Judges 6:22-24 KJV
22 And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the LORD, Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord GOD! for because I have seen an angel of the LORD face to face.”
23 And the LORD said unto him, “Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.”
24 Then Gideon built an altar there unto the LORD, and called it Jehovahshalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
There is a moment in every Christian’s life when they first realize that God truly does desire to help them and not to harm them. It is that moment when we finally realize the weight of our past sins is bearing down upon us, and we see that we are truly depraved at heart. Perhaps we are leading a better life at the time, and we are already turning to God for peace and release, or perhaps someone has been teaching us the Word of God, showing us the gospel influence in their own life. But for every one of us believers, there is one particular moment when the weight of all our sin comes crashing down, and we realize two things: how unworthy we are to stand before God, and how much we need a Savior to make us worthy. And then comes what I like to call the “Gospel Moment.”
What is the Gospel Moment? It is that point at which, despite all our past sin, despite our previous half-hearted attempts at repentance, despite our feelings of shame and guilt, we finally realize that God does not want to destroy us but wants to bless us. It’s what Jesus was talking about in John 3:16-17:
John 3:16-17 NKJV
16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
17 “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
God loves us and seeks our good, not our punishment. Yes, He can and will punish us for disobedience, and He will discipline us when we stray from His will, but ultimately, He seeks peace for us. And lest anyone get the idea that this is simply a New Testament idea—supposing as some do that God is somehow different between the Old and New Testaments—we can find many examples in the Old Testament of God reminding us that He wants to help and heal us.
Gideon’s story is one such example. When the angel of the Lord first showed up to Gideon, the young man questioned whether God really did favor Israel anymore, and he challenged the angel to demonstrate his true nature. And as we see in the verses above, once Gideon saw the work of the angel of the Lord, we was convinced. Of course, that’s when Gideon had his revelation, that moment of knowing how unworthy he was to stand before God and His angels. Having seen an angel, Gideon was convicted in his own heart, and he believed that the angel would surely carry out God’s judgment upon him, a lowly sinner.
But then Gideon gets the good news: “Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die.” (v.23 NKJV) It is the same news the shepherds received on the night Jesus was born:
Luke 2:8-12 NKJV
8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.
10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
11 “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12 “And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
“Do not fear” repeat the angels throughout the Bible. At the Annunciation to Mary, the angel says it. To prophets and patriarchs throughout the Bible, the angels and the Lord Himself remind us “do not fear.” Hundreds of times in the Bible, God tells us not to fear His presence. That is not to say we should not fear His judgment, for we should.
2 Peter 3:9 NKJV
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
The Lord suffers long with our sin and disobedience because He desires our repentance, our turning away from our past evil ways. He desires faith and justice and mercy among us. And so His presence among us is a good thing, because He is taking a special interest in us. As the Lord says to Gideon, He wants peace for us.
So Gideon has his Gospel Moment, that time when the good news of salvation finally hits him. And He responds just the way others have before and after him: Gideon worships the Lord and praises Him as the God of peace, Jehovah-Shalom.
When was your Gospel Moment, that time when you realized that the Lord wanted peace for you, that His desire is repentance and not wrath? When did the Lord finally break through to you past all previous sin and shame, to touch your heart with the Living Word? And more importantly, what have you done since that time? The apostle Paul reminds us a couple of times that we must “redeem the time” in which we live, that we should not waste it in vain pursuits but devote it to God, for the Lord will return when we least expect Him. (Ephesians 5:15-16, Colossians 4:5) How are we redeeming the time since we had our Gospel Moments? If you need examples of how to redeem the time, read your Bible and follow the stories of those who faced the Lord or His angels and received the good news of peace and salvation. Look at Moses and Jacob, at Samson’s father and mother, and at Gideon and the prophets. Look at the Apostles such as Peter and Paul. Look at the stories in the Gospels like the woman at the well and little Zacchaeus. Look at their lives, and how they received the good news and what they did next.
The Lord our God truly is Jehovah-Shalom, “The LORD is Peace.” He loves us all and desires what is good for us. He does not want us to keep living mundane lives, to stay in the rut of our worldly ways but to break free into new life, and to find peace in Him and with Him. Gideon had his Gospel Moment, and he went on to fight against the idolaters and oppressors of his day, and he freed Israel and brought them peace all around. If you’ve had your own Gospel Moment, what will you do?
O Father of Peace, O Lord of Glory, thank You for lifting us up, for seeking our salvation when we did not seek You. We praise You, Father God, for Your mercy and grace, and we welcome the peace which only You can give. We pray, precious Lord, that You grant us wisdom and passion to follow Your ways and to glorify You in all things. May we redeem the time we have remaining, stirring up Your Spirit within us so we accomplish what You have set each of us to do. Amen.