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Peace within the Promise

God is...  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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With God's peace we can rise above and push through any circumstance.

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Jehovah-Shalom

Today, we’ll read from .
Judges 6:11–24 ESV
11 Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. 12 And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” 13 And Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” 14 And the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” 15 And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” 16 And the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” 17 And he said to him, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is you who speak with me. 18 Please do not depart from here until I come to you and bring out my present and set it before you.” And he said, “I will stay till you return.” 19 So Gideon went into his house and prepared a young goat and unleavened cakes from an ephah of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and the broth he put in a pot, and brought them to him under the terebinth and presented them. 20 And the angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and put them on this rock, and pour the broth over them.” And he did so. 21 Then the angel of the Lord reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes. And fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes. And the angel of the Lord vanished from his sight. 22 Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the Lord. And Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face.” 23 But the Lord said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” 24 Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and called it, The Lord Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites.
Pray
For those who haven’t been with us the past few weeks, we’re going through a series entitled, “God is...” Our aim is to explore just who this One that we’re called to place our faith, trust, and obedience in is, so as to be strengthened in those areas because we now know just who we’re placing them in.
The word that’s used so often, sang in a litany of songs, and recited in countless poems, seems ever so elusive.
I don’t know about you, but if you say “give me your wallet… I’ll give it back with more. TRUST ME,” and I don’t know you… Man, please! Or a person tells you that you can trust them with your heart, and you know nothing about that person’s character… You don’t even know their name… Child please!
This is why it’s so important to know Who you’re putting your faith into. Thank God, He saw fit to tell us who He was, and reveal His character to us all throughout the Bible.
We already learned that we can trust Him with the things that are most dear to us through the story of Abraham being told to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Abraham worked hard and prayed harder for a son that he thought would never come at one point, and then another 25 years after God told him it would happen. Finally, he gets his son, and now is told to sacrifice him. To many of us, we would’ve had every reaction/response but the right one - the obedient and faithful one. Through his own obedience and faith in God, it was revealed that God is “our Provider” Jehovah-Jira. At the moment of truth, when Abraham was coming down with the blade, God stops him and produces a ram for the sacrifice.
We later learned that we can count on God to make us whole, restore us, and heal us, through the story of Moses after leading the people of Israel out of Egypt. They’re thirsty, haven’t had water in three days, and are now complaining against the very one that delivered them (and His servant), and all He does is revive and restore them by turning this bitter water into something drinkable. There he was revealed as Our Healer - Jehovah-Rapha.
Last week, we learned that under God’s arms, we have rights, privileges protection. While being attacked from the Amalekites, Moses goes up on the hill with his brother Aaron and Hur, while Joseph led the troops below. When Moses raised the staff God had worked through so many times before, the people of Israel were victorious. When he didn’t, they weren’t. Ultimately, through victory, Moses built an alter and it was revealed that the Lord is our Banner - Jehovah-Nissi.
Today we’ll uncover the meaning behind Jehovah-Shalom. What did it mean then, and what does it mean for us now?
Let’s start by how we got here...
Throughout the first five books of Moses, there’s this anticipation of the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, regarding the Promised Land.
We were first introduced to Joshua last week when learning about Jehovah Nissi. I teased the fact that ultimately, Joshua would prove to be a prominent protagonist, central to leading the people of Israel to the Promised Land.
Exodus 17:14 ESV
14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.”
The book of Joshua, depending on the math, has Israel finally taking the Promised Land through a series of military victories lead by Joshua, sometime around 1400 or 1220 BC. They finally arrive and split the land amongst the 12 tribes of Israel.
Through all these victories, it was evident that God would fight for His people. All they needed to do was be “strong and courageous” in the Lord, and also be faithful to Him, and obey His commandments. That’s it!
Joshua even reminds them of this in their back-and-forth:
And
Joshua 24:14–23 ESV
14 “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” 16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods, 17 for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. 18 And the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.” 19 But Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. 20 If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm and consume you, after having done you good.” 21 And the people said to Joshua, “No, but we will serve the Lord.” 22 Then Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him.” And they said, “We are witnesses.” 23 He said, “Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord, the God of Israel.”
And they did....
Until they didn’t.
This brings us to the book of Judges, where our text resides.
In ancient Israel, after the deaths of Moses and Joshua, the nation faced a crisis of leadership. The people often feared the dangers of invasion and plundering by bands of enemies still in or near their promised land. Consequently, the Lord God raised up men, and one woman, who would act as divinely appointed “judges” over the people.
We find their stories documented in the Bible’s seventh book. Its title, Judges, comes from the the title given to the twelve leaders of Israel between Joshua and Samuel. These leaders, chosen by God to represent Him and to lead His people, appropriately bear that title since the Hebrew verb
“to lead” can also mean “to judge.”
Actually, the function of the fifteen judges was less to adjudicate conflicts than it was to act as political and military leaders. Perhaps a better title for them might be “deliverers” sent to save Israel. Especially noteworthy judges included Deborah (4:4); Othniel (3:9); Jephthah (12:7); and Samson (15:20).
Another of those great deliverers was Gideon, on whom we will focus in this session.
Judges 6:11–13 ESV
11 Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. 12 And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” 13 And Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

Peace Eludes Us When We Look at Our Circumstances.
13 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 fathers 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.”
Peace Eludes Us When We Look at Our Circumstances. During the times of the judges, Israel was caught in a historical rut. The Hebrews went through many cycles of moral and spiritual decay and suffered its consequences. Those repetitive phases in Israel’s history required someone to call them back to God. The cycles went something like this: apostasy against the Lord; enslavement; repentance; and finally, deliverance and salvation. Note that the reason for the enslavement was the apostasy. The reason for the deliverance was the repentance. Unfortunately, the cycles tended to repeat in every new generation. This repeating quandary was the impetus for the writing of Judges. The unknown author wrote the book sometime after the start of the Israelite monarchy (circa 1030 B.C.; 18:1; 19:1). He wanted to show his readers what would happen if they disregarded the warnings of Moses, Joshua, and the judges by worshipping Canaanite gods and doing wicked deeds.
During the times of the judges, Israel was caught in a historical rut. The Hebrews went through many cycles of moral and spiritual decay and suffered its consequences. Those repetitive phases in Israel’s history required someone to call them back to God. The cycles went something like this: apostasy against the Lord; enslavement/discipline; repentance; and finally, deliverance and salvation.
Note that the reason for the enslavement was the apostasy. The reason for the deliverance was the repentance. Unfortunately, the cycles tended to repeat in every new generation. This repeating quandary was the impetus for the writing of Judges. The unknown author wrote the book sometime after the start of the Israelite monarchy (circa 1030 B.C.; 18:1; 19:1). He wanted to show his readers what would happen if they disregarded the warnings of Moses, Joshua, and the judges by worshipping Canaanite gods and doing wicked deeds.
The situation at the time of was desperate. The Israelites had lost their way again. Note how the book’s author expressed the moral state of the nation at that time, “The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” (v. 1). Unrighteous living led to the inevitable consequence, “So the Lord handed them over to Midian seven years, and they oppressed Israel.”
In Gideon’s time, Midianites were a constant threat to the Israelites. They, like the Amalekites, were nomadic peoples who attacked the Israelites and plundered their resources. The terrified and poverty-stricken Israelites were forced to hide in the hills. They cried out to God, so He sent them a prophet (). Through him, God reminded the Israelites of how He had brought them out of Egypt, expelled the Canaanites, given them the land, and sealed them with a covenant: “I am the Lord [Yahweh] your God” (v. 10).
In Gideon’s time, they were a constant threat to the Israelites. They, like the Amalekites, were nomadic peoples who attacked the Israelites and plundered their resources. The terrified and poverty-stricken Israelites were forced to hide in the hills. They cried out to God, so He sent them a prophet (). Through him, God reminded the Israelites of how He had brought them out of Egypt, expelled the Canaanites, given them the land, and sealed them with a covenant: “I am the Lord [Yahweh] your God” (v. 10).
When the angel of the Lord sat down, Gideon was threshing wheat in the winepress. Normally threshing was done out in the open. The thresher would toss the grain into the air so the wind would separate the lighter chaff from the wheat.
In any case, the angel, disguised as a common-looking man, sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which was a town southwest of the Jordan River. The tree was on land owned by Joash (“Yahweh has given”) the Abiezerite. Abiezer was a clan of the tribe of Manasseh. Abiezer was both a personal and place name meaning “My father is help.” Abiezer, the man, was a descendant of Joseph (; ).
Joash was apparently a well-to-do man in his clan, but who, inexplicably, sponsored a Baal cult site and altar (). He had a son named Gideon whose name means “one who cuts to pieces,” Gideon was also known by the name Jerubbaal (“Baal judges,” ) When the angel of the Lord sat down, Gideon was threshing wheat in the winepress. Normally threshing was done out in the open. The thresher would toss the grain into the air so the wind would separate the lighter chaff from the wheat.
Gideon, however, was in a sheltered winepress used to mash grapes so that he could stay hidden from the Midianites. As Gideon worked, the angel of the Lord made Himself visible and introduced Himself, “The Lord is with you, valiant warrior.” That greeting probably seemed strange to Gideon. Most of the Israelites had concluded that God had abandoned them. How could God be with him? Also, he had done nothing to that point of particular bravery. The Lord knew what was going to happen with Gideon and so was making a prophetic statement.
Whatever the Lord’s intention, Gideon was not buying it (he probably did not yet realize who the stranger really was). His response was a bit sarcastic. He wanted to know, if God was actually with him as the stranger suggested, then why has all this happened? He pointedly contrasted the miracles God had reportedly done in generations before to what they were enduring at that time, asking, where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about? He affirmed that the Lord had brought the Israelites out of exile in Egypt but seemingly had abandoned them to the oppression of Midian.
Christians are sometimes tempted to fall into the trap of cynicism. Most Christians who have been saved for a protracted time can identify with Gideon. Nearly all believers go through seasons of life when the presence of God seems remote. When things don’t go as we expect we may think God has either abandoned us or is unable to work in and through our life circumstances. Perhaps at the loss of a loved one, during a period of illness, in an extended period of unemployment, or during some other life crisis, God may feel far away or even nonexistent.
If we allow them to do so, circumstances can overwhelm us. Even people with strong faith wonder why God allows certain things to happen. There is nothing wrong in humbly questioning God. Even Jesus asked, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (). It is in the troubling situations of life where God teaches us important lessons and provides peace to wait on Him to manifest His will to us.
What we must understand is the following:
1. The Lord is with His people despite how things might appear sometimes.
2. God might call us to do things at times and in ways we never would have expected.
Judges 6:14–16 ESV
14 And the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” 15 And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” 16 And the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.”

J

Peace Eludes Us When We Look at Our Shortcomings.
15 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.”
16 “But I will be with you,” the Lord said to him.
“You will strike Midian down as if it were one man.”
Peace Eludes Us When We Look at Our Shortcomings.
In verse 14, the author fully reveals the true identity of the stranger (the angel of the Lord) to the reader as, indeed, the Lord Himself. However, He seems to ignore Gideon’s sarcastic and despairing remarks in verse 13 and continues the line of speaking He began in verse 12. The Lord commissioned Gideon to do his task. He first told Gideon to “Go in the strength you have …” God was not referring to some innate power that Gideon naturally possessed, but rather to the supernatural power that was invested in him by His presence. This charismatic dynamism is fully expressed in verse 34: “The Spirit of the Lord enveloped [literally, ‘clothed’] Gideon.” It was that divine power that was the source of all the deliverers’ authority and potency.
The Lord then stated unequivocally what He expected Gideon to do: “deliver Israel from the grasp of Midian.” He then reiterated the command and its source, “I am sending you!” The statement is actually a rhetorical question, “Am I not sending you?” (NIV). This should have been all the Lord needed to say to motivate Gideon. God had heard the cries of His people and He had chosen this skeptical wheat thresher to deliver them. But Gideon was still unsure.
Again, Gideon respectfully presented to the Lord what he thought was a reasonable objection to his selection. His reluctance is reminiscent of other biblical heroes who questioned God’s wisdom for choosing them. For instance, Moses related his feelings of incompetency and inadequacy when the Lord called him to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt (; ,). Likewise, Jeremiah balked when God called him as a prophet ().
Gideon’s dissent focused on two points that he believed disqualified him from what God required. First, he said that his “family was the weakest in Manasseh.” Manasseh (“God has caused me to forget”) was one of two sons born to Joseph by his wife Asenath. She was a daughter of an Egyptian priest of On named Potiphera. She was given to Joseph by Pharaoh as a reward for interpreting his dreams. Joseph named his first son Manasseh because he could forget his previous troubles as a slave sold by his brothers. He named his second son Ephraim (“twice fruitful”) (). Manasseh was eventually adopted by Jacob and became the progenitor of a half-tribe of Israel. Manasseh’s land was parceled on both the east and west sides of the Jordan River. Apparently, Gideon’s family of Abiezer did not enjoy high prestige in the tribe, maybe because of their pagan shrine.
The other reason Gideon gave for his disqualification as deliverer was that he was the “the youngest in my father’s family,” which also indicated weakest and least. So, in his own mind, Gideon had two strikes against him from the outset. For him, youngest, weakest, and least did not add up to victory! It is fair to say that Gideon just did not get it. All he could see was his own human limitations. As God later told Samuel when he was looking for a king, “Humans do not see what the Lord sees, for humans see what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart” (). God was not about to let Gideon weasel out.
God once again promised His presence would be with Gideon in the mission. Like Moses before him, whom God had guaranteed success (), He assured Gideon of victory over the Midianites. The Lord even said that Gideon would “strike Midian down as if it were one man.”
Another temptation Christians face is to avoid serving God because we think we are unqualified or not competent to accomplish what He wants us to do. If we focus our thoughts on what we cannot do, we will never find what it is we can do well. When God calls us to a task He will provide the resources to fulfill it. Every believer is gifted in some way to serve in the kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit empowers each of us in ways that are appropriate for our personalities and abilities. We need to discover our gifts and put them to work in our church and community relying on the Lord for success. It is a great source of peace when we are in God’s will, doing what He wants us to do, and know He will provide us the power to succeed.
We must also understand:
1. God raises up people for assignments far beyond their qualifications or confidence.
2. The strength we have is actually God’s strength, and that is more than enough.

Judges 6:22–24 ESV
22 Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the Lord. And Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face.” 23 But the Lord said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” 24 Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and called it, The Lord Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites.
Peace Comes to Us as We Look to God.
23 But the Lord said to him, “Peace to you. Don’t be afraid, for you will not die.”
Gideon still had his doubts, so he made a request of the Lord. He asked Him to give him a sign. Perhaps Gideon was still unsure just who the stranger was and needed miraculous evidence to convince him to trust Him unconditionally. It may seem to us that Gideon’s challenge to the Lord was overly audacious and even insubordinate. However, we need to remember that the Lord had not showed Himself to Israel in quite a while. Gideon, along with the others, had grown cynical. He did not want to fall prey to a deception that would have made them even more vulnerable to attacks from their enemies.
24 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.
Peace Comes to Us as We Look to God. Gideon still had his doubts, so he made a request of the Lord. He asked Him to give him a sign. Perhaps Gideon was still unsure just who the stranger was and needed miraculous evidence to convince him to trust Him unconditionally. It may seem to us that Gideon’s challenge to the Lord was overly audacious and even insubordinate. However, we need to remember that the Lord had not showed Himself to Israel in quite a while. Gideon, along with the others, had grown cynical. He did not want to fall prey to a deception that would have made them even more vulnerable to attacks from their enemies.
The Lord spoke to Gideon again, making two important statements. The text does not say how the Lord communicated since the angel had already left. In any case, He first blessed Gideon saying, “Peace to you.” The word “peace” is, in Hebrew, of course, “shalom.” It is probably the best known Hebrew word in the world. Even most non-Jews understand its meaning. It denotes not just the absence of war or conflict but also wholeness and well-being. In this regard, it is somewhat like the Hawaiian word Aloha. It can be used as a greeting or as a farewell. In the Old Testament, this kind of peace was a gift of God and was realized only when persons were in right relationships with Him and other people (; ).
The Lord spoke to Gideon again, making two important statements. The text does not say how the Lord communicated since the angel had already left. In any case, He first blessed Gideon saying, “Peace to you.” The word “peace” is, in Hebrew, of course, “shalom.” It is probably the best known Hebrew word in the world. Even most non-Jews understand its meaning. It denotes not just the absence of war or conflict but also wholeness and well-being. In this regard, it is somewhat like the Hawaiian word Aloha. It can be used as a greeting or as a farewell. In the Old Testament, this kind of peace was a gift of God and was realized only when persons were in right relationships with Him and other people (; ).
Second, God said to Gideon, “Don’t be afraid, for you will not die.” The Lord wanted Gideon to understand in a positive way that he was the chosen deliverer for that time in Israel’s history. We can imagine the relief, excitement, and, perhaps still, the diffidence Gideon must have felt.
Gideon’s grateful response was the same as many other biblical characters when they encountered the Lord. He built an altar to worship God right there on that spot. This act symbolized Gideon’s acceptance of his duty, his confidence in God’s presence, and his assurance of the coming victory over the Midianites. He naturally named the altar and the place “Yahweh Shalom,The Lord Is Peace.
people search every possible way to find peace and purpose for their lives, but most of them never find it. The only real hope of peace for the world and the only source for peace for individuals is Jesus Christ (
Isaiah 9:6 ESV
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
; ; ). As Christians, we can enjoy the peace of God if we walk with Him and find His will for our lives. We also have a responsibility to proclaim in every generation the truth of the gospel of salvation. Like Gideon, we must rely on the Lord for our strength and the ability to do His will.
Ephesians 2:14 ESV
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility
; ). As Christians, we can enjoy the peace of God if we walk with Him and find His will for our lives. We also have a responsibility to proclaim in every generation the truth of the gospel of salvation. Like Gideon, we must rely on the Lord for our strength and the ability to do His will.
Colossians 1:20 ESV
20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
). As Christians, we can enjoy the peace of God if we walk with Him and find His will for our lives. We also have a responsibility to proclaim in every generation the truth of the gospel of salvation. Like Gideon, we must rely on the Lord for our strength and the ability to do His will.
As Christians, we can enjoy the peace of God if we walk with Him and find His will for our lives. We also have a responsibility to proclaim in every generation the truth of the gospel of salvation. Like Gideon, we must rely on the Lord for our strength and the ability to do His will.
2 Corinthians 13:11 ESV
11 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
ESV11 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
ESV11 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
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