Numbers 6:24-27 “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace(Shalom). “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”
I recently lost an old friend to cancer. She was jewish by heritage and yet she was a faithful follower of Christ. Her husband is in the process of grieving her loss and likewise many who knew her, she had such a joy to her life and everyone knew it. A frequent greeting you’d hear from her was the term ‘Shalom’, it is an old jewish custom to greet people with this term. Traditionally it is a common refrain that implies not being at war or a harmony between people, but it also means so much more.
In an age when war is looming across the world, Shalom seems a fitting reminder of what can be. Security and freedom from violence is something many pray for today and the idea of serenity and tranquility is something the world has sought for generations but is only promised to God’s people.
Depth of Peace
One of my favorite authors is C.J. Lovik. I love the way he breaks down the Hebrew language in a way that gives a much greater depth of meaning.
When considering the word Shalom, the phonetic meaning has a richness to it that gives a sense of peace for all who listen. When examined at it’s finer elements, the term can be prophetic.
Read from right to left the individual elements of the Hebrew language provides context and purpose. The language is the only language in the world that has 3 levels of meaning to it’s form—Phonetic, pictorial, and numerical.
Mem, Vav, Lamed, Shin
The meaning of each letter likewise contains depth:
- Shin-teeth; gives the meaning to destroy
- Lamed-shepherd’s staff; signifies authority
- Vav-Nail or hook; connected (with)
- Mem-flood or Tsunami; indicates chaos and confusion
When examined in it’s finer elements, the term Shalom becomes a reminder of how the authority connected with chaos and destruction will be destroyed.
Every time you utter the word ‘Shalom’, you are uttering a prophetic prayer how someone will destroy Satan, the authority of chaos and confusion. The only one capable of bringing peace upon the world is the author of Peace—Jesus.
Go in Peace
Judges 18:6 “And the priest said to them, “Go in peace. The presence of the LORD be with you on your way.”
Examine the scriptures and see how many times this phrase was used, “Go, in peace”. If I was to receive someone’s blessing before I ventured off on a journey, this refrain might have been used. It sure sounds nice and my immediate thought would be a confirmation that I’m not acting contrary to God’s purpose for my life.
There were other times when people would ask about the other’s well being, the term shalom was also used in this sense.
Exodus 18:7 “Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. And they asked each other of their welfare(Shalom) and went into the tent.”
As we examine the use of this greeting or farewell, we see it beginning to take form.
The well being of a person is contained in the provision of God’s grace both now and to come.
God’s promised blessing to Israel included the Shalom(peace) of God.
Leviticus 26:6 “I will give peace(shalom) in the land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid. And I will remove harmful beasts from the land, and the sword shall not go through your land.”
A peace the world looks for is found in the hands of God—He makes peace for those to whom He has favored, for those who live by righteousness.
Genesis 28:20-21 “Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace(Shalom), then the Lord shall be my God.”
The revelation of Shalom is a reminder of the spiritual war being waged around us. Jacob understood the value of God’s protection, knowing in sovereignty the Lord protects his way.
Psalm 4:8 “In peace(shalom) I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
For people who face a constant threat of attack, these reminders are very valuable. We can rest and know the Lord watches over us. With the uncertainty of war and violence, we can pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are living these experiences first hand today.
Genesis 37:4 “And his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers; and so they hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms(shalom).”
When Jesus took our sin upon Himself, he made a way for us to come to terms with God on a level of friendship, rather than as enemies. People who live in sin, live as offenders against God’s holiness. When a person submits to Christ’s redemptive call, they humbly come before Him in repentance. The grace afforded God’s people, through the Son, makes them acceptable in His sight.
James 2:23 “And the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.”
Righteousness is exhibited in the one who walks in obedience. The moral law is the banner over which all obedience proceeds.
Genesis 43:28 “And they answered, “Your servant our father is in good health(shalom); he is still alive.” And they bowed their heads down and prostrated themselves.”
To wish someone Shalom, is to wish them good health. The thought makes sense to me, the people who are fraught with bad health are usually very troubled. The ones who can maintain peace in the midst of sickness are the ones who are confident in their Creator.
One of the greatest priorities for people is maintaining their health, and sometimes this reality is beyond their control. We can either fret over our circumstances, fearing the future, or we can keep our eyes on our Savior, knowing He is sovereign over all our circumstances.
The depth of meaning in every aspect of God’s Word reminds us of how much more there is to be found in our relationship to God. Consider how many inflections are derived from this greeting alone and remember the promises of God are true, there are many more joys just waiting to be known.
Addendum: I shared this post with my brother in Christ who recently lost his lovely bride and he responded with a perspective I thought would be worth sharing. His wife who was Jewish by descent, Christian by nature, talked often about this concept and so he shared a small portion of what she left behind.
“She explained the deeper meaning of the word Shalom when the baby sleeps when the snow has fallen when your in the waiting room for the Dr to call you in that’s calm, but when the baby is teething, the wind and storm slams your house and the words terminal are spoken in the Dr’s office that’s where Shalom comes in, it’s in the face of chaos and heartbreak. The word Shalom comes in When Jesus broke the bread and wine, He knew these men were going to pay with there lives a brutal death He said go in Shalom (this the world does not understand).”Wayne
She was right, the world does not understand this concept—but how could they? True peace comes from the Prince of Peace and the world does not know Him.
We must share Jesus with the world, the peace they seek—we have! I hope the legacy, left by faithful believers throughout history would continue in God’s people today—until He returns…