March 12 - Nº 71 Judges 6
After 40 years of peace, the Israelites once again began to worship the gods of the pagan people around them. God warned them not to, but they refused to listen to Him. So, He allowed the Midianites to invade them like a swarm of locusts. They ruined the land, destroyed the crops, and killed the farm animals. The Israelites were forced into hiding. A young man named Gideon was busy threshing wheat in a wine press to keep it hidden from the Midianites, when the angel of the Lord (probably Jesus—see #12 - January 12) appeared to him. “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior,” the angel greeted him. “If God really is with us, why is He allowing all these bad things to happen?” Gideon wanted to know. “Why doesn’t He rescue us like He rescued our ancestors?” “That’s why I’m here!” the angel replied. “God wants to use you to rescue Israel!” Gideon didn’t believe him. “How can I do that? My clan is the weakest clan in the smallest tribe, and I am the youngest in my family. There’s no way He can use me!” he argued. “But I will be with you, and I will give you victory,” the angel responded. Gideon wasn’t convinced. He wanted proof that he was really hearing from God. He asked the angel to wait while he prepared a sacrifice. When it was ready, he put it on a rock. The angel of the Lord touched the meat and the bread with his staff. Immediately fire flared up out of the rock and consumed it. Then the angel disappeared. Gideon was stunned. “I am about to die!” he exclaimed. “I have seen the Lord face to face!” God spoke, “Don’t be afraid. You are not going to die.” He told Gideon to tear down the altar his father had made to worship Baal and build an altar to the Lord in its place. He was to sacrifice one of his father’s bulls on the new altar. Gideon obeyed, but he did it at night because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople. In the morning, when the people saw what had happened to their altar, they started an investigation to find who had ruined it. When they discovered it was Gideon, they wanted to kill him. But his father intervened. “If Baal really is a god, let him defend himself,” he reasoned. It wasn’t long before the Midianites invaded again. The Spirit of the Lord filled Gideon. He blew a trumpet and sent out a message for the Israelites to follow him. But he was still having doubts. He prayed, “God, if you really want me to do this, please give me a sign.” He put a wool fleece on his threshing floor and said, “I will know for sure that You plan to use me to deliver Israel if tomorrow morning there is dew only on the fleece and the ground is dry.” The next morning the fleece was so wet that he wrung out a bowl full of water, yet the ground was dry. But Gideon still wasn’t sure. “Please don’t be angry with me, God,” he begged. “Allow me one more test. This time let the fleece remain dry and the dew be on the ground.” Sure enough, that is exactly what happened. It was time for Gideon to trust God and lead the Israelites to victory.
Do you sometimes wonder if God has abandoned you? Do you question why He allows bad things to happen? The Bible teaches us that God is completely and infinitely good, yet we live in a sinful world. God can use the suffering we face in this messed up world to teach us, mature us, and allow us to lead others to Him.