Judges 6-7: For the LORD and for Gideon!
April 14, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
The pattern begins again. Rebellion, ruin, and then rescue. First Israel rebels (6:1). Then they are in misery and oppression because of their rebellion (6:2-6). Then they cry out to God for rescue (6:7). He then sends them a prophet to tell them exactly why they are in so much trouble—they have rebelled—in order to stir them up to repentance and prepare them for the rescue that is coming (6:8-10).
Thereafter comes one of the most well-known stories in the Old Testament: Gideon. It begins inauspiciously because Gideon is “hiding” (6:11). Is it ironic that he is called “mighty man” by the angel of the LORD (despite his “hiding) (6:12)? Or is it a statement of prophetic prediction of what he will become when the Spirit comes on him? We can do nothing without the Spirit of God.
Gideon asks for a sign (6:17), the first of several he will receive, to give him the courage and faith he needs to believe what he is being asked to do. Having received his first sign (6:19-24), he pulls down the altar Baal, though he does it at night, still scared (6:25-27). When the townspeople rise up again (perhaps frightened what the Midianites would do as a consequence), Gideon’s father replies judiciously that Baal—if a god as he claimed—could look after himself (6:28-32).
The Midianites do gather for an attack (6:33). The Spirit of God comes on Gideon, and he calls the people together (6:34-35). But he is still unsure, and so he lays his famous “fleece” (6:36-40). In context, this is not so much a model for guidance as a description of God’s patience in the face of hesitant but still believing doubt. What is remarkable in this story is not the fleece, but God’s ongoing commitment to Gideon and to his people.
Gideon must trim his army. God does not need so many people (7:2-3). What matters is that God is with them. God is doing everything necessary to ensure that all realize this victory was God’s. The distinction as to how to whittle down the numbers appears quite random; the point is not who was drinking water better, but that only 300 were left at the end (7:4-8), a number quite insufficient for the task at hand, humanly speaking.
Again Gideon, it appears, is scared, and so God tells him to sneak down to the enemy camp (7:9-11). When he gets there, he hears a dream of Gideon’s upcoming victory that assures him that God has given the enemy into his hands (7:13-14). At his shout, then, they will all shout and blow trumpets, “For the LORD and for Gideon” (7:18). Victory is theirs, or rather it is God’s (7:19-25). God’s salvation comes at his power and by his might, and he can use even the weakest of human vessels to accomplish his ends. Depend on God and his Word, and fight today for the glory of God.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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