Judges 6. The Midianites were ISIS terrorists of their day. “They came as grasshoppers for multitude…and they entered into the land to destroy it.” (verse 5) “The Midianites were so cruel that many Israelites ran to the mountains and hid in caves.” (verse 2, CEV)
When Israel cried out for relief, Yahweh responded by calling an anointed servant to bring deliverance. His choice of personnel was a really odd one. The angel of the Lord was directed to the home of Gideon, who was hiding by the winepress for fear of the invaders (verse 11). We know that God calls “things which be not as though they were” (Rom.4:17). That certainly was the case when the angel addressed Gideon with the ironic title “mighty man of valour!” (verse 12)
Gideon proves to be a reluctant hero, rebuffing the call of God with an angry retort. He had lived in a land full of idolatry, and seen the hopeless religion of the Amorites. He had no more use for powerless religion in the name of Jehovah, than for the same thing in the name of Baal. He comes right to the point with the angel, “If the Lord be with us…where be all his MIRACLES…?” (verse 13)
After all, Israel is being oppressed because of idolatry (verse 10). They “set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save.” (Isa.45:20) How is that any different if the Lord’s arm is shortened that it cannot save? Or if his ear is heavy that it cannot hear prayer? (Isa.59:1)
Every Jew knew that Moses had confronted Pharaoh with a whole series of MIRACLES, just to get his attention. Moses had parted the Red Sea, and Joshua parted the Jordan River–by MIRACLES! Noah survived the flood. The walls of Jericho fell down. The sun was stopped in its course for nearly a whole day. MIRACLES!
Gideon had been nurtured on all the stories handed down from the forefathers of Israel. They all had one thing in common: Whenever God showed up, there were MIRACLES.
No wonder Gideon had questions. His people were oppressed; beat down by their enemies. And the power of God was nowhere to be seen. How could he be expected to believe that the Lord of Hosts, the God of Armies, was with them under these conditions?
Some today will say that Gideon was guilty of unbelief. They contend that he would have done better to proceed in BLIND FAITH, rather than question the call of God. But the angel of the Lord took no umbrage at his question. Rather, he tells Gideon, “Go in this thy might…” This thy might! The thing that made Gideon a mighty man before God was the courage to question powerless religion!
Gideon was right, and Yahweh approved. God has no use for a dead religious system either. The Lord stood by Gideon with manifestations of power. MIRACLES. The same was true with others who judged Israel. Samson didn’t always get it right, but he had POWER!
God’s anointed kings illustrate the same message. David didn’t kill Goliath because he was such a good shot with a sling. It was a MIRACLE. Jehoshaphat didn’t know what to do, but he kept his eyes on the God of MIRACLES. The Holy Ghost is on record that he “worshipped the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” That’s a pretty strong testimony.
In the lives of the prophets, it is a MIRACLE-working God who is represented. They raised the dead, healed the leper, called down fire, and sent the sun backwards across the sky. Malachi closes the record of God’s works in the Old Testament with these words: “I am the Lord; I change not.” (Mal.3:6)
If idolatry is praying to a “god that cannot save” (Isa.45:20), how is that different from the powerless religion of professing Christians. If he can’t cure AIDS or Ebola, his arm is shortened! We cannot conceive of the ministry of Jesus without him walking on water, raising the dead, opening blind eyes, and healing lepers. Everyone knows that a Christ without MIRACLES is a false Christ!