“The Midianites were so cruel that the Israelites made hiding places for themselves in the mountains, caves, and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, marauders from Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east would attack Israel, camping in the land and destroying crops as far away as Gaza. They left the Israelites with nothing to eat, taking all the sheep, goats, cattle, and donkeys….And they stayed until the land was stripped bare. So Israel was reduced to starvation by the Midianites. Then the Israelites cried out to the Lord for help.” – Judges 6:2-6.
In the midst of the oppression of Israel by the Midianites, Gideon has a conversation with an angel of the Lord: “ Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.” – Judges 6:13
Gideon could not understand these negative circumstances if God truly was with his people. They had heard the wondrous stories of God’s power, but since they had never seen it displayed, they wondered if it was an urban legend. Looking at the circumstances, Gideon saw no evidence that God was there or that God cared. So Gideon asked the same question that we still ask today. “why do we have so many setbacks when a loving God is supposedly in control.”
God was not absent. God was preparing Gideon for battle against numerically overwhelming odds: “The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength. Therefore, tell the people, ‘Whoever is timid or afraid may leave this mountain and go home.’” So 22,000 of them went home, leaving only 10,000 who were willing to fight.” (Judges 7:2-3) Now the army was 10,000 to fight an enemy of 135,000. But it was still too many. A water drinking exercise reduced the 10,000 to 300. The plan was simple but brilliant: Gideon divided the 300 men into three groups, equipped each of the men with a trumpet and a pitcher covering a lighted torch. He instructed them, “As soon as I and those with me blow the rams’ horns, blow your horns, too, all around the entire camp, and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon!’” (Judges 7:18). In the dark the Midianites panicked at the tumult of shouting, trumpet blasts and breaking pitchers and the sight of torches surrounding them. In their terror and confusion they fought and killed each other. Gideon’s men emerged unscathed.
Their battle with the Midianites shows us how active God is, how He never leaves us or forsakes us all along the way, in both the good and the evil things we experience. “…“I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5) No matter what you are experiencing, sweet or bitter, good or evil, no matter how long it has lasted, He has not left you alone.
- What does the Bible mean when it says that the Lord is with you?
- Can you think of a current situation you’re in (or one you might soon be in) that would give you the opportunity to demonstrate to other people that your confidence is in God?