A man by the name of Gideon finds himself in a difficult situation. He is youngest son of Joash. He comes from an obscure family of an un-noteworthy clan of the Hebrew tribe of Manasseh. One day while he is threshing wheat an angel suddenly appears to him.
"When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, 'The LORD is with you, mighty warrior'" (Judges 6:12) The angel commands Gideon to ". . . Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?" (Judges 6:14) He promises Gideon, ". . . I will be with you, and you will strike down the Midianites as if they were but one man" (Judges 6:16)
In spite of God's promise to be with him, Gideon is--to say the least--apprehensive. He's not a warrior, He's a farmer. He's not particularly brave and he's not even overly confident in God. "'But sir,' Gideon replied, 'if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, 'Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?' But now the LORD has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midain'" (Judges 6:13).
Gideon does what believers throughout the ages have down when they feel they are in a tight spot. They ask God for a sign. This is exactly what Gideon does (Judges 6:17-23). Gideon goes and bakes some bread, kills and roasts a young goat and brings the items back as an offering to this claimant of divine character. He places them upon a rock as he is instructed and pours the broth from the roasted goat over the items. Then the angel of the LORD touches the meat and the cakes and fire shoots up out of the rock and consumes the offering. Gideon exclaims, "Ah, Sovereign LORD! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!" (Judges 6:22) He assumes he is about to die. He has seen God--and according to Scriptures, no one who sees the face of God can live. But the angle's voice rings out, "[Shawlome]-Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die."
Gideon's response is to build an altar as a memorial of his encounter with the living God and as an act of worship. He gives the altar a name: It is Jehovah-Shalom--The Lord our Peace.
In his experience with God, Gideon caught a glimpse of Jehovah's character. This is not a Lord who seeks to put the fear of God into the hearts of His people. Instead, He seeks to infuse us with a peace that gives us confidence regardless of the outward circumstances we may find ourselves in.
Here in Isaiah, God says to the prophet that In that day God promises to give perfect shawlome—peace to Israel. There is a remnant who have steadfastly trusted in the Lord. These are the ones who will live in peace.
I. THE GOD OUR PEACE PROMISED HIS PEOPLE A PRINCE OF PEACE
- our God is vitally concerned about the peace of His people
- Psa. 29:11 "The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace."
- there are many, even in this auditorium this morning, who are struggling with anxiety, or disappointment or fear or apprehension
- you see troubles on every side and peace of mind and soul is not one of the blessings you consistently experience
- perhaps, like Gideon, you find yourself saying, 'if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, 'Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?' But now the LORD has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midain'" (Judges 6:13)
A. GOD WANTS HIS PEOPLE TO KNOW AND EXPERIENCE PEACE
- Psa. 85:5 "I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints:"
- there was a time in King David's life when he found himself fleeing from Absalom during his son's rebellion
- David felt intense pressure and turmoil of soul
- but David fixed his thoughts on God and remembered the joy that came with trust in him
- comforted and at rest despite overwhelming danger, David concluded:
- "I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety" (Psa. 4:8)
- it is a multi-faceted word occurring over 200 times in the Old Testament
- about 25 times it is used either as a greeting or a farewell
- when it is used in such a way it implies a blessing upon that person's life
- ILLUS. It would be as if upon greeting a good friend we would say, "God bless you! I wish for you prosperity, health, wholeness and harmony in your life."
- two-thirds of the uses of this word express the fulfillment that comes to human lives when they experience God's presence
- for us as well as David, peace in difficult circumstances is a result of our relationship with God
- it has always been God who initiated peace on the behalf of His people
B. THE PRINCE OF PEACE WILL BRING QUIET REPOSE AND PROSPERITY TO HIS PEOPLE
- it was the OT prophets who announced God's promise to give His people a leader who would lead his people into peace
- Isa. 9:6 "For unto us a child is born, for unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders. And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
- the people of Israel looked forward to the day when "of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end" (Isa. 6:7)
- for a nation of people who had frequently experienced war with their enemies, persecution by their neighbors and subjugation by foreign powers this was indeed a powerful hope
- Isaiah is clear that man's lack of peace comes from alienation from God and antagonism toward others due to a human nature twisted by sin
- Isaiah gives us a hint of the price of peace in his description of the suffering servant
- "He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed" (Isa. 53:6)
II. THE PRINCE OF PEACE MAKES POSSIBLE PEACE WITH GOD
- let's jump ahead 500 years past Isaiah's prophecy to the night sky over the small Judean village of Bethlehem
- shepherds are gathered around a small fire
- some are fitfully trying to sleep on the rough and rocky soil
- others are milling about recounting the days activities, perhaps a few are even arguing over politics and religion
- a few may have even turned their attention to the night sky and quiet contemplation of Jehovah's mighty creation
- abruptly the still darkness is pierced by light and a symphony of praise as angels announce the birth of the Messiah
- Luke 2:13-14 "Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
A. MAN'S GREATEST NEED IS PEACE WITH GOD
- ILLUS. In his book Born Again, Chuck Coleson writes of his conversion experience during the height of the Watergate Scandal. A friend had been witnessing to him. One evening that friend began to read from C.S. Lewis' book Mere Christianity. As Coleson listened he heard how pride keeps men from God. Coleson testifies that it was a painful experience--"Agony"--he wrote. He writes: "I saw myself as I never had before. And the picture was ugly." He continued to search and read. Again and again he came back to C.S. Lewis central theme: "Jesus Christ is God." Upon his confession of Christ Coleson writes: "I felt old fears, tensions, and animosities draining away. I was coming alive to things I'd never seen before; as if God was filling the barren void I'd known for so many months, filling it to its brim with a whole new kind of awareness. There came something more: strength and serenity, a wonderful new assurance about life, a fresh perception of myself and the world around me."
- through Christ Chuck Coleson found what all men need . . .
- peace with God which comes through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ
B. THE GOD OUR PEACE OFFERS YOU A RELATIONSHIP WITH HIMSELF THROUGH THE PRINCE OF PEACE
- Isa. 32:17 "And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever."
- what is this "work of righteousness" referred to by the Psalmist?
- the answer is found in the 5th chapter of Romans
- through the Prince of Peace we have a new position before God
- the inference is that Christ in us has changed our relationship before God
- how does the Bible characterize our relationship with God before Jesus came into our hearts?
- listen to Paul . . .
- Rom. 8:7 "the sinful mind is hostile to God; It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so."
- the KJV uses the word "enmity"
- it means hatred with intense ill will and vindictiveness that threatens to kindle into hostility
- Rom. 5:1 "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith. . ."
- because of Christ you and I can be in right standing before a holy God
- our new position before God is one of friendship because He justifies us in Christ
- Rom. 5:1 "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
- Jesus Christ is our great advocate before God
- Paul pictures a court room scene
- we are the defendants
- God is prosecutor, judge and jury
- He has announced His universal verdict upon all men
- the whole world is guilty!
- He has not only announced the verdict, He has pronounced the sentence
- all men will die and are rightly judged to hell
- He has announced the verdict, He has pronounced the sentence, but praise God, He is willing to renounce both
- all have sinned, but all can be justified
- man auctions himself cheep in the slave market of sin, but Jesus has come along and paid the price to buy us and set us free
- Rom. 5:2 "through whom we have gained access by faith into his grace."
- because we have peace with God we have access into His holy presence
- Heb. 4:16 "Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace in time of need."
- it is a privilege that only a small percentage of mankind knows
Our God is Jehovah-Shalom: The Lord our Peace. He has sent the Prince of Peace--Jesus Christ--into our lives that we might have peace with God. God's son came to give peace to a world that seems torn and shattered by violence and hatred. He came to give spiritual peace to the souls of men. That peace is available to you this morning.
But God has also called us to be peace makers. That task is not always easy, but usually worth the price.