Once again the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD and God delivered them in the hand of their enemies, this time it was mainly the Midianites, but there were others. The Israelites were forced to live in hiding as a variety of enemies devoured their land and livestock, like locusts.
Eventually the children of Israel cried out to the LORD who sent them a prophet with a simple message – the LORD was the one who saved and blessed them…why on earth did they not serve Him? Why did they choose to serve other gods instead? It made (makes) no sense!
God so graciously came down and appeared to Gideon as an Angel of the LORD greeting him with some interesting words, “The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor.”
Gideon questioned God with a common concept:
Judges 6:13a (NKJV) “Gideon said to Him, “O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about…”
Have you ever uttered those words, or heard them expressed? “If the LORD is with us, why did this happened to us? To me? Where are all His so-called miracles?” This is a complicated question, but the truth is, God is always with His people – at times He’s silent, but never absent. Israel’s situation was due to their sin, and sometimes this is the case for us as well. Other times the reason “things” are allowed to happen to us us because we’re doing something right (like Job). Only the Lord can show us His reasons and purposes.
The LORD commanded Gideon to go and save Israel from the hand of the Midianites, but Gideon had no confidence whatsoever, identifying his clan as the weakest clan, and himself as the least in his father’s house. Perhaps that’s why God chose him. God uses the humble but resists the proud. God would transform Gideon into a mighty man of valor (heroic courage).
Gideon wanted to be sure this was the LORD talking to Him. God proved His identity by consuming the sacrifice of Gideon. Isn’t it wonderful to realize that God in His grace would enter our world to rescue us? Theologians call these appearances a Theophany.
We’ll find the story of Gideon to be an encouraging one in that he WAS weak, and at times afraid, he even had his doubts, (like us) but he still did what God called him to do. He obeyed in breaking down the altar of Baal, and blowing the trumpet to gather the troops together, even if he did need that extra confirmation in setting out the fleece – twice!
We may have heard it a million times – but I think it’s worth repeating and contemplating often – Peter’s steps to falling:
1. Overconfidence (Matthew 26:35)
2. Prayerlessness (Matthew 26:45)
3. Following Jesus at a distance (Luke 22:54)
4. Warming himself at the enemies’ fire (Luke 22:55)
He eventually denied the Lord, three times. May we learn from his mistake that we would not deny the Lord.
IF we do, fail, God sees and loves us and is willing to restore us:
Luke 22:61 (NKJV) “And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’”
Jesus was mocked, beaten and blindfolded which meant He was unable to brace Himself for the blows. The witnesses in the so-called trial of Jesus, all lied, and Jesus was ultimately condemned for simply telling the truth – He was the Christ, the Son of God!
The Jews didn’t have the authority to exercise capital punishment, so they brought Him to the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate who found no fault in Christ. Pilate was caught between a rock and hard spot, and once he found out that Jesus was from Galilee, he sent Him to Herod who had jurisdiction over that area. Herod had been wanting to see Jesus, he wanted to be dazzled with a miracle, but Jesus didn’t oblige, answering nothing. Christianity is not a show, and Christ is not to be seen as a miraculous “performer,” He is our Teacher – Savior of the world.
What a beautiful invitation to worship Psalm 95 is! We know that ultimately worship has to do with the posture and openness of our hearts to God, but this Psalm acknowledges that often times this is expressed in visible ways.
The Psalmist extends an invitation to the people in this area of praise to God; let us sing to Him, shout joyfully to Him, come before Him, worship, bow down, and even kneel down before Him.
He is the Creator of all, the only true God. He is our God, we are His people, and the sheep of His hand (under His care).
Today, if you hear His voice, don’t be like the children of Israel who wandered in their hearts and also in the wilderness – they therefore had no rest. God help us to open our hearts to His voice, today – and everyday of our lives.
Psalm 96 is another encouragement to sing to God – let our songs be new and true, for He is worthy, and our worship should never get old or stale.
This Psalm brings up another aspect of worship, and that is giving to God an offering. It’s one thing to give tithes (that in one sense is obligatory). Offerings go above and beyond what’s required of us.
Psalm 96:7–8 (NKJV) “Give to the LORD, O families of the peoples, give to the LORD glory and strength. 8 Give to the LORD the glory due His name; bring an offering, and come into His courts.”
I love the way this Psalm acknowledges the way the whole wide world belongs to God – the heavens, the earth, the sea, the fields, the trees in the woods – it’s all His and even creation looks forward to His return! (see also Romans 8:20-22)
Psalm 96:13 (NKJV) “For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness, And the peoples with His truth.”
It’s hard to wait, but we will, wait, watch, and work, till He returns.
V. 5 – Pretty simple – but pretty huge; if you lie in court you subvert justice, an innocent life can be ruined or even taken, and through the fabrication of a false witness, a horrible felon might be freed.
The capacity to lie in any way reveals in all reality a wickedness to the core (lies are the language of Lucifer, the Father of lies) (John 8:44)
If a person can lie, that person can do anything, because all they have to do is lie about it. Let’s be careful to be people of truth.
V. 6 – The reason a scoffer cannot understand is because he’s not open or saved. We read in:
1 Corinthians 2:14 (NKJV) “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
But the believer understand life and spiritual truths not only because they have the Holy Spirit, but because they have a submissive spirit.
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.