about a 7 minute read
Israel had this trait of ‘doing evil in the Lord’s sight,’ in other words, they got distracted by what the other nations surrounding them and followed those distractions to the point they would ‘step out’ of the covenant with God.
The Israelites had become complacent during the forty years of peace in the land and they had forgotten what God had done through certain Judges like Deborah to gain that peace. They failed to acknowledge God and so their consequences, we read, came when God ‘handed them over to the Midianites for seven years’ (v1). This would eventually push the Israelites acknowledge God again. They ‘cried out to the Lord for help’ (v6) but it was more out of humiliation and shame than genuine remorse for their heart issues. An unnamed prophet came to the Israelites and reminded them that their oppression was due to their negligence toward God.
We’re invited into a conversation between Gideon, an average man going about his daily life, and the angel of the Lord. It’s from here I want to pick up because Gideon is concerned by Israel’s condition; they were starving. He heard about the things that God had done in previous generations but Gideon hadn’t experienced a glimpse of it and it seems like he wanted to as that’s the first bunch of questions he asks the Angel of the Lord. (see verses 12 & 13)
Personally, I didn’t have questions that would be the answer to my community’s problems. I focused my questions on, ‘what do I personally want to do with my life?’ which is a good question to start with. Only since studying Gideon, I’ve realised that the career path I choose should in some ways either challenge an area in the community that fails to meet the needs of the people today or the community at large witnesses the benefits that can also transcend geographical boarders.
My question to you – is there something in the community you want to see challenged so it can be changed?
In the previous posts, we’ve looked at the dreams/desires we’ve had and co-partnering with Jesus; we’ve look at how we’ve been labelled and how we can redirect those labels to scripture based names that God calls us.
This post is to look at how can these dreams/desires that we have been given be useful/ beneficial to the community. (No matter how “big” or “small”)
Perhaps for Gideon, he experiences a specific fear that was birthed in captivity. This fear had began to awaken questions and/or feelings he had not experienced before. Maybe for us, we have been placed in circumstances of unemployment or had a really hard time initiating something and don’t want someone else to go through that same thing. In those situations, only in those situations, we learn what it is like to be humbled and get a chance to see life from that unique perspective. Having such encounter, you tend to learn how to be sensitive toward others facing what you went through. Doesn’t mean you’re an expert though but your contribution can be an eye opener for someone else. As for Gideon, he must have got to state of mind where he said ‘enough is enough! Something’s gotta be done,’ but of course, the next question was ‘how?’
For me, a couple of friends and I started working with secondary school ages and we got to listen to (as well as watch) people who wanted to do more with their afterschool life or weekends but didn’t have any kind of outlet. The government had either made major cutbacks to any youth programme locally funded or parents not being present (since they had to put food on the table) were some of the major factors for these youth just ‘acted out.’ My heart broke whenever I saw group of teens just hanging outside convenience shops on a Friday evening because they wanted connections with friends, but there was not a safe secure environment for them to be. I always looked at these teens and wonder the ‘how?’ ‘How can this stop being a thought and actually a service to the community that genuinely needs it?’
Note, I’m not trying to get out my pram and trample on the work that has already been done in the community either. Gideon didn’t do this task alone, and if we have something that’s bigger than us on our hearts – perhaps that God has placed there – then we’re also gonna need others to help to get this vision accomplished.
For Gideon, he recognised the authority of whom he spoke but it took a while for him to accept the words the Angel of the Lord decreed. He is called by a new status – ‘Mighty Hero’ (v12) and is reminded that ‘the Lord is with you!’ For their first engagement, this must have been an overwhelming declaration for Gideon as we meet him bowing to the fear hovering over his nation…a problem they inflicted upon themselves. Gideon wasn’t being mocked either. The Angel of the Lord was pretty precise in his command never actually answering Gideon’s questions; he is then given his task, reassured the he is not alone in this task, and he will have victory.
When you look at how the conversation is constructed, we see that this dialogue does two things – it rebuilds and readjusts. The words the Angel of the Lord uses rebuilds hope in the nation of Israel through this man. It begins to rebuild the nation’s identity not in themselves, as we see in the way the final number of the army is selected (see chapter 7) but in God. We see how it readjusts Gideon’s mind set because he is challenged to move past his personal limitations of his ‘clan [being] the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and [he is] the least in [his] entire family’ (v16). The Angel of the Lord doesn’t give room for staying in the shadows anymore, though as Gideon’s story unfolds, he is still pretty afraid of this task. What excuses are we using as a roadblock?
I know for me, finances, experiences and connections were the limitations I saw in progressing any further for these youth projects. And rightly so, there is a lot of admin to work with youth and the process is overwhelming. But I didn’t necessarily consult Jesus with all these ideas and thoughts. It’s evident that Gideon had this desire in his heart for change to come and God answered his desire – bringing all the supplies he needed to succeed in achieving the end goal. And if God did it Gideon… you can finish the sentence 🙂
In my overthinking, I thought, well, these young people have been in this situation for so long, would they even care now? They’ve become accustomed to being neglected for this long, would this or any change in their local community make a difference? Did it make a difference, what Gideon was doing, to the Israelites? I suppose those are unhealthy ways of thinking but also ones that should be addressed. Not merely out of doubt but a balanced line of thinking that you have with Jesus because some of those answers can propel you into a deeper understanding of the ideas you have. Poet Nayyirah Waheed tweeted this
when creating. be kind to your doubt. hear it out. thank it for its concern. and reassure it that you are an artist. and risk is essential.
— .. (@nayyirahwaheed) October 24, 2017
Let’s do one of two things – either call ourselves “artists” using it as a connection to starting/doing something (not just art forms) from scratch or replace the word “artist” to your own suitable word. Gideon listened to his doubt and understood the reality of his position. Why I commend that is so that we also acknowledge our beginnings and current place because where we’re about to go with Jesus we’re about to take risks that will surpass not only our mind’s expectations but our current status’ glass ceiling. But let me pause for a moment and point out that we’re not to sit idle and expect these conditions to change themselves. It will take work – lots of work. Gideon had fight; he had to be actively involved as well as connected to God in order to see his nation look towards God for dependency.
When we remember to whom we speak and the task before us, the conversation must change us from any disqualifications we’ve called over ourselves and establish us into a position of movement…
It’s pretty easy to assume the events in Judges 6 happened as a fast as you read them, when in reality, it may have taken years for this one story to evolve to what we know it as today. Perhaps the ‘something’ that you have a desire to do may take a good amount of time to visually see in your life and/or the community.
But you have ‘been sent’ (v14) in other words, you have something to do – start, continue or complete – that is not achieved in isolation or keeping it in your head no matter how overwhelming it seems. The key point of this entire post has to be faith in God that He sees and listens and will allow you to be in a position (not necessarily to be a public figure) that will give Him glory, honour and praise.