New Living Translation (NLT)
|Gideon's army, from www.visualbiblealive.com|
I love the story of Gideon. I see so much of myself in him! Just an ordinary guy who really wasn't anything special. He described himself as being least among his family. Least what? Strong? Courageous? Successful? Talented? I'm not sure what it meant to Gideon, but it means all those things to me.
But God saw something in him, and sent an angel down to talk with him. This is how I would interpret the conversation.
Angel: "Hello Gideon, you mighty man of valor!"
Gideon looks up, surprised, and says: "Who, me? You must have the wrong person!"
Angel: "No, you're the right person, and God is with you."
Gidoen looks around him, and with just a bit of sarcasm, says "Oh yeah? Well if God is with us, then why are we in such a mess? Where's all those miracles that we hear about in the legends passed down from our fathers? He might have delivered them from Egypt, but He sure is leaving us to rot here in Midian.
Angel: "You'll see. God is going to be with you, and He is going to lead you into victory over the Midianites."
Gideon is still a bit skeptical, but the angel's words are tickling his ears, and he can't help but get a little excited. Still though, it seems just a little too good to be true, so he shakes the excitement off for a moment and says "yeah? Prove it. Prove to me that you are really of God.
Now, I may have ad-libbed a little there, but I'm not far off the mark. I'm reading from the NKJV (even though I quote text here from the NLT), you can clearly hear the all those emotions in Gideon's words... the disbelief, a bit of bitterness, the beginnings of hopefulness, the challenge of proof.
The angel took the challenge in stride, and instructed Gideon to fix him a meal of meat and unleavened bread as an offering. Gideon did as told, and poof! The whole offering went up in smoke, and the angel disappeared with it.
This entry is getting pretty long, so I'll try to abbreviate it a bit. Gideon's assurance didn't last long before doubt settled back in, and He asked God to prove Himself again. That's the scripture I opened this post with. "God, if you're serious, then while I sleep, let my blanket get soaked with dew while the ground stays dry." And God did as Gideon asked. Still again, the next night, Gideon doubted again, and asked God to do the same in reverse... to make the ground wet and keep his blanket dry. And God obliged.
The story goes on to describe how God delivered the vast armies of the Midianites, and their kings and princes, into the hands of Israel using only Gideon and 300 men. it's pretty amazing.
I wanted to write about Gideon because I often feel just like him. I question God.... "why, God?" I challenge Him.... "If you really care, then where the heck are you now? If you can perform all these miracles, why can't you do just this one little thing for me?" And I demand proof... "God, if this is really your will and not my own, show me! Give me some sort of sign!"
There have been times when people have told me we should never question God, and certainly not challenge Him out of anger or frustration. And goodness, to ask for proof indicates such a lack of faith that we really don't deserve an answer. I disagree. We're only human, and God knows it. He knows every thought we have, so why try to hide them? Isn't it better to be totally honest before the God who sees every lie? He probably doesn't appreciate the disrespectful attitude, but the honesty behind it has to be refreshing to Him.
The really great thing is, when we ask God to prove Himself to us, He does. When we're really seeking His will, He will prove Himself as many times as it takes til we are ready to do what He has asked of us. And that's not just for the believer, either. It's for the unbelieving skeptic, too. If an unbeliever really wants to know if God is real, all he has to do is ask God to show Himself. He will, because He desires that we all recognize Him for who He is, and come to repentance.
Ain't that cool?
Read the thought provoking entry from this day in 2010