Judges 6, 20-24
20 The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And Gideon did so. 21 Then the angel of the Lord touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the Lord disappeared. 22 When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord, he exclaimed, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!”
23 But the Lord said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.”
24 So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
What is peace? An absence of conflict, certainly, but more than that. A feeling of peace can come for me when I’m walking in a quiet place, with only the sounds of birds in the air. Peace is sitting by the ocean, listening to the sound of waves rolling into shore. Peace is a good feeling to know I’ve gotten done the work I needed to do for the day, and I can relax.
Peace is also a revelation. What I should have received I did not; what I did not expect I received. Gideon realized that he was in the presence of a heavenly being. Like oil on water, human and angelic beings do not mix. Gideon was justifiably afraid. But God said, “Peace!”
It was amazing to Gideon that God singled him out and gave him important work to do. Peace was the feeling that God deemed him trustworthy. He was not judged for his wrongdoing but lifted up and given grace. It was such a significant moment for Gideon that he built an altar to the Lord in that spot.
I think Gideon is saying to remember these moments when God is fully present with you. Peace is your gift of being in the presence of the Lord. Remember the clarity of knowing how much God loves you, and feeling God’s arms around you. You are fully accepted and blessed with work for which God has uniquely qualified you. Be not afraid to take up that work, but be at peace with it.
Fear is being absent from you, Lord, while peace is the joy of knowing you are there. Fear is the opposite of love; fear comes from our worry about judgment. Let us instead know your peace, for we have been blessed with forgiveness and grace in Jesus Christ, and you ask us to serve and care for others in his name. Surround us with your peace, O Lord. Amen.