Bible Readings for July 23rd
After Israel had been oppressed by the Midianites for seven years (Judg. 6:1), God raises up a leader to save his people—not a valiant warrior-judge, but a weak, fearful man named Gideon. And because Gideon is weak and fearful, he has much to teach us about following Jesus in spite of our fears and unbelief.
To begin, Gideon does not take his call to judge Israel with vain overconfidence but with humility—and even with great fear. In fact, he humbly asks, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house” (Judg. 6:15). Furthermore, when Gideon does obey Yahweh by pulling down the altar of Baal and cutting down the Asherah pole, he is so afraid of his family and the men of the town that he does so at night (Judg. 6:27). This is not a man who believes himself capable of overturning the world—this is a man like you and me, one who is terrified of what other people might think of him for obeying Yahweh.
Additionally, Gideon asks for multiple signs—first, the angel of Yahweh gives him a sign by consuming the meat and unleavened cakes with fire that Gideon had brought in Judges 6:17–21. Then, in Judges 6:36–40, Gideon asks to see Yahweh put dew on a fleece while keeping the ground dry but then to keep a fleece dry while putting dew on the ground. He is willing to step out in faith, but he wants to make absolutely certain that it is Yahweh who is sending him.
We should learn two important lessons from this first glimpse into the life and ministry of Gideon. First, we should recognize that God knows our weaknesses. Our fear and unbelief do not catch God off guard because God knows our hearts, and he loves us. God wants to lead us beyond our fears, but he is patient with us in the midst of our fears.
Second, we should also recognize that God has made provisions to help us in our weaknesses. Just as God was pleased to give Gideon a sign to help his unbelief, so also God is pleased to give us signs to help our unbelief—and in fact, God has given us better signs. The signs God gives us in baptism and the Lord’s Supper are physical, tangible signs that point us to the full realities of the gospel of Jesus. It isn’t that God’s word is lacking, but our faith is lacking and so God meets us in our frailty by giving us physical signs to help our unbelief.
Are you afraid to follow Jesus? If so, take advantage of the signs God has given for your benefit. These signs proclaim the gospel to you in order to give you confidence when your faith falters.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.