Category Archives: Judges

Go in the strength you have

Judges 6:14

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?” NIV

I love the story of Gideon.  At this point, when the angel of the Lord sits down to speak to him, Gideon is threshing wheat in a winepress.  He and his people have been terribly oppressed by the Midianites, and, presumably, the winepress was somewhat more sheltered than places where the wheat would ordinarily have been threshed, making it less likely that a Midianite will show up to steal the wheat that Gideon is working with.

Gideon is making do with what he has.

I love that.  He has found a way to achieve his objective, despite seemingly large obstacles.  But, Gideon isn’t thinking as big as God is thinking.  God wants to use Gideon’s abilities to achieve great things for Israel, not just to provide for his own family.

In verse 12, when the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, He said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”

Gideon pushes back, asking, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?  Where are all his wonders that our fathers old us about?”

Gideon has heard the stories of God bringing Israel up out of Egypt, but now, they seem to him to be just that … stories.  I find this part so interesting.  The angel of the Lord shows up to talk to him, and Gideon, instead of falling on his face, displays his hurt and anger at all that has happened.  And, God doesn’t smite him … far from it … he is encouraging and really patient.

He says to Gideon … “Go in the strength you have … am I not sending you?”

Gideon protests some more.   He says that he is the weakest of his family, to which God answers, “I will be with you.”

In the rest of the chapter, Gideon asks the angel of the Lord to wait while he prepares an offering, and He does, and then he asks God twice to confirm his instructions by first wetting a fleece with dew on dry ground and then wetting the ground with dew and  leaving the fleece dry.  God patiently complies with all of these requests.

Go in the strength you have … am I not sending you?

How often do we doubt our own abilities?  How often do we fail to rely on the limitless strength of the one true God who is sending us into the world to do His work?  God repetitively tells us, “I am with you,” and yet, we still see the world through the lens of our worries, and our own perceptions of our strengths and weaknesses.

I will have to think about that today.

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Filed under Judges, Old Testament, Trust, Worry

Judges 6:23

But the Lord said to him, “Peace!  Do not be afraid.  You are not going to die.” NIV

I’m still in the story of Gideon, which is in the Old Testament, before the coming of Christ.

Gideon has just been visited by the Angel of the Lord, and, when he realizes that he has seen the Angel of the Lord face-to-face, he panics.

In the limited study that I’ve done in the Old Testament, it is clear that God does not want people to get too close to Him.  There is a story where some approved folks are carrying the Arc of the Covenant and they almost drop it, and this man reaches out to help steady it, and he dies immediately.

When Gideon realizes how close he is to God, he must have immediately feared for his life.  Hence this verse.

I find it so amazing — the shift that took place when Christ came to earth.  His focus was on drawing people to Him in close personal ways.  Children, poor people, sick people, anyone with needs — and isn’t that everyone?

When Christ was crucified, the Bible says that the curtain covering the Holy of Holies in the temple was split from top to bottom … not bottom to top by a human, but top to bottom, by God — so that there would no longer be a barrier between God and us.

What a privilege to have the ability to call upon the Living God in times of trouble and frustration.

I will think about that today.

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Filed under Fear, Judges, Old Testament

Judges 6:10

“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.” NIV

Wow.

So, I’m still working through the list of “fear nots” in my King James concordance.  The NIV doesn’t actually say “fear not” very often, but, I’ve found that almost everywhere the KJV says “fear not,” the NIV says something about fear or panic or stress, and the Message says something about worry.

This morning, the listing in my concordance for Judges 6:10 said, “fear not the Gods of the Amorites.”  I thought to myself, “that would be an interesting thing to look at — because other gods don’t come close to the power and glory of the one true God, so, I’ll take a look at that.  Maybe someone was worried about a threat from someone else.”  Threats are almost always worrisome.

Turns out, this verse is at the beginning of the story of Gideon.  The Israelites have again done evil in the sight of the Lord, and He has turned them over to the Midianites for seven years, which have been just awful.  The people have cried out to God in their misery, and God sends a prophet to them who reminds them of the salvation that the Lord provided from Egypt, and that the land of Canaan had been handed over to them, and he ends his speech with this verse.  When I first read the NIV translation, I thought, “this really isn’t talking about worry at all.”

But, then I looked at the Message, which translates it, “And I said to you, ‘I am God, your God.  Don’t for a minute be afraid of the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living.’  But you didn’t listen to me.”

That’s such a powerful verse, and so applicable to me right now.  This is a message that I really need to hear and assimilate.  I have nothing to fear … God, my God, is with me.  I need to stay focused on that and not to worry about the things that are going on here in the land where I am living.  I am going to be one who listens to God.

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Judges 4:18

Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come, my lord, come right in.  Don’t be afraid.”  So he entered her tent, and she put a covering over him.  NIV

I’m working my way through the “fear not” listings in my King James concordance.  I’m finding that more times than not, when people are told to “fear not,” they are worried about something.

When I read through the story of Jael and Sisera this morning, I thought to myself, “This can’t possibly be a reminder not to worry!”  Here, Sisera is fleeing for his life, and Jael pretends that she will help him.  She offers him shelter, puts him to bed with a glass of milk and then, once he is asleep, she stabs him through the temple with tent stake.  Bleh!

But, as I thought more about it, I think that this is a reminder … we must trust God.  We cannot trust the assurances of others, only God is trustworthy.

In Sisera’s case, God was not on his side.  Deborah had prophesied that Sisera would die at the hand of a woman, and, Jael fulfilled that prophesy.

But, even in cases where we are in the right, we are wrong to trust in the things of this world.  This is a reminder to me to keep my faith and my trust aligned on the one sure thing — Jesus Christ my savior.

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Filed under Fear, Judges, Old Testament