During the month of November, I am writing about prayer. Prayer is the most personal way you can talk with the God that created you. You were meant to pray. You were meant to talk with God. Today I showcase a guy in the Bible who is honest and full of questions while praying.
When the Israelites cried out to the Lord because of Midian, [God] sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of all your oppressors; I drove them out before you and gave you their land. I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.”
The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why…”
Have you ever met a tiny preschooler who loves to ask why? My oldest was my “why” child, except for some reason he said, “How for?” “How for are those big poles way up in the sky?” “How for is the sky blue?” “How for is the moon out during the day?” And, so it went on and on. It was one of my favorite stages, and yet on days, I could not handle one more question.
Do you feel like God is impatient and arrogant and cannot handle your questions? Do you feel like you have a dumb question and God will not respond? I feel like that some times. I feel like I should just follow after God’s commands with no questions asked. However, when I am confused or feel unsure of an idea I feel like came from God, I feel stupid and ashamed of my insecurities. Sound familiar?
Well, let’s look at Gideon in the Bible. God, literally, picked him out of all the Israelites to fight their enemy. At one point, we learn that he is the most insignificant of all in his family and tribe. But, God picked him. He picked you, too.
I think we can learn something from Gideon. Imagine the scene above. The Israelites are under constant attack from a neighboring tribe. An angel of the LORD comes and sits under a tree to talk to a guy named Gideon. The angel starts off by saying that God is with Gideon and calls him a mighty warrior. Gideon’s response cracks me up. You can almost hear him say, “Come again? Me, a warrior? What? Why?”
Look at the next interchange between the Angel of the LORD and Gideon. (By the way, one commentary says that this angel is “the Angel of Jehovah’s presence, the Word and Son of God, and who is expressly called Jehovah himself.” Very cool, indeed.) Note what Gideon says and how the Angel of the LORD responds.
“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.”
The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”
Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.”
And the Lord said, “I will wait until you return.”
Gideon went inside, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak.
The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And Gideon did so. Then the angel of the Lord touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the Lord disappeared. When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord, he exclaimed, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!”
But the Lord said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.”
So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace.
What can we learn from Gideon?
- Be honest (verse 13).
- Know that God is God and you are not (verse 22).
- Seek out ways to know that that God is truly speaking to you (verse 17).
- Humble yourself (verse 22).
- Continue to converse with God, even when you have your doubts (the entire chapter of Judges 6).
What else can we learn from Gideon?
What can we learn about God?
- He loves to have conversations (entire chapter).
- He is patient (verse 18).
- He understands our fears and has answers (verse 16).
- He will not leave us (verse 16).
- He is powerful and logical (verses 21-23).
- He is worthy of our praise (verse 21).
What else can we learn about God?
God does not pick people because of their wisdom, status, or strengths. He picks them because of their willingness to engage, listen and obey.
What are your battles today? What are your fears? What is God calling you to do, but you are feeling inadequate? Are you willing to be precocious and ask questions? Are you willing to keep talking to God?
Now, some will ask, “How do I go about asking God for things? It is not like an angel is camping out under my tree.” Perhaps not. But, remember this Bible story is before the Holy Spirit came to dwell in us. If you have asked Jesus to be your Savior, you have the Spirit of God (the Spirit of God!!!) living in you. Just talk. Start making lists, reading His Word, and listening to sermons. Let the Words of God consume you, as Gideon did, and you will get answers. Talk to God about the voice that speaks fear and insecurities. He will show you ways to overcome them- through verses in the Bible, sermons, blog posts, and friends.
Do not let the lie that you are not worthy of God’s love and approval to seep into your soul, take root, and smother out voice of God. Imagine what could be if you did listen to God. Hold onto that hope, and keep talking.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. ~ Romans 5:3-5
What are your hopes and fears today? Make a list. Can I challenge you read them out loud to God? Give yourself permission to be like Gideon. You are worth the Hope and its answers.
Friends, what is one great commentary, Bible verse, blog, and/or podcast that could help a friend find answers? Please list them in the comment section.