Past, Pedigree, and Purpose | Voices
Monday— Gideon…was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. Judges 6:11
Wait, where was he again? Where was this “Mighty Hero” when God came looking for him? He was hiding in a winepress, shaking in his sandals, terrified with all Israel over the savagery of the Midianites. After Israel had gotten on God’s last nerve, He let the Midianites bully them for a while (“See how you like it, Israel, without ME”). After seven years of carnage, Israel was scared witless and cried out to God for help. They expected a fearless warrior, a champion, a leader. God picked the baby in a family of nobodies who was hiding in a winepress. Not a likely candidate for the Medal of Honor. But Gideon was God’s choice.
When the Lord chooses someone, it usually has little to do with who they are or where they’re found. We may be hiding in our homes, hiding in a dead-end job, or hiding in an addiction when God says to us, “I see potential in you. Come out of there and let’s get going.” But when God chooses us, it’s usually for a job WAY over our heads. And that’s the point. He turns shy people into public speakers, introverts into greeters, D-students into neurosurgeons. God chose a Nervous Nellie instead of a super-stud to rescue Israel so no one would think Gideon did it, or as the Lord said, “…the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength.” When God does something through us, He wants the credit. Accomplishing the impossible shows the world there is a God (1 Samuel 17:46). So He calls to us, “Of course you’re scared. Watch what I’ll do through you!”
Challenge Question: Where are you hiding instead of cooperating with God in doing amazing things for His glory?
Prayer: Lord, I haven’t wanted to call it hiding, but maybe I am. I’m not challenging myself enough. I’m not attempting great things for you. I’m playing it safe. Forgive me and work through me as I come out of hiding. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Tuesday— Gideon replied, “How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest…and I am the least in my family.” Judges 6:15
“How can I ever do anything for God?” we moan. “Sure, Jesus saved me and I’m grateful. But why would God use someone like me, with my family history? I’ll just sit over here in Loserville and lick my wounds.” Gideon tried that approach. He saw the opportunity, then saw his pedigree and shook his head. We think about where we came from and shake our heads. “No, Lord. Give this assignment to a Bible Bee winner or that cool guy with a million followers on YouTube. I went to Dysfunctional Academy and my family makes America’s Most Wanted look like Sesame Street. Surely you don’t mean me.”
Gideon was saying “no” in every language he knew, but God wasn’t listening. It turns out that God wasn’t looking for a Chuck Norris. He wanted a nobody like Gideon. God could see in this trembling excuse-factory a Mighty Man of Valor. This hider would become a hero if he placed himself in God’s hands. But he had to leave Loserville. Gideon had defined himself by his family’s status in the community and, he reasoned, “If they’re not important, I’m not important.” But God doesn’t choose His heroes from the winner’s circle. He often goes straight to the garbage dump. He finds a nobody with a willing heart who will always know that what God does through him are not his to brag about. It doesn’t matter where we start, only how we finish.
Challenge Question: Have you limited yourself based on your past or your family history? God hasn’t limited you.
Prayer: Father, have I let my past and my pedigree limit what I’m willing to risk for your glory? You’ve used nobodies like me to do great things, so I’m willing. Whatever you ask me to do, I say “Yes, Lord. Lead on.” In Jesus’ name, amen.
Wednesday— “Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us?” Judges 6:13
Arguing with God doesn’t get us anywhere. Notice that after Gideon’s barrage of questions, the Lord only replied, “Go. I’m sending you to do this impossible feat.” We think we have to understand everything before we’ll agree to it. But that’s not how God works. He gave Gideon a direct order and did not acknowledge all the arguments. He’d already made it clear where the disasters were coming from, but Gideon hadn’t wanted to hear it. A prophet had warned them with God’s own words: “‘I am the LORD your God. You must not worship the gods of the Amorites…But you have not listened to me (v. 10).”
Disasters happen to make us cry, “WHY?” There are only two possible answers: 1. The world is broken and the innocent suffer. 2. We’ve violated God’s commands and this is the fallout. He has said, “I told you not to commit adultery…to lie…to worship money…to rebel…but you would not listen to me.” We don’t want to hear it either, so we drop out of church, badmouth the preacher, or put our Bible on the top shelf and head to the casinos feeling justified in our anger. Sometimes horrible things happen that we had nothing to do with. But other times, as in Israel’s case, we can trace the reason back to our disobedience. Arguing doesn’t help, but faith in God’s overarching plan gives us a hand to hold while we accept what we can’t understand.
Challenge Question: Are you allowing “Why?” questions to hinder your obedience to God?
Prayer: Lord, I’ve gotten stuck on some “Whys?” and it’s hindered my spiritual growth. I may never know in this life why it happened, but I trust it to you and believe you’ll bring good from it as I follow you in obedience. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Thursday— The LORD said, “…tear down your father’s altar to Baal, and cut down the Asherah pole…” Judges 6:25-26
Maybe you grew up watching Mom hit the bottle every night or Dad hitting your brother. You hated it, but you thought that was how life worked because you’d never known anything else. Your family may have had idol shrines in every room, but you never realized that’s what they were. You were used to them. Then, those idols were handed down to you, so you assumed you could worship God alongside the addictions, sexual sins, and greed, and He’d be fine with that. But we learn from Gideon that before the Lord can use us in mighty ways, we have to identify the idols we’ve inherited and tear down their shrines.
Gideon had an amazing destiny before him, but there was something he had to do first. “Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.” Those weren’t even Gideon’s idols. They were handed down to him by his father, but they had to be destroyed before God would go one step further with Gideon. God will not share His throne. It’s one or the other. It’s God or the lover. God or greed. God or deception. God or the addiction. It doesn’t matter what our parents chose, we each choose our own gods. Just because Grandpa was a molester and Mom was a partier does not mean that’s our destiny too. There may be idols in our family history, but God says, “If you want to move on with me, tear them down.”
Challenge Question: What family idols were handed down to you that may be keeping you from God’s call on your life?
Prayer: Lord, I never thought of my family’s skeletons as idols, but maybe they are. They defined my past but they don’t have to rule my future. Help me identify them by name and do whatever I must to tear down their shrines. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Friday— “…Then build a proper altar to the LORD your God on the top of this stronghold.” Judges 6:25-26
King of the Mountain is a good picture of what God was doing. Not only was Gideon to tear down the family idols, but he then had to build an altar to the Lord on top of the rubble. The Lord was staking His claim on Gideon’s life and reminding Israel that He is not one God among many. He’s IT. The only God. And if He was to deliver Israel from the mess they were in, all other gods had to go. As a visible testament to that, the Lord’s altar would sit atop the remains of their idolatry. King of the Hill.
God called the idol shrines a “stronghold.” The Hebrew word translated “stronghold” means “a place of safety or protection.” A stronghold is the place we run when we need validation or safety. These idols had replaced God as Israel’s source of protection and help, so they had to be completely demolished before God would step in. We may not have an Asherah pole in our backyard, but we have plenty of strongholds that must be demolished before we can live our purpose. Alcohol can be a stronghold. Drugs, pornography, money, sex, and popularity are all strongholds that usurp God’s rightful place in our lives. The progressive version of “Christianity” tells us God is happy to build His altar right next to those other idols. He’s tickled pink that we’re talking to Him at all, so go ahead and indulge in whatever makes you happy because, after all, nobody’s perfect. God says, “NO. Demolish those strongholds and build a testimony of MY grace on top of the ashes.” So get the sledgehammer.
Challenge Question: What strongholds still stand in your life that need a sledgehammer?
Prayer: Father, have I tried to erect an altar to you right next to my idol shrines? I’ve told myself you’ll excuse them, but I read in your word that you’re seriously angry about idolatry. So I take the sledgehammer to my other gods. In Jesus’ name, amen.