Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hey, you...mighty warrior!

11-12 One day the angel of God came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, whose son Gideon was threshing wheat in the winepress, out of sight of the Midianites. The angel of God appeared to him and said, "God is with you, O mighty warrior!"  13 Gideon replied, "With me, my master? If God is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all the miracle-wonders our parents and grandparents told us about, telling us, 'Didn't God deliver us from Egypt?' The fact is, God has nothing to do with us—he has turned us over to Midian."  14 But God faced him directly: "Go in this strength that is yours. Save Israel from Midian. Haven't I just sent you?"  15 Gideon said to him, "Me, my master? How and with what could I ever save Israel? Look at me. My clan's the weakest in Manasseh and I'm the runt of the litter."
(Judges 6:11-15)

For seven years, Israel was under the domination of a heathen nation known as Midian.  The story of Gideon begins with the description of the ugliness that domination brings to a nation - eating their crops, turning their camels loose to bring their pasture lands to ruin, and sending the people scurrying to the caves to hide from their captors.  As is always the case with God, he hears the cries of the hearts of the people, sends a prophet, and re-explains why they are in bondage.  It is simple:  God spoke to them of his tremendous care for them, demonstrated that care repeatedly in mighty ways, and they still chose to fear the people around them!

One man was singled out by God to receive the message of deliverance - his name was Gideon.  Working away on the threshing floor after the grain harvest, he is interrupted in his work by an angel of the Lord.  You may not realize it, but it is in the "doing" of the ordinary things of life that God can speak the loudest and clearest to us!  We think we need retreats, revival meetings, and the like in order to "hear from God".   The truth is that if we are simply willing to be available to God, we will hear from him no matter what we are doing!


The angel calls Gideon a "mighty warrior" - an image of himself that Gideon obviously did not have!  Gideon immediately begins to debate this perception of himself with the angel.  Isn't that the way we are?  God says, "I declare you worthy" and we argue about our worthiness.  God says, "I love you beyond measure" and we question how he could love us as we are.  God says, "I will give you the words to speak" and we complain that we are not eloquent enough to be a messenger of his grace.


It amazes me how many times we try to "talk God out of" what he declares to be true within our lives!  It is important to realize that he has the "big picture" and we are limited in our perspective.  We may see only what is immediately in front of us, but he sees what is to transpire.  Our arguments are simply not valid when put in perspective by our heavenly Father!  God has to repeat the message that he is with him and will use him to defeat Midian not once, but three separate times!  If that doesn't speak to God's infinite patience with us, I don't know what does!


In the end, Gideon asks God for a favor - give him a sign!  Okay, now correct me if I am wrong here, but an angel sits down in your place of business, engages in conversation with you, assures you that God will go with you into the battle, and you still need to ask for a sign?  I am so glad that we have this recorded for us in scripture because it gives me hope that I am not the only one that struggles with being obedient when God asks something of me!  Even I doubt, ask for further evidence, and then await God's assurances that he really did speak to me!  Thank God, we serve a patient and loving Lord!


We often doubt our "credentials", citing something as lame as "I am the runt of the litter" when God declares us to be the leader of the battle!  I am so glad that we are not limited to our own perceptions of ourselves!  Gideon was so focused on what HE could accomplish in his own abilities and God was so focused on what GOD would accomplish in his power!  We make lame excuses when all we see is the possibilities of our own abilities!  God has greater possibilities if we'd just lean on him like he asks.  God never commissions us to take certain step without also being willing to back those steps up with his full power and provision along the way!


Just a few thoughts from the "runt of the litter" today!  Our inadequacies are God's opportunities!  Don't try to argue that one out!  God wins every time!