|Theme: A Prayer for Confirmation
|Focus on: Gideon
|Reading Portion(s): Judges 6|
|– Important Background Information|
|– Helps you find strength in God|
|What this article teaches you|
|We all have fears. Sometimes these fears affect the way we act. It affects us so much that we fear to act even when God tells us to do something. This is because we are not sure about what God spoke to us because of our fear. But these fears need not stop us from doing what God wants us to do. Because, if we ask God, He will confirm what He has spoken to us through some tokens of encouragement.
This can be learned from the life of Gideon. He was always in need of encouragement from God. He always asked God to give him sure signs that God was with him. And God always answered him. He will answer you too. So that you can be sure that God has indeed spoken to you. Then you can do what God wants you to do. Thus fear shall not prevent you from obeying God.
During the time of the Judges we find the people of Israel often turning away from God. When such periods came God allowed foreign oppressors to torment the Israelites. When their distress became unbearable the Israelites would turn to God and cry out to Him to deliver them. God in His mercy would heed their cry and raise up for them leaders who were called Judges. They in turn delivered the people from the hand of their enemies.
Usually when the Judge died, the people returned to their evil ways and did things as each one saw fit. We come across one such period when the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord that God gave them into the hands of the Midianites for seven years. The Midianites left no stone unturned in oppressing the Israelites. They totally destroyed their crops and did not spare their livestock. The Midianites thus deprived Israelites of every good thing.
At this point of time the Israelites cried out to the Lord in their distress. Then God sent them a prophet who rebuked the Israelites for not listening to God. Then we find an angel of Lord coming and sitting down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite. There his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress. This was to hide this secret from the Midianites so as to save the wheat.
While Gideon was thus engaged in his business the angel of the Lord greeted him in a special manner. He was called mighty warrior and was told that God was with him. This surprised Gideon. He could not understand its meaning. So he asked the angel why all evil things had happened to them if God was really with them and what had happened to the wonders of God that their fathers had told them about. Gideon finally tells the angel that God has actually abandoned them now and given them over to the hands of the Midianites.
Then the Lord turned to him and told him to go in the strength he had and save Israel out of Midian’s hand for it was God Himself who was sending him. Again Gideon had his doubts. He asked the Lord how he could save Israel since his clan was the weakest in Manasseh and he himself the least in his family. The Lord again reassured him that he will strike down all the Midianites together since God was with him.
Yet Gideon was not fully convinced. So he asked for a sign. The angel of the Lord with the tip of his staff touched the meat and unleavened bread placed on the rock by Gideon. Then fire flared from the rock and consumed them. Then Gideon knew that the Lord had indeed spoken to him and then he was afraid. But God proclaimed peace to him. And Gideon built and altar and called it The Lord is Peace.
We find Gideon being afraid again when God asked him to cut down the altar to Baal and build a proper kind of altar to God and perform sacrifices. He obeyed. But he did all this at night because he was afraid of his family members and people of the town. In the morning the people had a fierce verbal encounter with him which his father effectively countered.
At this point of time the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples joined forces, crossed the Jordan and camped against the Israelites in the valley of Jezreel. Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon. He blew a trumpet and called people to arms and they rallied to him.
Now we find Gideon still unsure about the success of his mission. This is surprising. The Lord had appeared to him and encouraged him. He had then asked for a sign which God provided. He also obeyed God though he did what he was asked to do at night. Now he was filled with God’s Spirit and he had rallied the people to fight against the Midianites. Yet he was unsure about his mission’s success.
So he prays for confirmation. So he says to God that he will place a wool fleece on the ground. If God will save Israel by his hand as promised then there should be dew on the wool alone and the ground should be dry. The next day Gideon rose early in the morning. He was so anxious to know the result of his prayer. And true to what he had asked of God there was dew only on the fleece and all the ground was dry. He squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew and there was a bowlful of water.
Still Gideon was not convinced! So he makes a second request for confirmation. He is afraid now whether God will be angry with him for keeping on asking for signs. He tells God to allow him one more test with the fleece. He reversed the conditions this time to make the confirmation doubly sure. He told God to keep the fleece dry this time and all the ground covered with dew. God did so this time also according to his prayer.
We may easily tell that Gideon was lacking in faith. But God did not think likewise. He was patient with Gideon and used him to give the Israelites a great victory over the Midianites. He was not angry with him for repeatedly asking for signs. This is a great encouragement for us. We also are at times like Gideon–very much afraid to act on God’s word unless we get signs as confirmation. Yet God is willing to answer our prayers for confirmation to encourage and strengthen us. He knows that we need encouragement and He does so by giving us visible signs in answer to our prayers.