First off let me say, I spent way too much time thinking on yesterday’s chapter. It got to the point I ran out of time in my day and here we are missing a post. We will see if I can get Judges 9 out later today. But here we go with Judges 8!
In yesterday’s chapter, we saw Gideon continuing on against the Midianites. This time he was following after their kings, Zebah and Zalmunna. While chasing them down, Gideon stopped at two different cities, Succoth and Peniel, to ask for provisions for himself and his men. Both cities refused, thus aligning themselves against Israel and with the Midianites. Gideon promised them, after he catches Zebah and Zalmunna, he would return to their cities and punish them for their betrayal. After all of these events finish, Gideon retires back to his home as a very rich man and a trusted leader for the Israelites. They even asked him to become their king (foreshadowing what happens in 1 Samuel), but Gideon tells them, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son. The Lord will rule over you!” (8:23, NLT).
The thing that had gotten me thinking was the refusal of the people of Succoth and Peniel to cooperate with Gideon and his army. Both of these cities were Israelite cities, not some foreign city, but they chose to abandon their people and their God in order to appease their oppressors. What did God do about this? He had Gideon punish the people of Succoth with “thorns and briers from the wilderness” (8:16) and tear down the fortress of Peniel.
But this is where I struggled with this post. What does this mean for us today? I think this is here to teach us not to go against the wishes of God. Maybe the people didn’t have to provisions that Gideon was asking for. Maybe they feared for their lives if the Medianites won against Gideon. Who knows? But God lead Gideon to them for a reason. It reminds me of another story where a similar situation happened, but something totally different occurred.
In 1 Kings 17, the prophet Elijah is living through a drought. God has been providing for him by sustaining a brook and having ravens bring him food. One day the brook dries up, so God sends Elijah to Zarephath to a widow and her son. Elijah asks for a drink and some bread. The woman replies “As the Lord your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die.” (1 Kings 17:12, NASB). But Elijah insists that she make him bread first, then herself and son second. When she did this, her flour and oil did not run out for days!
God puts us in situations where we can either obey Him and be blessed, or disobey and be punished. Sometimes the punishment is like the ones we find here in Judges, sometimes its by living without the blessing God was about to give you. The widow could have refused Elijah and made bread for only her and her son since they had nothing, but instead she obeyed and was blessed with more than she needed.
What is God calling you to do? Are you obeying or not? Spend some time in prayer with me today as we try to figure out if we are doing what God is calling us to do. We have to be open to His guidance no matter what it may be. He may ask us to give up what little we have, but it’s only to bless us with abundance. Trust in Him! He knows what He is doing.
Also in this series