After Joshua's death, Israel forgot about their great, loving, deliverer God, and turned to
idol- worship again. As a result, the Lord had to chasten them again. He brought the
Midianites against them. When I read their story, my heart was breaking to realize that the
people who experienced countless miracles, repeated forgiveness, and who were clearly
told that if they worship God alone, they will be blessed but if they turn to idols, they will
have to suffer serious consequences; still dared to turn their back to him. However, at the
same time, I realized that I'm not better either! Therefore, I don't have the right to
judge them. For, there are still some things in my life too, I can't seem to get rid of.
Hence, I cried out: "O, Lord! Please deliver me from all evil, so that I may glorify
your name with a clean life!"
In our story, the people were suffering from the Midianites for seven years already. They
attacked them repeatedly, and robbed them of their food. So much so, that they hardly had
anything to eat. Thus they turned to God for help and God heard them. He sent them a
prophet, who made it clear to them that this was the result of their idol worship; and at the
same time prepared a way for their deliverance. For, he hears and answers our
petitions, if we regret, confess, and forsake our sin, and plead for his forgiveness.
As a matter of fact, it was due to their pleading that one day - when Gideon was secretly
thresh - ing wheat in the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites - that God appointed him
through an angel, to be the deliverer of his nation. Let us read Judges 6:11-16 (KJV),
And there came an angel of the lord, and sat under an oak... Gideon, threshed
wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the
Lord appeared unto him, and said...: The Lord is with thee, though mighty
man of valor. And Gideon said unto him, O my Lord, if the Lord be with us,
why then is all this befallen us? And where are all his miracles which our
fathers told us of... And the Lord... said, Go in this thy might, and thou
shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have not I sent thee?
And he said unto him, O my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? Behold, my
family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house. And the
Lord said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the
Midianites as one man.
Yet - in spite of all these promises - Gideon was still uncertain about his call. Therefore
he asked for a sign from the angel. He wanted to make sure that he was really talking to
an angel of God. Therefore, he asked him to stay there till he goes home and returns with
some gifts. The angel complied. "And Gideon went in, and made ready a kid, and
unleavened cakes...put the broth in a pot, and brought it out unto him... and presented it.
And the angel of God said unto him, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and lay
them upon this rock, and pour out the broth. And he did so. Then the angel of the Lord
put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the
unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the
unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the Lord departed out of his sight... Then Gideon
built an altar there unto the Lord..." (6:19-24) For, he finally was convinced that he
was talking to a real angel, who brought him God's message. Evidently, the Lord was
willing to persuade him. For, he is not upset if we test our messengers. "Beloved,
believe not every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God; because many false
prophets are gone out into the world." - We even read in 1 John 4:1. We may ask
ourselves: Who said it? A wise, born again Christian, or an unsaved worldly person?
Why did he say it? Because – above all – he keeps God's glory in mind; or because he
has his own selfish reasons behind? Is his advise Biblical? Will it bring glory to God?
So on, and so forth... Then, the more important and life changing the decision may be,
the more important it will be for us to prayerfully test our advisors.
When Gideon was finally convinced that he spoke to an angel, and received God's
commission; he was ready to obey. He didn't have to wait too long because the same
night God told him to throw down his father's altar of Baal, build an altar for him instead,
and offer a burnt offering for him; the one and only true God. And Gideon followed
instructions. Only to experience God's presence and protection against the angry mob
that wanted to kill him for that; in return. He even used Gideon's father for that
purpose. Similarly, when we are convinced that God was giving us an instruction, we
too may go ahead and immediately obey him. For, our Lord will be with us, guide us,
and protect us also!
"Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east were gathered
together, and went over, and encamped in the valley of Jezreel. But the Spirit of the Lord
came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet" (6:33) and gathered several troops for the
fight. In other words; once again, he courageously obeyed. Yet, he still proceeded to
ask for two more sings from God; to be very sure that he is supposed to be the deliverer.
Once again, the Lord complied. In addition he even told Gideon that he should shrink
the size of his army of 32,000 down to 300 soldiers; and so face the enemy's 135,000
troops. He did that so that the Israelites may not give the glory to themselves for the
eventual victory; rather to him. And also, so that he may test Gideon's faith thereby. Once
again, Gideon proved his willingness to fulfill his calling by obeying God's command.
At times, God may prevent us from becoming proud also, or allow us to go through
some hard trials to test our faith. But when these things happen, let us remember that - regardless
of our hardships - God is with us and is taking care of us. Moreover, that he
will even grant us the power of his Holy Spirit, and bless us through it all. For,
according to Romans 8:28, he plans to turn every hardship into a blessing, for us.
Finally, Gideon - even without asking - received another encouragement from God, who
is familiar with, and understands our weaknesses. He was allowed to secretly visit the
enemy's troops during the night and hear how God scared them already by giving one a
dream of losing the war. Sometimes, he may encourage us also; without asking. For he
loves us so much that he came down to this earth to become a human being, like us; in the
person of Jesus, and - as a result - understands us, and is able to helps us. He may
encourage us through the Bible, or our friends, or our circumstances, etc. Then, our faith
will grow, and we will receive new strength to face our responsibilities too.
Sad to say, but the people of Israel repeatedly engaged in idol worship, and therefore had
to experience repeated chastening. Then, when the Midianites tormented them for seven
years already, God called the humble Gideon through an angel to become their liberator,
promising to be with him in everything. However, Gideon wanted to be sure that his
visitor was truly and angel of God, who brought him God's message. When the Lord
was willing to persuade him, he was immediately willing to obey, and break down the altar
of Baal. While the Lord - in return - was immediately willing to protect him, proving
that he was with him. Furthermore, before it was time to face the enemy; the Lord even
blessed him with the power of his Holy Spirit. In other words, gave him extra strength.
As a result, Gideon was ready to face the enemy if only God was ready to give him two
more signs to convince him that he definitely was supposed to be the deliverer of Israel.
Once again, the Lord fulfilled his wishes. Then, after he instructed Gideon to cut down his
troops to 300; he even gave him one more encouragement; even without asking.
Finally Gideon and his army of 300 went into the battle with trumpets, empty pitchers,
and lamps in their hands; and won the war. Thus, God's name was glorified and the
people enjoyed 40 years of peace thereafter.
Sad to say, but - like the people of Israel - we too stumble or fall, on and off, and have to
face some chastening; as a result. However, if we confess our sin and ask God to forgive;
he is willing to forgive and deliver us; and even use us! Therefore let us be encouraged by
the fact that our Lord calls every person who confesses his/her sin to him, asks for his
forgiveness, receives Jesus, and totally yields himself to the him; into his service, including
you and me. Furthermore, that he promises to be with us too. And, when he calls us into
a special service, he allows us to test the messenger, to make sure that he was sent by God.
For, it is important that our advisors be Godly. Moreover he will grant us the power of his
Holy Spirit; protect us from the enemy; - with or without asking - encourage us; and will
ultimately use our services to his glory; as he used Gideon's.