The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Where Are All the Miracles? – Part 2

Where are all the miracles? That’s the basic question we saw Gideon ask at the end of our last study. It’s interesting that the LORD doesn’t respond to Gideon’s question. Instead it states, “Then the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?” (Judges 6:14). The LORD put His finger on a pressure point of Gideon. The truth of the matter was that Gideon had nothing in himself that could be associated with “might.” Gideon was quick to react, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house” (Judges 6:15). Gideon was weak. His faith was weak.

Why no miracles? Gideon’s weakness and lack of faith was evidently representative of the lack of faith amongst God’s people at that time. The Gospels indicate that the lack of faith hinders the manifestation of the miraculous (Mark 6:1-6). God knew this. Before a miracle could happen Gideon’s faith and the faith of the people had to be strengthened. God works through weakness.
“And the LORD said to him, ‘Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man” (Judges 6:16). God was going to teach Gideon a major life truth. All we need is God. All Gideon had was God. And all Gideon needed was God. You may not be in agreement with all that Martin Luther the Reformer did, but some words he uttered capture the sense of the Lord’s conversation with Gideon. Luther, when under persecution, said, “One with God is a majority.” That’s the truth!

Before God would work His miracle He would build up Gideon’s faith. God sent Gideon on a mission to topple his father’s altar to Baal (Judges 6:25-32). Gideon was then to build an altar to “to the LORD your God” (6:26). Gideon obeyed the Lord, tore down the idol of Baal and then owned up to the brave faith producing act when confronted about it. Gideon stood up to the idolaters saying “If he is a god, let him plead for himself”! (6:31). This act of brave faith earned Gideon a nickname, Jerubbaal, meaning, Let Baal plead against him, because he has torn down his altar” (6:32).

With this newfound faith Gideon becomes a leader of God’s people (6:33-35). He asks God to confirm His will and support twice more. God obliges by way of dew on a fleece (6:36-40). Notice though that the request for God to rain dew on the fleece was from someone whose faith was small. When we ask for God to confirm His will with some sign it really is a sign that our faith is small. We should simply take God at His Word. Nevertheless, Gideon was now ready for God’s miracle.
God prepared Gideon by testing his faith with a mission. He confirmed the larger miracle to come with the smaller miracles with the fleece. Gideon would have to trust God for the miracle of deliverance to happen. Gideon had mustered about 32,000 fighters to go against the Midianites. God said this was too many because if they won they might attribute the victory to their strength instead of to God’s (7:1-3). So God whittled Gideon’s force down to a mere 300 men to go against the Midianites who numbered like the sand of the sea (7:12). If such a small force could defeat that vastly larger force, it would be a miracle!

A miracle is an extraordinary thing. God can use medicine, science and technology to bring healing. But such healing is, while incredible, is not often viewed as miraculous. It is viewed as the outcome of human ability. God is in it. God has gifted the doctors or surgeons and He should get the glory. But such healing is not readily classified as a miracle. Perhaps miracles can be classified as lesser or greater. A miracle is something that defies the ordinary. A miracle is something that happens when only God could do it. A miracle must point to God. A miracle must glorify God. There are medical miracles. But there are also miracles that defy our understanding and those are the miracles that purely point to God.

Where are the miracles? Doesn’t God want to be glorified today? Look at the context in which Gideon asked why there weren’t any miracles happening. It states, “Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years” (Judges 6:1). The reason there were no miracles happening then and the reason there are few miracles today is because of the sin of God’s people. The absence of miracles was a way for God to get the attention of His people. Much of the world and our own nation is steeped in sin. There is a globalization of immorality. And the church is not immune to it! There is sin everywhere.

The Midianites were so oppressive of God’s people that they moved into caves for protection. Today too many Christians are isolating themselves from the world for protection. Isolation is not the answer. Jesus called His followers to be salt and light; to purify in order to preserve the world and to shine light into the sinful darkness (Matthew 5:13-16). You can’t do that by isolating yourself from the world. Jesus came into the world to be the Light of the world (John 1:10; 9:5). Jesus specifically said He did not pray to take His disciples out of the world (John 17:15). We are on a mission from God to go into the world with the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:44-49; Acts 1:8). It is when we go out on that mission that “signs will follow” (Mark 16:15-18).

The Midianites were destroying “the produce of the earth,” the crops of the people. God’s people were “greatly impoverished” by the Midianites (Judges 6:2-6). Today the Midianites take the form of deficit spending, war costs, public school indoctrination and a host of other human parasitic vermin that sap not only our secular resources but the resources of our spiritual heritage. What is the solution? What do we need to heal our land? We need a miracle from God. How can such a miracle be secured? In the final part of this study we will answer those questions.

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