By Wayne Stewart, www.PalestineHerald.com
No matter how hard we try, humans can’t seem to make things better. Usually, when we try and solve our own problems they just end up getting worse.
In the early years of Israel we see many instances of times when they are left to their own devices and they end up getting themselves into a real pickle.
Let’s take a look at the example of Gideon, the mighty warrior and judge for Israel.
First, a little background. It seems the Midianites were giving the Israelites a lot of grief, they stole their food, ruined their fields and generally made life miserable for them. Through all the good times it seems many of the Israelites forgot to pray and give God the glory for the blessings they received, oh, but when times were hard they got on their knees, and God being the loving creator he is responded to their pleas.
“When the Israelites cried to the Lord because of Midian, he sent them a prophet, who said, ‘This is what the Lord the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. I snatched you from the power of Egypt and from the hand of all your oppressors. I drove them from before you and gave you their land. I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live,’ But you have not listened to me.” — Judges 6:7-10
Did you catch that last line. God said they didn’t listen, yet he still would raise up for them a savior.
As we look at those three verses we can see parallels to our Christian life.
Jesus Christ brought us out of the land of slavery. Through his work on the cross, he rescued us from the bondage of sin. His death paid the penalty we should have had to pay and he drove Satan from before us. All this was a free gift, we didn’t have to do anything, but Jesus said only through belief in him would we benefit from his redemptive work.
Now here is that last sentence again, the world has failed to listen and because of that we can see the world coming apart at the seems.
We all should know the story of Gideon quite well. A nobody chosen by God to break the hold the Midianites had on the Israelites.
So, God sent an angel to call Gideon, now, let’s see if we can see ourselves in Gideon’s response to this calling.
“When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, ‘The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.’ ‘But sir,’ Gideon replied, ‘if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt? But now the Lord has abandoned us, and put us into the hand of Midian.’” — Judges 6:13
Can you hear the derision in Gideon’s voice?
Pretty much Gideon said, “If God is so tough like all the old people say He is, then why can’t he rescue us from Midian. God doesn’t care.”
As an interesting note, many commentators and scholars believe this angel conversing with Gideon to be Christ. In verse 11 of this chapter, we see Him called the angel of the Lord, but look what verse 14 says.
“The Lord turned to him and said, ‘Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” — Judges 6:14
Notice it was God himself who was talking to Gideon. Then there was Gideon’s pathetic answer: “But Lord,’ Gideon asked, ‘how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.
“The Lord answered, ‘I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.” — Judges 6:15-16
Now, with this knowledge that Gideon was talking to Jesus Christ, maybe we have something to work with here and delve into a little deeper. Let’s look at some similar words from Jesus.
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils, they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” — Mark 16:15-18
Now these words from Matthew: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” — Matthew 28:19-20
Do you see the similarities here between the Great Commission and what Jesus was telling Gideon some 1,200 years earlier?
Christ is sending us off into battle to war against the world, but he doesn’t send us alone and without protection and great power. To the disciples he said, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”
To Gideon he said, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.”
Christ has not changed. Never in history has God asked us to solve things on our own. God warred against Egypt and brought that empire down without the help of a single human. He lifted up judges and kings to bring about his promises.
And even today, He fills us with the Holy Spirit to equip us to do battle in this world and win souls for Christ.
We don’t do it by ourselves, we can’t do it ourselves. We must allow God to work through us. He will soothe our fears and turn our weakness into strengths.
The wisdom and strength of Christ our Savior can be seen in his response to Paul’s pleadings. And this strength and wisdom can be ours if we fully put our lives in the hands of Christ.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” — 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
There is a strength we can cloak ourselves with that is stronger than any armor and any bullet the world can throw at us — and that is the Word of God and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This body can be brought down, but through Christ we can overcome the world.
We can’t do it alone — only through Jesus.