Judges 6–7: Severe Mercy
The human tendency is to rely on our own resources instead of the Lord. Knowing this, God made it abundantly clear to Gideon that His hand alone would save Israel—it was not human might that defeated Israel’s enemies.
The Severe Mercy of God
The Israelites repeated the same cycle over and over again. Because of their sin, the Lord put them into servitude. They then cried out to the Lord, who saved them. After that, they entered into a time of silence.
In Judges 6, we see this cycle beginning again. Because of the Israelites’ sin, the Lord brought them low under the oppression of the Midianites. It took this severe mercy of servitude in order to remind them of their need for God. Before, they had been content to rely on their own resources. But God’s severe mercy shows His care for them in that He did not let them become content with their sin.
When we first meet Gideon in Judges 6, we see how far Israel has fallen. Instead of rejoicing at the appearance of the angel of the Lord and the message of deliverance, Gideon complains. He thinks the Lord is obligated to save them and does not recognize that their sin is what has caused their situation.
We too become blinded by our disobedience. Obedience is the pathway to illumination and intimacy with God. But when we consistently disobey, we lose sight of God and do not see things the way they really are.
The Grace of God
As Gideon responds to God, he asks for specific signs that will let him know God is truly on his side. The way he does so leads us to a critical question: should we ask signs of God in the same way?
To answer this question, it is important to remember that there is a difference between doctrine and example in the Bible. The doctrine here would be that God welcomes our requests and that He cares for us. But this does not mean we should expect Him to give answers in the same way He responded to Gideon. This story is one of example. Do not be disappointed when God does not respond in the way you expect or desire. In His sovereignty, God will graciously respond in exactly the way you need.
We see this in Gideon’s life: even though Gideon at first resisted the Lord’s calling on His life, God was gracious. His Spirit came upon Gideon and empowered Him to obey. Even when Gideon requested sign after sign that the Lord was with Him, the Lord patiently provided for him and cared for him.
Judges 6–7: Severe Mercy
This content on the reliability of the Bible was originally printed in Decision Magazine. False Impressions “I don’t want to take a bath—I’m clean enough!” My impassioned protests as a six-year-old at bedtime were quickly rebuffed by this powerful tool from my parents’ arsenal of guilt-inducing mottoes: “The Bible says that cleanliness is next to godliness!” […]