Thursday, March 17, 2011

New Year: Jdg 6-8 for Mar 13

How does the story of Gideon show the progress of God's favor (Judges 6:17) toward someone? It is at least one example of it.

With Gideon, God had determined what He would do. But Gideon didn't know that; he was just trying to survive (6:11). God takes the initiative, not just approaching Gideon alone, but telling him about it: that He is "with you, O valiant warrior" (6:12).

In another great "who, me?" moment in the Bible, Gideon jumps to the conclusion that the Lord must be on his way to tell everybody, and Gideon happened to be the first stop, like the first restaurant at the edge of town coming in. So Gideon thinks God is telling everybody, and begins immediately to put his two cents in: "If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us ..." (6:13ff).

One of the hallmarks of God's grace is how it is patient for its objects to catch up -- not just patience, but direct action: the "Go" part of the next verse is built upon the reason He gives Gideon why that will work: "have I not sent you" (6:14)?

Another "who, me?" in 6:15: Gideon hears what God just said, takes it up for consideration, and comes up with "O Lord, with what shall I deliver Israel? ..." With what! (6:15, NASB, lit.), plus the standard resources check, netting nothing (6:15).

God makes a very specific promise to Him. It has two parts: which one is more important, or which one is more spiritual to believe if you don't have the other, is extraneous here, because God gives him both: "Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man" (6:16) The idea here is that Midian -- all its hordes (6:5), will be like just a single opponent.

Then, in one of the most amazing passages describing God's ways of motivating someone you'll ever read (6:17-18), look at what transpires.

Gideon becomes convinced that he himself has found favor with God. He has believed 6:16, because he makes a request, based on that, to God: "If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who speak with me..." (6:17). Gideon wants to bring something to God, that he doesn't have right there with him. He's motivated to do this offering, to God, but has no clue if that's OK with God from His side. So he asks about it: "Please do not depart from here, until I come back to You, and bring out my offering and lay it before You."

And God said, "I will remain until you return." (6:18).

Gideon is a step-by-step guy, and at that point, that promise has to be the greatest thing Gideon could hope for. God gives Gideon time to do something proper and right toward Him. That is a huge motivation to get something done, isn't it, that God will remain, until we return to Him with it.

Rather than what transpires in 6:21-22, which makes Gideon anxious, so it doesn't function as the requested sign, I think the sign that Gideon got was that God remained while he got his stuff ready.

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