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Refreshment in Refuge

    by Gina Burgess

Man of Valor
Date Posted: February 21, 2016

In the beginning of Judges 6 we see that the Children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD. I’m thinking this is a parenting problem as well as a spiritual problem. Not that parents are raising heathens. According to the most recent Pew Study, almost 8 in 10 millennials are raised in a Christian home, but as adults they are leaving the church and prefer being called "nones" as in "none of the above." That has to be distressing to Christian parents. One of my daughters went that direction. I am heartsick about it.

Back in the late 60s church growth stunted, then a mighty revival surged throughout the United States in the 70s and 80s. Campus crusades, Billy Graham revivals, and countless people were saved. That was about 40 years ago.

In that 40 years, we’ve had two God fearing presidents, and two not so God fearing presidents. We’ve experienced an explosion of media influence with expansion of TV programming to include stuff unfit for human consumption, Internet porn sites easily available to anyone with a credit card, surges in human trafficking for prostitution, and legalization of drugs. The monsters are coming out of the closets and out from underneath the beds.

So now we live in a society that thinks homosexual lifestyles are a normal way to live. Tolerance includes everything except biblical principles, and hate crimes do not include lawsuits against Christian people who want to keep the Ten Commandments in the judicial system, or who refuse to make wedding cakes for same sex couples, or who refuse to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.

What happened to our biblical principled society?

Ungodly influences.

It is clear that God’s providence does not change the hearts and lives of sinners.([1]) Over and over Israel had troubles with the foreign influences they embraced in their homes by marrying foreign wives, and giving their daughters to foreign men.

You may recall that Moses’ father-in-law was Jethro, a Midianite. Here in Judges 6 we see the Midianites were overrunning Israel and stealing their food. These Midianites were from the east that joined with Moab, not the south Midianites of Jethro fame. Notice here that they had no leader, king, or general. It was mob rule. They were people that were called unintelligent without culture and riotous. These were the people that Joshua had overrun and killed all the males (Numbers 31:7). In the two hundred years since that time, the Midianites had become a tumultuous, innumerable mob. They overcame Israel by sheer numbers (Judges 6:5).

Gideon’s reaction to God’s call illustrates the permeating timidity and fear of the Israelites (Judges 6:2) because their response to the hoard was to hide in caves and the mountains.

Like locusts, they camped in the midst of Israel intent on destroying everything in sight, and consuming (and packing up) everything edible they could find. All this happened right after harvest time. Then they would let Israel alone for the winter months and spring to sow, then tend the fields, then would swoop down upon them to take the harvest fruits. This went on for seven years.

God owned everything and only asked for a tithe, in fact He commanded a tithe. The fact the Midianites took the grain, the cattle, the sheep and goats is the justice of God at work in the Israelites punishment for abandoning Him. He punished the Israelites sin of not honoring Him but honoring Baal.

First the prophet was sent to remind them of how great God’s protection and provision was to their forefathers, and to remind them of how they had failed the Lord God.

Then came the Angel of the Lord – a Theophany or Christophany – who is God not a created angel. He tells Gideon that the LORD is with him, and calls him a mighty man of valor.

This Hebrew word translated valor is chayil (Khah lil). It is used in several places to describe men who are enforcers such as an army. It also means wealth, virtue, strength, band of men (soldiers), company, (great) forces, goods, host, might, power, riches, strength, strong, substance, train, (+) valiant (-ly), valour, virtuous (-ly), war, worthy (-ily). Surprisingly, it is also used to describe the best wife in Proverbs 31. Intrepid, courageous, of great worth could be what the Angel of the Lord meant.

But Gideon had the audacity to argue with God. Isn’t this something that we’ve all done as well? God says for us to do something, and we sit still

1) wondering if that was really the Lord speaking to us;

2) and say. okay, God, but I need to do something else first so bless that first;

3) and say, oh, no, Lord. I don’t have the skill to do that;

4) and say, I can’t move that mountain Lord;

5) and say as Gideon did, well I don’t know, Lord, I can’t see your help with my family… my church… my country…

Because God said it, we are assured that Gideon was a mighty man of valor. The problem Gideon has was a lack of faith. He recognized it was the LORD speaking to him, but he didn’t believe that God would do what He said He would do.

Gideon: Well, where are all those miracles that God did that our fathers praised? God has forsaken us.

What a negative Ned! God had just given him a great compliment, and had put great trust in him to deliver Israel. But Gideon couldn’t accept it. He had to pout a while. Besides, he had separated the fact of his forefathers’ obedience to God from the miracles that God performed. So often we expect so many things from God without doing the works that He prepared for us to do just as so many teenagers do to their parents.

Angel of the LORD: Go with all your great strength and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I myself am sending you.

Gideon: How can I do that? I’m the weakest of a weak tribe.

Now didn’t the Angel of the LORD just tell him just seconds before that the LORD is with you?

Gideon was treading on a path that Christians tread all too frequently. He was trying to do things under his own power. Why do we measure our problems by how small we are rather than against how huge our beloved God is?

After the Angel assured Gideon that he could indeed crush the Midianites because He would help him, Gideon’s faith was still smaller than a flea. He had to have proof.

He tested God. This was a habit that Gideon’s forefathers indulged in (Psalm 78) We are not to test God (Deuteronomy 6:16). It is the same as using the Bible as a divining rod. Okay, God, if you really want me to do this then help me open this Bible to a page that has the word “Yes” on it. Okay, thanks. Now if You really, really, really mean it, open this Bible to a page that has the word “No” on it. Okay, God. I get that You want me to do this, but frankly I’m just too scared to do it.

God is using Gideon to teach us a great lesson. In our weakness His power is glorified. When our faith is small as a flea, He will do what it takes to strengthen and magnify our faith so that we can, by our obedience, bring Him great glory.

Men trying to do things in their own power and own wisdom may make giant strides, but people who yield their strength into God’s hands will conquer.

There is nothing wrong with desiring to confirm our faith and confirm God’s call. But don’t lay out the fleece. Use the Bible the way God intended; use quiet prayer to listen to God’s voice; use godly people to help you discern. These are the tools God has prepared and proffered to us His children for His good purposes.

What a mighty God we serve!

[1] Matthew Henry Commentary on Judges

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Biography Information:
Gina Burgess has taught Sunday School and Discipleship Training for almost three decades. (Don't tell her that makes her old.) She earned her Master's in Communication in 2013.

She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.

If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection

Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and
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