This past year has given us a glimpse of what it is like to live in uncertain times. If anything, the coronavirus should have shown us just how unpredictable life can be and how fragile our world is. Just read the book of Job, and you will get a glimpse of how quickly things can change. Chaos is not just an abstract concept but is alive and capable of destroying indiscriminately and with such magnitude that no place is safe from the destruction and torment it can unleash. What happened to Job makes the coronavirus seem like a walk in the park. That is why each of us should be aware that God has placed weapons at our disposal to tear down and subdue such strongholds. 2 Cor. 10:4, “For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly but powerful through God for the tearing down of strongholds.“
The strongest of these weapons is the peace of God. Nothing destroys or neutralizes chaos more than the peace of God. In three of the gospels, the disciples talk about a raging storm that came while Jesus was asleep in the boat. (Luke 8:22-25, Matt. 8:23-27 & Mark 4:35-40). It is a storm of such magnitude that in the Greek, it references a fierce gale, a whirlwind or a wind with cyclonic gusts having such ferocity that the disciples thought this was their demise. Seeing Jesus asleep, they woke him up and watched as he took dominion over the howling wind and surging waves, and instantly peace descended, and everything became calm. It would be good for us to remember; we only have power over the storm we can sleep through.
As devastating as the sequence of events that befell Job we find the seven plagues mentioned in the book of Revelation to be equally appalling. Most of us have grown up with the thought that if something bad happened in one place we could always escape to another and come back when things were better. But the coronavirus has shown us that things can be bad world-wide. What would our reaction be if a more sinister plague along with a worldwide financial meltdown occurred. Throw in a charismatic world leader who appears to have all the right answers but in reality is a very devious and evil person. We must be wary of those who ‘dress the wounds of my people as though it were not serious. “Peace, peace, “ they say, when there is no peace. Jeremiah 8:11 They say there is shalom when there is no shalom. They act as if all is okay when, really, all is not okay.
Since the beginning mankind has greeted each other with a simple ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ when they part, however, when a Jew greets another Jew, they each greet each other, the first with the word ‘shalom,’ meaning ‘peace unto you,’ and the other with the term, ‘shalom aleichem,’ which means ‘unto you peace.’ They do this realizing they are both spiritually connected through their common bond with God. To greet each other or say goodbye using the word Shalom carries with it the intent that they would receive the fullness that God intended for the other and that godly health and prosperity would rest upon them. Shalom covers the other person with the highest good God has for that person and means, ‘upon you be peace. Shalom contains the full measure of peace, for, without it, no one can be truly whole. Perhaps, therefore, it is why it appears over 200 times in the Scriptures.
In the Bible, shalom contains a universal flourishing of wholeness, and delight. Natural needs are satisfied, and natural gifts are fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder at its Creator as the Savior opens doors and welcomes those in whom he delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be or were intended in the beginning.
Simply, the Hebrew word shalom means ‘peace.’ But more profoundly, shalom describes the character of God, Jesus is called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), and God is referred to as ‘The Lord our Peace (Judges 6:24). It also describes the Kingdom of God as described in John 14:27, Isaiah 26:3, Hebrews 13:20, Thessalonians 3:16, and Romans 16:20. But why does shalom have such power over chaos?
SHALOM – Destroys the Authority Attached to Chaos
All we have to do is look at what comprises the Hebrew word ‘shalom’. Did you know the word ‘shalom’(שלום), has an incredible prophecy within the Hebrew letters of the word? Each letter has a meaning, and when combined to make the word, it tells a profound story.
The first is Shin(ש)-a symbol for teeth, teeth that crush and destroy (DESTROY)
The second is Lamed(ל) -Shepard’s staff or (AUTHORITY)
The third is Vav(ו)-iron nail, or hook (CONNECTED WITH)
The fourth is Mem-(ם)waters (CHAOS AND CONFUSION)
When put together the letters spell out the concept behind the word for peace or Shalom – We receive peace when the authority connected with chaos and destruction in our lives is destroyed. Peace or shalom is not the absence of conflict as is often believed. True shalom is ‘the destruction of the world’s chaos by infusing the presence of God’, the only Presence that can consume the ‘one who causes the chaos.’ Shalom is not a worldly battle fought with weapons of war. It is a spiritual battle for the souls of individuals as well as humanity.
For one thing, we need to remember that “peace” is a positive concept. “Peace” is not simply the absence of violence. “Peace” is not simply saying No! to warfare. The word for “peace” in the Old Testament is the Hebrew word “shalom“. The word “shalom” is used in the Old Testament to refer to many positive things—wholeness, reconciliation, justice, creativity, compassion, love, empowerment, freedom. The Old Testament and its notion of “shalom” can help Christians broaden our understanding of “peace,” and have a positive focus.
If our desire is to be capable of sleeping in the boat like Jesus in the midst of the most violent of conditions then Philippians. 4:6-9 is how we learn to do this. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
None of us knows what tomorrow may bring but we can prepare ourselves for what might happen. Rather than be caught off guard we can carry the peace of God into all situations bringing a calmness to any situation while speaking with the authority that God possesses to control chaos. Spiritual warfare is real, and as C S. Lewis once said, “There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.” Chaos is the doormat that one must pass over when entering Satan’s domain. Our prayer for you is that you will possess a supernatural peace and authority that allows you to overcome the intent of the evil one in your life both personally and corporately.
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.