Gideon #3 (Judges 6:13)
Today, after a long break I opened Judges 6 and read again the story of Gideon. It made me think about Heresy and how wrong we get it. But it also made me think how important it is to appreciate the time we are given.
I cannot believe that it has been over two months since my last post. Where did the time go? It seems to take its own pace, much faster than I can notice. I have many reasons why I wasn’t writing: I have been travelling, I needed to settle in a new place, I was tired. But these are all excuses. Normally, I am disciplined, but when I let go, even for a short while, it is nearly impossible to go back to routine, to keep myself motivated, to continue in my spiritual path. No wonder sloth is among the seven deadly sins. I hope that now that I have settled for a while in Finland, I can revitalise my discipline and start writing regularly again.
So today we continue with the story of Gideon. In verse 12 we saw that he met an Angel of God, who greeted him “God is with you, brave man of valour” Gideon’s reply, full of skepticism – nearly heresy – is as relevant to our lives today as it was at the time of Gideon.
As it is a long verse, I will cover it in a few posts.
Gideon does not bow or fall to the ground to show respect or fear. He is not aware that he is talking to God’s angel. Even though painters and artist could not resist the wings, apparently, like in many Biblical encounters, this angel looks just like a normal man. Gideon simply answers politely, the way a young man would answer an older person בִּי אֲדֹנִי, (Please my lord.)
And he continues, “if there were God with us,” Gideon does not believe that despite God’s promise He still protects his people, the Israelites. He feels that God has left them. It is only a few hundred years after the Exodus from Egypt, but for Gideon God is not real. It is a story he has been told, something he that has no relevance to his life, something he finds hard to believe in.
And he continues, if there were God with us, how come we experience all this pain and suffering under the oppression of Midian.
Gideon is about to become a judge of Israel. But he does not know it yet – we never know what awaits us around the corner. At this moment he is a simple man, a man who suffers under heavy oppression. He is a man full of doubt and heretic thoughts, which he expresses, openly and without fear, to a total stranger.
Like most of us, he does not see cause and effect. He does not know why his people are being punished. He does not even know they are being punished. All Gideon knows that they are suffering, and that the God of his fathers and forefathers is not there to protect them.
This, of course, is a normal behaviour for any person, then as well as now. We feel that bad things keep happening, and we can be angry or perplexed why God is not here to help us. And yet, we forget to look and see if we follow His ways – so we doubt. This is our easiest way out. We do not need to look at how wrong we are, how sinful our lives are when we doubt. We can put the blame somewhere else, everywhere but not with us.
But we know that Gideon is to become one of the greatest judges. He is not punished for his heresy. God seems to like people who challenge him, people who argue with him. Free speech is allowed, even encouraged, even if we disagree with God. What we do, the way we act, is what matters to Him. God often chooses those who disagree with him. Moses and Abraham are two obvious examples. Maybe because people who doubt and argue (and not people who blindly obey) are people who think and therefore make good leaders.