In ancient Israel there was only one place to find peace and that was at the Tabernacle (which during the period of the kings was replaced by the Temple, yet the purpose remained the same). The Tabernacle was constructed during the days of Moses in the Wilderness at God’s command (Ex. 25:8-9) and according to His instructions. Once erected the Tabernacle was the official place to bring sacrifices and offerings to God in order to restore a relationship with Him (Ex. 20:24; 24:5; 29:28; Lev. 3-4; 7:11-18; Num. 10:10; Ezek. 45:13-17). During the 40 years Israel spent moving throughout the wilderness due to their disobedience at Kadesh Barnea (Num. 14:1-38) the Tabernacle moved with them. But after the conquest of the Promised Land, Joshua set up the Tabernacle at a place called Shiloh, which literally means “Tranquility Town”. Archaeological excavations of this site have uncovered several buildings that were most likely related to the worship practices that were associated with the Tabernacle.
Shiloh appears several times over the course of Israel’s history. It is noted in the period of the judges that a yearly festival took place there where young virgins would dance (Jud. 21:19-21). Elkanah brought his family to Shiloh for a yearly pilgrimage and it is where Hannah, his wife, receives the promise she will bear a son, and then brings him back to serve in the priesthood (1 Sam. 1-3) after promising to give the child back to the Lord. Joshua and the high priest Eleazer the High Priest also divided the land among the tribes there (Jos. 18:1-10). Archaeological evidence shows that the Philistines destroyed Shiloh after capturing the Ark of the Covenant in a battle at nearby Ebenezer (1 Sam. 4:1-10; Ps. 78:58-61) although the Bible does not mention it specifically. The city’s only mention in later Biblical history is as the hometown of the prophet Ahijah during the reign of Jeroboam 1 (1 Ki. 14:4). The prophet Jeremiah however, uses it as an example of God’s judgment when he warns the people of Judah and Jerusalem that God is about to do the same as the Philistines had for their blatant disregard of their covenant with Him (Jer. 7:12-14; 26:6).
The Bible states the greatest peace disrupter is the sin of disobedience. It’s apparent from the start. Adam and Eve lived in perfect peace with God until they disobeyed His command and ate from the forbidden tree (Gen. 3:1-24). The Bible states more than once that the way to keep peace with God is to obey His commandments therefore one should diligently pursue understanding and obeying them (Jb. 22:21-30; Ps. 34:8-14; 37:37; 119:165; Pr. 3:1-2; 14:30; Mt. 5:9; Rom. 2:10; 5:1; 14:19; Phil. 4:9; Heb. 12:14; 1 Pet. 3:11; 2 Pet. 3:14). But we are all well aware of how short-lived our good intentions are and even if we are able to follow God’s commands overall, there is no way we can fully erase the sin-factor in our lives (Rom. 3:23) but thanks to the Ultimate Peacemaker (Rom. 3:21-26) we can have peace with God and peace with one another (Eph. 2:1-18). In fact, a peaceful person is evidence that the Spirit is working in that person (Gal. 5:22; Heb. 13:20-21).
The Tannersville Cranberry Bog is a truly unique and beautiful environment. I have the privilege of living close to it and have had several opportunities to photograph it with my photo club. On my most recent photo walk through the bog I found myself separated from the rest of the group in a shady area. I stopped to listen to some birds chattering away in a nearby pine tree. I watched the sunlight dancing on the pathway as a gentle breeze pushed the leaves of other trees back and forth. An overwhelming sense of peace and well-being surrounded me. It was a great feeling. But I knew it wasn’t due to the beautiful day or the wonder of the creation around me. I knew it was due to what Christ has done on the cross. As my Peacemaker (Gen. 49:10), He is the one who has brought peace into my life (Jn. 14:27; Rom. 5:1). He can do the same for you (Phil 4:4-7). Shiloh is your place of peace.
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
Week of 8/27/2017