Updated: Mar 16
We are finally at the last Name in the spectacular sequence from Isaiah 9:6:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Prince of Peace, or Sar Shalom.
We see a similar Name in Judges 6, where a fearful Gideon asks God for a sign that it is really the Lord talking with him, resulting in the famous fleece situation. When Gideon realizes it is indeed the Lord, he becomes truly afraid. God's first word of comfort to him is, "Peace!" Then Gideon builds an altar to God and names it "The Lord is Peace," or YHWH Shalom.
Jesus is YHWH Shalom, but in Isaiah 9:6 we have a bit of a paradox. The "Sar" title (i.e. Prince) has military undertones to it; it typically refers to a military leader. Rather than connotating an indolent prince, this term refers to someone who is ruling over others in a military sense (https://goddidntsaythat.com/2010/01/22/who-is-the-prince-of-peace/).
These Names of God in Isaiah are fascinating paradoxes, reflecting God's unfathomable nature. We learn so much about God by seeing the Lord's descriptions of Himself.
Shalom is such an incredible term, so far beyond what the English word, "peace," conveys (although, I'm a super big fan of peace as a concept, as an idea, as a term, as a reality, in any language!). I like this description of Shalom from (https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/shalom/):
The Hebrew word for peace, shalom (שׁלום) is derived from a root denoting wholeness or completeness, and its frame of reference throughout Jewish literature is bound up with the notion of shelemut, perfection.
Its significance is thus not limited to the political domain — to the absence of war and enmity — or to the social — to the absence of quarrel and strife. It ranges over several spheres and can refer in different contexts to bounteous physical conditions, to a moral value, and, ultimately, to a cosmic principle and divine attribute.
In the Bible, the word shalom is most commonly used to refer to a state of affairs, one of well-being, tranquility, prosperity, and security, circumstances unblemished by any sort of defect. Shalom is a blessing, a manifestation of divine grace.
As the goddidntsaythat.com article says, Jesus is the Ruler in charge of Shalom.
I'm letting that idea sink over me. For each of these Names of Christ, I'd research and then write about them, and then start meditating about what this really means for me--because, as we learned, God is framing out these titles to describe His relationship to us. What does it really mean for Jesus to be my wonderful, incomprehensible, beyond understanding Counselor? Do I trust Him as the Mighty God? Am I truly resting and residing in childlike dependence upon Him as my Everlasting Father...and, similarly, am I listening to and following the example of this Father?
And, now, am I always on the right side of Shalom....do I side with the Ruler of Shalom and follow His Way of Peace?
A great blog on Sar Shalom (https://hopeondemand.com/what-is-his-name/sar-shalom) puts this so well:
Jesus, Sar Shalom, is the living embodiment of Peace who came into a world to reconcile those alienated from God and brought us peace.
As I've written before, I keep reflecting on Colossians 1:15: "The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation." What we see in Jesus teaches us Who God is. Jesus, as the Image, incarnationally displayed the way of Peace, and showed that leadership and shalom are not mutually exclusive ideas. He is our model in this.
In my line of work, I am constantly thinking about leadership approaches and frequently talk with other Christians about how believers too often turn to worldly leadership models (that are very authoritarian and are, frankly, quite ineffective long-term) rather than Biblical ones. Jesus, as always, should be our model. We shouldn't check our faith at the door of our workplaces, nor should we uncritically just emulate what we've seen modeled. How do our daily actions within the workplace mirror Christ?
I'm just wrapping up reading Henri Nouwen's book, In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership. Nouwen articulates all this so well:
The Christian leader of the future is the one who truly knows the heart of God as it has become flesh, 'a heart of flesh,' in Jesus. Knowing God's heart means consistently, radically, and very concretely to announce and reveal that God is love and only love, and that every time fear, isolation, or despair begins to invade the human soul, this is not something that comes from God...
When the members of a community of faith cannot truly know and love their shepherd, shepherding quickly becomes a subtle way of exercising power over others and begins to show authoritarian and dictatorial traits. The world in which we live--a world of efficiency and control--has no models to offer to those who want to be shepherds in the way Jesus was a shepherd...The leadership about which Jesus speaks is of a radically different kind from the leadership offered by the world. It is a servant leadership--to use Robert Greenleaf's term--in which the leader is a vulnerable servant who needs the people as much as they need their leader.
Any amount of power (even entry-level office positions can give some people a power kick...as any of us who spend any time scheduling doctor's visits or other appointments at all can attest!) can fuel our egos and lead us toward worldly, dictatorial approaches.
Only Christ can be Sar Shalom, truly reign over all and have all power and might and authority and yet do it in such a way that Peace (and Shalom Peace, at that ) is the best way to describe his authority. Still, those of us who purport to follow Him should closely study His life and example, His Way, for how we enact leadership in our various spheres and areas of influence. We'll fall short, but we contribute to the way of Peace by rejecting our sinful tendencies to promote self and self-interest and instead choose Jesus' Way.
And, amazingly, in doing this, we receive all. Matthew 6:33's amazing, "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you," comes to mind. Right before this verse, Jesus talks about the anxieties of this world--concerns over food, drink, and clothes. This is the "all these things" that verse 33 is referring to. Essentially, if we have a heavenly mindset and pursue Christ's way, He will take care of us. It's all a matter of trust--and this is what faith is!
Do we truly trust Sar Shalom, that we don't have to fight our own battles, let alone His?! Or do we mistakenly believe that "God helps those who help themselves" is a Biblical idea? Essentially, it is the antithesis of what I'm saying here. By choosing the way of peace, following the Prince of peace, and acting in peace toward others, God will so transform us and care for us that we no longer have to be concerned about the fray.