Read Judges 6 -- 7
In Today's Reading:
Who were the Midianites? The Angel of the Lord (the Pre-Incarnate Jesus) commissions Gideon. Now is that fleece wet or dry? Wow! The trumpets had to be powerful, or was it another miracle of God? The enemy flees as the Israelites shout: The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon (Judges 7:20).
Verse for Today:
The Lord said . . . throw down the altar of Baal that your father has (Judges 6:25).
Israel forsakes God; Midianites oppress Israel for seven years; Israel prays; God sends a prophet; Gideon destroys altar of Baal; obedience to God leads to Israel's victory over the Midianites.
Once more, the Israelites were enslaved; this time by the Midianites. Disobedience to God's Word always leads to slavery to people, habits, or things. The children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord: and the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years. . . . And Israel was greatly impoverished. . . . And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried to the Lord . . . That the Lord sent a prophet to the children of Israel (Judges 6:1). Before a judge could rise up to lead the forces of Israel against the Midianites, the people needed a prophet to remind them they had rejected the Word of God. The answer to their prayers for help began with reproof through a prophet: Thus says the Lord God of Israel . . . I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all who oppressed you . . . and gave you their land . . . but you have not obeyed My voice (6:8-10). There was no word of comfort for the suffering Israelites, only reproof. The people were left with the awareness of their sins and without hope of relief. They needed to recognize that their miserable suffering was the direct result of their disregard for the Word of God, the only means of knowing how they are to live.
It would appear that this unnamed prophet may have had only one convert, Gideon, who was willing to obey the Lord. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, the Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor. . . . you shall save Israel from . . . the Midianites (6:12,14). Gideon was deeply conscious of both his poverty and his inability to lead, and confessed: My family is poor . . . and I am the least in my father's house (6:15).
The Lord said to him, Surely I will be with you (6:16). Believing that, Gideon was now ready to worship the Lord and quickly prepared a kid, and unleavened cakes (as a sacrifice). . . . Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord, and called it Jehovah-Shalom (6:19,24). But his worship was not enough; the Lord wanted action. That night, the Lord said to Gideon, Take your father's young bullock, even the second bull of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal (the false god) that your father has, and cut down the grove (the object of idol worship) that is beside it: And build an altar to the Lord your God (6:25-26). What a challenge! He would have to make a break not only form his father but with the rest of his community. Following the Lord would mean standing alone; but, he did as the Lord had said. After he offered the Sin Offering, Gideon was told to take the second bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice (6:26) which, because it was wholly consumed, was symbolic of unconditional surrender to the Lord.
Strange, isn't it? We tend to think that the only people God can use are those who have great talents, money and influence in their communities. But, often these people are too busy or self sufficient, want to do things their way, or would rather compromise than lose their popularity. Gideon was truly a man of inexperience and uncertainty as evidenced by the fact he was hiding from the Midianites at the winepress. But he was also one who would obey the Lord and depend entirely upon Him. For this reason, Gideon became the mighty man of valor the Lord had declared him to be (6:12) and ruled as a judge of Israel 40 years (8:28).
We too must get our eyes off circumstances and fix our faith on the Word of God if we are to know His will for our lives. God has chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the Kingdom which He has promised to them that love Him (James 2:5).
A Thought from Psalms: Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept Your Word (119:67).
As the Angel of the Lord (Judges 6:11). And the Lord looked upon him (Judges 6:14) and speaks in the first person: Surely I will be with you (6:16) indicating this is a manifestation of God Himself. Jesus is the expressed image of God. God. . . . Has in these last days spoken unto us by His Son . . . the express image of His Person (Hebrews 1:1-3).
6:24 Jehovah-shalom = the Lord is our peace.
Government Official: Rep. Don Manzullo (IL) · Pray for the missionary ministries · Country: Zambia (10 million) in south-central Africa · Major languages: English and 70 indigenous languages · Religious freedom · 30% Roman Catholic; 25% Protestant; 24% ancestor worship, magic, and witchcraft; 19% cults · Prayer Suggestion: Recognize the Lord's mercy and loving-kindness and praise Him (Psalms 100:4-5).
Optional Reading: John 15
Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 5:16