Peace is not just the absence of war. In actuality, you can experience peace even in the midst of your circumstances. There are two ways that we need peace. First, with God—a personal relationship that assures us of His favor. And second, peace in the midst of raging elements, like the way in which Noah was safe in the Ark.
It’s good to be with you again as I continue to share with you on one of the richest and deepest themes of Scripture: God Revealed in His Names, what we can know about God from the various names given him in Scripture. I’ve been dealing with the seven specific names or titles that are directly linked in Scripture with the name Jehovah or Yahweh, names representing seven aspects of God’s covenant keeping faithfulness in his dealings with men.
In my last three talks I’ve dealt with the first three of these covenant names. The first, the one who provides. The second, the one who heals. The third, the one who is our banner.
Let me pause for a moment and suggest that if you’re able to follow this series through this week you try to commit to memory these seven names in their correct order.
All right. Today I’m going to speak about the fourth of these covenant names of Jehovah, the one who is our peace. This name is revealed in Judges 6. It’s an incident in the life of Gideon. At this time a Gentile nation from the east, the Midianites, had overrun the land of the Israelites and were grievously oppressing them and the Israelites were living almost like refugees in their own land. And a young man named Gideon was surreptitiously threshing wheat in a wine press to hide it from the Midianites because they would have taken the wheat from him if they’d seen him. And, suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and told him that he was to become the Lord’s instrument to defeat the Midianites and to deliver the Israelites. Gideon found this very hard to believe. He thought he was very inadequate for the task but the angel of the Lord told him that he would be a mighty man of valor and gave him the strategy by which he was to conquer the Midianites. Then at the end Gideon wanted to know more of this angel who had appeared to him and wanted to offer him a sacrifice. So, this is the part of the story that I’m going to read to you now in Judges 6, beginning in verse 17.
“So Gideon said to the angel of the Lord, If now I have found favor in thy sight, then show me a sign that it is thou who speakest with me. Please do not depart from here, until I come back to thee, and bring out my offering and lay it before thee. And the angel said, I will remain until you return. Then Gideon went in and prepared a kid and unleavened bread from an ephah of flour; he put the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot, and brought them out to him under the oak, and presented them. And the angel of God said to him, Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth. And Gideon did so. Then the angel of the Lord put out the end of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. Then the angel of the Lord vanished from his sight. When Gideon saw that he was the angel of the Lord he said, Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face. And the Lord said to him, Peace to you, do not fear; and you shall not die.”
It was generally believed at that time that if you were to see an angel or the Lord you would probably not survive the sight. So, Gideon felt that his last moment had come. But the Lord said to him, “Don’t fear, you’re not going to die.” So, in gratitude for this and as a response to the revelation that he had received, Gideon built an altar. This is what it says in verse 24:
“Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and named it The Lord is Peace.”
Most of us are familiar with the Hebrew word for peace, it’s shalom. It’s the contemporary greeting in modern Hebrew. The Lord is shalom, peace. That was the name of the altar. To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
So we see that here we have revealed this fourth aspect of the Lord’s covenant keeping faithfulness to his people, that he is his people’s peace. Peace is in a person and that person is the Lord himself.
There are two applications to the revelation of peace. There are two ways that we need peace. First of all, we need peace with God, a personal relationship with the Lord that assures us his favor, his blessing and always in the Scripture that peace with God is assured only through a sacrifice. Apart from a sacrifice and a life laid down and blood that is shed, that can be no peace with God.
Secondly, we need peace not just as our relationship with God but in the midst of all that we find coming against us, even in the midst of war and tumult God offers his people peace. Peace is not just the absence of war. Actually, it’s possible to have peace in the midst of war, conflict, pressure and turmoil because peace is based on that relationship with God. It’s not based on circumstances. If you look at your circumstances many times you find that there’s no cause for peace. But, if you’ve learned the truth that’s in this covenant name of Jehovah that he is our peace, then you can have that peace in the midst of any circumstances that may come against you.
So, let’s look at it from two points of view. First of all, our relationship with the Lord and then the outworking of that relationship in our lives in the midst of our circumstances. Let’s look, first of all, at what the scripture has to say about peace between God and man. Of course, there’s much about that in the New Testament. I’ll read only two passages. First of all, Romans 3:1:
“Therefore having been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Notice “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jesus is our peace. And in Colossians 1:19-20:
“For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in him [that’s Jesus], and through him to reconcile all things to himself, having made peace through the blood of his cross; through him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.”
So we see there the second aspect of that truth that peace is achieved only by sacrifice. The sacrifice that finally achieved eternal peace between God and man was the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus on the cross and the blood that he shed. But through him we do have peace with God.
Contrast what Isaiah says in Isaiah 57:20-21:
“For the wicked are like the tossing sea, for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up refuse and mud. There is no peace, says my God, for the wicked.”
So there’s a very definite dividing line, those who are reconciled with God through Jesus Christ receive his righteousness, know what it is to have peace with God. But for the wicked God says, “There is no peace...” Sin never leaves us in peace. Even though there may be nothing in our outward circumstances there’s something in our hearts that never can rest while sin rules our hearts.
Now we look at the second outworking of peace, the peace that we can have in the midst of war and tumult. And oh how important it is to have that kind of peace in today’s world! In John 14:27 Jesus says to His disciples:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
I’ve always been glad for those words, “not as the world gives.” Because, the world’s most strenuous attempts at peace are so fragile, so impermanent, so unsatisfying and, if we depended on the world for our peace we, indeed, would have very little. But Jesus says, “I give you a peace that’s not the same as the world gives and you don’t need to be fearful, you don’t need to be troubled.”
And then again he says in John 16:33:
“These things I have spoken to you that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
That’s the altar, the Lord our peace. Jesus is our peace. He has overcome the world Therefore, the world can never overcome us because he is in us and with us. Also, we have peace with those who have been reconciled to Jesus, no matter who they are, from what race, from what background. Being reconciled to God through Jesus brings us into a relationship of peace with other believers. Hear what Paul says in Ephesians 2:13-17, writing to other believers from Gentile background.
“But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who have made both groups into one, and broken down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in his flesh the enmity, which is the law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in himself he might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace...”
Notice the emphasis on peace all through this.
“...and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And he came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near...”
The message of the cross is peace. Peace with God, peace in the middle of turmoil and peace with our fellow believers.
I’m always reminded of the ark of Noah which became God’s means of salvation to Noah and his family. Think of Noah and his family in the ark. There they were in the midst of the raging elements; everything around them had gone under the water. But in that ark they had peace and security. The very thing that brought judgment and destruction to the world brought peace and salvation to them. And then think about all those animals in the ark, animals of such different types, animals that were by nature enemies of one another. But in the ark there was peace. That tells me that when those animals entered into the ark they underwent a change of nature and all that, to me, is a beautiful picture of Christ. When we enter into Christ we enter in to peace. Even though there may be other of different races that we would have hated, when we’re in that ark we know peace with them and in the midst of them, raging turmoil of this life, we know peace in our heart because we have peace with God through the Lord who is our peace.
Well, our time is up for today. I’ll be back with you again tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll continue with these covenant names of Jehovah. I’ll be speaking about the fifth covenant name, the one who is our shepherd.