Have you ever noticed the number of times in the Bible that people interact with God Himself, their Creator, the Almighty... and don’t realize it at first? Sometimes not even until afterward? Can you imagine not noticing God’s presence if He shows up?! But we do it all the time to the God who never leaves us. We’re blissfully unaware He’s here. So maybe it’s not too hard to resonate with the encounter between God and Gideon when God’s name, Jehovah Shalom, is revealed for the first (and only) time in the Bible.
In today’s text from Judges 6, Gideon has encountered God. The Mighty King shows up to have a conversation… one that is both encouraging and compelling. When Gideon pushes back, God gives him a simple mission, just one tiny challenge to carry out: He is supposed to make some food, put it on a rock, and pour some broth over it. Not too terribly tough an assignment, right? You or I could take those steps. But God is behind this… fire flares from the rock, and the whole arrangement burns up! From Gideon’s unknowing point of view, it appears to spontaneously combust—although we know what happened and who was responsible.
In the end, Gideon knew too. And he was undone by the realization that he’s been talking with God Himself. Gideon is freaked out and, well, assumes he’s about to die. But God says words that bring peace into a moment of sheer terror: “Do not be afraid. You will not die.” So Gideon does what one does when they encounter God… they make a plan to never forget that moment. He builds an altar and names the spot Jehovah Shalom, meaning “The Lord is peace.” What a reminder!
And what a reminder for us today. Romans 5 reminds us we have peace with God because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. His sacrifice made the way for us to move into a close relationship with God and be not just tolerated, but welcome in His presence.
Psalm 9:10 says that those who know God’s name trust in Him. When He reveals a name, it comes with a reflection of His character… it’s not just a proper name, but who and how He is, what He does, and why. Do you know God as Jehovah Shalom? Ask Him to show you this name in the coming days.