Today’s Reading: Judges 3:31-6:40
Title wise I am sure you are seeing a pattern. This is our third “Ja, ja, maar” post this year. For those just joining us
“Ja, Ja, Maar…” is a Dutch phrase I have learned over my 7 years of working with my Dutch colleagues. Directly translate it means “Yes, Yes, But…” it is often used as means to act like you agree, but then you doubt or challenge what you have just heard. I think it is used most out of kindness, not meanness. But, it often leads to confusion and misunderstanding. I use here to talk about someone who agrees with what God is saying to them, but they don’t act like the agree. The say one thing, but do another.
Earlier we talked about Moses and the burning bush, when God asked Moses to lead His people out of Egypt. Moses was getting the message straight from God and he still doubted. Ja, Ja, Maar from February 1st.
Then in March we had the story of the 12 spies and how the people of Israel said they trusted God but they shied away from the promised land out of fear. Ja, Ja, Maar II from March 3rd.
Which leads us to today’s reading. We meet the third example of when a person says one thing, gets a great amount of evidence that God is with them and they still doubt. Shall we induct him also into the Ja, Ja, Maar Hall of Fame?
Meet Ja, ja, Maar example # 3 – Gideon.
We are currently reading about the history of Israel. They have settled the land and they are struggling to be faithful to the Lord. As a nation, a people chosen for God, they seem to have fallen into a cycle. They fall deep into sin, following other idols and gods, they get owned by some foreign king, they repent and God sends them a judge (leader) to help straighten them out. Today’s reading gives us the Judge de jour – Gideon.
Judges 6:1 – 3 (NLT)
1 The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight. So the Lord handed them over to the Midianites for seven years. 2 The Midianites were so cruel that the Israelites made hiding places for themselves in the mountains, caves, and strongholds.
Once again Israel has been tempted by the gods and idols of the peoples that they did not completely force out of Israel. This decision to be satisfied with only partly obeying God’s commands is still haunting them.
Israel realizes they have a problem and they cry out to the Lord.
Judges 6:7 – 10 (NLT)
7 When they cried out to the Lord because of Midian, 8 the Lord sent a prophet to the Israelites. He said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of slavery in Egypt. 9 I rescued you from the Egyptians and from all who oppressed you. I drove out your enemies and gave you their land. 10 I told you, ‘I am the Lord your God. You must not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you now live.’ But you have not listened to me.”
Gideon is out threshing wheat one day when the angel of the Lord appears to him to have a dialog.
Judges 6:12 – 14 (NLT)
12 The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!”
13 “Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.”
14 Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!”
Gideon has a miraculous vision, he is even called a “Hero” and a dialog with the angel of the Lord. He is specifically told that he has been chosen to lead Israel out of the problem with the Midianites. Gideon’s response begins to build the case to move him into the Ja, Ja, Maar Hall of Fame.
Judges 6:15 (NLT)
15 “But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!”
Gideon’s response is a lot like Moses’. God has an answer for him…
Judges 6:16 (NLT)
16 The Lord said to him, “I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man.”
Gideon still doubts and asks for a sign. The angel of the Lord tells him to gather an offering and bring it back to the spot. Gideon even says to the angel of the Lord not to go away until he returns. He must have had to say this since he had to go and get a sacrificial goat, butcher it, cook it and bring it back. I guess some hours of time passed. When Gideon returns with his offering the angel of the Lord shows his power by instantly consuming the offering with a flame from the offering rock. Upon seeing this Gideon realizes that it is all true and is now convinced that he is going to die for having seen the angel of the Lord.
The Lord then gives Gideon a task to tear down his father’s altar to Baal and destroy it. Gideon is to use the wood from the altar to burn another young goat as a sacrifice to the Lord. It fear or reprisals from the town’s folk, Gideon does the task in the middle of the night. A man chosen of God, sent by God, with a vision of God and he still has fear of men. Curious isn’t it?
After this confrontation, Gideon leads Israel in a revival. They begin to become a threat to the neighboring armies who have liked a weakened Israel. Still not convinced that he is the chosen one to lead Israel, Gideon wants more confirmation from God.
Judges 6:36 – 38 (NLT)
36 Then Gideon said to God, “If you are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as you promised, 37 prove it to me in this way. I will put a wool fleece on the threshing floor tonight. If the fleece is wet with dew in the morning but the ground is dry, then I will know that you are going to help me rescue Israel as you promised.” 38 And that is just what happened. When Gideon got up early the next morning, he squeezed the fleece and wrung out a whole bowlful of water.
Once again, God proves that He is in control. Just as He did doubting Moses. Just as He did to the doubting Israelites. Now we have the final vote to put Gideon into the “Ja, Ja, Maar” Hall of Fame.
Judges 6:39 – 40 (NLT)
39 Then Gideon said to God, “Please don’t be angry with me, but let me make one more request. Let me use the fleece for one more test. This time let the fleece remain dry while the ground around it is wet with dew.” 40 So that night God did as Gideon asked. The fleece was dry in the morning, but the ground was covered with dew.
So, what is the lesson for us now with two people and one nation in the “Ja, Ja, Maar” Hall of Fame? The lesson is this, even God’s chosen people, with very direct interaction with God, doubt God’s choosing of them as His special agents. Moses was specially chosen and he doubted. Israel was specially chosen and they doubted in the desert and after they were settled in the promised land. Now we have Gideon doubting.
How much harder is it for us to believe we are chosen of God to be His special agents when we have not had the personal and visible interaction with the Lord that they had? Well, from what I remember from the following verses, we are the recipients of a special blessing, because we believe and faith without having seen.
John 20:24 – 29 (TNIV)
24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”