Read His Words Before Ours!
Sweat drips down my brow as I hit the wheat upon the rock, trying to release as much grain as possible to gather and hide. I breathe upwards trying to blow my hair from my face and cool my forehead at the same time. The work is exhausting, but without it we will starve.
For seven years we’ve lived like this. Hiding our food from Midianite control. Their oppression is rooted in ancient ancestral division.
We are descendants of Isaac.
They are descendants of Midian.
Midian and his brothers hated Isaac because he was favored by Abraham, their father. That hatred has stewed and simmered for decades. When I look at these Midianites, all I see is deep, hot loathing for us.
Midianites worship many gods, where we worship one – Yahweh. I’ve learned how He delivered our forefathers out of slavery in Egypt. I’ve learned how He killed the Egyptians as they tried to recapture their slaves. I’ve learned how He provided manna in the wilderness. He is a good Father. Yet we are oppressively controlled by these Midianites. We are constantly invaded. Our crops stolen, our livestock killed.
I continue rhythmically beating the grain while glancing around for Midian spies. That’s when I spot him. A stranger, definitely, but not a Midianite, for his hair is white and his robe almost appears golden. He’s under a tree just up ahead. I keep working, but I’m watching him.
I look up.
“AH!” I’m startled. He is suddenly right in front of me. A tall man.
“Greetings,” he says. “The Lord is with you valiant warrior.”
A mighty warrior? I scoff inwardly. I’ve been called many things, but mighty warrior isn’t one of them.The Lord is with me? More scoffing.
“Really? Yahweh? Please, sir, tell me this, if Yahweh is really with us, then why have we spent the last seven years under such oppression? Why am I out here pounding sheaves of wheat in a winepress to hide from the Midianites? Yahweh has abandoned us!”
Half of me is genuinely curious. Who is this stranger? What does he know of Yahweh? The more I speak with him, the angrier I become. Why did Yahweh abandon us?
This man stares off then looks at me, “Use that anger, that fire in you, to save Israel from Midian. I am sending you!”
Clearly he knows nothing about me. Not only am I my father’s youngest and smallest son, but we come from the weakest family.
“How can you expect me to save Israel?” Indignation and frustration dripping from my words.
The man looks me in the eyes, deeply and piercingly. “I will be with you. I promise. You will take down Midian as if they are nothing.”
And for a moment, I believe him. So much confidence. But I can’t be too sure. I’ll test him. Let’s make sure Yahweh really is here, that this really is His crazy command.
“I need a sign. Please don’t leave until I return.”
I secretly hope he leaves, so I can forget I’ve ever had this conversation.
At the same time, I wonder what freedom without fear of the Midianites would be like.
I go, and for the next few hours, I kill and cook a young goat and prepare unleavened bread for this guest, wondering the entire time if he will still be there when I return.
I walk back, carrying the meat in a basket and the soup from the meat in a pot. Sure enough, there he is, waiting for me under the tree.
“Here, sir!” I say to him.
“Put the meat and the bread there,” he points to a stone just a few steps from the tree. “Then pour the broth on top of it.”
Really? I just prepared this entire meal for you! I spent hours and killed one of our goats and I’m about to pour it onto a rock? Annoyed, but respecting my guest, I do it.
The man reaches out his staff and touches my offering.
Faster than I can process, a fire arises, engulfing the food. A moment later, the food and the man have completely vanished.
And then it hits me. That wasn’t just a man, but an angel. Yahweh’s messenger! In complete terror I yell out, “Oh Lord! Yahweh! I just talked to an angel of the Lord face to face!”
“Have peace. Do not be afraid. You will not die” I hear Yahweh say.
I know His voice. I know it is Him. He is here. Right now in this unexpected, holy moment.
Yahweh never abandoned us. With His help, I will deliver Israel from Midian.
He will restore peace!
Right there, I build Yahweh an altar. “The Lord is Peace”.
Rescuing the Israelites from the Midianites was just one of the many things Gideon would do for the Lord. He would also continue to test Yahweh. He struggled with doubt and whether the Lord was really asking Him to do the incredible.
Sometimes, we hear the Lord’s voice as a quiet whisper.
So quiet, we wonder if it is really Him.
Sometimes, we hear Him almost audibly, as His voice presses firmly on our hearts.
And sometimes, He uses a messenger to confirm what He’s been whispering.
A pastor, a friend, or even a stranger in a grocery store.
As I’m writing, the Lord is speaking to me! I’ve continued to “test” Him.
“If you really want me to do this, God, then speak a little louder.
Have someone else tell me.
Make it stand out to me in a sermon at church.”
Friend, let’s agree together to not keep testing God when He speaks.
He is here. He is speaking. He’s never abandoned us.
Whether my husband whispers to me, sends me a text, or calls out from upstairs, it’s still my husband’s voice. I wouldn’t keep asking him to tell me what he wants in a different way.
Stop doubting. Start listening. He’s speaking to you today, just as he spoke to Gideon.
He is with you, valiant warrior, and He wants to bring you peace!
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