New Year 2017
Go in the strength of the Lord
“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?”” (Judges 6:14)
I Dangerous situation
The Israelites were living in a dangerous situation. Midianites were lording over them. Their agricultural harvest was looted. Fearing for their lives they hid in the caves. Gideon was an ordinary peasant living in such times. May be he was terrified and frustrated that he tried to hide and survive. That was the time Lord spoke to him, giving him a commission that was for Gideon an enormous task The year 2016 could not have been a favorable year as we expected. The losses, sickness, sufferings, setbacks, defeats, and pain are afresh in our memories.
“Why all these happened to us?” (Judges 6:13) Gideon mind and spirit was wrestling with this question. God has promised to be with us; in the past He has done great things like delivering the Israelites from the oppression of Egyptians. Now, why God was silent or ignoring the children of Israel? God did not answer his question. Because it was obvious, at least to the Israelites, so only they started calling unto God for help.
- Sin of Idolatry
They did evil in the sight of God. (Judges 6:1) Neglecting the Living God, who brought them out of Egypt performing great signs and wonders, they chose gods worshipped by their neighbours. Priority and proximity are indicators of our commitment to God. When God is taken out of our priority list and some other person or thing or task occupies that spot, we become idol worshippers. Proximity is closeness or having intimate fellowship without the Lord. When this is neglected, something else has cropped in.
- Neglecting the Word
The Law was given through Moses. It was there, but nobody bothered to read or explain or preach or teach. The Law was considered sacred, to be revered and honoured. However, the Israelites did not take efforts to study, understand, meditate and apply in their lives. Today also, the bible is available in various formats including electronic, editions and custom-designed, but not read or pondered or applied. Do we consider the Word of God as Foundation, Food and Feast, True wealth, Spiritual armor, Guide, Light and Life?
- Excellence was missing
They did not take complete victory over the enemies when Israelites possessed the land. God was gracious to provide them the Promised Land. However, taking possession was the responsibility of the Israelites, which they neglected. It is smilar to this. God has promised food for all birds of the sky, however, each morning they have to fly and search. (Luke 12:24) God will not put food in their nests every day. Israelites did not care to occupy the whole land and left bits and pieces where other people lived. These people later led the Israelites into worshipping pseudo gods and following customs and rituals that were abomination to God..
Paul taught the Christians to do all things unto the Lord. (Colossians 3:23) That means diligence, hard work and excellence should be the mark of a Christian. Unfortunately, this is not true today as in the days of Gideon. Do we love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul and strength?
- Did not retain victory
They did not obey the Word of God that was with them as Law and also the prophets Lord sent to them. (Judges 6:10) Victory has to be maintained and retained by being awake and agile. The Israelites became lazy and negligent. Hence, they could not retain the land they had possessed. Laziness, Lukewarm and Lethargic Christians cannot be living in victory.
- Tribalism Vs. Nationalism
After Joshua, there was a leadership gap. They did not ask God for a leader. Probably, there was no unity among the tribes. The twelve tribes pulled in different directions. They did not understand that Israel was a nation. They could not grow beyond tribal mentality to have national identity. Even today in the Church there are not many who can state that they boast only about the cross like Paul. There are numerous who boast about their education, caste, colour, economic status, social status…etc. (Galatians 6:14)
In this context, God speaks to Gideon. He was not ready, in fact reluctant to take up the mandate for the mammoth task. Being aware of history, he knew how rebellious the Israelites were. Gideon felt he was incompetent and too small to lead the Israelites. However, the Lord said: “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” (Judges 6:14) While Gideon was feeling that he was not the right person with right capabilities or resources to lead Israel, Lord asked him to go with whatever strength he had.
- Limited wisdom
Gideon had limited wisdom and understanding. His training was not that of Moses who got it from Egypt or that of Joshua who was an apprentice with Moses. Gideon had to depend on God’s wisdom and not his own wisdom. God will provide wisdom to all those who ask for. (James 1:5)
- Limited faith
Gideon did not have great faith at that moment. His faith was small, insignificant and small. The Lord does not break the weak reed or snuff out flickering lamp. (Isaiah 42:3) Lord trimmed the lamp, put more oil and let Gideon shine. When we are available, Lord can make us shine for His Glory.
- Limited strength
Gideon was having inferiority complex. He understood is strength could not match the military might of Midianites. Being born in a family that was not well known or prominent made Gideon thought he was unworthy to lead Israelites. However, Gideon was chosen to accomplish God’s task in his generation.
IV Deliver Israel
Gideon was commissioned to deliver Israelites from the tyranny of Midianites. They made the life of Israelites miserable and unjustly looted what they toiled for. The victory was assured as God sent Gideon to deliver Israel. The victory was not determined by strength and capacity of Gideon but by God Himself. All preparations could be done for warfare but victory comes from the Lord. (Proverbs 21:31)
V I send you
- God’s commission
God commissions Gideon to deliver Israelites from Midianite oppression. It is God’s work delegated to Gideon. In the same way, God has commissioned his disciples today to deliver people from the oppressive rule and slavery of Satan. Cunningly, Satan has bound people in spiritual darkness and ignorance. God has called the Church to work for the deliverance of people as Gideon was called.
- God’s resources
Gideon did not have resources. He did not have army or weapons or strategy to deliver people. Gideon had to depend on God for the needed resources. If ministry could be done with human resources then it is human work and cannot be termed as God’s work. When God’s plan was evident thousands of volunteers came to fight alongside Gideon. God will certainly provide needed resources, when he calls a person.
3, God’s plan
Gideon did not have a plan of his own. Hence he was dependent on God as he took each step. With plans, targets and flow chart we could easily lose God’s plan and land in desert or wilderness alone. We have to make sure that each step we take is according to His Great plan and not our pipe dream plan.
It is easy to look inward and grumble against God as Gideon did. We may wonder as Gideon, where is God? Why is he silent? Why he is inactive? Where are the signs and wonders? Lord wants to look beyond our context into future, with an attitude of hope and perception of faith. Then God can use us in the year 2017 as he used Gideon for His Glory bringing transformation in our nation and in the world.