We are in the Nation Stream and in the book of Judges. We are reading from the New Life Version this week. Last week, we experienced the early part of the book of Judges with the first three judges being Othniel, Ehud, and Deborah. Let’s see what judges we meet today in Judges 6-9.
6~ Gideon is called and roused to action so he can liberate his country. Gideon is an unlikely character but God bolsters him enough to complete this particular task is today’s reading. Israel is in duress and regularly looted and starving, because they have been wicked. Israel’s behavior brought this on – can’t blame God here. But people did then what they do now. and ask ‘why God, why?’ when they are being punished. An Angel is sent to inform and call Gideon to deliver Israel and the angel’s greeting to the quivering/hiding Gideon is a mix of sarcasm and encouragement. Gideon is told he will deliver Israel from the Midianites and the other enemies. Gideon is incredulous so he requests a sign as proof. Remember, he still doesn’t know it is an angel from God at this point. Gideon gets his sign and his courage raises. He is bold enough to tear down the Baal and Asherah idols but he does so at night and brings 10 others. This causes a ruckus but Joash defends Gideon’s action and the expulsion of Baal along with intrusive enemies begins. Nonetheless when the enemy is on the march toward them, Gideon wants more proof that the LORD is still the one calling for this faceoff/showdown/battle.
7~ Gideon has a persistent need to get proof that there will be victory for him. God needs to let Gideon know that God is the issue here, not Gideon. God decreases the army to 300 to prove that it is HE who brings victory. It happens, as we all know, and the Midianites start killing eachother and fleeing like cats getting sprayed with water guns. Some fled 20 miles and never looked back. Others even rat/scurried 50 miles away! This finalized the victory (for Gideon – as far as he’s concerned).
8~ is an aftermath of sorts that has all the quirks and surprises of any intriguing story line or war movie or mystery. The revelation of character flaws among the men that Gideon encounters is bewildering. The death-by-numbers is truly on a biblical scale. Gideon is, by now, far from timid. He’s as crazed to finish his job as William Wallace was in Scotland in the late 1200s/early 1300s. And he does finish. The ephod incident is the clincher that was festering in Gideon’s heart all along. He gathers valuables from the fawning citizens and builds a relic to honor himself. Notice the soldiers were shouting “sword of the Lord and of Gideon”. Why Gideon? Why an ephod made at his command to honor him? This worship of Gideon, who was a quivering Chihuahua before the Lord boosted him, was illicit. And Gideon knew it but he proceeded with it. He was called to end the invasions and the idolatry. He got his victory and then merely changed the idolatry the idolatry when he memorialized himself. He ought have spent his waning years securing the faith of the country but he didn’t. When Gideon is gone, the people return to Baal worship just like dogs return to eating vomit and garbage.
9~ As we can see from Abimelech’s behavior and Shechem’s reactions that it further proves Gideon failed to mentor/train/disciple his own children. The murder, treachery, chaos that ensues and yes it continues after Gideon is gone is a horrid story. I think it is telling as to what was wrong with Gideon when he insisted on all the proofs from God before he would proceed in obedience. Gideon would go forward if God only proved Himself to Gideon over and over and over. This is not an admirable trait of Gideon’s for it multiplies like a horror show in his son.
I’ll obey “if” … how many of us are like that? When God gives an order and the supply, let’s stop asking for proof and signs and assurances. God’s word to us is enough. Our hesitancy in obeying is not a sign of our wisdom and discriminating ability to discern logically by intelligence. Our hesitancy to obey tells of our wicked plans (be they subconscious or not). Gideon’s life and the consequences thereof prove this yet again. Let’s follow God’s direction and do so now.
Lord, may we learn from Gideon that you supply and can be believed yet again. Forgive our lack of faith and increase our faith all the same. Thank you for delivering us and saving us and restraining us when you must. We are grateful for Jesus and our salvation. Amen.