Summary: God specializes in the “unexpected.” I think it is because what we “expect” is so often not in line with who God is and what God desires, that we get caught a little off guard, a little by surprise, when we step back and see what God is doing.
God Unexpected: The Last Part of the Gideon Story
Judges 6:33-8:4 May 7, 2006
God specializes in the “unexpected.” I think it is because what we “expect” is so often not in line with who God is and what God desires, that we get caught a little off guard, a little by surprise, when we step back and see what God is doing. For example, we sometimes expect life to be nothing but pleasure, while God knows that a little bit of drought makes the roots go down deeper and stronger. We sometimes expect to never have to suffer, while God knows that some of our most beautiful experiences of humanity will come through our suffering. We sometimes expect life to be easy, while God knows that the things we achieve with ease will never bring us satisfaction.
The last 2 weeks I have been sharing the story of Gideon, from Judges 6. Downstairs this morning, our boys are hearing the final part of the Gideon story, and learning that being a man of God means having the courage to obey. Even when the unexpected comes. I want to share that same story with you. It is a long one, but it is really all the same story and I don’t want to split it up, and as this is also communion Sunday I’m going to try to share it quickly and just make a series of simple observations along the way, without elaboration. It is a story of war, of violence and bloodshed, but I think that is ok, and since next week is Mother’s day and I’ll try to be warm and cuddly then…
First let me catch you up… two weeks ago Gideon met Jesus in the form of an angel, who greeting Gideon as a “mighty hero” and then promised that the presence of God would be with him. Gideon responded in obedience to God and took a very public stand for God, cementing his reputation as someone chosen by God.
the story continues… (Judges 6:33-8:4)
(6:33) Now all the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples joined forces and crossed over the Jordan and camped in the Valley of Jezreel. (6:34) Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon,
That is an important point – all that follows comes from the fact that “the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon”. Same for us: if, and only if, we welcome the Spirit of God into our lives, we will be victorious. Everything that follows comes from this reality.
and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him. (6:35) He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, calling them to arms, and also into Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, so that they too went up to meet them.
This is fascinating to me, especially in light of what follows. Gideon rallies the troops, prepares for battle, and they come. They come to fight, they believe in Gideon and in God. We’ll see in a few verses that 32 000 come.
(6:36) Gideon said to God, "If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised-- (6:37) look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said." (6:38) And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew--a bowlful of water.(6:39) Then Gideon said to God, "Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece. This time make the fleece dry and the ground covered with dew." (6:40) That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.
Gideon is looking for some reassurance. He has heard the promise, taken a stand, acted on it, but he wants to be sure. And God guides. Now, the way God guides today is different – I don’t recommend this particular method, but the point is exactly the same: God guides. He cares. He walks with us. He knows our insecurities, He knows our doubts, He knows that we need Him, and so He guides. He helps. He walks beside. He did for Gideon; He does for us.
(7:1) Early in the morning, Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) and all his men camped at the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. (7:2) The LORD said to Gideon, "You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands.
Ok, I’m no military strategist. I’ve never been to boot camp, never read books on war tactics, and I wasn’t even a cadet. But this statement seems backwards. “too many”?? I sense something unexpected…