose of the universe, the purpose of the garden of eden was truly, peace, a Hebrew word often translated as perfect, or whole, or finished, or completed, or to pay or to fulfill obligations, but it’s best stated as peace, rest. “The greatest possible measure of contentment and satisfaction in life” -Nathan Stone, Names of God, p. 113.

That’s what we all long for isn’t it? We all long for peace. For rest. For sabbath. We long for a peace that transcends all understanding. And God knows that. That’s what God made us for in fact, God made us for Eden, a place of rest, of peace, a permanent peace.

But we know things went wrong. Now we very much lack peace. But we find peace again in Jesus Christ, the prince of peace.

Gideon had found his purpose in life in God, and so he declared “The Lord is Peace.” Gideon would go on to win great victories against the Midianites and bring the people of Israel back to God.

Our desire for peace is good. And we find it in Jesus. But, we know the fullness of perfect peace doesn’t come until the New Jerusalem, heaven, the next life. That is the dream realized.

But we can also have peace now with Jesus Christ in our heart. We can find shalom, rest.

But for the wicked there is no peace. There is only restlessness, which is the root idea of the word often translated in the Hebrew for “wickedness.” Restlessness. There is no rest there. And for those who go to heaven after they die, they will receive perfect shalom, peace, but for those who go to hell after death, they will receive permanent restlessness, sorrow, suffering, torture.

In 2nd Chronicles 15:2 the word of the prophet to the King of Judah was, “Jehovah is with you, while you be with him, if you seek Him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.”

Israel had forsaken God, but Gideon found favor with God, and restored that connection once again, and God again became Jehovah Shalom to his people, since they sought after Him.

Have you sought after God? Have you named Jesus as your personal messiah? You can have that peace that comes from knowing the Prince of Peace.

From W.H. Griffith’s The Power of Peace, from a sermon outline he put together: “An exposition of 2 Thess. 3:16, "Now the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always by all means." His outline should prove helpful to Christian workers.

I. The Nature of Peace

1. Peace of a quiet conscience (Rom. 8:33-35; three questions)

2. Peace of a restful mind (Phil. 4:7)

3. Peace of a surrendered will

4. Peace of a hopeful heart (Isaiah 50:7)

5. Peace of loving fellowship

II. The Source of Peace

1. Peace with God (Rom. 5:1)

2. The God of peace (Rom. 15:33)

3. The peace of God (Phil. 4:7)

4. The Lord of peace (2 Thess. 3:16)

III. The Channel of Peace

"The Lord of peace Himself give you peace always by all means" (2 Thess. 3:16)

IV. The Duration of Peace

"...give you peace always."

V. The Secret of Peace

"The Lord of peace Himself give you peace..."
-W.H. Griffith, The Power of Peace.

Today, do you understand this peace? If you’re a Christian today, apply this peace to your life. Live in it. Soak in it. Soak in God’s presence which is perfect peace.

If you don’t know Jesus today, maybe you’re like the eagle trying to fight off the bird attacking it’s nest. But you can have peace, turn to Jesus, and he will give you rest and peace over your nest.

I turned back to the livestream later on, and God had blessed the eagle and it’s nest. The intruder had been driven off, and the mother eagle had brought a fish from the river and was serving it to the two chicks. The father eagle was guarding the nest, having returned just in time. Beautiful picture. If we trust God, and we do not forsake him, he returns to us, protects us, he drives off evil from us, and gives us peace, and feeds us from his abundance of peace. Amen.