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The name Jehovah-Shalom was revealed to Gideon when the angel called him to deliver Israel from the oppression of the Midianites. Gideon did not realize at first that the man talking to him was an angel (Judges 6:12). Scripture also calls this angel Jehovah (translated “The Lord”) in Judges 6:14,
14 The Lord [Jehovah] looked at him and said, “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?”
Angels represent the One who sent them to deliver messages. So angels can be called “Jehovah,” though we understand that an angel is not Jehovah in person.
Gideon asked for a sign to know that he was truly called to do this. Gideon then told the angel to wait while he prepared a meal. When finished, we read in Judges 6:20, 21,
20 The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock and pour out the broth.” And he did so. 21 Then the angel of the Lord put out the end of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. Then the angel of the Lord vanished from his sight.
To consume an offering indicates that God accepts it, and Gideon knew that this was the sign that he was truly called as a Judge to deliver Israel. The vanishing act was perhaps a double witness as well. Then Gideon built an altar and named it according to his revelation of this aspect of God’s nature, or name. Judges 6:22-24 says,
22 When Gideon saw that he was the angel of the Lord, he said, “Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face.” 23 The Lord said to him, “Peace to you, do not fear; you shall not die.” 24 Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and named it The Lord is Peace [Jehovah-Shalom]. To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
It was commonly believed in those days that no man could see God and live. Apparently, Gideon thought that he would die after seeing the angel “face to face” (paniym al-paniym). Yet angels had appeared to others in the past, such as Hagar (Gen. 16:7), Abraham (Gen. 18:33), Lot (Gen. 19:1), and Moses (Exodus 33:11). None of them died after seeing those angels.
Perhaps Gideon’s fear had more to do with his inferiority complex than the encounter itself. At any rate, after the angel vanished, Jehovah spoke to him directly to address his fear and to replace it with peace (shalom).
Five times, the New Testament speaks of the God of Peace: Rom. 15:33, 16:20, Phil. 4:9, 1 Thess. 5:23, and Heb. 13:20. This title seems to be unique with Paul himself, if we assume that Paul was the author of the book of Hebrews. Specifically, it is a reference to the God who reconciles all things. When enemies are reconciled, there is peace between them.
Paul also uses the term, “the Lord of peace” in 2 Thess. 3:16, referring to Jesus Christ.
In Lev. 4:3, the law speaks of sin offerings (which justify sinners) and in Lev. 3:1 it speaks of peace offerings (which reconcile enemies). Paul comments on both of these concepts in Rom. 5:8-10, showing the distinction between sinners and enemies. Those who lack faith are both sinners and enemies, and Christ’s death on the cross provided both justification and reconciliation to believers.
Our present focus is upon the reconciliation provided by the God of Peace. The Son of God, having the same nature as His Father, is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). In this role, He is the Reconciler of all creation (Col. 1:16, 20).
The Hebrew word shalom was used as a greeting between friends in a harmonious relationship. It affirmed that there was no conflict between the two parties. So we read in Luke 10:5, 6,
5 Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace be to this house.” 6 If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you.
The common greeting in biblical times was shalom. After Jesus’ resurrection, He suddenly appeared in the room where the disciples were hiding and greeted them with “Peace be to you” (Luke 24:36). No doubt He said, “Shalom!”
When Stephen was giving his defense, he spoke of Moses, who had observed two Israelites fighting each other. Acts 7:26 says,
26 On the following day he [Moses] appeared to them as they were fighting together, and he tried to reconcile them in peace, saying, “Men, you are brethren, why do you injure one another?”
The word also signifies wholeness, not only in relationships but also in one’s state of health (Luke 8:48). This connects Jehovah-Shalom to Jehovah-Ropheka, our Healer.
The idea of being “whole” also applied to altars made from “uncut stones” (Joshua 8:31. The word translated “uncut” is salem, another form of shalom.
Note the law of building altars in Exodus 20:25.
5 If you make an altar of stone for Me, you shall not built it of cut stones, for if you wield your tool on it, you will profane it.
Hence, the altar of your heart must be shaped by God alone (i.e. naturally), so that it is not polluted by the psychological tools of men. Only God can shape a heart of peace that is reconciled to Him.
In Ruth 2:12 we read,
12 May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full [salem] from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.
This is a reference to the law regarding wages (Lev. 19:13) and the fact that God follows His own laws, paying us in full for our labor (Eph. 6:8). The Septuagint often renders shalom by the Greek word soteria, “salvation.” Hence, complete salvation is where we are sanctified entirely, or “wholly” (KJV) in our spirit, soul, and body (1 Thess. 5:23). Salvation is a full state of health (peace) in the spirit, soul, and body. Disease is any condition that falls short of this.
Paul greets his readers with “grace and peace” (Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:3, 2 Cor. 1:2, etc.).
Gideon’s revelation of Jehovah-Shalom came in the context of feelings of unworthiness, expressed as inner fear. The presence of fear shows a lack of wholeness, especially in one’s soul. Fear brings “torment” (1 John 4:18, KJV). In believers, fear shows a conflict between soul and spirit, which also affects the body. So Jehovah-Shalom is also directly related to Jehovah-Mekaddishkem, who sanctifies us and brings us into God’s rest.
Rest and Peace are closely related, for where there is no peace, neither is there rest.
Gideon had to be reassured by divine revelation that he was not going to die after seeing the angel face to face. Ironically, however, we do indeed die when we encounter Him face to face, for the old man of flesh is indeed put to death. Paul tells us in 2 Cor. 3:13-18 that New Covenant faith removes the veil that prevents us from seeing God face to face. We read in verse 18,
18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
To remain under the Old Covenant is to have a veil over one’s eyes, known also as “blindness in part” (Rom. 11:25, KJV), or “a partial hardening” (Rom. 11:25, NASB). Recall that the Israelites were afraid to behold the glory of God in Moses’ face (Exodus 34:30). Likewise, they were afraid to approach God on the Mount, thinking this would kill them (Exodus 20:19).
Such fear characterizes Old Covenant believers—including even Gideon, prior to his revelation of Jehovah-Shalom. It was this revelation that allowed his spirit and soul to be reconciled and for his soul to overcome fear, insecurity, and feelings of inadequacy.
Gideon’s altar to Jehovah-Shalom demonstrated a change in his own heart-altar. We too must construct our heart-altar from uncut stones, as the law instructs. In doing so, we proclaim our faith in the God of Peace, who is the only One capable of changing the heart from the inside through His Spirit. We read in 1 John 4:18,
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment [kolasis, “correction, penalty, penal infliction”], and the one who fears is not perfected in love.
When our hearts are fully made whole, according to the work of Jehovah-Shalom, we will reflect (as a mirror image) the glory of the God of Love.
So if we are still ruled by some elements of fear in certain areas, let us appeal to Jehovah-Shalom for a revelation of His nature that will replace the stones cut by man-made tools with unhewn stones shaped by the Holy Spirit.