God is with us and He fights our enemies, who rise up against us, and keeps us safe. But when we do not obey His voice and do what is evil in His sight, He will take His protective hand away from our lives and will deliver us into the hand of the enemies, so that we come back to him, and do all that He wants us to. Certain things are not evil in our own sight or in the sight of others, but if it does not please God and if something is not right in His eyes, then He will judge us that we may repent and turn back to Him. In Judges 6:1-10 we read,
1 Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years, 2 and the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of the Midianites, the children of Israel made for themselves the dens, the caves, and the strongholds which are in the mountains. 3 So it was, whenever Israel had sown, Midianites would come up; also Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. 4 Then they would encamp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep nor ox nor donkey. 5 For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, coming in as numerous as locusts; both they and their camels were without number; and they would enter the land to destroy it.
6 So Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites, and the children of Israel cried out to the LORD. 7 And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried out to the LORD because of the Midianites, 8 that the LORD sent a prophet to the children of Israel, who said to them, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘I brought you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of bondage; 9 ‘and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 ‘Also I said to you, “I am the LORD your God; do not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.” But you have not obeyed My voice.’ “
One of the first and simple truths we come across in this passage is that the Midianites prevailed over Israel because the Israelites did EVIL IN THE SIGHT OF THE LORD! The Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East had become so strong against the Israelites that they had to start hiding in caves, dens and the strongholds in the mountains. A people who once instilled fear in their enemies were now full of fear themselves because of the same enemies. All that they sowed was immediately taken away by the enemy. The reason they were overpowered, defeated and controlled by the enemy, was their disobedience to God’s voice.
The Midianites and the Amalekites are not our enemies anymore; now, it may be the situations and circumstances that we are subjected to as slaves; sickness and disease that we struggle with and overpower us or the people that scheme against us and try to destroy us. When things go wrong in our lives, it is good to check ourselves honestly, in the light of God’s word, to know if we are walking in obedience to God and His word or not. We should not take things for granted or ignore the real reasons for destruction and loss in our lives. It is important to know what’s causing the trouble, pain and loss in our lives- natural circumstances, the devil, or God Himself! If it’s only natural circumstances – including sickness and disease – that are against us, then we can change it in the name of Jesus; if it’s the devil working against our lives, we have power in the name of Jesus to defeat Him; but if it is God who has removed His protective hand from our lives because of our disobedience and lack of submission to His ways, then only true repentance from the heart, done in humility, will help. We cannot just blame God – positively or negatively – and not take any responsibility for our sin. If there is sin, disobedience, pride or rebellion against God and His word, we have to repent; we cannot simply blame God and ignore our disobedience to Him. Prayer and sacrifice without repentance will not help. Going to church without repentance will not help either. We have to turn away from what is EVIL IN HIS SIGHT and start doing that which is RIGHT IN HIS EYES. As the Israelites hid in dens and caves, if you are hiding somewhere – away from people, away from men of God, away from church, away from the word of God and prayer, away from God – because of your sins and because of your fears, then turn back to God and He will forgive you and restore you completely.
Now, while Israel was in this state of disobedience to God, the Bible says that the Angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon:
11 Now the Angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites. 12 And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him, and said to him, “The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor!” 13 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, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.” Judges 6: 11-13
Gideon too, being afraid of the enemies, was threshing wheat in the wine press. But the Angel of the Lord appears to him and says, “The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor!” Under the circumstances, that statement sounded anything but true; because if God was truly with them, Israel would not be overcome by its enemies, and if Gideon was truly a mighty man, he would not be hiding from the enemy and threshing wheat in the wine press, rather, he would be threshing wheat in the wheat threshing floor. Was the Angel of God mocking Gideon and insulting him? Was he just being sarcastic?
When God speaks a word to us concerning anything, He is not just interested in giving us some news, as the media gives news. The media reports events as it sees and hears. It reports events exactly as it happens. But our God is not a mere reporter – He is God Almighty, He is the CREATOR! He does not merely report what He sees in us at the moment, but HE speaks and declares what we are to be and what we will be! He looks into the future, and ‘calls things that are not as though they were’ (Romans 4:17). Gideon was anything but mighty but God declared what he would soon be. That which no one else saw in Gideon and that which Gideon Himself could not see, God saw. Halleluiah!
God saw that Gideon could turn Israel’s heart back to Him and deliver them from the hand of the enemies.
25 Now it came to pass the same night that the LORD said to him, “Take your father’s young bull, the second bull of seven years old, and tear down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the wooden image that is beside it; 26 and build an altar to the LORD your God on top of this rock in the proper arrangement, and take the second bull and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the image which you shall cut down.” Judges 6: 25, 26
This was Gideon’s first task: to destroy the altars that his own father had built up to other gods! When God chooses, God neither looks at who we were in the past nor at our family background or anything else that surrounds us. Because, if God went by family background and circumstances, Gideon would surely be disqualified, as his own father had raised up altars to other gods. His call for our lives is not based on what our parents have done and what our brothers and sisters have done. Our negative family history will not stop Him from calling us or appointing us for His work. He only looks at our hearts to see if we would be obedient to Him and respond to His call. If He sees in us a genuine heart – a heart that wishes to serve Him, irrespective of what’s happening around – then He will entrust us with His task. And, when we are obedient, He will use us to tear down the works of the enemy. And more often than not, He will begin by enabling us to destroy – in us and our families – the very things which our fathers and forefathers have raised up against our God – including traditions, practices, rituals and customs that are not according to His word!
27 So Gideon took ten men from among his servants and did as the LORD had said to him. But because he feared his father’s household and the men of the city too much to do it by day, he did it by night. Judges 6: 27
Gideon wanted, by all means, to obey God, but he was still afraid. After God had spoken His word through the Angel, we would expect him to be strong and courageous but the word of God tells us that he feared his father’s household and the men of the city too much. He had still not become a ‘mighty man of valor’ as God declared, but he was still determined to obey God; and so, that which he was too afraid to do by day, with the little courage he had, he did it by night. Again, in chapter 7 of Judges, before he prepares to save Israel from the Midianites, Gideon is still afraid, so he asks God to confirm what He said through a sign:
36 So Gideon said to God, “If You will save Israel by my hand as You have said— 37 look, I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that You will save Israel by my hand, as You have said.” 38 And it was so. When he rose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece together, he wrung the dew out of the fleece, a bowlful of water. 39 Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me, but let me speak just once more: Let me test, I pray, just once more with the fleece; let it now be dry only on the fleece, but on all the ground let there be dew.” 40 And God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only, but there was dew on all the ground. Judges 6: 36-40
Gideon moved from fear to faith slowly. One step at a time. In Ch 6:27, he led 10 men to bring down his father’s altars, but in Ch 7, we read that he was leading an army of 32,000 Israelites. Eventually trusting in God, he becomes so bold, that at God’s instruction, he reduces the army to just 300 men, and leads them to fight the Midianite army with nearly 1,35,000 soldiers. He is no longer hiding in the wine press but is now out in the battlefield. He first destroyed only his father’s altars, but now he moves to destroy the mighty Midianite army! Initially he was hiding from the enemies but now the enemies were hiding from him! No longer was he running from the enemies, but the enemies were now running from him! God’s word came to pass. He was now indeed ‘A Mighty Man of Valor’.
It all began with just one word from God: “The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor!” After the word was spoken, there was no change to be seen immediately. It took some time, but eventually Gideon became what God declared him to be. Once God spoke the word something happen in Gideon’s heart. Though there was no external evidence, inside of Him something happened: Faith and strength were conceived. In the New Teatament, when God spoke to Mary through His Angel, Jesus was conceived in Mary’s womb. There was nothing to be seen initially, but in the course of time Jesus was born. It began with a simple word from God.
No matter what the state of our lives today, if we can receive God’s word for our situation, for our life, then we will be completely changed. We may receive His word for our lives as we read the bible, or He may speak to us while we are praying, or God may speak to us while listening to a teaching, whichever the case, if His word is declared over our lives, everything will be changed. God is not interested merely in reporting the present state of our lives to us; He is not interested in just giving us some news concerning ourselves, HE WILL DECLARE TO US OUR FUTURE, IN SIMPLE WORDS. He is interested in changing our lives.
Very often when something goes wrong in our lives or when we are really discouraged we turn to the world for solutions: we might put the television on and watch it for our hours, we might watch a few movies, try to relax ourselves and try get over the problem, we might decide to meet up with some friends and try to find some relief or may be we will decide to just sleep and get over it. All these will give us some temporary relief but not lasting answers. If we need life-changing answers, then we need to look to the life-changing God – Jesus Christ, and WAIT UPON HIM patiently for a word, an answer, from Him.
It’s a word from Him that will release you and set you free completely. Take time to pray and be in His presence. He will speak a word to your heart that will completely change your life forever. Don’t look to the world for answers, look to Jesus. When God speaks His word to you, many times there is nothing much you may see externally, but if you have received His word into your heart then, in the course of time, you will be as God has spoken. It really does not matter what you are today. It does not matter how weak you are today. If you can believe what God has declared concerning you in His word, then you will be changed completely. You are not what men say you are. You are not what you think you are. You are who God says you are. What He says concerning you in the bible is what you are. Situations and circumstances may show that you are weak and defeated but if you believe what God has declared concerning you then you will be changed, you will be strong and victorious. All you need is one word from God…