Getting To Know God
Jehovah Shalom - Perfect Justice, Peace & Praise
The LORD Our Peace - The Prince Of Peace - The Just Judge - The Praise Of God - The Perfection Of God
A Passion For Peace
When people think of the peace of God, we don’t usually have a problem thinking about the results of God’s works to bring peace. However, we don’t always think about the work that the Just Judge has to do in order to make things peaceful. In Numbers 25:11-13, a priest named Phinehas expressed the character of God as Jehovah Shalom. When Israel was sinning against God, Phinehas was filled with the zeal of the LORD, took a spear, and killed two people who were mocking God in the sin they were committing. God was pleased that the priest did what needed to be done to purge the corruption from His people. It was better for that corruption to be destroyed, than the whole congregation to be judged by God. God was so pleased, He made a special covenant with Israel, promising to keep the priesthood and ministry of intercession in Israel forever! He is willing to offer forgiveness, but not at the expense of justice. Someone has to pay the penalty of sin, and that penalty is brutal! We can’t appreciate the joy of God’s peace without considering the violent nature in which it comes. Phinehas was a priest that understood this dynamic. Jesus is our Great High Priest that took on the full scope of the Father’s judgment against sin in order to bring peace – but it wasn’t pretty! Like with Phinehas, blood had to be shed to restore God’s relationship with His people. Our aim was to present an image reflecting the difficulty of the brutal work that has to be done to shed blood, in order to bring reconciliation with God.
The Effect Of Perfect Praise
Those who have received the peace of God through faith in the work Jesus did to reconcile us to the Father, are forever changed! According to the Bible, that change is primarily reflected through our praises to God. As we gradually grow in understanding who God is that saved us from hell, and the manner in which we did it, we should grow in gratitude. That gratitude is expressed through praise. We can’t help but speak well of Him because we’re no longer enemies of His, but instead, being conformed into the likeness of His glory. This praise is expressed through our passionate pursuit of Him through the Word, to learn more about Him, in order to praise Him with understanding. To communicate this idea, we knew we wanted to show someone reading the Bible. That’s where we learn about who God is, the extent of His righteousness. Our praises come in response to what we learn of God from the Bible. However, we also wanted to show the peace of God that comes through the Son. So, we had this idea to take a silhouetted picture of someone reading the Word, being overshadowed by the sun. This is the image that we came up with. The icing on the cake was that, where we took this picture, we noticed this tiny cross on the peak of the hill, which we thought was fitting. That cross was right by the sun, which illuminated our subject reading the Bible. That’s how it works! That’s how peace comes!
Utterly Cut Off
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is Biblically referred to as “Good News.” The testimony of God’s willingness to restore dead and corrupted souls to Himself, is Good News. The testimony of the work God did to transform those who were once His enemies, into His servants and children, is Good News. The peace that God provides for those who believe in the testimony of His Word, is Good News! The guarantee that God provides to His people to eternally bless them in His presence, because of the work He did to destroy the wicked one, and the sin he imparted to us, is GREAT NEWS! It’s no wonder God values those who proclaim this message. It’s no wonder God values the feet of those who carry the message of His good news. Though the message is foolishness to some, and is exceptionally difficulty to carry and distribute, it is highly prized in the eyes of God, and so too are the men and women who serve Him this way. We wanted to capture, not just the feet that God utilizes to spread the Word, but also capture the difficulty AND peace that comes from it. In the image, the ground is hard, rough, dry, and desolate. This would be a brutal road to travel long distance, barefoot. Nevertheless, the backlight of the sun coming through the brush in the back, illuminates the path, making the trek doable, and profitable. Likewise, the light of the Son of God illuminates the difficult path that the Father has ordained for those who carry the Good News message of His peace, since He values this message so highly, receiving praises from those who receive it with joy!
Jesus’ first arrival was for the purpose of destroying the works of the devil through humility, as the Lamb of God who would be offered for the sin of the world. The results of Jesus’ work would produce praises, but Jesus was sure to avoid public adulation until the right time. However, one of those times was at the Triumphal Entry. In fact, one of the proofs of Jesus being the Messiah, was the specific praise He received on that day. It was a fulfillment of Bible prophecy from the Book of Daniel. The fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy and Psalm 118 combined, proved that Jesus was the Messiah – the One appointed by the Father to bring peace to the people of God by atoning for sin. The people praised Jesus on this epic day by laying palm branches before Him, in celebration of His arrival into Jerusalem, welcoming Him for a time, as their Messiah King. Though they soon rejected Jesus, the Triumphal Entry was proof that Jesus’ death on the cross, just one week later, had the utmost importance! The Triumphal Entry proved that Jesus was qualified to bring the peace of God through His sacrifice. In our picture, we wanted to illustrate the quality of peace that comes from Jesus. Jesus’ peace brings rest to our souls, by taking away the burden of condemnation from sin. We wanted to capture an image that communicated peaceful rest, but somehow tying things back to Jesus and the Triumphal Entry. We loved the idea of palm trees being our connection, and on this particular day, the LORD produces a SPECTACULAR sky to show how beautiful His rest and peace can be, because of Jesus’ blood that separates us from sin, and the consequences of it.
Without the forgiveness of sin, fulfilled by the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus Christ, all people are enemies of God. As enemies of God, we are severely handicapped. We can’t produce any righteousness pleasing to God. We can’t access the wisdom that comes from God. We can’t even know God. This is why those who reject the grace of God that comes from Jesus, are judged by condemnation – eternal separation from God. Those people are without righteousness, without wisdom, and don’t even know God in order to praise and worship Him, which is the only thing that happens in heaven. The brutal death of Jesus Christ as the Prince of Peace, changes all of that. The Apostle Paul described the benefits of Jesus’ sacrifice as “reconciliation.” This means that, our previously corrupted relationship with God, is restored because of what Jesus did. The access we didn’t have before, is no longer an issue. We now have access! Those who trust in the testimony of the work God did to offer peace with Him through faith in Jesus’ life and ministry, are restored unto God. We are no longer locked out of His goodness, His wisdom, His righteousness, or His blessings. In fact, scripture commands the people of God to “boldly” approach the throne of God to receive the benefits that come exclusively by faith in who Jesus is, and what He did. To communicate this concept, we thought it would be cool to show a dirty old lock that was discarded, as if the lock that kept people from God for so long, was now an ancient artifact. We came up with the concept of showing this old-style lock, broken on the sand of the beach, as if it was cast into the ocean, and was washed up on shore, rusted, filled with sand, consumed by seaweed, dysfunctional in every way. We also wanted to show the beauty of the sun in the horizon to illustrate that, because this lock has been rendered useless because, we aren’t shackled to death anymore, and can freely walk in the direction of the Light, where beauty, rest, and peace are.