Text: Judges 6:1-10
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” —Hebrews 13:8
During our recent fall break camp for at-risk children, our campers did a study on the life of Gideon. It was quite the emotional week. We went from moments of tears—as children affected by parental incarceration wrestled with deep-seated feelings of abandonment—to rapturous moments of laughter when those same children amusingly acted out the Gideon story on the stage of their talent show. Seemingly overnight, we saw God transform fear into faith, pain into courage, and a sense of aloneness into a place of belonging. Our kids learned that God is a faithful Refuge, no matter how bad life gets.
Gideon’s story in the sixth chapter of the book of Judges begins in a time of crisis and desperation. The Israelites had drifted far from God’s decrees as they gave themselves to idolatry and disobedience. As a result of their sin and rebellion, the Lord allowed them to be oppressed by the bullying tactics of the Midianites. For seven long years, a people who were called to show forth the power of God in their generation, instead found themselves hiding in caves. Rather than thriving in bearing the image of their God-given dignity and strength, they were barely surviving in isolationism and weakness. The shame of their spiritual waywardness drove them into a place of cowardice and fear.
The people began to cry out to God in despair. Notice that prayer wasn’t their primary act of worship, just a last resort due to their ill-fated circumstances. Yet herein we see the graciousness and the loving-kindness of our God as He sends them an unnamed prophet, reminding them of all that the LORD had done for them in the past (Judges 6:8-9). In order to face their current crisis, Israel needed two reality checks. First, they needed to be reminded of WHO God is, and secondly, they needed the unpleasant rebuke of WHAT they had done to put themselves in this unfortunate place (v.10).
To get unstuck, we need to face both of these realities. God is faithful. He never changes. His love is unconditional and His mercies are new every morning. We are fickle. Easily distracted. Enticed by the world. Prone to wander. Oftentimes the backslider blames God for allowing misfortune to happen instead of rightly taking introspection of his or her own wandering heart. This isn’t to imply that all misfortune is a result of disobedience—of course NOT. But it is an emphatic reminder, in the context of Judges 6, of how important it is to examine our hearts as we traverse the idol-minefields of our daily lives. Paul told the early Christians to do this examination every time they took the Lord’s Supper together (I Corinthians 11:28).
God’s message to those wayward Israelites was this: The same mighty hand that was faithful to deliver them from Egyptian bondage in the past was still powerful enough to deliver them from the Midianites in the present. His sufficiency has never diminished. Not for those drifting Israelites, and not for us today.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), and when we turn to him in repentance for the forgiveness of our sins, all of the resources of Heaven’s throne align for our deliverance and liberation. We never have to live like spiritual cave dwellers because Christ took all of our sin and shame upon Himself when He triumphed over Calvary’s old rugged cross. To the contrary, repentance in His name will free us to look like those bold image-bearers of a glorious redemption that our God has always imagined. That truth will always call us to come out of the cave of shame and humiliation. Think about that as you seek to abide in Him this week.
Heavenly Father, you have always been, and always will be, MIGHTY TO SAVE. No matter how far we have wandered, your arm of deliverance has never been shortened. Thank you for your gracious pursuits, even when we run in shame, to remind us of your enduring faithfulness. May your grace keep us from becoming spiritual nomads and faithless cave dwellers. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Questions for personal reflection, small group discussion, or dinner table conversations:
- What would you say are some of the costs of being a Christian in today’s world? What risks have you had to take because of your faith in God?
- Have you ever found yourself looking more like a spiritual cave dweller than a bold image-bearer of God’s strength, power, and dignity? Explain.
- In what familiar situation did the Israelites find themselves? (Judges 6:1-2) How were the Israelites oppressed by the Midianites? (vv.2-5) How did God respond to the cries of Israel? (vv.6-8)
- What message did the prophet bring to Israel from the Lord? (vv.8-10) Has God ever used an ordinary, little-known person to help your faith get back on track?
- How can your faith shape the way you flesh out being an image-bearer of God’s redemption instead of hiding in a cave of shame, regret, or fear?
Subscribe to “Abiding In Him” and get the latest devotional in your Inbox once a week.