Monday, July 15, 2019

God's Gracious Initiative (Judges 6:1-22)

"The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites" (Judges 6:11).

After the death of Deborah, the sons of Israel again forsook the Lord and fell into idolatry. This time God did not “sell” them into the hands of other nations; He “gave” them away (Judges 3:8; 4:2; 6:1). The people were greatly oppressed and cried out to God for help.

God’s first response was to send them a prophet. Part of the prophet’s duty was to prosecute God’s “covenant lawsuit” against the people. The people had sworn to keep God’s covenant at Mount Sinai and again in the plains of Moab (in Deuteronomy), and now God was charging them with disobedience. The prophet said that God had saved them from Egypt and other oppressors, but that they had not obeyed Him. Thus, he implied, they deserved all they were getting (Judges 6:7–10).

There is mercy in this because if God had been cutting them off completely, He would not have sent a prophet. The lawsuit is a judgment but also an opportunity to repent. When God sends prophets to call His people back, it is evidence of His long-suffering love.

After this the angel of the Lord, who is the captain of the Lord’s host, appeared to Gideon. Perhaps it is significant that Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress because bread and wine are tokens of God’s love and signify that Gideon would restore Israel. God took the initiative and called Gideon a mighty warrior. The Lord’s angel told Gideon that God was with him.

Gideon’s faith was a bit immature. When he looked at God’s judgments on Israel he thought it was a sign that God had abandoned His people. Instead, such loving judgments were signs that God was still working with them (Judges 6:12–13). Like Moses, Gideon initially felt inadequate to do the task for which God was calling him, so God reassured him (Judges 6:14–18; cp. Exodus 4:1–17).

Gideon prepared a meal to give to this “man,” but the man told him to put it on a rock. Then the man put out His staff and burned up the food as a sacrifice and ascended in the flame. God would restore Israel not because of any righteousness of theirs, but on the basis of the sacrifice.

Judgment can be viewed as an opportunity to repent because judgment shows that God is still working with us. Has God brought any judgments into your life? How did you respond? Where have you seen His long-suffering love in the midst of the judgment?