SHALOM A Hebrew term for peace which describes comprehensive well-being. Shalom, while used in a daily greeting among the Hebrews, is a weighty theological term in the Old Testament. Shalom embraces concepts of harmony, security, serenity, right relationships, wholeness, health, prosperity, and even success. The term may refer to a condition or a relationship, and in the latter designates a right relationship to God.

God is the source of shalom and offers shalom to those who trust him (Ps. 29:11; Isa. 26:3). Shalom has a social dimension; it is understandably linked with righteousness (Isa. 32:17). “The prophets’ positive call for justice (see Amos 5:15, 24) is not a call of individual charity but to establish the structures of justice—the prerequisites for shalom” (Yoder: 47).

Shalom is a repeated theme in Jeremiah. A group of prophets, whom Jeremiah branded as deceitful, promised shalom or peace (14:13f.; 23:17). This promise for shalom was made in the face of gross unrighteousness in Judah and despite the approach of an enemy power, the Babylonians. But shalom was not in store for God’s people because of their social injustices and their disregard for, even defiance of, God. With society so thoroughly characterized by evil, the prophetic word could not be one of peace (28:9). God had withdrawn his shalom from his people. To make that point memorable, Jeremiah was not to socialize by attending funerals or joyous celebrations (16:5).

Yet God desired to bless his people with shalom. Following judgment on his people, he declares, “For I know the plans that I have for you … plans for welfare [shalom] and not calamity to give you a future and a hope” (29:11, NASB). In the book of comfort is included the promise, “I will bring health [shalom] and healing to it.…” (33:6). — E. A. Martens, Jeremiah, Believers Church Bible Commentary (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1986), 308–309.

I have just completed a seven-part Bible Study called Ancient Words. It explores seven key Hebrew words we need to understand in order to really understand the gospel. This article is an excerpt from this Bible study. The Bible Study is available on Amazon. It is also avail as well as part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking subscription service.

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