I always think of Gideon as a little scared. I mean, God had to really convince him to go and fight the Midianites. Back and forth with the fleece, hiding out in a winepress, Gideon’s beginning doesn’t seem to match his ending.
But right at the beginning of his story is where we find the name of God, Jehovahshalom. Meaning, The Lord is Peace. Right when Gideon is choosing to get involved in the battle, you would think he would be thinking about other names, like maybe, the Lord is our banner. Or something about victory. But his first impression is peace.
Gideon is hiding in the winepress, threshing his wheat so the Midianites won’t steal it, when the angel of the Lord appears to him and gives him his very first assignment. When he realizes exactly who is talking to him, I’m guessing he had quite a look on his face because the next words of the story are, “And the Lord said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.” Maybe he meant, you won’t die from the assignment and maybe you won’t die right this second, we don’t know, but either way, it would appear that Gideon is pretty scared right now.
“Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovahshalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.”
Gideon was scared, but willing. So, in the way of the Old Testament Israelites who wanted to remember major events, he built an altar. And called it The Lord is Peace. Peace. Not victory. I think that maybe Gideon knew he needed to feel that peace before he could even enter the battle. In the New Testament we call it the peace that passes understanding. Even though he was scared and hesitant and later on had to be convinced once again, he wanted to remember that at that moment, he felt peace. The kind that only comes from God.
God had fully convinced him that he was where he needed to be and doing what he needed to do. So when the battle got hard, or long, or heartbreaking, or dangerous, or anything else that battles do, he could look back at the altar and know. The Lord was his peace.
I always thought I knew about that peace that passes understanding. Until the last two months. I cannot even tell you how much I’ve learned about and leaned on that peace. Although, I suppose that is the way of life. You always think you’ve got it figured out until the next curve ball. The peace of the Lord has flooded my life in ways I can’t explain. Its as though I can feel Jehovahshalom standing beside me in the battle. Reminding me that He is in control and I have nothing to fear. The battle may be raging, but with Jehovahshalom standing by my side, I can have complete peace in spite of it. I know the battle the Lord has allowed in my life, I know what He’s asked me to do in the battle, and I feel like I could, with Gideon, build an altar right here in my Ophrah. Reminding me in the future of the peace God has given with this assignment.
Are you feeling scared today? Really, can there be many days when everything is going so well we have nothing we could be scared of? But this is where this name is so important. Because His peace is what gets us through the battle. You can trust in Him, Jehovahshalom.