Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Gideon and Failure

When reading the bible it is easy to get caught up with the idea of "super" people. All these folks--talking to God, trusting God, doing what God wants them to do--seem extra special. "They have it easy," I think. "They here directly from God. Angels come visit them. Of course it's easy to follow Yahweh when Angels knock on your door." And we say to ourselves, "if only." If only I heard from God like that, all would be well. If only angels came to my tent then would I really follow God and serve the poor. If only the fleece stayed dry then I would quick the job I hate and start trusting God.

The thing is, if only, doesn't really work out too well for the people of God. Take Gideon, for instance. This guy  is perhaps the most famous of the minor characters in the Bible. His people are oppressed and as a member of the weakest clan in the tribe, he can do nothing about it. But God sends an angel to speak directly to him to tell him to first cut down the alter to Bael and then kick out the Midianites. Over the next few chapters we see God speaking directly (God said) to Gideon three or four times. Gideon speaks back and even tests God on numerous occasions (the famous fleece test). With the power of God, Gideon kills a whole bunch of Midianites, becomes fabulously wealthy, and is hailed by all the northern tribes.

And yet, Gideon fails. Gideon has heard from GOD. Gideon has done wonders because of the strength of GOD. But the idols are too strong. Gideon makes an idol for God and Israel falls away. The people had once again experience the might of God, but they forget their story. Gideon forgot too and did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.

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