Sep 9, 2009


Things May Not Be What They Seem

A fable was tossed around the Internet about a blind lady who had her seeing eye dog with her on a flight. The flight was diverted and delayed. Once on the ground, she was asked by the pilot if she would like to disembark briefly. She told the pilot no, but her dog might like to stretch his legs. So the pilot, in his sunglasses, takes the seeing eye dog for a little walk. This was not well received by boarding passengers.

The situation in Israel was dire. Food and livestock were scarce because of the seven-year Midianite and Amalekite oppression. Gideon is threshing wheat (pounding the stalks of wheat to separate the grains from the outer shell and stalks) in a wine press to prevent the Midianite raiders from discovering him and separating him from his food and his head from his body. They had already killed his two brothers at Tabor.

The Angel of the Lord appears, sitting under an oak tree near the city of Ophrah, where Gideon is threshing, and says “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” (Judges 6:12, NIV). At this, Gideon, not realizing who he is speaking to, cynically answers,

“…if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian.” (Judges 6:13, NIV)
Gideon was one of at least three sons of Joash, a man of some wealth and standing in Ophrah (within the tribal allotment of Manasseh), who had an altar to Baal and an Asherah pole beside it. The people of the city came to this altar at Joash’s house to worship these idols.

God had just sent a prophet to inform the Israelites of the reason He had given them over to their enemies. From the beginning, God had told them the He was their God, and that they were not to worship the Amorite gods; but they had not listened. And here is Gideon, whose father has an idol worship center at his home, bitter and complaining that God, if He ever did do any miraculous things, certainly doesn’t now, isn’t with them, and has abandoned them to these Midianites.

Can we see anything in this that applies to us? Any similarities in the way God deals with us as His family? Ever been a father? Ever had to discipline your kids? Did you ever wish your kids would realize that you had their well-being in mind when you instructed them? Do you ever blame God for your circumstances? Here are a few things that come to mind from this account:

In Israel’s hopeless condition, when they cried out to God, even while some were still worshiping idols, God reached out to deliver. He did this for His own Name's sake and out of love for them. God's dealing with Israel is instructive to us and serves as a reminder of His first loving us with a love so deep and profound that it culminated in His offering up His only Son for our sins when we had no hope or desire for Him:

“ You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8 NIV. See also Ephesians 2:11-12)
When the Angel of the Lord hailed Gideon as a “mighty warrior” He was not being sarcastic, but knew what Gideon was to become in a few days. This was actually an encouragement. Our paths can be radically altered by trusting in God, especially in the midst of fears and doubts.

It is easy to blame God when bad things happen, especially if we are in a condition where He is somewhere near the bottom of our “to-do” list rather than in the preeminent position He deserves. This way we don’t have to face our own condition before a Holy God and deal with the question of whether or not the source of the problem lies within us.

We are going to see that contrary to the way things seemed to Gideon, God was acting for His own Name's sake and out of love for His people and had not abandoned them. We will see Him patiently working with Gideon, a cynical, skeptical, fearful man to radically change his life. The result would be the emergence of a fearless trust in God and the deliverance of an entire nation.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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