At the beginning of Judges 6, the people of Israel are not in God’s favor. He is angry with them for falling back to their sinful ways, and because of this He allows the Midianites to overpower them for seven years. Relief does not come until the Israelites cry out to the Lord, and it comes in the form of a man named Gideon. Through Judges 6 and 7, Gideon carries out many acts of obedience to God and is empowered by Him to lead Israel to a victory over Midian.
A passage that stood out to me in this reading was Judges 6:36-40. My copy of the Bible has this section labeled The Sign of the Fleece. Gideon asks God to confirm that He would use him to save Israel by causing dew to wet a fleece of wool while leaving the ground dry. God makes it so. Here’s the part that got me: Gideon asks God to do it again.
39 Then Gideon said to God, “Let not your anger burn against me; let me speak just once more. Please let me test just once more with the fleece. Please let it be dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground let there be dew.” 40 And God did so that night; and it was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew.Judges 6:39-40
We see some important concepts in these verses. The first is that God can do incredible things. It may seem frivolous to make dew fall or not fall on a specific area, but it is an impossible task for us. For God, it was no problem (He even did it twice). Through verse 40 we also see God’s patience. Gideon could have accepted the first sign of the fleece as sufficient proof. He asks God not to be angry, which shows that he knew it was perhaps unwise to ask again, but Gideon asks God to show him one more time. The Bible doesn’t say that God became angry or that He said “No Gideon, once was enough, don’t test me.” It says He did it.
I am thankful for God’s patience, because we all sometimes fail to recognize God working in our lives, even if He’s already shown us. The God that empowered Gideon to defeat the Midianites and proved his plan by sending selectively wetting dew is the same God that continues to do incredible things today.
In Exodus 40 we see God’s instruction to Moses on exactly how to erect the tabernacle, followed by a reiteration of these instructions while all steps are carried out. Looking back at the last several chapters, it seems that Exodus is full of instructions, specifically regarding the tabernacle. Why? What is the significance? At the end of the book we see: the tabernacle was the way for God to dwell with His people wherever they went. Look at this:
34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 36 Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. 37 But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. 38 For the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.Exodus 40:34-38
When we read through this text, we see that the the people of Israel not only did as they were told; they followed God’s guidance exactly when they were supposed to as well. Because of their response to the Lord, He was with them, as the text says “throughout all their journeys.”
God continues to dwell with His people. If you know salvation through Jesus Christ, He lives within you. Are you maintaining His dwelling place in the way that He has called you to do so? My prayer is that we continue to follow the Lord’s plan for the how and where and when; may He also be in our sight throughout all our journeys.
The selected reading for today brings us to the end of Genesis. My Bible, which is the English Standard Version, has this text separated into three sections: Jacob’s Death and Burial, God’s Good Purposes, and The Death of Joseph. While it was tempting to skim through and call it a day based on the titles, I actually ended up having to read through these verses three times before I could come up with anything to write about in this devotional.
A point that was made clear for me this week is that sometimes it is necessary to read, re-read (maybe three or four times), and meditate on the importance of God’s word. It is a modern tendency to jump to conclusions and applications. This is an important part of spiritual growth, but should not take precedence over reading and comprehending the Scripture. There is a lot in there; don’t be afraid to slow down and take it in.
Through this passage we see great examples of staying the course. Even up until Jacob’s last breath he is actively fulfilling his part in God’s plan, blessing his sons and even detailing his own burial. After Jacob’s death, Joseph’s brothers fear that he will repay their evil acts against him. Joseph’s reply shows that he is focused on God’s bigger picture as well. Like Jacob, we see that Joseph is fully centered on God even through the end of his life. Both seem to know that the importance of their actions stems from the ultimate supremacy of God’s plan.
As we finish reading through Genesis as part of Valley Creek’s Unbroken series, I hope you find yourself beginning to see that it’s all connected. Even today we are living out what God set in motion back in Genesis 1:1. Let’s keep reading, keep seeking understanding, and keep our eyes on God and His bigger picture.
What is the one thing that you could never give up?
For many, I am sure this question stirs up a few light-hearted responses. I could never give up my daily cup of coffee. I wouldn’t dream of giving up my phone. I couldn’t give up watching my favorite show or my favorite sports team. I could never ever give up even one minute of sleep. The reality regarding this type of sacrifice is that the overall impact would be almost insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Life would go on. The pain, if there were any, would quickly subside.
We read in Genesis 22 that God tells Abraham to give up Isaac, his only son, by offering Isaac as a burnt offering. For many of us who have read this text before, the story doesn’t seem so terrible. We know the ending: Abraham is stopped moments before he is about to kill his son, and he is blessed for showing his obedience to God. Because of the familiarity, it is difficult to recognize this as a dire situation, but it is important to note that Abraham did not know how this was going to play out. He was willing to slaughter his son, see his only son die at his own hand, as an act of obedience to God. This type of sacrifice would have an extremely significant impact on the grand scheme. Life would go on, yes, but would the pain of giving up a child ever subside?
Consider once more: what is the one thing that you could never give up? Not the coffee or the phone or extra sleep – I’m talking about your most loved earthly connection. How would you respond if God told you to offer up that very thing? It may never happen, but we know as Christians that God calls us to obey. What we are shown in Genesis 22 is that true obedience means following God with no reservations, even when that requires us to give up something we cherish. Like Abraham, we may not know the reason why or what lies beyond our sacrifices. We need only to trust in God’s perfect plan and respond when we are called to obey.