Thursday, March 19, 2015

Teach us to Pray, part 25: Hallowed be thy name: Jehovah Shalom, The Lord is Peace

And He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 'Give us each day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'" (Luke 11:2-4 NASB)


Jehovah Shalom

The Lord is Peace. What a beautiful promise, especially when we remember that Jesus told his disciples, "My peace I leave with you." John 14:27. In this tumultuous world, filled with war and evil and sin, peace is in short supply, even among God's people. It's easy to forget that we are the ones who should have an abundance of peace in the midst of trouble.

Perhaps part of the reason we lack peace is that we don't understand what it means to have peace. It is not the absence of conflict, trouble, or sorrow. Shalom, translated as peace or absence of strife, is derived from the word shâlêm. This Hebrew word means "to be complete" or "to be sound." 

Jehovah Shalom is used only once in Scripture and is found in Judges 6:24. This is the story of Gideon. Because of their sin, God had given Israel into the hands of the Midianites for seven years. It had been a horrible time, because the Midianites destroyed all the crops as well as all the livestock. Not only had they brought war, but they had imposed famine. Somehow, Gideon had wheat and, in an attempt to preserve it, was beating it out inside the wine press in an attempt to hide it from the Midianites. (This was likely a dug hole in the ground with a drain that allowed the juice to run out after the grapes were crushed. Depending on the vineyard, this could have been a deep hole.) 

An angel of the Lord came to Gideon and addressed him as "valiant warrior". This was an interesting choice of terms, because Gideon saw himself as a nobody who was worth nothing. He felt completely inadequate. "The Lord is with you," the angel told him. Gideon's answer was just a little surprising. (this is the Leanna paraphrase) "Yeah, right. If He's with us, why are the Midianites whipping us so bad? And what happened to all His great miracles? We don't have any miracles now. If God is so great, where is He and why isn't He helping us?" 

What happened next must have been so surprising to Gideon. The angel looked straight at Gideon and told him to get going and deliver Israel from the Midianites. "God hasn't abandoned Israel, Gideon. He has sent you." What a word that is! If I could only remember those words every day, what a difference I might make in the world around me. God hasn't abandoned America, He has sent you, Leanna. In fact, He has sent every one of us to live in obedience and make His difference in our world, so it is imperative that we recognize this and get started. Why not join with me in making that mighty difference? It is not too late to save our nation.

Back to Gideon. He could not believe what he had heard. He needed a sign, so he ran back in his house to get a "peace offering", then put it on a rock. The angel took his staff and touched the meat and the bread. Fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the offering. Finally, Gideon was convinced that he had been in the presence of the angel of the Lord and was frightened, thinking he might drop dead because he had seen the face of the angel of God. 

"Peace to you, do not fear," the angel said to Gideon. Judges 6:23. Gideon had no peace of his own. He was a frightened young man who had lived his life in insignificance. When that angel spoke peace (shalom) to him, however, he was given the peace of God and it changed his life. The strife outside Gideon (the war with the Midianites) did not change at that moment. Instead, God completely filled Gideon with wholeness of spirit and removed the fear and the turmoil that had raged within him. Gideon was given the kind of peace that does not depend on circumstances, but on the truth of the power of God.

The peace of God is something you and I can have for ourselves. We, too, can be completed with peace. I learned this verse from Isaiah as a child and it still speaks to me today.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: 
because he trusteth in Thee. 
Isaiah 26:3 KJV

When I focus my mind steadfastly on the Lord, trusting only in Him, He will not only give me peace, He will keep me in perfect peace! How amazing! All that is required to have peace and keep it is to look constantly, consistently to our Lord in every situation.

The Apostle Paul knew about having peace in every situation and he wrote about it in his letter to the Philippians.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 
Philippians 4:6-7 

If I want peace, I can have it, but I must choose it. In my choosing, I take my fear, my concern, my needs to our Lord with thanksgiving. I am to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, giving thanks when I don't feel like it, as I pray.

How do we hallow the name of Jehovah Shalom? Paul makes it clear that you cannot choose to have anxiety and peace simultaneously. Which do we want? Peace or fear. If we want the Shalom of Jehovah, it can be ours. Honoring His name begins by focusing our hearts and minds on the Peace Giver, allowing Him to give us His peace until we are completely filled by it and kept in it.

Peace. It can be ours if we will accept it. Shalom. 

If you are interested in reading more about peace, you might enjoy this blog post: http://leannahollis.blogspot.com/2014/09/waiting-on-jesus-part-14.html