January 15

“And the Lord appeared unto Isaac the same night.” Genesis 26:24

“’Appeared the same night,’ the night on which he went to Beer-sheba. Do you think this revelation was an accident? Do you think the time of it was an accident? Do you think it could have happened on any other night as well as this? If so, you are grievously mistaken. Why did it come to Isaac in the night on which he reached Beer-sheba? Because that was the night on which he reached rest. In his old locality, he had been tormented. . . He determined to leave. He sought change of scene. He pitched his tent away from the place of former strife. That very night the revelation came. God spoke when there was no inward storm. He could not speak when the mind was fretted; His voice demands the silence of the soul. Only in the hush of the spirit could Isaac hear the garments of his God sweep by. His still night was his starry night.” Streams in the Desert

We are acquainted with the Western version that peace is the absence of conflict, but the biblical portrayal is quite different. Shalom is the Hebrew word. In English, the word “peace” conjures up a passive picture, one revealing an absence of civil disturbance or hostilities, or a personality free from internal and external strife. The biblical concept of peace is larger than that and means “to be complete” or “to be sound.” Instead of something vacating, it is an ushering in of something greater, more desireable. The noun had many nuances, but can be grouped into four categories: shalom as wholeness of life or body (i.e., health); as right relationship or harmony between two parties or people, often established by a covenant; prosperity, success, or fulfillment; and victory over one’s enemies resulting in the cessation of conflict. Shalom was used in both greetings and farewells and was meant to act as a blessing on the one to whom it was spoken: “May your life be filled with health, prosperity, and victory.”

Shalom is not the absence of something, but is instead its preferred replacement. Peace is not absence of fear, conflict, violence, anxiety, etc.; it is the presence of someone who brings with her or him positive reinforcements—confidence, joy, resolution, love. Shalom and surrender are necessary companions. For the Christ-follower, experiencing Peace is experiencing a Person. Peace enters as we relinquish fear, anxiety, and anything else that scratches and claws at our heart, and recognize the resilient presence of One who whispers: “Peace I give you. Peace I leave with you. Let not your hearts be troubled . . .”

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