Shalom to you, Beloved of Adonai,
Now, more than ever, I am asking the Lord to show me what is on His heart for His Body, His Bride. He directed me to Psalm 85:8, the impetus for this month’s letter on shalom: “I will hear what God the LORD will speak, for He will speak peace (shalom, shah-LOME, שלום ,(to His people and to His saints.” In the Passion Translation this verse reads: “Now I’ll listen carefully for your voice and wait to hear whatever you say. Let me hear your promise of peace—the message every one of your godly lovers longs to hear.”
It is comforting to see that the word “peace” occurs 369 times in the New King James version of the Bible. Shalom for every day of the year.
What exactly is shalom (peace) according to God’s Word? The root meaning of shalom in Hebrew is “to be whole.” Shalom is much more than an absence of conflict or strife. It is completeness, welfare, wholeness, and health. Shalom was a very important concept in the Tanach and continues to be so in rabbinic and modern Hebrew. In Israel today, a person is greeted with the expression, “Mah Shlomkha,” (Mah ShLOMEkha), literally “How is your peace?” They also might inquire about the peace or well-being (shalom) of one’s family. Shalom is also wished when one says good-bye.
The first use of the word “shalom” is in Genesis 15:15 where God told Abram that he would go to his fathers (die) in peace, b’shalom. In other words, he would die in tranquility, at ease, and unconcerned. “My own familiar friend” of Psalm 41:9 is ish shlomi (eesh shLOWme), “friend of my peace.” Shalom indicates a relationship of harmony, unity, and wholeness as well as a harmonious state of the individual soul and mind, a state of being at rest both externally and internally. This is expressed in Psalm 4:8, “I will lie down in peace (b’shalom), and sleep; for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.”
Health, welfare, and prosperity are included in the Bible meaning of shalom. Psalm 38:3 includes “shalom in my bones,” shalom baahtzahmay, but is translated as “health in my bones.” May we all experience shalom in our bones!
Shalom, of course, signifies “peace” or a restored, prosperous relationship between two or more parties. (We need to see this with Democrats and Republicans!) The Holy Scriptures state that God is the One who makes shalom, just as He forms light and creates darkness (Isa. 45:7). One of the names of God is שלום יהוה. “So Gideon built an altar there to the LORD, and called it The-LORD-is-Peace (Adonai Shalom)” (Judges 6:24). When God told King David that he would have a son who would be a man of rest, he also gave him a name with great significance: “His name shall be Solomon (Shlomo), for I will give peace and quietness to Israel in his days” (1 Chr. 22:9). Shlomo (sh’LOME o) means “Peace is his.” Our God is the “God of peace” mentioned in Romans 15:33.
We desperately need shalom in our country today. The elections of November 2020 have highlighted this deep need. Our December letter goes to the printer by the middle of November, at which time Joe Biden has been named the president-elect, and Donald Trump has not conceded the election, based on claims of fraud in the voting process. Please pray that the hidden things would be revealed! God, who sits in the heavens, was not caught by surprise. He knows the outcome; He knows the future. Regardless of who becomes our president, our Father wants us to be “peacemakers.” Yeshua said in His Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” The word “blessed” in Hebrew is ashrey (ahsh- RAY) and means “Oh how happy.”
Our God is a Peacemaker, His Spirit is a spirit of shalom, and when shalom rules in our hearts, we are peacemakers like Him. I appreciate a commentary from the New Spirit-Filled Life Bible on peacemaking: “Being a peacemaker means becoming the initiator in reconciling conflict between others and us. Our part in the family business is to tear down walls that divide us and constantly work for understanding. In a world where people and groups are at odds, our calling is to actively seek to resolve conflicts. We can listen to, love, and care for people on both sides…” We have a high calling to love.
Sh’lamim: Peace Offerings
The word “shalom” is found most frequently in the Tanach (Old Covenant) in the sh’lamim (sh’laMEEM), the “peace offerings” brought to the temple by the Israelites. The third book of the Torah, Leviticus, Vayikra, has two related themes, the way to God and the walk with God. The way to God was through sacrifices and offerings. The five main offerings were the burnt offering, the meal offering, the sin offering, the penalty offering, and the peace offering.
The peace offering differed from all the other offerings since the sacrificial meal was the main feature of the sh’lamim. This represented intimate fellowship with the Lord, friendship and companionship with Him. This would not have been possible without the sin offering. God’s peace and friendship were sought through the sh’lamim. A connection, as I mentioned earlier, can be found in the expression “my friend,” שלוםי the Man who lives in friendship with me (Ps. 41:9). Friend of my shalom. J. H. Kurtz in Offerings, Sacrifices and Worship in the Old Testament, explains, “The Sh’lamim received their name from the condition which they were to produce in the person presenting the sacrifice; they were to cause it to become right with him, to produce שלום between him and his God.”
Shalom, the Highest Blessing
Shalom, in the Hebrew mind, is considered to be the greatest of all blessings. We see this in the most famous Hebrew blessing, the Priestly (Aaronic) Blessing or Benediction, also known as the Beautiful Benediction and the Birkat Kohanim. It is found in Numbers 6:24-26.
In Hebrew: “Y’vah-reh-kh-kha Ah-do-nai v’yeesh-m’rei-kha.
Yah-ehr Ah-do-nai pah-nahv eh-leh-kha vee-khoo-neh-kah.
Ye-sah Ah-do-nai pah-nahv eh-leh-khah v’yah-seym l’khah sha-lom.”
In English: “The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.”
The Priestly Blessing consists of only fifteen Hebrew words. There are three sentences of three, five, and seven words. The number of words increases as does the significance of the Divine favor prayed for. While verse 24 refers to physical blessings, and verse 25 refers to mental and emotional wholeness, verse 26 deals with the spirit, with shalom as the highest and greatest gift. Shalom involves the totality of well-being, wholeness, and completeness in every way. It is knowing the acceptance and approval of God, as our father, and having tranquility of heart and mind. It has been said that when we greet someone with “shalom,” we are giving them an abbreviated blessing.
In 1979, while excavating a site in Jerusalem’s Hinnom Valley, archaeologists found a tiny silver scroll containing the oldest copy of a biblical text. What text? Numbers 6:24-26, the blessing that originated 1,400 years before the time of Yeshua. How poignant that this blessing of shalom was found in the exact location of former child sacrifice to Molech. Shalom is always the need of the hour!
Every time the Birkat Kohanim is pronounced in my presence, I am aware of its conclusion with the final blessing of shalom, and another verse comes to mind which I embrace as a promise for me and my children: “All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children” (Isa. 54:13). Rav shalom—Great peace.
The Gospel of Peace
The Gospel or Good News (besorah, beh-so-RAH) was prophesied hundreds of years before Yeshua was born. Isaiah proclaimed, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns‘” (Isaiah 52:7)! The Good News was a proclamation of SHALOM because it was the promise of salvation (yeh-shoo-AH) from sin and reconciliation with God. Peace with God through Messiah. The Good News that brings peace has another deep, underlying meaning of shalom: Restoration through payment. When someone was in bondage, in debt, in jail, etc., and someone paid their debt or bail, that was a “shalom.” It is payment of a vow, or completion of an agreement so that both parties are in a state of shalom or restoration. Isn’t that what Yeshua did for us? He paid a debt He did not owe. We owed a debt we could not pay. He paid our debt of sin on the tree of sacrifice so that we could have shalom with God.
The prophet Isaiah stated in Isaiah 53:5 that the punishment or chastisement that would bring us shalom was upon the prophesied Servant of the Lord, the Messiah. Isaiah 54:10 indicates that the Good News of salvation was a “covenant of peace” (b’rit shalom, b’reet sha-LOME). (See also Ezekiel 37:26.)
The New Covenant Scriptures make it abundantly clear that a direct result of receiving by faith the Gospel of Yeshua is shalom. “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Yeshua HaMashiach” (Rom. 5:1). “…And having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:15) is part of the spiritual armor of every disciple of Yeshua. Colossians 1:20 states that Yeshua reconciled all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
Peace on Earth
December is the month during which millions of people worldwide hear a favorite verse from the Bible, Luke 2:14: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” This was the pronouncement of the angels at the birth of Messiah. His coming would bring shalom to earth. Did it? Does it? Is there peace on earth? It certainly doesn’t appear so! Especially in December 2020.
A classic objection to the Gospel is addressed by Dr. Michael Brown: “If Jesus is really the Messiah, why isn’t there peace on earth?” (Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, Vol. 1). Dr. Brown explains that many do not understand the biblical timetable concerning the Messiah. He was prophesied to come first to make atonement for sin, and second to bring peace to earth by destroying the wicked and establishing His earthly kingdom. “The bottom line is this: The Messiah first came to make peace between God and man, bringing the hope of reconciliation and forgiveness to the world. The ultimate effects of His first coming will lead to His return and an era of complete peace on earth.”
Keep an eye on the recent developments in the Middle East concerning PEACE. The August 2020 Abraham Accords Peace Agreement between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and the U.S. was indeed historic, marking the first normalization of relations between an Arab country and Israel since 1979 (Egypt) and 1994 (Jordan). Will there be true peace or a false peace? In the meantime, continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122), and be assured that the thoughts that the Lord thinks toward you are “thoughts of peace” (Jer. 29:11).
Yeshua, Our Shalom
Isaiah prophesied (9:6) that the Messiah would be the Sar Shalom, the Prince of Peace. As Dr. Brown explains, although the Messiah’s main purpose two thousand years ago was not to establish peace on the earth, since He knew that He would be rejected as King at the time, He is still rightly called the Prince of Peace in the Scriptures. Why? “First, He offers peace to all who will embrace Him and turn from sin; second, He makes peace between hostile sinners and a holy God; and third, He brings peace to His people who follow Him.”
The One who spoke to the storm, rebuked the wind, and calmed the sea by saying, “Peace, be still,” promised shalom to His talmidim (disciples) before He left this earth. They—and we—would experience storms in life, but He would calm them as well. “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have shalom. In the world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33)! Yeshua spoke more words of comfort: “Shalom I leave you, My shalom I give to you; but not as the world gives! Do not let your heart be troubled or afraid” (Jn. 14:27).
Following His resurrection from the dead, Yeshua appeared to His fearful disciples and said to them, “Shalom aleichem” (Peace be with you). He says that to each of us today. Yeshua is our Shalom. The Apostle Paul expresses the relationship between Jew and Gentile, One in the Messiah: “For He is our shalom, the One who made the two into one and broke down the middle wall of separation” (Eph. 2:14).
When we began Temple Aron HaKodesh in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, I added some lyrics to the traditional “Shabbat Shalom” song. The original just has the words “Shabbat Shalom” (Sabbath Peace). I am giving you my version so that you can sing it to the traditional tune. Not sure how it goes? Call the Jewish Jewels office, and Sheryl or Claudia will sing it for you. “He is our Peace. He is our Peace. And we are one in Him. He is our Peace. (2X) In Yeshua, there’s peace and perfect rest. In Yeshua, we have God’s very best. He is our Peace. He is our Peace. And we are one in Him. He is our Peace.”
Shalom, Our Umpire
Many years ago, Neil and I listened to a message by Pat Robertson on Knowing the Will of God. One of the ways to know His will is by the inner peace of His Spirit, peace deep within, that gives us the “go ahead” or “no” or “not now.” Shalom is also one of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22), so the closer we draw to the Spirit of God, the more shalom we will have. We should be led by peace.
Colossians 3:15 refers to peace being like an umpire in our hearts: “and let the peace of God rule in your hearts.” Some thought-provoking comments on this verse are made by Roy Hession in The Calvary Road. “Everything that disturbs the peace of God in our hearts is sin, no matter how small it is, and no matter how little like sin it may at first appear to be. This peace is to ‘rule’ our hearts, or in a more literal translation, to ‘be the referee,’ or ‘umpire’ in our hearts. When the referee blows the whistle at a football match, the game has to stop, as a foul has been committed. When we lose our peace, God’s referee in our hearts has blown the whistle!”
Shalom is supposed to be the salient quality of Yeshua’s bride. She is the “Shulamite” maiden of the Song of Songs. Her bridegroom is “Shlomo” (Solomon). His name means “Peace is his.” Her name means “Peace is hers.” We can have a deep-seated shalom, a shalom that passes all understanding, because the Sar Shalom lives and reigns in our hearts. Do others notice our peace?
God promises us Shalom Shalom (Perfect Peace) if we keep our minds fixed on Him: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, for in YAH, the LORD, is everlasting strength” (Isa. 26:3-4).
Love in the Sar Shalom, the Prince of Peace,
“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all” (2 Thes. 3:16).
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