God is Jehovah Shalom – The Lord is Peace

“Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and named it The LORD is Peace. To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.” (Judges 6:24)

We are so easily stressed by the events of everyday life in this world. There are the problems that come upon the family. The outside influences that go against the grain of how you believe that one should live. The peer pressure that the children face each day from their fellow mates. The pressures that are felt in the work place, the market place, and the media that bombards us all each day. Try as I must to understand why people think and believe as they do I fail to grasp the meaning of it. I cannot understand the course they have chosen to follow when I know that it will lead them to their destruction. It may seem to be working for them in the present but I know what the future holds and the rude awakening of truth they someday will face. I respect their choices and let them live against all warning but when they do not respect my choices and place pressure upon me to change and join the crowd I cannot abide. All I can do is walk on in the path I believe to be right and pray that their hearts will open to the eternal truths of God’s Word.

I raised my children to not lean to the left or the right but to stand firm on the Rock of Ages and then become stressed when I see them stray from the sure path. I challenge their thinking and receive a multitude of rationalization to justify their action. I so often remember my father telling me, “This is the wrong direction for you to go and here is what I have learned.” But I was at the age when I was so much smarter than he and went my own way. Then when I took my lumps and realized he was right I came back in line to his teaching, which was always grounded on God’s Word.

I pray and hope that my loved ones and those whom I council will make that repentance to the fortress that keeps us secure in the providence of God. But until they do I can only guide them from one pitfall to the other, as they learn from their mistakes. Yet it stresses me until they, like I, have arrived to the truth in the wisdom of the Lord. God is love and His commandments are born of that love and if people would follow His teaching they would find the peace that passes all understanding. The object of His word is that we can overcome the curse that has befallen this world and that we can have a secure place in the world to come. “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

In this world there is trial and tribulations, it is the nature of the world, it is the result of the sin that entered into the world at the fall of man. No one will get through this world without the distress that comes from this fact. The question is not how to avoid it but how to overcome it? The question is not how to avoid stress but how to have peace in an un-peaceful world? Some people look for solutions to their distress in the wrong places. They seek all the pleasures of the world that they can find. They seek security in amassing wealth. They seek finding comfort in tranquilizers or alcohol and drugs. In the end of it these paths lead to a greater distress than the one they are trying to escape. There is but one place to find peace, there is but one way to have peace, and that is to have peace with God. “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” (Proverbs 16:7)

In the measure of eternity the trials of this world are but a short while and then we will have passed through. These troubles come into our life and we should use them to increase our strength, as the bird takes flight into the wind. We can find joy in taking these trials and using them for the glory of our God. “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)

We are a part of His Church, the Church of Jesus Christ, and have a worldwide family bonded together in the love of Christ. We need never be alone because He is with us and is closer that the air we breathe. We are not without resource as we have likeminded Christian brothers and sisters in which we share the bond of Christian love. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.” (Romans 12:10-13)

We have this lesson in the book of Judges of a time of stress in Israel. Israel had not obeyed the Lord and had done what was evil in His sight. As a result of their disobedience the Lord allowed the Midianites to come against them in their land. For seven years the Israelites were plagued by the Midianites. For this reason they were distressed and brought low. “So Israel was brought very low because of Midian, and the sons of Israel cried to the LORD.” (Judges 6:6) How often it is that when life seems to be well that we forget our dependence upon the Lord. We forget that He is our provider and we should give Him praise and be obedient to His Word. But our God loves us as a parent and will allow the evil in this world to come upon us so that we will return unto Him in service.

When we find ourselves in times of great trouble, when we have exhausted all of our own efforts, it is then that we take our trouble to the Lord where we should have gone first and always had been. We return unto the Lord knowing that He is our Rock and refuge in times of trouble.

When the hour is dark, when the situation is desperate, when we are humbled and brought very low, we finally begin looking and longing for God’s peace. Trembling, we grope through the darkness, longing to know that all will be well. Those who love God, and express our faith in His promises, know that if we follow Him all the troubles us in life will work for our good. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

It was then that the angel of the Lord appeared to an unlikely soul who would lead the people out of their difficulty. It was not that Gideon was a mighty warrior or a man of great words, it was that he was a man of faith and would trust and obey the Lord. “The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior.” Then 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 abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” The LORD looked at him and said, “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?” (Judges 6:12-14)

The angel of the Lord found Gideon hiding in a winepress thrashing his wheat. This was unusual as wheat was thrashed in the open where the wind could carry away the chaff. But because the Mediante’s were constantly raiding the farms Gideon was thrashing his wheat in the bottom of a winepress. The fact that Gideon was thrashing in the winepress shows the desperation of the Israelite people.

Gideon did as he was told by the angel of the Lord and the Israelites were delivered from the Midianites. You may have never faced a stressful situation as the Israelite people of that day but you have had to deal with stressful situations in your life. People have a tendency to seek relief from many places when the only place is in the care of a Heavenly Father who will fight your battles for you for His glory. “The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent.” (Exodus 14:14) We as Christians need to learn that in times of good and bad we need to seek the Lord first and always. He is always there with us as He has promised, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) It is with the Lord that we will find our peace, comfort, and security. We must first call upon Jehovah-Shalom and He will meet us wherever we are.

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, March 9, 2016

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