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Read: Genesis 15:12-16

For years I’ve closed my WISH posts with, “Shalom”, a Hebrew word that is translated in the Old Testament as “peace”. Genesis 15:15 is the first place the word “shalom” occurs in the Bible. It comes as a word of hope, promise, and reassurance from God to Abraham: “As for yourself, you shall go to your ancestors in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age.”

Shalom means more than “peace”, and I want to take this opportunity to remind us all of the rich depth of it’s meaning. First, “God’s peace” is a better translation than simple “peace”, but there is so much more. Shalom means health, harmony, and wholeness in EVERY area of life. That sounds pretty good to me. We live in a frazzled and fractured culture, and Shalom is not easy to achieve. Shalom involves finding God’s will or seeking God’s will in every aspect of our lives: in our relationships, at home, in the workplace, neighborhood, at leisure and recreation, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, environmentally, ecologically, financially, in body, mind and spirit. Shalom is comprehensive.

In Jewish culture, “Shalom” was used as both a greeting and a farewell, like the word “aloha” in Hawaii. Shalom is also a blessing. When you say, “shalom” to someone you are wishing them health, harmony, and wholeness in EVERY aspect of their life. Shalom, with its holistic blessing and wisdom, is perhaps the most neglected spiritual truth of the Bible. It’s also what most of us long for in life. Abraham received a prophetic dream from God and the vision terrified him; that’s when God, like a mother calming her child after a nightmare, offered reassurance and peace, God’s peace. Abraham had assurance that his life would fulfill God’s purpose, have great meaning, and will come to an end in the best of all possible ways. That is a very good place to be.

Methodists believe that we may have “assurance of faith”, that is, confidence in our salvation. That assurance can give us freedom to live life in Christ, abundant life, without fear, in the love and joy that God intends. Praise be to the God of peace (Romans 15:33, 16:20, Philippians 4:9, 1Th. 5:23, Heb. 13:20).

Shalom,
Pastor Rob Nystrom