Judges 6 ~ Signs for Gideon
So, growing up in the Church, the book of Judges could have really just been the book of Gideon and Samson – they’re the two main occupiers of the children’s stories that I remember from Sunday School and the like.
Here’s the beginning of Gideon’s story, and it opens in a pretty familiar fashion.
Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. ~ Judges 6:1
They were oppressed, troubled, abused – and after a few years of this, once again, they cried out to God. Sounds almost identical to how the story of Deborah got started.
So this time it’s a young guy called Gideon, he’s just going about his daily duties when an angel shows up.
When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.” ~ Judges 6:12
And Gideon’s first response is, ‘but’.
Gideon reminds me a bit of Moses, actually. When Moses was first called by God to go back to Egypt he had every argument under the sun ready – not bad, really, for a guy who claimed he wouldn’t be able to speak to Pharaoh. Now Gideon’s being called, and his immediate reaction is basically, “Wait, you’ve got the wrong guy.”
The interaction here is interesting, actually. Gideon shakes his head, saying that if God’s with them, then why are they suffering? He brought them out of Egypt, but he’s abandoned them.
The angel’s response is what I like.
The LORD turned to him and said, “Go out in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” ~ Judges 6:14
When it comes to Gideon asking the why question, when it comes to him saying they’ve been abandoned, the angel doesn’t say anything. Just get on with it – you’re being sent, aren’t you? Let’s go.
Gideon’s not convinced – he asks for a sign, and gets one. After that he cuts down the Baal altar and uses the Asherah pole for firewood, but then when he’s called to go after the Midianites, he’s wanting two more signs before he’ll go.
Now here’s the big thing I noted in this chapter – it’s not actually about the signs, it’s about the few verses in the middle. Gideon sneaks in at night, not wanting to get caught, and destroys the altar to Baal and the Asherah pole alongside it, and sends up a sacrifice to God.
We go off track, and we fall into these troughs in our lives. I know I do, a lot, so I’m glad God’s as patient with me as he was with the Israelites – coming to the rescue and looking after them despite their constant fluctuations between loving him and thinking he must hate them. This little part, though, between Gideon’s signs speaks something very important.
It starts at home. Gideon’s first task was to destroy the Baal altar and the Asherah pole. Why? Because they needed to make sure that they had cleaned up things internally before they could go out and deal with the Midianites.
How often, when things are going wrong in our lives, do we blame the outside influences? How often do we say that it’s all someone else’s fault?
Maybe it is, but the fact is that the place where we can make the most peace, the place where we can do the most restoration is right in our own hearts.
Please note: I’m not necessarily saying that if things aren’t going well for you in your life right now, then it’s because of something you’ve done wrong. However what I am saying is look closer to home. Instead of blaming someone else for things not going right, what can you change in yourself to make the situation better?