We’ve been learning about various different names that God has and how each and every one of them presents to us different facets of His nature and character so that we can, in limited measure, get to know what He’s like.
The Hebrew word for Shalom is a very well known Hebrew word. In everyday communication with Hebrew speaking people, they greet each other with “shalom” in the same way that we say “hello”. They also farewell each other by saying “Shalom” in the same way we say “Goodbye”. But the word Shalom is commonly understood to mean ‘peace,’ however, like so many Hebrew words, it’s much richer than that.
The name Yahweh Shalom is only found in one place in the Bible and it’s in the book of Judges during the days of Gideon. The Lord revealed Himself to Gideon when the angel of the Lord showed up and Gideon’s response was rightly to be very, very afraid. The Hebrew people had good memories, their ancestors came face to face with the might and power of God when they came out of Egypt and they knew that if they saw God, they’d die. They begged Moses to be their intermediary so they would survive their encounters with God. (Exodus 20:18-21)
Judges 6:22-24, ‘When Gideon saw that he was the angel of the Lord, he said, “Alas, O Lord God! For now, I’ve seen the angel of the Lord face to face.” The Lord said to him, “Peace to you, don’t fear, you shall not die.” Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and named it The Lord is Peace. To this day it’s still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.’
This is the meaning of the word ‘Shalom’ in the Hebrew: ‘completeness, soundness, welfare, peace. Completeness in number, safety, soundness in body, health, prosperity (in a holistic, whole of life sense, not just in finances), quiet tranquility, contentment, friendship in human relationships and with God, especially in covenant relationship; and peace from war.
What about Melchizedek? He was the king of Salem. Salem is what the city of Jerusalem was originally called. The word Salem is the same as the word Shalom and they both mean peace. Later, the Jebusites invaded that city and name it Jebus before King David conquered and called it Jeru-Salem which means ‘City of Peace’. Remember too that there is no ‘J’ in Hebrew, so the name actually begins with a ‘Y’ sound…Yerushalayim. But Melchizedek was also called the Priest of the Most High God. When Abraham went to Salem after rescuing Lot, he gave tithes to Melchizedek and Melchizedek gave something to Abraham…bread and wine.
What does bread and wine represent? The body and blood of the Messiah. It’s believe by most Christian scholars that Melchizedek was a pre-incarnate Jesus. So Jesus, as Melchizedek, gave bread and wine (possibly representing His body and blood) to Abraham, the father of the promised line that would bring forth the incarnate Messiah – Jesus.
And what would it all bring about at the appointed time? Shalom. Peace.
The name Jerusalem is made up of two Hebrew words: ‘yara’ and ‘shalom’. ‘Yara’ is a verb and it means to give out energy or to teach or dispense. Put this together with the meaning of Shalom above and we see that Jerusalem is the ‘City of Peace’ or the ‘Abode of Peace’, from where peace is taught or given or dispensed.
Listen to what God said about Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 6:5-6, “Since the day I brought My people out of Egypt, I haven’t chosen a city in any tribe of Israel to have a temple built so that My Name might be there, nor have I chosen anyone to be ruler over My people Israel. But now I have chosen Jerusalem for My Name to be there, and I have chosen David to rule My people Israel.”
God chose the City of Peace to be the place where His name would dwell, where His Temple would reside and where His king would rule from. Where God is there is peace. Jerusalem represents the character of God, so He placed His name there and commanded that His Temple be built there as well, along with the head of His government.
What kind of peace are we talking about?
Shalom from God is incomparable to anything the world has.
John 14:27 Jesus said to His disciples, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give you. I don’t give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”
If you read Psalm 46, it describes a world that is in chaos and meltdown. Nations are in an uproar, kingdoms are falling, war is going on all over the place, armies are fighting, weapons are being shattered, there’s fear and uncertainty, anxiety…and in the midst of this chaos God says something incredible.
Psalm 46:10, “He (God) says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
The word ‘shalom’ isn’t in this verse, but this verse demonstrates what God’s shalom looks like for His people in a world that is literally disintegrating around them. We can know the shalom of God and be still and calm and unafraid because that’s who Yahweh (Yeho’vah) Shalom is to us.
Peace from God is NOT the absence of turmoil or chaos or struggle; God’s peace is the essence of Himself that He gives us in the middle of turmoil, chaos and struggle.