Friday, July 11, 2014

Grace and preparation

Then he[Gideon] said to him[the angel of the LORD], “If now I have found favor with you, then show me a sign that it is you who speak with me.  Do not depart from here until I come to you, and bring out my present, and set it before you.” And he [the angel of the LORD] said, “I will stay until you return.” Judges 6: 17-18 NRSV (parenthetical addition is mine)

Israel left Egypt and entered the promised land, Canaan, and, under the leadership of Joshua, fought with its inhabitants to gain land of their own. Israel did not completely destroy the inhabitants of Canaan, and as the Israelites settled in the region, and began to raise crops and make homesteads and cities, and worship other gods, the native inhabitants of Canaan began to raid and invade the Israelites land and force them to pay tribute. God sent a prophet to the Israelites, and the prophet reminded the Israelites that they were disobedient because they were worshipping other Gods. 

In Judges 6, the Midianites were forcing Israel to pay tribute to them, and Gideon, an Israelite, was beating out wheat in a winepress to hide it from the Midianites. An angel came to Gideon as he was beating out the wheat and spoke God's word. The angel presented it very simply: God is with you! However, Gideon replied to the angel and said that he could not see any evidence that God was with Israel. They were being raided and heavily taxed—Gideon at that moment was hiding in a winepress as he beat out the wheat! The LORD spoke through the angel and told Gideon that He would empower him to lead Israel from the Midianite oppression. Although the scripture does not say this specifically, the implication is that the LORD is saying to Gideon, "I know what you are going through. That is why I am empowering you to fight for Israel and bring them back to Me!"   

The first thing that Gideon does is ask for God's grace, and to "show me a sign that it is you [the LORD] who speak with me." Obviously, Gideon was not accustomed to talking with God, and he was not sure that he recognized the LORD. God showed grace and patience with Gideon and waited while Gideon prepared a sacrifice.

God does the same thing for us today. We are typically not very good at waiting for the LORD, or seeing how the LORD is working in our lives, but He is very gracious to wait for us. God waits for us to learn about him and prepare ourselves for him so that He can empower us!