Unlikely Heroes, God’s Irony
Lord, today I have praise to offer You, thanks to give You, and service to render to You and to others.
Read JUDGES 6:1-24
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.
“Have you been holding back from a risky, costly course to which you know in your heart God has called you? Hold back no longer. Your God is faithful and adequate for you” (James I. Packer).
Heroes of the faith are often heavily disguised as duds! The irony of Gideon being addressed as “mighty warrior” (12) is a kind of kingdom irony: the triumph of God’s future over present evidence. Consider first the mess that Gideon is part of. Occupation and oppression by the Midianites has led God’s people to flee rather than fight. The fertile land and established cities that God gave them have given way to caves and clefts in the hills, and this has become normal: note the “whenever …” of v. 3. The cause of the crisis is idolatry. The invading forces who seemed to regard Jehovah’s inheritance as rich, seasonal pickings, could claim no credit, for God was judging his people. In another delicious irony, God chooses a man from an idolatrous family; Gideon’s father had an altar to Baal in the back garden. Even the cry that rises to God is tainted by the mess they’re in. Notice the desperation in v. 6–and the absence of repentance.
Consider next the man. Furtively threshing his wheat in a winepress, Gideon is terrified by the Midianites. He doesn’t really believe in Jehovah’s power: “Where are all his wonders…?” (13). He certainly doesn’t believe that God can do great things through him. “How can I save Israel?” (15). Even when he is convinced that God has come to him, he’s not encouraged and blessed or revived and fortified: he simply thinks he’s going to die (22). God has to rebuke him with good news (23).
Consider now the mercy. In the ironies of the kingdom, God will indeed turn this young man into a mighty warrior against the invaders and a bold, godly witness to the invaded.
One moment Gideon is sure of God (22,24). At the next, he is so unsure (13,15,17). Are you ever like Gideon? If so, pray about the unsure things.
Lord, I’m sometimes more like Gideon than I’d like to admit. Work Your mercies in me so that I might faithfully serve You today and not give in to fear.