Many of you have heard of Gideon because his name is on the cover of every hotel room bible you’ve ever seen.
But the Gideon inside the pages of the bible is more interesting than the one on the cover.
And the inside Gideon found himself bargaining with God in Judges 6. His nation is overrun by the invading Midianites and he hears a summons to action. To say that he balked is an understatement. Here’s what happened:
13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
“Please sir… Can’t you hear it with a British accent? And two questions there in v. 13: WHY? WHERE? Why is this happening to us; why are we nomads & Midianites settlers? Where are all the cool things you used to do? Man, oh man, what great questions. Ones you have asked. Why did you let me get in this mess, this marriage, this jail cell and Where are all those cool parting the Red Sea & rising from the dead miracles you used to do. We’ve ALL ASKED THOSE.
But I think the Lord realizes something (because he’s smart): some people ask questions not because they want answers but because they want attention. They want control. So if God here were to answer Gideon, he’d been enabling him! And the rest of Israel! So he says simply in 6:14:
14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
Whoa! You have resources within you, Gid, you have strength. I don’t need to give you an answer. I need to give you an assignment. You know what God does here? I love it. He doesn’t enable. He empowers. And Gideon … like us … like so many, tries to make God his co-dependent again in 6:15:
15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
The Lord settles the argument once more in 6:16:
16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”
Go, do this shocking-to-us thing of ridding the land of the Midianites (the comparison is ISIS – we’d realize we can’t tame it or co-exist with it; as awful as it sounds, it needs to be eliminated). Take the shock effect out, however, and what God is about is clear: God refuses to enable but he is eager to empower.
Yes! He will not allow, underwrite, tolerate your continued misbehavior but he for darn sure will fuel, accelerate, and mobilize your ministry! The delay to Israel’s outcry means everything! The non-answer to Gideon’s question means everything more! The assignment caps the deal. God is so secure! He will not be manipulated. Which means I have to ask you: we talk a lot about a living relationship with Jesus Christ here, but do you have a manipulative one? The kind that you only call on when you are in a fix? Do you ask him to help you in your dilemmas without repenting of what it was that got you in the dilemma in the first place? Help me! And God, sometimes with a delay and sometimes with a struggle, has to answer: I gots to hurt you first. It’s when he says, “Stop waiting for the next answered prayer and start acting on the last one.” God refuses to enable but he is eager to empower.
This material comes from the forthcoming book Crash Test Dummies which you can pre-order here: