Anyone reading through the book of Judges will immediately notice a cycle that is repeated throughout in regard to Israel. It goes like this:
- God delivers Israel from their enemy,
- After a period of time, Israel falls into disobedience,
- God disciplines them by allowing their enemy to oppress them,
- Israel turns from their sin to God and He delivers them.
By the time we’re introduced to Gideon in Judges 6, Israel is in their fourth such cycle. After they cry out to the Lord (v. 6), He sends a prophet who reminds them how Yahweh rescued them from Egypt and established them as a nation in the land. He points out their resultant unfaithfulness to Him. All of this is in v. 9-10 and it’s a moment any parent experiences with their children. It’s the “I want you to understand why you’re being disciplined” speech. (You’d think by this time they would have caught on).
But they haven’t. At least Gideon hasn’t. When he is called at the winepress and told that the Lord is with him (v. 12), his response is less than informed. He wants to know why they are being oppressed and where is the deliverance from God they experienced in Egypt? He then lays the charge against God that He has abandoned them (v. 13). Either Gideon was not there when the prophet spoke (and those who were failed to tell him), or he’s suffering from acute dullness.
His response sounds a lot like the new atheism of Harris, Hitchens, Dawkins, etc. They argue that since the God of the Bible doesn’t act the way they think God should act, He doesn’t exist. He is a logical impossibility. Can you beat that? They don’t like the way God goes about being God so they have decided He doesn’t exist. Really . . . does that mean if He acted like they thought He should, they’d believe in Him? And what kind of God would that be? Not one worthy of worship, that’s for sure.
I can’t help but think that this is a problem for some believers today—they don’t have a God worthy of worship. He’s become so politically correct, so domesticated, so much their buddy, so made over in their image that their worship is more about them than Him! I understand those are strong words but when you look at how consumer driven some of our assemblies have become—what else can you conclude?
Back to Gideon. I suppose it’s always easier to point a finger at God rather than ourselves, but we do so at great expense. God has an extraordinarily long record of faithfulness of which the cross represents the pinnacle. I have no wish to be glib, but to hold God’s character hostage because of what we don’t know or can’t explain by giving that more weight to that than all of the things we do know seems terribly out of proportion. That some unbelievers engage in this is to be expected, but disciples should know better. Do believers ever struggle with God and His ways? Of course they do—read the Psalms! But that’s not the whole story. We also understand that in our present state (a combination of sinfulness, immaturity, and earthly limitations), we can’t completely fathom God’s ways. Those who have followed a while though have been blessed to see some of their “difficulties” resolved, but still for everyone there is mystery and that’s not going to change in this lifetime.
Perplexed by God’s ways? One day we will see clearly all that seems so muddled in the present. Until then, based on what we know (rather than what we don’t know), let’s trust Him!