Shalom Topical Study

Preaching and Worship Resources about Shalom

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Shalom is Hebrew for peace, wholeness, completeness, harmony, welfare. It is often used to designate the Bible's description of a future state of affairs in which God establishes universal flourishing, wholeness, justice, harmony, and delight.

In Scripture

Faithfulness and Righteousness "Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky. The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase" (Ps. 85:10-12).

The Lord Is Coming to Judge the Earth "Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who live in it. Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing together for joy at the presence of the Lord, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity" (Ps. 98:7-9).

No More War "He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isa. 2:4).

New Heaven and New Earth "The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder's den" (Isa. 11:6-8).

Rich Food "On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear" (Isa. 25:6).

The Effect of Righteousness "Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness abide in the fruitful field. The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places. . . . Happy will you be who sow beside every stream, who let the ox and the donkey range freely" (Isa. 32:16-20).

Days of Mourning Shall Be Ended "The sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you by night; but the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. . . and your days of mourning shall be ended" (Isa. 60:19-20).

New Heavens and New Earth "For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth . . . no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress. No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days, or an old person who does not live out a lifetime . . . They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat . . . They shall not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity . . . The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox . . . They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the Lord" (Isa. 65:17-25).

Glory to God "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, `Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!'" (Luke 2:13-14).

The Messenger "You know the message [God] sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ — he is Lord of all" (Acts 10:36).

Justified by Faith "Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:1).

God Was Pleased to Dwell "For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross" (Col. 1:19-20).

Death Will Be No More "See, the home of God is among mortals. . . . he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away" (Rev. 21:3-4).

Points to Ponder

Cessation of War In Scripture, shalom certainly implies cessation of war. Hence the famous Isaiah 2:4 passage above ("nation shall not lift up sword against nation"). But shalom means so much more. Not only will swords no longer kill; they will be transformed into plowshares for turning good soil into a matrix for growing good food. What had hurt people now will help people. Richard Mouw suggests a contemporary equivalent: one day, intercontinental ballistic missile silos will be converted into training tanks for scuba divers. One day, drug-running power boats will pull inner-city kids who are learning to waterski.

Sin Has a Thousand Faces The great writing prophets and psalmists knew that sin has a thousand faces. They knew how many ways human life can go wrong because they knew how many ways it can go right. (You need the concept of a wall on plumb to tell when one is off.) The psalmists and prophets kept dreaming of a time when God would put things totally right. They dreamed of a new age in which human crookedness will be straightened out (justice and peace will kiss each other). Wolves and lions will be cured of carnivorous appetites and will be content to let a child lead them. Small children playing with snakes will be safe. Men and women who build houses and plant vineyards will know that no enemy will ever confiscate them. Feasts of rich food and well-aged wine will abound. Fields will be fruitful and people of the fields serene in their safety from drought and famine. In this new age nobody destroys anything, so nobody has reason to weep except for joy. People no longer sicken and die. Meanwhile, the whole creation joins the celebration — seas roaring their approval and hills singing for joy. God, humanity, and the whole creation are webbed together in justice, harmony, love, fulfillment, and delight.

Concepts of Peace The Septuagint translates shalom with eirene, suggesting real continuity between Old and New Testament concepts of peace. This is confirmed in Colossians 3:19-20, where peace achieved by Christ (himself the "Prince of Peace" if Isa. 9:6 is applied to him) seems equivalent to God reconciling "to himself all things." It is further confirmed by the major echo of Isaiah 65 in Revelation 21. The arrival of the new heaven and earth, or the coming of the kingdom of God in its fullness, seem to be New Testament ways of spelling shalom.

Culpable Vandalism Accordingly, evil may be defined as disruption of shalom and sin as disruption of shalom for which somebody is to blame. Sin is culpable vandalism of shalom.

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Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.