And the journey continues….Judges. This Old Testament book highlights the time after the death of Joshua, the leader that had led them into Canaan, and the establishment of a monarchy. Their lives became a cycle as they lost sight of God as their ruler and leader. They would fall into idolatry, be oppressed by another nation then call on God to rescue them. God rescued them through a series of Judges who led the people back to God and out of harms way. Some are well known like Deborah, Gideon and Samson. Each led the armies of Israel to a victory miraculously provided by God.
The account of Deborah’s defeat of their attackers along with her commander Barak are given in Judges Chapters 4 and 5. Together with the Lord’s guidance they defeated Sisera and his 100 iron chariots. He fled the battle and was killed as he slept. The victory is recounted with praise to God in ‘The Song of Deborah’ in Chapter 5. We are reminded that victory is the Lord’s and He is worthy of all praises!
“That the leaders took the lead in Israel,
that the people offered themselves willingly,
bless the Lord! 3 “Hear, O kings; give ear, O princes;
to the Lord I will sing; I will make melody to the Lord, the God of Israel.” Judges 5:2-3
What victory do you need to give praises to God for today? Where has God rescued you from enemies, your own mistakes, or your own selfishness? Just like the Israelites, we only need to call upon the Lord with a repentant heart and He will stand with us to face the consequences our actions have brought. I cling to the promise of Isaiah 49:16 “Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.” God knows me and is with me 24/7 surrounding me with his love and protection.
Gideon’s story is told in Judges Chapters 6 and 7. The Israelites fell into idolatry again and were under domination by the Midianites for 7 years. The Midianites were oppressive as they stole their crops, livestock and ravaged their land. Many of the Israelites were very afraid and lived in caves hiding from them. The Israelites cried out to the Lord for deliverance. God called Gideon to lead the people and sent an angel to deliver his message. Gideon was doubtful of his ability to do what God asked. He asked God for a sign as proof that He was really calling him to lead the fight against the Midianites. Gideon set out an offering and the angel of the Lord consumed it with fire. (6:19-23) Gideon did as the Lord required and led a fight against the opposing forces. Then more forces came against Israel and Gideon asked for another sign that he should continue. Judges 6:36-40 “Then Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said, 37 behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said.” 38 And it was so. When he rose early next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water. 39 Then Gideon said to God, “Let not your anger burn against me; let me speak just once more. Please let me test just once more with the fleece. Please let it be dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground let there be dew.” 40 And God did so that night; and it was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew. Gideon was convinced and led the army as God directed. They routed the Midianites in a miraculous way! Read the account in Chapter 7 of Judges.
I love this story of Gideon as it showed Gideon’s human doubts and God’s reassuring love, patience and longsuffering towards His servant Gideon. When Gideon stepped out in faith, God was faithful and gave him the victory. Where are you doubting God today? Take a lesson from Gideon and ask God for reassurance. It can be as simple as praying and asking God for His peace if you are to continue with…. or ask God to close a door/opportunity if He does not want you to proceed. Our answers do not have to be tangible fleeces but God wants to reassure us and resolve our doubts so we can step out with confident boldness. When He gives you the assurance, be bold, trust God and proceed in faith. I am reminded of God’s faithfulness in 2 Timothy 2:11-13
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself. God is always faithful even when we are not! Praise God!
If you have some time you might also enjoy reviewing the story of Samson in Chapter 13-15. He was called by God, given extraordinary strength, let his pride cause him to sin and give into his deceitful wife’s pleas, received awful abuse by the Philistines and then God gave him victory over their enemy. Again we see, in spite of our weaknesses, God can and does use us to bring His victory.