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Names of God #9

Jehovah-Shalom


THE NAMES OF GOD

by Nathan Stone (1944)


JEHOVAH-SHALOM

     THE NAME Jehovah-shalom is found in Judges 6:24: "Then
Gideon built an altar unto Jehovah and called it Jehovah-shalom,"
which means Jehovah is peace.

THE OCCASION of ITS REVELATION

     It was more than 200 years since Jehovah had revealed
Himself to His people as Jehovah-M'Kaddesh, Jehovah who
sanctifies. Joshua had long since died. The land had been
conquered and divided among the tribes, but nothing approaching
national unity had been achieved in all this time. There was no
central government or worship. It was a period in which "every
man did that which was right in his own eyes."
     For after Joshua died Israel began to forget Jehovah their
God, and to turn to the gods of the peoples round about. A new
generation arose which forgot Him who, as Jehovah-jireh, had
provided redemption from bondage in Egypt through the blood of
the Paschal Lamb, and with great and mighty wonders had led them
out. They were no longer mindful of Him who, as Jehovah-rophe,
had healed their sicknesses and sorrows, and would have prevented
such misfortunes from coming upon them. They suffered defeats
because they turned their backs upon Him who, as Jehovah-nissi,
had been their banner of victory in trial and struggle. They
would not sanctify themselves to Him who, as Jehovah-M'Kaddesh,
had sanctified them to His cause, but they corrupted themselves
with idolatries and their abominations. Thus they lost their
purity, peace, prosperity, and liberty.
     Israel could not appear to realize its destiny as a special
and separate people, set apart to Jehovah's service and purpose
in the midst of the nations. They seemed unable to rise above a
material conception and plane of living. To live, to multiply, to
inherit the land-this seemed to them a sufficient fulfillment of
their function, an error common to this very day. It is not
difficult to understand, then, the attraction of the grossly
materialistic gods of the heathen for them.
     Without a sense of mission there was no common purpose of
uniting as one people. Without spiritual vision they fell an easy
prey to the appetites and lusts of the flesh. Every apostasy
brought punishment and misery-a chastening of Jehovah to awaken
them to their spiritual calling. Repentance brought deliverance
through the leadership of judges raised up of God. Every
succeeding apostasy called for even severer chastening by means
of the surrounding nations--chastenings which not only deprived
them of the fruits of their land and labors, but brought them
into slavery. Without obedience to Jehovah they had no right to
the land. His people must be more than mere tillers of the soil
and dressers of vineyards (in any age); otherwise they should not
enjoy the land. They tilled and planted, but they did not reap.
As Jehovah had sown spiritual seed in their hearts, and they had
allowed their idolatrous neighbors to trample and tear it out by
the imitation of their corrupt idolatries, so now these same
heathen embittered and endangered Israel's physical existence.
The enemy they should have completely subdued, subdued them,
sweeping over the land, reaping what Israel had sown, and driving
them into the caves and rocks. Israel was compelled to make
underground caves with air holes, like the catacombs, to which
they could flee at the enemy's approach, with watchmen constantly
posted to warn them of it.
     It was a period of alternating prosperity and adversity, of
sinning and repenting, of slavery and deliverance. They would
grievously sin and be brought very low. In their extremity they
would remember Jehovah their God and cry out to Him for
deliverance. Jehovah would hear them and raise up a deliverer for
them. Then after serving Jehovah, Israel would fall away again,
and the whole process would be repeated.
     Gideon was a young man in a time of severe oppression by the
Midianites. Israel did evil in the sight. of the Lord, and He
delivered them into the hand of the Midianites seven years. They
were compelled to live in dens in the mountains. Midian and her
allies, including the Amalekites, would come with great hordes of
men and of cattle and eat up the land, destroying what they could
not devour and leaving neither sustenance, nor implements, nor
animals. Gideon was threshing a little wheat, saved somehow from
the all-devouring hordes of the enemy, and in the secrecy of the
wine-press, for fear of them, when the angel of Jehovah appeared
to him with a promise of deliverance in response to Israel's cry.
Gideon, after some doubt, hesitation, and reassurance, accepted
the promise and the challenge. In faith he reared an altar which
he called Jehovah-shalom, in confident anticipation of victory
and peace.

MEANING AND USE OF THE WORD "SHALOM"

     This word is one of the most significant in the Old
Testament, its various shades of meaning harmonizing with the
doctrine of the atonement as the basis of peace with God,
It is translated sometimes as "whole," as in Deuteronomy 27:6:
"Thou shalt build the altar of Jehovah thy God of whole stones."
As "finished" the same word is used in Daniel 5:26: "God bath
numbered thy kingdom, and finished it." So Solomon -'finished"
the temple (I Kings 9:25). As "full" it is used in Genesis 15:16:
"The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full." It is used in the
sense of making good a loss and is translated as "make good" in
Exodus 21:34; 22:5,6, and in other similar passages in the laws
of Israel relating to losses inflicted by carelessness. Thus also
it is translated as restitution or repay. In the physical and
material sense of wholeness or completeness it is translated as
"welfare" and "well." In Genesis 43:27 Joseph inquires concerning
the welfare of his brothers, and using the same word again in the
same verse asks if their father is well. So Joab in 11 Samuel
20:9, before dealing the treacherous and fatal blow, asks Amasa,
"Art thou in health, my brother?" It is quite frequently used as
"render" and "pay" or "perform" in the sense of fulfilling or
completing obligations. This is particularly true of vows
rendered to the Lord. "Pay thy vows unto the most High," says the
psalmist (50:14). "When thou shalt vow a vow unto Jehovah thy
God, thou shalt not be slack to pay it: for Jehovah thy God will
surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee" (Dent.
23:21). On the contrary, "the wicked borroweth and payeth not
again" (Ps. 37:21). It is translated "requite" and "recompense"
in a few instances. As the One who deals justly and makes right,
Jehovah says in Deuteronomy 32:35, "To me belongeth vengeance,
and recompense [shillem]." About twenty times it is translated
"perfect." "Give unto Solomon my son a perfect heart," David asks
of Jehovah (I Chron. 29:19). And Solomon echoes this in his own
exhortation to the people when the house of the Lord was
perfected (shalem) : "Let your heart therefore be perfect
[shalem] with Jehovah our God" (I Kings 8:61) ; that is, let it
be in wholeness or in harmony with God. And this is the basic
idea underlying all the various translations of this one Hebrew
word-a harmony of relationship or a reconciliation based upon the
completion of a transaction, the payment of a debt, the giving of
satisfaction. Therefore this word is most often and most
appropriately translated "peace" some 170 times. It expressed the
deepest desire and need of the human heart. It represented the
greatest measure of contentment and satisfaction in life. Of King
Solomon it was said that in his reign Judah and Israel dwelt
safely (that is, in confidence and peace), every man under his
vine and under his fig tree (I Kings 4:25). It was to be
characteristic of the reign of Messiah, the righteous Branch of
David, of whom Solomon was typical, that Judah and Israel should
dwell safelyin peace (Jer. 23:6). One of the great names of
Messiah was to be "Prince of Peace" (Isa. 9:6), and Jerusalem,
Messiah's city, means city of peace or possession of peace. Peace
was the most common form of greeting as it is to this day in
Bible and even other lands.
     Finally, it is also, obviously, the word used in "peace
offering." The peace offering was one of the blood sacrifices of
which the shed blood was the atonement on which reconciliation
and peace were based (Lev. 3:7:11-21). In the peace offering this
restoration of fellowship between God and man, broken by sin, but
now atoned for by the shed blood, was indicated by the fact that
both God and man, priest and people, partook of the offering.
The various shades of meaning contained in this word all indicate
that every blessing, temporal and spiritual, is included in
restoring man to that peace with God which was lost by the fall.

JEHOVAH, THE SOURCE OF PEACE

     Jehovah in His own person is perfect peace. This lie must be
if He is to be the source of peace to mankind. He is grieved at
the sin and corruption of the world, which at creation He had
pronounced so good. He is stirred to wrath at the evil of the
wicked. He is not indifferent to the sorrows and needs of the
race as well as of His people. "I have surely seen the affliction
of my people ... I know their sorrow" (Exod. 3:7); and Isaiah
tells us, "In all their affliction he was afflicted" (63:9). In
the Book of Judges, when, after Gideon's time, Israel had again
fallen into sin, we read in 10:16 that "his soul was grieved for
the misery of Israel." Yet none of these things disturb His peace
in the sense that they can destroy or unsteady the perfect
balance of His divine nature. He could never give to others a
peace that passes understanding if He were not perfect, unfailing
peace Himself. This is our hope and assurance.
     But He is the source of peace in His attitude toward us.
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith Jehovah,
thoughts of peace, and not of evil" (Jer. 29:11). And through
Isaiah He speaks to His people: "O that. thou hadst hearkened to
my commandments! Then had thy peace been like a river, and thy
righteousness as the waves of the sea" (48:18). Nothing is more
clearly indicated in the Scriptures than that His desires toward
all mankind and especially toward His people are desires of good.
He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked but only that he
turn from his evil way and live (Ezek. 33:11). To this end the
Scriptures are full of the promise and purpose of peace. "If ye
walk in my statutes ... and do them ... I will give peace in the
land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and
I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword
go through your land" (Lev. 26:3,6). "The Lord will bless his
people with peace," says David (Ps. 29:11). "Lord, thou wilt
ordain peace for us," says Isaiah (26: 12). Speaking of a future
glory of Jerusalem Isaiah continues: "For thus saith Jehovah,
Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river" (66:12). And it
forms the apex of the great high priestly benediction of the
triune Jehovah, with which Aaron and his sons were commanded to
bless the children of Israel: "Jehovah lift up his countenance
upon thee, and give thee peace" (Num. 6:24-26).

THE PRESENCE OF JEHOVAH IS PEACE

     It was Jehovah Himself who appeared to Gideon, in contrast
to the prophet who had first been sent to the people. For the
angel oś Jehovah of Judges 6:22 is addressed by Gideon in the
same verse as "O Jehovah Elohim," and in the next verse He is
spoken of as the Jehovah who spoke peace to Gideon. This was the
most striking manifestation of Jehovah yet made in all this
chaotic, restless, struggling period of Israel's history. Of
Othniel it was stated that the spirit of Jehovah came upon him
(3:10). The Lord raised up Ehud, another judge (3:15). Barak is
called through the prophetess and judge Deborah (4:6). But Gideon
appears to begin a second period in the history of the Judges. A
new and more striking manifestation of Jehovah appears necessary
if the people are to be arrested in the evil course which seemed
to be hastening toward a final crisis. Thus Jehovah appears
Himself to Gideon, and the remaining and larger portion of the
book, though covering little more than a century, exhibits God's
dealings with His people in much fuller detail than the first few
chapters which cover about two centuries.
     As in the Book of Leviticus Jehovah was most appropriately
revealed as Jehovah-M'Kaddesh, Jehovah who sanctifies, so the
revelation Jehovah-shalom, Jehovah is peace, appears most
appropriately and opportunely in the Book of Judges. After the
conquest of Canaan, Israel should have entered into its rest,
typical of that rest spoken of in Hebrews 4. It was of this rest
in Canaan that Moses spoke in the wilderness when he said: "Ye
are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which
Jehovah your God giveth you" (Deut. 12:9). And the following
verse speaks of that rest as "over Jordan." But because of
disobedience Israel failed to gain even that typical rest.
Nothing is more characteristic of the Book of Judges than its
chaotic restlessness. Over and over again after deliverance from
bondage and misery, we read that the land had rest for awhile.
Insecurity and fear had never been greater than in Gideon's day.
Thus it is that the angel of Jehovah comes to Gideon saying,
"Jehovah is with thee" (Judges 6:12). Israel knew no peace
because it no longer knew God's presence. This is the answer to
Gideon's question: "O my Lord, If Jehovah be with us, why then is
all this befallen us?" Jehovah was not with Israel. He is with
those who are with Him. The word of the prophet to a king of
Judah was: "Jehovah is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye
seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will
forsake you" (2 Chron. 15:2). There is never peace to the wicked.
"The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose
waters cast up dirt and mire. There is no peace, saith my God, to
the wicked" (Isa. 57:20,21). The root idea of the word translated
"wicked" is restlessness. They do not know the way of peace,
continues the prophet, and whoever walks in their way doesn't
know peace (59:7,8).
     When Gideon realized the character of the visitor, he was
afraid (Judges 6:22). Perhaps his doubt and hesitancy to believe
the promise of deliverance made him fear. But evidently it was
the consciousness of human sinfulness in the presence of the
Divine. Man knows that all is not well, or whole, or peace
between God and himself. Man needs to be reconciled to God, but
reconciliation can be effected only by paying the price of sin.
But the price of sin is death. How then can God save the sinner
in that case? In the Old Testament, as we know, it was by the
temporary, typical expedient of an animal substitute whose shed
blood paid the price, restored harmony, and brought peace.
     
     At the angel's command Gideon had laid such an offering on
an altar of rock nearby. As a token of acceptance the angel had
caused fire to come up out of the rock to consume the offering.
On the basis of this the angel now says to Gideon: "Peace be unto
thee;fear not: thou shalt not die" (Judges 6:23). Then Gideon
built the altar which he called Jehovah-shalom. The experience in
the presence of the angel of Jehovah had no doubt taught him also
that Jehovah who sanctifies His people and demands a
sanctification and purity of life on their part will enable them
to fulfill His demands upon them if they will yield' themselves
to Him. Man, conscious of his sinfulness, naturally shrinks from
God's holiness and realizes the impossibility of being in himself
what a holy God requires, but God reassures us and speaks peace
to our hearts by saying: "I am Jehovah who doth sanctify you and
enables you to live in my presence and fellowship." This is
assured in the title Jehovah-shalom. There is perfect peace to
those who know Jehovah as Jehovah-M'Kaddesh, Jehovah who
sanctifies, and are sanctified, separated, holy to Him. How
beautifully the prophet Isaiah expresses this! "Open ye the
gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may
enter in. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is
stayed on thee ..." (Isa, 26:2-4).
     Gideon now believed that even though his family was small,
with Jehovah one could chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand
to flight. The altar he erected was not for sacrifice, but a
memorial and witness testifying to the fact that Jehovah desires
certainly not the destruction but the peace of those He has
already saved and set apart for His service; that in this service
of His He bestows every requirement and meets every need-of
sanctification, steadfastness, wisdom, courage, boldness, and
victory.

JEHOVAH-JESUS, THE FULLNESS AND PERFECTION OF
OUR PEACE

     Gideon's name for Jehovah finds its fullest expression and
realization in the New Testament. It is frequently applied to
God, who is called "the God of peace" (Rom. 15:33; 2 Cor. 13:11;
Heb. 13:20, etc.). It is also applied indirectly to the Lord
Jesus Christ.
     He also in His own person is perfect peace. He speaks of "my
peace" as when in John 14:27 He says to His disciples: "My peace
I give unto you," and, "These things have I spoken unto you, that
in me ye might have peace" (John 16:33). As with Jehovah in the
Old Testament, He also was touched with the feeling of our
infirmities. He Himself suffered being tempted. As was predicted
of Him, He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows (Isa. 53:4).
Nevertheless He carried within Himself that perfect repose of
spirit which belongs to God alone, and which alone could say to
others: "Come unto me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest ... rest unto your souls" (Matt. 11:28,
29). It was an evidence of His deity.
     He is the Prince of Peace promised in the Old Testament
(Isa. 9:6). Before His birth Zacharias announced Him as the
day-spring from on high who had visited His people "to guide our
feet into the way of peace" (Luke 1:78, 79), while at His birth a
multitude of the heavenly host sang "peace on earth" (Luke 2:14).
He also preached and promised peace. How often He said to those
He healed and comforted, "Go in peace!" How He wept over
Jerusalem which would reject Him, saying: "If thou hadst known
... the things which belong to thy peace" (Luke 19:42). His first
words to His disciples after rising from the dead are, "Peace be
unto you." The burden of Peter's first message to the Gentiles
was the preaching of "peace by Jesus Christ" (Acts 10:36), who,
says Paul, "came and preached peace to you which were afar off,
and to them that were nigh" (Eph. 2:17).
     He accomplished that peace for us. "Being justified by
faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ"
(Rom. 5:1). It is through His death that we were reconciled to
God (Rom. 5:10), for "God was in Christ, reconciling the world
unto himself" (2 Cor. 5:19); "having made peace," continues Paul,
"through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things
unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or
things in heaven" (Col. 1:20). By His own precious blood He broke
down the barrier of sin that stood between us and God and opened
for us that new and living way into the holiest of all. And we
who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ may enter there with
boldness in the full assurance of a perfect reconciliation and
peace.
     But the measure of our sanctification to Him and our
continued trust in Him is the measure of our peace in Him. "The
peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your
hearts and minds through Christ Jesus," says the apostle (Phil.
4:7), but he suggests in verse 6 that it depends on the measure
of our trust, and in verse 9 on the measure of our obedience. In
Colossians 3:15 he tells us we are to let the peace of God rule
in our hearts. For to be spiritually minded is peace (Rom. 8:6),
and many believers are more or less carnally minded, which is to
lack that peace. Peace is one of the fruits of that spirit which
is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of sanctification. And Paul prays
that the God of peace Himself sanctify us wholly that (in His
peace) our spirit, soul, and body be preserved entire, without
blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (I Thess. 5:23,
A.S.V.).
     Through Him we have peace with God. He is to us the peace of
God. There is no hope of peace apart from Him either for
individuals or nations. First righteousness, then peace. To this
both Old and New Testaments bear witness. "The work of
righteousness shall be peace;" says Isaiah, "and the effect of
righteousness quietness and assurance forever" (32:17). But the
only righteousness acceptable to God is the righteousness of the
Lord Jesus Christ and those upon whom He bestows it through their
faith in Him. Those who are not thus righteous do not know the
way of peace (Rom. 3:11,17). That mysterious type of Christ,
Melchizedek, is first king of righteousness, and after that king
of Salem or peace (Heb. 7:2). It is glory to God in the highest,
and then and then only, peace on earth, good will among men (Luke
2:14). Peace is everywhere spoken of in the New Testament as from
God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. It may be had only
by reconciliation with God through the blood of Christ who is the
Jehovahshalom of the New Testament.

                          ......................


To be continued


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