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.
When the angel of Jehovah appeared to Gideon (Judges 6), he was crouching in the dark confines of a winepress, threshing wheat in secret to protect it — and himself — from the Midianite invaders. This was not a new way to thresh grain, it was cowardice. Listen to how the angel of the Lord addresses Gideon.
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?...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)
At first Gideon questioned this angel of the Lord and complained about his circumstances. How could God really love Israel? How could God really care about Gideon when they were all in such distress, danger, and poverty?
Gideon did not yet know to Whom he was speaking. This angel spoke as Jehovah Himself, and when Gideon finally realized he'd been discussing politics and religion with God — face to face — he was rightfully terrified:
"Alas, O Lord GOD! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face." The LORD said to him, "Peace to you, do not fear; you shall not die." Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and named it The LORD is Peace. (Judges 6:22-24)
When do we first encounter the name Jehovah-shalom? Where does God first reveal His name as The Lord is Peace?
In the presence of a man who is desperately afraid...a man who is literally walled in by circumstances...a man who is worried and discouraged and has no peace in his heart.
When Gideon's eyes were at last opened to see that the Lord had taken a personal interest in his situation, that God was present with him in the midst of all this darkness and fear, he worshiped the Lord by a new name — Jehovah-shalom, The Lord is Peace.
In the days to come, the Lord was going to put Gideon in some very unpeaceful situations. In some ways Gideon would face more stresses and challenges than he had ever faced in his young life. Learning this business of being a "valiant warrior" wasn't going to be easy.
But no matter what happened from this point on, Gideon could look back to an altar. He could look back at a moment in time when Jehovah-shalom said to him, "Peace to you, do not fear."
Beloved, do you ever feel as if you're trying to thresh wheat in a winepress? Surrounded by an enemy who presses in on you and tries to steal every grain of peace and gladness out of your life? Do you ever begin to wonder where your God is in the midst of your hurt and worry?
How rightly Gideon named that altar, The Lord is Peace. True peace cannot be found in any other place than in a right relationship with God.
We cannot base our peace in the circumstances and situations of life. We must not let our peace be centered in another man or woman — no matter how dear they are to us.
We dare not allow peace to depend on sunny skies, a full stomach, a balanced checkbook, a healthy body, or a harmonious home. I believe the Lord sometimes allows situations that strip away the shallow, surface peace on which we have come to depend. He allows us to be distressed and in turmoil and unable to find the answers we need from our husbands, wives, friends, or counselors.
In those times, as with Gideon, we need to discover that God is Jehovah-shalom.
As Paul wrote to the Ephesians, "He Himself is our peace" (Ephesians 2:14). Once you really understand this and worship God as Jehovah-shalom, you can have peace no matter what storms sweep over the horizon.
Jesus told His disciples this very thing in the last few hours before the Cross. These men were in terrible turmoil, and things were about to get much worse. Here is Jesus' promise:
"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Do not let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." (John 14:27)
"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)
Where do you run when you need peace? Is your first response to go looking for a person or to pick up the phone?
Before you do, Beloved, run into the shelter of His name. When you find Him, you will find peace because...He is Peace.