What do we mean by the word shalom? We typically equate shalom with the English word "peace." Unfortunately, we often insufficiently equate peace to the absence of war or anxiety. Shalom means so much more. Here are just a few ways shalom is used in the Old Testament. The words representing shalom are in bold.
Absence of War
Personal welfare of people and animals
Peace of mind
These are just a few samples of the many shades of shalom. There are other more nuanced meanings as well. All seem to point toward a combination of wholeness, wellness, and harmonious relationships.
There are three more shalom passages that merit our special attention. These passages show the centrality of shalom to God's vision for humanity. The first passage is the Priestly Prayer from the Old Testament and the other two are messianic prophecies.
Numbers 6:24-26 (NRSV)
the LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
Isaiah 9:6-7 (NRSV)
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
Ezekiel 37:24-28 (NRSV)
Shalom is the best descriptor of life at the end of Genesis 2. Shalom is also the best descriptor for the state of affairs at the end of time as evidenced in the last two passages. Shalom has many facets including and an economic facet. Economic issues are integral to the concept. Economics is about our interaction with matter, energy, and ideas. Our work, interacting with the created order, is integral to who we are. God’s primary mission for us, given the opening chapters of Genesis, is to care for creation and enhance it in ways that reflect God’s values. Human work is of God. The development and distribution of resources is integral to God's mission for humanity. There can be no shalom without God honoring economic enterprise.