Calamity and Peace

One of the most intriguing names for God in the Old Testament is used in Judges chapter 6.  Upon realizing that he had just been visited by the angel of the Lord, Gideon pronounced the name of “Jehovah Shalom.”  (He literally thought he was about to die because he came face to face with the “presence of the Lord”).  The name Gideon crafted on that memorable occasion literally means “The LORD is peace.”  As he was about to die (as he reasoned) the Lord gave him the promise of peace, SHALOM.   

Who doesn’t want more peace in their lives?  Whether it’s peace in dying or peace in living.

The name “Jehovah Shalom” is even more exciting when seen in context; i.e. the book of Judges and the calling of Gideon in particular.  I like to think of the book of Judges as the “spiritual roller coaster ride” of the Old Testament.  Its storyline highlights the ups and downs of the dizzying cycle of sin, chastisement, repentance, and revival in the nation of Israel.   This 6th chapter begins by telling us that the “people did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” and as a result suffered the calamity of oppression and fear at the hands of the marauding Midianites.    

The 6th chapter includes the appearance of the “angel of the Lord” who calls Gideon to “save Israel” in response to their calling out to God in desperation.  This story unequivocally reminds us that when we mess up, He shows up.   He desires to give us peace even after we have done what is wrong.   It’s a “peace that passes understanding” because it comes from a God “whose ways are not our ways.”   It’s grace, all the way.  When we are caught in the loop of our sin, He extends the grace of forgiveness and restoration.  When Gideon realized that truth about God, he built an altar to the Lord and called it “Jehovah Shalom”. 

The bridge event in this exchange between Gideon and the “angel of the Lord” was when the doubting judge asked the Lord for a sign that would bolster his confidence.  The sign came as a result of Gideon offering the angel a sacrificial meal that was subsequently consumed by fire.  In this miraculous sign, God was preparing the world for another event that would answer all our deep longings for hope and peace.   

The Cross is God’s forever sign of peace.

Our greatest calamity is not the coronavirus, as disruptive as it has been.  Our greatest calamity arises out of the spiritual death that is lodged in our hearts.  Our greatest oppression is not political or biological, it’s spiritual.  Death and oppression threaten us today as much as Midian oppressed and threatened ancient Israel.  Yet God offers us peace as much as He did Gideon and the sinning Israelites.  His offer of peace comes through the sign of the cross. 

He came in the first century, not as an angel, but as a baby named ‘Immanuel’, “God with us”.  Jesus Christ arrived on this planet to give us THE sign that would lead us out of death and its oppressive ways.  His sacrificial death and victorious resurrection is the only sign we will ever need to live in hope, peace, and eternal life. 

Church family!  When fear and anxiety start to disrupt your confidence in the Lord, cling evermore confidently to the Cross.  Come to Jesus and keep coming to Jesus.  He is the Prince of Peace who gave us THE only sign we ever need to live in the “green pastures and quiet waters” of His Presence. 

Shalom for another week,
Pastor Deric