A few years ago, my sister made me listen to a short sermon series on the Hebrew word shalom. A mere 3 three short messages, but they have affected the way I think and pray ever since. This word is normally translated as “peace” in English because it’s the closest concept, but according to Ben Stuart, “peace” cannot bench the weight of shalomShalom is not just the absence of harmful things; it is also the presence of beneficial things. It’s when everything works, everything is the way it should be. Everything is going the way God designed – Mark Driscoll describes it as the “intended state of perfect beauty in all things.”  Shalom is the highest thing you can ask for somebody, which is why it was used as a greeting and also a farewell.

This changes a lot of things. God as Jehovah-Shalom is not just a God who provides inner tranquility, but is a God who is actively working for restoration. As the Prince of Peace, Jesus brings shalom to, makes things right in, a broken world (sin can be thought of as anti-shalom). “Go in peace” means “I am taking your sin and shame and giving you shalom, wholeness.” His punishment on the cross bought our shalom, restoring relationship with God and others. Coming from a Hebrew background, Jesus wasn’t saying “Blessed are the people who don’t fight” when He said “Blessed are the peacemakers.” He was saying, “Blessed are the ones who go around righting wrongs.”

And there is this verse that has been on my mind the past few months:

Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you…and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

Those “welfares” are translated in a few versions as “peace,” because the Hebrew word there is shalom. Put down roots, and pray for the shalom of the city where God sends you. For me, that city is Marseille. We have been prayerwalking at night lately – at night because we are specifically praying for a certain group of women who tend to work late at night. And I ask for shalom for them. Not for conviction, or justice, or repentance – but shalom. I pray that what is wrong in their lives will be made right. I pray that what is wrong in Marseille will be restored to the way things should be. I pray songs over my city (not out loud, though):

God of heaven come
Breathe peace
Breathe your peace on us
So we might breathe you deep

And:

You bring peace
Jesus, bring peace

And I pray that God will allow me, Jake, and our team to be part of Him bringing shalom to Marseille. I pray that we will be a part of setting things right, pushing back the darkness, restoring what’s been broken, adding beauty, putting things back the way they’re supposed to be – the way they were meant to be.

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