Well, well, well.
I had the luxury of resting the vast majority of the day, and I am still exhausted, weak and in pain.
I am tired of being tired, I tell you.
I’m going to get right into Judges before I go off on another tangent and end up with a one million word post though 🙂
I have also realized that as much as I would like I am probably not going to have the time to do five chapters regularly on here. I’m still going to try, but more than likely there will be one or two.
We left off on Judges Chapter Five, with Deborah leading a victory song. After Deborah judges the nation, enter Gideon in Chapter Six.
Let me back up a tad. As you already know, the Israelites have established a national pattern on godly living under a judge, sin, oppression as a result of the sin, repentance, and deliverance via a God-appointed judge. Before we get to Gideon, they are in the sin phase, which results in them being turned over to the Midianites for seven years. The Midianite oppression was exceptionally cruel. The Israelites apparently were run off their land, because the Bible records them as having to hide out in mountains, caves and strongholds (v. 2). The Midianites also starved the Israelites. Each time the Israelites planted crops, their oppressors would destroy them, and they would take their sheep, cattle and donkeys. Basically the Midianites ruined the very livelihood of Israel.
When the people cry out to the Lord for help, he sends them an unnamed prophet who, per the formula, reminds the people of their wrongdoing–specifically, their sin of idol worship. After this encounter, THE angel of the Lord (I believe to be Jesus) comes to Gideon, son of Joash.
It is interesting to see what Gideon is doing when he receives his call. He is “threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites” (v. 11). Basically, he is taking part in a process to produce foodstuffs in private, lest the Midianites come and destroy or take it. How the mighty nation of Israel has fallen.
The angel informs Gideon that the Lord is with him, but Gideon is ignorantly hesitant. I say ignorant because of his following comment: If I may paraphrase, he asks, and I assume with some attitude, “if the Lord has been with us, then why has all this been allowed to happen? Whatever happened to all of those miracles our ancestors told us about?” (v. 13).
I can’t even blame Gideon for his ignorance. As previous Scriptures have told us, the generation that came before Gideon had NOT educated their children as to the goodness of the Lord. True education has to include the fact that disobedience brings about consequences. Yes, the Lord has always been capable of performing miracles and did so for the Israelites all throughout their history, but there is something Gideon was not understanding. Even now, people feel that God owes them something, that He is supposed to just bless and bless and protect and bless some more despite man’s evil ways. It doesn’t work like that. There has to be obedience.
As I often do, I think of the relationship between us and God as a parent-child relationship to the nth degree. As parents, we reward our children for their obedience. Even if it is not with material rewards, they might be rewarded with other privileges. But what we don’t do, or should never do, is to encourage disobedience by rewarding it, diminishing it, or turning a blind eye. If we know our child is doing something wrong, we don’t play into it, right? That would mean we are condoning it. For example, my son has a phone now. I wasn’t totally sold on the idea of him having one, to be honest. My husband and I have already informed him that he is not allowed to put a passcode on the phone and that we will be looking through it whenever we feel the need to in order to see what he is doing. He claims he wanted the phone so he could text his little friends, which he typically does from my phone. I had reviewed several of his conversations and they were about innocent little ten-year-old boy stuff… movies, school, etc. But let me find out he is sending or receiving inappropriate pictures, for example. The phone will go bye-bye. I’m not going to upgrade his phone to a model with a better camera, right?
We do these things for our kids because we know best. God does what he does because as creator and sustainer of this world, he knows best. He knows when to pull his hand, and he had to do so many times with stubborn Israel, as he has to do with stubborn Christians even today. Same song and dance, different times.
Interestingly enough, the next passage says this:
“Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” (v. 14).
The Bible would not have referred to a mere angel as the Lord. This is, again, why I believe when the Bible refers to THE angel of the Lord, it is a reference to pre-incarnate Jesus.
Gideon is not finished questioning the angel. He belongs to the weakest clan in Manasseh, but I wonder, on what grounds are they considered weak? Is the weakness due to them being split (we often see references made to the “half-tribe of Manasseh”). Or is it because they failed to clear the Canaanites from their land? Regardless of the reasoning, Gideon doesn’t understand that the strength will to accomplish the goal of removing Israel from Midianite oppression will come from God. Gideon asks for a sign to prove that the angel is really of the Lord. He goes home and prepares an offering for the Lord, a goat and bread made without yeast:
“The angel of God said to him, “Place the meat and the unleavened bread on this rock, and pour the broth over it.” And Gideon did as he was told. Then the angel of the lord touched the meat and bread with the tip of the staff in his hand, and fire flamed up from the rock and consumed all he had brought. And the angel of the lord disappeared” (vv.20-21).
This is proof to Gideon that this angel truly has been sent by God. He is afraid, because the understanding was if one saw the face of God they would die. The Lord calms Gideon’s fears, and Gideon builds an altar there. However, as we will soon see, this does not end Gideon’s doubt.
That evening, the Lord gives Gideon his first task. He is to take a seven-year-old bull from his father’s flock, prepare it as a sacrifice, and tear down the altar to Baal and Asherah pole that is Joash’s. Then Gideon is to build a proper altar to God and sacrifice the bull, using the wood from the Asherah pole to fuel the sacrificial fire.
The Bible says that Gideon did as he was told, but he took ten of his servants. I know this might be totally insignificant, and we shouldn’t insert words in the Bible where there aren’t any, but since Gideon has previously been doubtful of God I wonder if he was supposed to take these servants with him? God gave HIM the job. However, I imagine that tearing down an altar and pole might require a lot of work, so maybe him taking the ten servants wasn’t that big a deal. Regardless, we are told that while Gideon tore down the idol worship materials and built the new altar, he did so at night because he was scared of what might happen if others saw him.
What is done in the darkness always comes to the light. In the morning, people are infuriated when they see what has become of their altar and pole. They demand to know the identity of the offender. Gideon thought he was safe because he committed his Godly deed at night..? Wrong. Someone ALWAYS sees. Or perhaps a servant had told on him? Either way it goes, a careful search was done, and it was discovered that Gideon, son of Joash, was the guilty party. The men of the town go to Joash and demand that Gideon be handed over for execution.
Joash is not having it. He makes an interesting argument, informing the people that if their confidence is in Baal as a god, he should be able to avenge the wrongdoing on his own.
“…Why are you defending Baal? Will you argue his case? Whoever pleads his case will be put to death by morning! If Baal truly is a god, let him defend himself and destroy the one who broke down his altar!” From then on Gideon was called Jerub-baal, which means “Let Baal defend himself,” because he broke down Baal’s altar” (vv. 31-32).
God has kept Gideon safe from execution in this instance, but Gideon is still doubtful. Several armies join together in alliance and prepare to battle Israel. While they are camped in the valley of Jezreel, the Spirit of God comes upon Gideon and “clothed him in power” (v. 34). Gideon uses a ram’s horn to signify impending battle and men from the clan of Abiezer (the clan he belongs to) arrive. Gideon also sends messengers to the rest of Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, and they all respond, sending their warriors.
I can’t blame Gideon for getting nervous here, I truly can’t. This is brand new territory for him. Remember he fully believes his clan is the weakest. See the futility in labels? That’s why even today it makes no sense to throw a label on anyone, because we never know what God has in store for them. But I digress. Gideon is understandably nervous, and he asks God for another sign that what he is about to do is REALLY what he is supposed to be doing. He designs a test using a wool fleece:
“Then Gideon said to God, “If you are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as you promised, prove it to me in this way. I will put a wool fleece on the threshing floor tonight. If the fleece is wet with dew in the morning but the ground is dry, then I will know that you are going to help me rescue Israel as you promised.” And that is just what happened. When Gideon got up early the next morning, he squeezed the fleece and wrung out a whole bowlful of water” (vv. 36-38).
Proof enough, right?
Asking the Lord not to be angry with him, Gideon asks for yet another sign. I kind of wonder if he was hoping he wouldn’t get the sign, and thus be released from his responsibility. It’s highly possible that he was just full of doubt and did not yet understand that the power he had was coming directly from the originator of all power:
“Then Gideon said to God, “Please don’t be angry with me, but let me make one more request. Let me use the fleece for one more test. This time let the fleece remain dry while the ground around it is wet with dew.” So that night God did as Gideon asked. The fleece was dry in the morning, but the ground was covered with dew” (vv. 39-40).
Welp, now that that’s over, time for battle, right?
It sure is! In chapter seven, Gideon, here referred to as Jerub-Baal, rises early in the morning and rallies his army. God has to put some final touches on the army. I’m sure it was a great surprise to Gideon when the Lord told him he had too many men. In typical God fashion, he has a very good reason as to why Gideon needs to release some of his troops–because God is using Gideon and his army to his glory, and if thousands of men overtake the enemy, the victory would be attributed to the number and strength of Gideon’s army, not God. In order for God to properly show his strength, Gideon needed to shed some of his army. God has a way for Gideon to decide who is to go and who is to stay.
First, the men are given the option to leave. For those who are too timid to go, they can leave, and 22,000 of them do just that–can you imagine, TWENTY-TWO THOUSAND??? That leaves behind 10,000. God says that is still too large a number. In order to further dwindle the numbers, Gideon is told to lead the men to a nearby spring and separate the men into two groups–men that use their hands to cup the water and use their tongues to lap it up like dogs, and men who kneel and drink directly from the spring. Only 300 men cupped the water. They are the ones who will go with Gideon into battle. Gideon sends the rest of the men home.
That night, the Lord tells Gideon that it is time to shine. He tells Gideon that he will be victorious, but interestingly enough, allows Gideon an opportunity to get further confirmation. Again, I cannot say I blame Gideon for being hesitant. But recall that he had asked for several signs and received them. It is obvious that God knows Gideon’s heart (as he does all of us) and offers him a chance to either go right into battle or go with his servant Purah to the Midianite camp and overhear a conversation that is taking place among the Midianites. Gideon does just that, and the conversation strengthens his resolve. Basically, he finds out that A-HA! It is just as God said it is:
I need to rest now. I have to be ready early in the morning. For the past few weeks my baby has been congested and as such she has not been sleeping too well, which means that yours truly isn’t sleeping well either. Then there is my son, who would forget his head if it weren’t attached to his body. It is admittedly very frustrating sometimes trying to get him to be more responsible. I kind of wonder why I have to remind a ten-year-old to handle his own personal hygiene, as I remember when I was ten no one had to tell me to brush my teeth or wash the sleep crust from my eyes–but then again, we’re talking about a little boy here. So I don’t have to keep repeating myself one thousand times and so he can get into a little routine, I put a checklist on the back of the bathroom door as to what he needs to do before he leaves in the morning and another checklist on the back of the front door so he can make sure before he leaves the house he has everything he needs. The other morning I made the obviously huge mistake of not getting up, after my husband told me to go ahead and lay back down. LOL. Jayden forgot his clarinet, his belt, and put on the wrong shirt. I assume that means I don’t have the option of sleeping in anymore. Ah well. Kids.
He’s work but I love him to absolute death. It’s part of being a parent. He brings more joy than he does anything negative, and I’m looking forward to watching him grow up, even though the idea of him being a man depresses me just a tad–because he was such an enjoyable baby. My son loves his baby sister–my other daughter, I know he loves her but they have a love-hate thing going on, LOL… They argue and pick at each other quite a bit, and sometimes when my son gets with their cousin, who is a bit older than Layla, he will forget about his sister, and that irritates me, but he is a sweet sensitive tenderhearted guy who I know will make a good husband one day. I’m making sure of that. Speaking of which, here is another meme I found to be offensive. Please excuse the grammatical error, but the other one I had originally viewed had a curse word in it that I don’t want attached to my blog.
I fully explained to Jayden that once he turned ten his life lessons would be kicked into overdrive. At this point, I have approximately eight years to get him ready to possibly live on his own. He needs to know how to do everything a “woman” is supposed to do. I don’t know what universe the author of this meme comes from, or why he believes a man should be waiting on a woman to cook, especially considering the fact that people are marrying later–so what is a man doing before he gets married, eating out every day? Hopefully not. And isn’t it nice for a husband to be able to cook just in case something happens to his wife, for instance, if she gets sick and cannot use her hands, like I can’t sometimes???
Sons and daughters need to know how to take care of a house, cook, manage their money, perform simple car maintenance. Basically, Adulting 101. I understand Biblical times where the man was the breadwinner and the wife stayed home. Nowadays a lot of families need two incomes just to make ends meet. I’m not saying that is a gold standard, either, because I feel terrible for families that are forced to put their babies in the hands of a stranger at a daycare because they have to work, when they’d rather have a parent stay at home. Something’s gotta give. Either way this meme is garbage. I like this one better.