Ifs and Buts
Calm and quiet yourself as you prepare to be with God. Pray that God would speak to you through his Word.
Read Judges 6:1-24
 The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites.  Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds.  Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country.  They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys.  They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it.  Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the LORD for help.  When the Israelites cried out 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 rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of all your oppressors; I drove them out 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.”  The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites.  When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”  “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”  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?”  “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but 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, leaving none alive.”  Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me.  Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.” And the LORD said, “I will wait until you return.”  Gideon went inside, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak.  The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And Gideon did so.  Then the angel of the LORD touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the LORD disappeared.  When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the LORD, he exclaimed, “Alas, Sovereign LORD! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!”  But the LORD said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.”  So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The LORD Is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectHow did Gideon react to God's call? What did God reply?
We live in a world where circumstances are not always easy to understand and the future seems uncertain: climate change, economic meltdown, wars and rumors of wars. Today on the news I heard a politician say, “Years from now, our children will know that we made the right decision ….” In seeking to reassure people that his government was taking the right path, however, he was (unintentionally) highlighting the uncertainty and anxiety in people’s minds. Gideon lived in similarly difficult times. His words are full of ifs and buts: he has lost faith in God and he doubts God’s faith in him (“am the least …”). God’s words, in contrast, convey only certainty and clarity: “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior … Go … and save Israel …. I will be with you and you will strike down all the Midianites together!” (12,14,16). Notice how God does not directly answer all Gideon’s questions, but he does affirm Gideon’s true identity (“mighty warrior”) and God’s plan for him (“strike down the Midianites”). God graciously accommodates Gideon’s request for a sign (17) and Gideon responds in worship.
Ask God to remind you of your true identity in Christ and thank him that he is working for your good (see Rom. 8:28).
Lord God, You are so wise and good! Help me to trust Your calls to me and to obey them willingly.
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