Many people think peace comes from the absence of problems. While it would be nice to never have any problems, that is a completely unrealistic expectation, which will set us up for disappointment. It also goes contrary to what the scripture teaches. Jesus never said we wouldn’t have any problems. He said we would. John 16:33 says “In this life you will have tribulation,” so it’s a guarantee we will have problems. This is also why He gave the rest of the verse which says, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
If peace isn’t the absence of problems, what is it? It is the presence of Jesus in the midst of problems. This is illustrated in the story of Gideon from the book of Judges. Gideon lived in a time similar to the time we are currently living in right now. He had heard about the revivals of the past, but he was living in a season where Israel was being held captive by the Midianites. Look at Gideon’s conversation with the Angel of the Lord from Judges 6:
11 Now the Angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites. 12 And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!”
13 Gideon said to Him, “O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.”
These verses show us that Gideon was living in such fear that he threshed wheat in a winepress to hide it from the Midianites. Let that sink in. Gideon was doing something crazy by thrashing wheat in a device made to press grapes for wine. Fear makes people do crazy things. Have you ever done anything crazy because of fear?
In the midst of this, God called Gideon a mighty man of valor. Why? Because God speaks into our destiny and calls those things that be not as though they are. God saw Gideon as a mighty man of valor He would use in a powerful way, even when Gideon didn’t see himself that way. Even after hearing what the Angel of the Lord declared over his life, Gideon still had a lot of discouragement. This is why he talked about the miracles God used to do, but apparently wasn’t doing anymore, which is why Israel was in bondage to Midian.
Before I show you the solution God provided Gideon and that He provides for us today, it’s important for us to really understand how bad Gideon’s situation was. All he had ever known was captivity and he blamed the Lord for the captivity. In the midst of all this, however, the Lord continued working with Gideon to bring him into God’s plans and purposes. This is key because many people believe God gives up on them if they complain, worry, or don’t get it together fast enough, and the truth is that God is very patient with people.
Over the next several verses God continues speaking words of faith over Gideon and tells him that he will defeat the Midianites as one man. In the midst of these words of faith, Gideon still struggled with fear and God didn’t condemn him. This encourages me because many modern preachers and hardcore church folk tell us that if we struggle with doubt and worry that we don’t have any faith so God can’t bring His will pass in our lives. This story reveals a different truth about God and His dealings with man.
Gideon asked for a sign to verify that the Angel of the Lord really was speaking for God. Gideon then prepared an offering for this angel and placed it on a rock. After Gideon did this, the angel touched the offering with his staff and then fire came out of the rock and consumed the offering. Look at Gideon’s response:
22 Now Gideon perceived that He was the Angel of the Lord. So Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For I have seen the Angel of the Lord face to face.” 23 Then the Lord said to him, “Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die.” 24 So Gideon built an altar there to the Lord, and called it The-Lord-Is-Peace.
Gideon finally believed he heard God, but then the Lord had to tell Gideon to not fear because he wasn’t going to die. Do you know why God told Gideon to not be afraid, he wasn’t going to die? Because Gideon believed he was going to die when he encountered God this way. After this encounter, Gideon immediately built an alter and declared Jehovah-shalom or The Lord Is Peace.
The word shalom is interesting because it means wholeness, completeness, or simply nothing missing and nothing broken. This is what causes peace. This is important to get a hold of because in life God will ask us to do very difficult things. Many people run from their God ordained assignment because of fear and obtain a false sense of peace.
For example, God told me to take a job once because it would pay me more money, but after I started the job I was stressed because it was really challenging. I got tempted to go back to my previous employer and tell them I made a mistake, but that wasn’t really a good solution either because I had a hard time paying my bills on the salary they paid. Going back to the old job provided a false sense of peace because doing that wouldn’t have solved my financial problems. The only way to get victory over my financial problems was to obey God and stay in lucrative job that was really challenging. As I prayed about the decision I knew God wanted me to stay in the higher paying job so I began to pray for wisdom to learn it and favor with my boss and customers. It took a while, but I finally figured the job out and got really good at it and ended up making a lot of money. This solved my financial problems and helped me get the money to move from Greensboro to Colorado Springs so I could attend Charis Bible College.
This brings me back to my opening statement about how godly peace doesn’t come from a lack of problems. It comes from a present tense relationship with Jesus where we draw on His strength and resources knowing that is what makes the difference. This gives us peace in the midst of adversity. This is an important concept we must understand if we are going to make a difference in our world. You and I can run from problems and God will still love us and be pleased with us, however, we won’t be very usable and we won’t be able to make a difference in our world.
After Gideon had the encounter with God where the Lord revealed himself as Jehovah-Shalom, God then spoke to Gideon and told him to tear down the alter of Baal and build and alter for God. This was a huge step of faith for a man who had been hiding out just days before. What gave Gideon the the confidence to step out and tear down the alter? A revelation of Jehovah-Shalom. The revelation of God as his peace gave Gideon the boldness to step into a very stressful situation, which would typically cause anyone to lose their peace.
God then led Gideon into a battle with all the Midianites where Gideon was severely outnumbered. Gideon took 300 men and defeated over 100,000 Midiantes because of Jehovah-Shalom. Remember, shalom means nothing missing and nothing broken. It’s a concept of wholeness, which Gideon and Israel experienced through the supernatural power of God when God led them into a situation that looked impossible. We all need this revelation of God’s peace and wholeness to step into the things God is calling each of us into. Our natural eyes will say we are outnumbered, but if we will believe God we will experience victory!
I hope this article has encouraged you. I hope you will learn to encounter God as Jehovah-Shalom. He wants to ask you to do things that will cause fear, which is why He wants to reveal Himself to you as The Lord Is Peace. Lean into His peace and don’t withdraw from what He asks you to do and settle for a false sense of peace. This is what Eternal Life is all about! If you would like to learn more about Eternal Life, click here to read more articles I have written in my series on Eternal Life.