JUDGES 6:1-40 | LUKE 22:54-23:12 | PSALM 95:1-96:13 | PROVERBS 14:5-6
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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.”
These are the words of Gideon to the angel who approaches him with a view to recruit him to be a leader unto his people.
And a leader was needed indeed. The children of Israel had once again forgotten the God of their fathers and their identity as a chosen people, and it wasn’t long before they had become worshipers of Baal and were struggling to hold onto their land and livelihood. And so, yet again, they cried out to God to rescue them from their oppressors, the Midianites and others who kept invading them from the south and west across the Jordan.
Gideon, a young man from the tribe of Manasseh (Joseph’s son) was the one chosen to be a leader this time, and quite a young man he was. He was curious in that he didn’t take at face-value the words of the angel, and asks that a sign be shown to him. The angel does just that, and the next day, Gideon does as he is told: he tears down the altar of Baal in his father’s house, and builds one in the proper prescribed manner and makes a sacrificial offering as instructed.
When the neighbors ask what all this is about and express fear that Baal will be angered, Gideon’s father replies, “If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar!” Gideon goes on to ask for two further signs of God—just to be sure that all this was from the Lord God indeed, and God obliges him with his specific requests: to see dew on only the fleece one morning, and dew on only the ground on the next.
Turning to our text in Luke, we are now in the thick of things: Jesus has been arrested, and is taken down to Pontius Pilate. Pilate does say unequivocally “I find no basis for a charge against this man” but lacks the gumption to release him. Instead, he sends Jesus off to Herod, and Herod tries to get Jesus to perform some supernatural acts—as if Jesus were some circus performer—and when he fails to elicit any response from Jesus, he sends him back to Pilate. Two spineless Roman governors who will forever have the blood of an innocent man on their hands!
We also find in this passage Peter’s denial of Jesus—three times in one day—just as Jesus had predicted only yesterday. Alas, we think we know ourselves when we so vehemently profess our love for the Lord, but it is really the Lord who knows us—and knows us really well, better than we will ever know ourselves.
Turning to our reading of the Psalms, we find these two that are overflowing with praise for God, the creator and keeper of this universe. In Psalm 95 we find these few verses. The analogy of God as a loving shepherd is indeed a very comforting one.
6 Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
7 for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.
And in Psalm 96, we find these verses:
11Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
12 Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
13 Let all creation rejoice before the LORD, for he comes,
he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples in his faithfulness.
Finally, from the book of Proverbs, we have one verse that I wish to offer for reflection:
6 The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none,
but knowledge comes easily to the discerning.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.