Gideon argues with God.
Please read Judges 6 v13-17 Do you argue with God? Some of us don’t, but I guess most do. Having been led out of Egypt and slavery to the Promised Land, God’s people now found themselves in a lot of trouble. It just didn’t make sense!
Argument 1 – ‘Nothing makes any sense’. (V13) Gideon addresses the angel who had just called him ‘Mighty warrior’. In the bible angels represent God’s presence. “Pardon me, my lord but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Gideon remembers the miracles that led to the escape from Egypt. After all this the Lord seems to have abandoned them to Midian! Who can make sense of these current situations? Have you questioned God? ‘Lord, have you abandoned us to Coved-19?’ ‘When will you hear our cry for mercy?’ ‘What about the miracles our ancestors told us about?’ ‘Lord, we don’t understand!!!’ The Bible bears witness to the faithful who question God. “How long, O Lord?” (Psalm 13 v1-2). The writer of Ecclesiastes likenes seeking meaning to ‘chasing the wind’. Peter, when Jesus came to wash his feet says ‘No Lord’. During the Easter season surely the classic example is Thomas who will not believe until he sees the wounds of Christ for himself. Some people say that ‘Everything happens for a reason’ – but it’s not in the Bible! If evil is essentially unreasonable, bringing chaos, uncertainty and destruction, why would we expect evil to make sense or be ‘reasonable’? Gideon was grappling with the presence of evil coming at him in the shape of Midianite marauders. We are grappling with chaotic forces in the world too. A better question to ask is ‘Lord, what would you have me do?’, ‘How can I show your grace and love in these difficult days?’ God doesn’t answer Gideon’s question, instead God says ‘Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?’ It wasn’t the answer Gideon was looking for but God’s answer to Gideon was ‘I am sending you’.
Argument 2 – How can I make any difference? God’s word to Gideon doesn’t settle the argument. ‘What good will it do sending me? (v15) “My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
God’s answer was very straightforward – ‘I will be with you’ Simple; profound - and challenging.
If only I was stronger, more charismatic, ‘larger than life’. If only I were part of a more prestigious church – rich, powerful and well resourced. Then, maybe I’d be able to make a difference. Paul wrote: “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” (1 Cor 1 v27)
Take heart! You can make a difference because Jesus is with you and, if you are a Christian, you are called by God. How? Start with what is in front of you. When this Covid-19 crisis is over there will be all kinds of opportunities for the church to grasp that may not have been evident before. Look around you – your neighbours, friends, local issues. That’s where you can make a difference first. Start with prayer and let prayer shape action.
Argument 3 – Is God really speaking to me? How often have we heard the voice of God speaking to us and then rationalised it away, thinking ‘God wouldn’t speak to me’ or ‘It was just my overactive imagination’ or we just let it slip away? We find Gideon testing the call of God on his life by asking for a sign. God really does speak to us through the bible, our circumstances, the wisdom of godly Christian friends and leaders, the Holy Spirit’s gifts (e.g. prophecy, in prayer, preaching or that ‘still small voice) Don’t ignore it!
P.S. – And God waited….for Gideon.
This is the most gracious and unexpected part of the account. As Gideon argues with God and questions his own calling, Gideon goes away to prepare an offering to God. I think we can see this as a kind of spiritual preparation – Gideon realigning his life with the Lord as he starts to meet the challenge ahead. The astonishing thing is that God chooses to wait for Gideon! How gracious is that? How patient that sovereign God can weave into His eternal plan some time for Gideon to take stock in worship, realign his life with God before moving on to the next adventure!