In a recent post titled ‘Shalom, Y’all!’, I addressed some of the nuances of the Jewish greeting shalom. In this post, I would like to explore more of the implications of the concept of Shalom. As noted in ‘Shalom, Y’all!’, the Jewish greeting carries the broad meaning of peace, wholeness, health, safety, and prosperity. But, I think there is even more implied in the word shalom than those previously mentioned.
Of all the devastating impacts of man’s Fall in the Garden of Eden, the resulting estrangement from God was paramount. Revered Bible scholar Dr. John Oswalt says that alienation from God was perhaps the worst part of the judgment against Adam and Eve. The Bible says, “So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24, NKJV).
Before they disobeyed, Adam and Eve were at peace with God and all He created. Their needs were supplied. They did not suffer hunger, disease, or pain of any kind. Beauty surrounded them, and all good things were for them to experience and enjoy. They weren’t lonely, for they had each other, and more importantly, they had an intimate relationship with their Creator. If any people ever experienced peace, it was Adam and Eve. The condition of peace existed in the garden only as long as they were obedient to God’s will. Sadly, they chose to disobey and the Shalom of God was lost for them.
The world’s definition of peace can be negative – the absence of turmoil. Shalom is positive – the presence of the Lord. There is a colloquial saying that reflects this truth: “No God, No Peace; Know God, Know Peace.” A personal relationship with God is the prerequisite for real peace. The Bible says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee” (Isaiah 26:3, KJV). The Orthodox Jewish Bible translation of this verse is slightly different and beautiful: “Thou wilt keep him in shalom shalom, whose yetzer (mind-set) is stayed on Thee; because he trusteth in Thee” (Yeshayah 26:2-4). The beautiful words from Havergal’s great hymn ’Like A River Glorious’ flows from this verse in Isaiah:
Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:2, KJV). Peace – lasting peace – transcends the situations of our own personal lives because it doesn’t come from us. It comes from the Lord. What we cannot attain on our own is provided for us by His grace. He promises all the qualities of shalom – wholeness, completeness, soundness, health, safety, prosperity and His presence – to those who will look to Him.
Prayer: Dear Lord, please give to all who read this devotional thought Your shalom.
~ Brother Roy