“7 When the people of Israel cried out to the Lord on account of the Midianites, 8 the Lord sent a prophet to the people of Israel. And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I led you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of slavery. 9 And I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 And I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. ‘ But you have not obeyed my voice.”
The verses above from Judges chapter 6 recount God’s response to the collective prayers of a people who had strayed from following him, but now sought his aid. They had forsaken him and they had experienced consequences from their disobedience. He reminds them through his prophet of His promises and of their subsequent disobedience. After these verses of rebuke, however, follows a narrative of grace: God calls a timid and skeptical young man to lead Israel back to faith and to independence from their foes.
These words in Scripture both warn us and give us hope. They remind us that our worst dilemmas result from our own rebellious choices. They tell us that God loves, listens,and forgives. When God rescues, he does not always choose the obvious hero. Even Gideon did not regard himself as a natural leader. God still saved his people. God’s salvation occurred when a believing Gideon accepted his role as a leader and acted in faith according to God’s instructions. Before Gideon accepted, he had a series of conversations with God (and God’s angel) in which he voiced his doubts and asked for evidence that the God who had delivered Israel from Egypt truly was behind this.
The story of Gideon and his relationship with God is a complex one. It begins with Gideon’s skepticism and cynicism. It ends with a victorious Gideon making a tragic mistake regarding the spoils of war, one that compromises his and his people’s ability to continue serving God faithfully. The struggles of life may make us question as Gideon did. The flush of spiritual victory may tempt us to indulge our own desires as he did. May we remain focused in faith, in humility before God, and in our courage to serve wherever he may lead. May we, even in our darkest hour or in our mountain-top experience, always remember to cry out for God’s help.
God who delivers, Hear us when we cry out in the aftermath of our errors. We pray that we may hear your direction accurately as we pray and we study your word. Give us discernment so that we may see the way to return to you. Give us courage to act in obedience to you. Help us to turn away from sin and to resist the lure of temptation to return to it. We marvel at your continuing love and your ability to forgive. Help us to live lives that reflect your love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.