Getting Equipped

Biblical shalom involves wholeness, delight, and a sense of meaning and purpose for all of God’s creation. Shalom is the way things are supposed to be! This includes four facets: peace with nature, peace in society, peace with ourselves, and peace with God. This is the second in the series on peace with God.

At the end of the Book of Hebrews, there is a beautiful benediction that reads as follows: “May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the Sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” (13:20-21).

Because the readers of this book were most likely Jewish converts familiar with the Old Testament, the images used in this benediction would have communicated a powerful message. The “God of peace,” a familiar descriptive title in the Old Testament, was linked to his covenant and to his son, the “great Shepherd” as described by the prophets.

This reference might bring to mind the prophecy of Isaiah, for example, where he describes the Lord who is coming and who will “tend his flock like a shepherd” and will “gather the lambs in his arms” and ”carry them close to his heart” (Isaiah 40:11). After grounding this prayer in words that religious Jews would recognize, the author went on to the heart of his petition: the equipping of the saints “with everything good for doing his will.”

The Amplified Bible adds a helpful insight with its translation of these words: “Strengthen (complete, perfect) and make you what you ought to be.” J. B. Phillips’ paraphrase puts it this way: “Equip you thoroughly for the doing of his will.” God’s plan is to enable us to be agents of his Kingdom and he promises to give us the strength and ability to do the job.

Followers of Jesus have a unique opportunity to be involved in the implementation of God’s strategic plan for history. In fact, this benediction in Hebrews tells us that we will find our greatest fulfillment in life as men and women when we do God’s will. Determining God’s will for our time is not always easy, but being shalom-makers – working for peace, is certainly part of our calling. Anything less will leave us unfulfilled and dissatisfied.

Here’s the bottom line: Peace with God comes at God’s initiative and is available to us by faith alone. Peace with God means we can be equipped with everything we need to do his will and this brings pleasure to him and honors Jesus, our Lord. Peace with God means we can become what we ought to be – truly and fully human as God’s creations.

So What?

  • Have you ever worked hard at something only to achieve it and feel let down, unfulfilled, unsatisfied? Can you pinpoint why?
  • And have you worked hard at something and felt satisfied and fulfilled? Can you figure out what was the difference?
  • God promises to equip us, so why are we afraid to step out in faith? Learning to trust in God’s promises requires that we have the courage to “step out of the boat,” like Peter did, but without looking down at the waves.