08/19/W – The Lord is Peace

Judges 6:1-32; Luke 22:39-53; Psalms 95:1-11; Proverbs 21:21-22

OT: “The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord handed them over to Midian seven years, and they oppressed Israel. Because of Midian, the Israelites made hiding places for themselves in the mountains, caves, and strongholds… So Israel became poverty-stricken because of Midian, and the Israelites cried out to the Lord. When the Israelites cried out to him because of Midian, the Lord sent a prophet to them. He said to them, “This is what the Lord God of Israel says: ‘I brought you out of Egypt and out of the place of slavery… I said to you: I am the Lord your God. Do not fear the gods of the Amorites whose land you live in. But you did not obey me.’” The angel of the Lord came, and he sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash, the Abiezrite. His son Gideon was threshing wheat in the winepress in order to hide it from the Midianites. Then the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “The Lord is with you, valiant warrior.” Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened? And where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about? They said, ‘Hasn’t the Lord brought us out of Egypt? ’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to Midian.” The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and deliver Israel from the grasp of Midian. I am sending you!” He said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I deliver Israel? Look, my family is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s family.” “But I will be with you,” the Lord said to him. “You will strike Midian down as if it were one man.” Then he said to him, “If I have found favor with you, give me a sign that you are speaking with me… When Gideon realized that he was the angel of the Lord, he said, “Oh no, Lord God! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!” But the Lord said to him, “Peace to you. Don’t be afraid, for you will not die.” So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace. It is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites today.” (‭‭Judges‬ ‭6:1-2, 6-8, 10-17, 22-24‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

In its on-again-off-again relationship with the God of Creation, Israel had once again walked away from the Lord and was living according to their own whims and desires. Because they had walked away from the Lord, they were no longer under His covering and blessing and were exposed year after year to the marauding Midianites. When they cried out to the Lord asking why things were so bad, He sent them a prophet to tell them the truth: Despite all that He had done for them, they were unfaithful to Him and were serving the gods of the land. Meanwhile, the Angel of the Lord (a pre-incarnate Christ) appeared to a cowardly, no-name farmer who was trying to eek out a living while hiding from the enemy. “The Lord is with you, valiant warrior,” said the Angel of the Lord – which is quite comical if you think about it. Gideon was anything but a valiant warrior – but God doesn’t look at us according to how we are currently. Instead He sees what we can become if we surrender our lives to Him and allow Him to work through us. He sees our destiny in Him and gives us a name to live up to. Gideon’s response was far from being faith-filled, and was full of doubts and questions – but the Lord was patient with Him. The Lord’s parting words to Gideon were, “Peace to you. Don’t be afraid. You won’t die.” Then in a brief moment of faith, Gideon built an altar of remembrance and called it the Lord is Peace. Jehovah Shalom in Hebrew. Shalom is a pretty comprehensive word. It means far more than peace. Wrapped up in that word are the concepts of completeness, safety, health, prosperity, contentment, and wellbeing. In that moment… probably for the first time in his life… Gideon was at peace, for the Lord had blessed Him with peace – and he realized that the only way peace would come is through the Lord – for the Lord IS peace… He is safety… He is health… He is wholeness… He is contentment and wellbeing. If we desire peace, it can only be found in the Lord.

Psalms: “Come, let’s shout joyfully to the Lord, shout triumphantly to the rock of our salvation! Let’s enter his presence with thanksgiving; let’s shout triumphantly to him in song. For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods. The depths of the earth are in his hand, and the mountain peaks are his. The sea is his; he made it. His hands formed the dry land. Come, let’s worship and bow down; let’s kneel before the Lord our Maker. For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, the sheep under his care. Today, if you hear his voice: Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as on that day at Massah in the wilderness where your ancestors tested me; they tried me, though they had seen what I did. For forty years I was disgusted with that generation; I said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray; they do not know my ways.” So I swore in my anger, “They will not enter my rest.”” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭95:1-11‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

This psalm contains a call and a warning. I’ll start with the warning first. Don’t harden your hearts through a lack of faith and disobedience. Don’t allow your heart to go astray from the word, will, and ways of the Lord. If you harden your heart and determine to live your life according to your own desires and pursuits, you will not find rest and you will not be at peace. Instead of hardening your hearts, do this (and here is the call): Worship, bow down, and kneel before the Lord our Maker and our God. Enter His presence with thanksgiving. Shout joyful shouts of praise to Him. All the earth… all natural resources… all nations… everything is His. He is the Creator and sustainer of all life. Instead of trying to make our own way in life, let’s become His people and the sheep under His care. Then, in His care, we will find peace and rest for our souls.

Proverbs: “The one who pursues righteousness and faithful love will find life, righteousness, and honor.” (‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭21:21‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

Instead of pursuing your own carnal desires and ambitions, pursue righteousness and the mercy/faithful love of the Lord. If you do that, you will find abundant and vibrant life, justice and righteousness, and the glory and honor of the Lord.

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