The story of Gideon is well known to us from our Sunday School days .
Gideon appears in a less than heroic vein in his encounter with the “Angel of the Lord” . He is not presently involved in the resistance movement , he is not a “Yul Brynner” in the magnificent Seven putting together a team to save the helpless villages rather he is one of the villagers hiding like everyone else.
14 And the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” 15 And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” 16 And the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” Judges 6:14-16
I confess ,I have often thought that this “Angel” messenger was speaking ironically when he said this to Gideon, this man was obviously anything but mighty, as Gideon himself admitted. Yet if one theme is prevalent throughout all this portion of Scripture is the fact that God does not work by the mighty in this world but rather in and through the weak.
Although Gideon had thousands to call upon when it came down to it , they were too many to fulfill God’s purposes at this time.
We also see that in a very real sense that the enemies of God destroy themselves. While they make a brave figure in the eyes of the world ,in reality they are beset by engrained fears of forthcoming punishment, and when confronted by the judgement of God fall into disarray and panic.
God’s dealing with Gideon’s lingering fear and doubt is patient and tender to an amazing degree. For similar expression of doubt Zacharias was smitten dumb for a short time.
God truly knows people’s hearts and the source of their fears and doubts. Jesus in His dealings with Thomas being another example of dealing with the genuine doubt and fear of true believers.
Contrast this with the unbelief of others in the Word and power of God which is based on sinful attitudes and hatred of God.
God’s dealings with the great characters of the Bible exemplifyand glorify His power and mighty works in response to great faith.
On the other hand, God is no less glorious in His gracious dealings with those of small faith.
Gideon’s weakness of faith was understandable in the light of the circumstances Israel found themselves in . They were suffering as a direct result of their idolatry and disobedience to God and His commandments. Therefore those among them who still sought to God for deliverance from their plight had nothing but free grace and undeserved mercy to hope for.
We all must stand on this ground when it comes to hope of salvation though it galls the pride of man.
Gideon’s lack of faith was not commendable but it does serve to emphasise the wonderful things God can do with true faith however small.
Gideon was God’s chosen instrument at this perilous time but it was the power of God that was to be seen in this saving work not the ability or prowess of man.
In the same way today it is to be the power of God that must be looked to in the proclamation of the gospel today and not the slickness of multi -media presentation or the powers of persuasion of a plausible tele-evangelist.
Although some claim direct revelations from God , for most of us the call of God comes from study of the Word and the opportunity for outreach and ministry.
The challenge for all of us is how we react to the call of service and duty of God when it comes to us.
An Easter soundbite!
At this time of the year one of the few times the World looks to church leaders to make a seasonal statement.
It is rather amusing to see the effort they make to clothe the Christian gospel message in a new light and in a form acceptable and understandable for the man in the street.
We hear abundant calls for peace and understanding between people and different faiths. We hear a great deal about self sacrifice and giving and the need for people to let God into their lives.
It is sobering as well to hear the greater part of the church explain the Cross of Christ in ways different to the Scriptural teaching.
No wonder if the world has no real understanding of the Gospel message and the Cross of Christ if those who should be proclaiming it either do not understand them or as is most likely the case ashamed and unbelieving of them.
Even those who claim orthodox belief of Scriptural truth seem to be very measured in their way of dealing with the unbelieving majority. True they have no reliable frame of reference with which to understand the Word of God, as they might have in past times when nominal church attendance was widespread and the Bible was at least respected ,if not believed.
Yet there is timidity among us Bible believing “Christians” regarding the proclamation the gospel of Christ that makes me “Uzzah” like to fear for the stumbling “Ark of God”.
Others with a man pleasing message can proclaim falsehoods and half truths in the name of Christianity and command a hearing. Those who seek to put forward the true understanding of the gospel will be howled down and prosecuted as “Hate speakers”. God help us all.
The Cross of Christ is an enigma which does not fit well with modern conceptions of God , it was a very high price to pay if He was only calling mankind to a “purpose driven life”.
Jesus would never have been the “Saviour” if there was nothing real to be saved from.