And Gideon called the place, “The LORD is Peace.”
Gideon is known for not thinking highly of himself, yet he was called a “mighty warrior” by an angel, known for twice throwing out a fleece to make sure he heard God right, and known for defeating the enormous Midianite army with only 300 men. What you may not know about Gideon is he is the first one to use the title for God – “Yahweh is Shalom” or “the Lord is Peace.”
The people of Israel had been oppressed by the Midianites for seven years when Gideon came into play. It happened one day while Gideon was sneaking around thrashing wheat in a winepress to camouflage it from the Midianites. “An angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, you mighty warrior” (Judges 6:12, NRSV).
“Mighty hero” NLT “O mighty man of valor” ESV “Valiant warrior” NASB “Mighty man of power” ABE “Brave and mighty man” GN
The angel commissioned Gideon to deliver Israel from their oppressors. Gideon objected, “But sir, how can I deliver Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family” (Judges 6:15, NRSV).
Gideon may have been an undiscovered man of courage, but he was also a man who wanted to make sure he was on the right track before he took one step. I can relate to his continual need to make sure God has asked me to do the ridiculously impossible thing it seems He has prompted me to do.
After the angel promised that God would be with him, Gideon asked for proof from the angel. It is never wrong to ensure we are listening to the right voice. Gideon asked, “If now I have found favor with you, then show me a sign that it is you who speaks with me…” (6: 17).
When Gideon’s offering was consumed with fire without striking a match, Gideon experienced a rush of knowing deep down in his bones and with a flush of humility and awe, he cried out, “Help me, Lord GOD! For I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face.” But the LORD said to him, “Peace be to you; do not fear, you shall not die” (verses 22-23).
The next action Gideon took was a defining moment in his life. To this point, even though he had a lively conversation with an angel who was a manifestation of God, he had remained skeptical, fearful, and doubtful of his ability.
Face to face with the living God speaking truth into his soul, Gideon was flooded with the promise of peace. He would dip into this well of peace in the days ahead, but at that moment, the peace of God overwhelmed Gideon. His response was to worship him.
“And Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and named it Yahweh-Shalom (which means “the LORD is peace”)” (Judges 6:24, NLT).
The first offering to the angel was one of self-focus as Gideon sought the clarity he needed from God. He was seeking answers to questions and it was a reflection of his unrest.
The second offering was God-focused and was an unsolicited act of worship. God’s grace met Gideon where he was, and Gideon’s soul found the peace he was looking for.
Shalom embraces more than the most common characterization of peace which is to be absent of outward conflict or the spa and yoga images of having inner calm. The Hebrew word shalom, encircles an individual’s well-being with wholeness, favor, safety, and wellness.
Shalom’s peace springs forth from living in harmony with God, affecting our relationships with others and how we interact with the world.
Before a weapon had been picked up, a battle plan made, or victory was ensured, Gideon knew the peace of God.
Gideon began from this point forward to operate from a place of confidence, for the peace of God had saturated his being. He went from throwing out fleeces for assurances and believing he was the least of the least to shouting, “Get up! For the LORD has given you victory over the Midianite hordes!” (Judges 7:15, NLT)
If we want peace, it starts first with God.
If you are in a current season of stability and you can’t see the storm on the horizon, seek peace from God now. If your current season is stormy, seek peace from God now. If you are recovering from the aftermath of a storm, seek peace from God now.
Peace begins foremost with God.
Build the first alter of going to God with your questions, your clarifying, and your quest for reassurance. But do not forget the second altar, the one that offers unsolicited worship out of the humility of who God is. He is faithful and sufficient amid, before, and after.
Our souls search for rest, wholeness, and serenity. When we go to the LORD who is Peace and tell him what we need, look to him, we too can “experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, NLT)
Meditate: The LORD is Peace
Reflect: What does your current season look like pre-storm, in a storm, after a storm? How can you seek peace from God now to ensure your well is full? How do you relate to Gideon? Do you tend only to build the first type of alter? How can you remember to include the second type of alter?
Deeper: Judges 6-7:22; Acts 10: 36, Philippians 4: 6-9
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(Bible References: NRSV – New Revised Standard Version, NLT – New Living Translation, ESV – English Standard Version, NASB – New American Standard Bibile, ABE – Aramaic Bible in English, GN – Good News Bible)