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Archive for July 10th, 2014

Today’s Old Testament reading in the Daily Lectionary is Judges 6: 1-14. The narration of Gideon is Judges 6-8, three chapters.  He obviously towers as a judge and warrior. Gideon was a hero, but as he towered he first cowered.

When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, the angel declared the Lord’s blessing:  “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” (6: 12).  This “mighty man of valor” immediately responded, if the Lord is with us, where has He been of late? Where are all His wonderful deeds?   Here Gideon sounds like 21st century man filled with doubt and cynicism, not exactly the major motion picture portrayal of a “mighty man of valor”! After all, the Midianites had conquered and controlled Israel for seven years and oppressed Israel. What could Gideon do?   “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?” (vs. 14).   Just as with Abraham at the Oaks of Mamre, the angel is the LORD.  His comment, “go in this might of yours” may be sarcasm.  Gideon makes abundantly clear in the next verses he has no “might”.  He tells the LORD his tribe is the weakest of the 12 tribes of Israel and of his tribe and his family, “…I am the least in my father’s house” (vs. 15).   Gideon asked, “How can I save Israel?” (vs. 15).  The Lord responds, “ “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” (vs. 16)  The LORD reiterates the blessing:  I am with you. 

I am with you:  Those 4 English words sum up the Gospel promises, as our Lord’s final words before His ascension, “Lo, I am with you always, even until the end of the ages of ages” (Matthew 28)  In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus, literally, “God saves” is  Emmanuel, God with us.  When the LORD said to Gideon “I am with you”, Jesus Christ was with Gideon.  The LORD has quite a track record of choosing the least, the last and the lost to bring His Word into this world:  David, a shepherd boy, of the least of the cities of Judah, Bethlehem;  Abraham, a pagan idolater;  Moses, a stammering murderer;  Peter, a fisherman;  Paul, a persecutor of the Church…there are more. You. Me. Gideon asked, How can I save Israel?  Gideon had that right:  he could not save Israel, only God can, but men and women of faith in the LORD are part of His salvation as He saved them first, as He did Gideon: I am with you.

Then Gideon asked for a sign (vs. 17) and he asked the LORD to stay put till he brought Him a gift (vs. 18).  The LORD said, “I will stay till your return”. The LORD is steadfast.

In vss. 19-24, Gideon gives his gift and the LORD consumes it in fire. What can we give to the Lord who has given us all things?  The LORD gave His sign and Gideon dries out, “Alas, O LORD God”  And the LORD said to him,“Peace be with you.  Do not fear; you shall not die.”  The LORD is our peace and here for the third time the LORD gives the promise:  I am with you.  Gideon builds at altar at the spot and calls it “The LORD is peace”.  The LORD gives His peace, not as world gives, He gives Himself (John 14:27).  Now Gideon will wage war and destroy altars of demons.  Not peaceful, you say?  But the horror is idolatry and immorality which are not peace at all. The world calls good evil and evil good.  This vain world thinks if we are peaceful, while committing idolatry and immorality, we have peace, but we do not.   And the sword of God’s Word will cut it out, as did Ehud with Eglon, the war of our flesh, the world and the devil.  As Gideon, as Ehud, as Deborah, we are up against overwhelming odds.  Again,before  Gideon towered, he cowered and it was only in the power of the LORD, could Gideon triumph, but it was finally not the triumph of Gideon!  I too would have said just what Gideon said and I have!  We are called not to save the world, but to serve the Savior and hold on to His promise: I am with you, as He held  up Gideon.

 

 

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