It might be helpful to read Judges 6:11-21 before you go on.
Review: God called Gideon to do a hard thing, a seemingly impossible thing, to fight back and defeat those oppressing his people. Gideon is skeptical that he is the right choice for the job, but God confirms that He is sending Gideon on purpose and that He will be with Gideon. Last week we began discussing this part of the passage, where Gideon is asking God for a sign.
At this point the Lord is waiting for Gideon’s return while Gideon goes inside and prepares a sacrifice to offer to the Lord. I wonder at God’s patience in this passage. I imagine this interaction with God is so out of Gideon’s paradigm that part of Him wants to link what He has known all these years about how people are supposed to relate to God – hence the offerings – and this new experience. “If you are God, this is how we are supposed to relate with you.”
This makes me wonder if God is patient with me as I go through the motions of my traditions, living out my relationship with him in the paradigm I am comfortable with... I imagine so.
God is patient. He waits for Gideon.
And then, God blows his mind.
“Then the angel of the Lord touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the Lord disappeared.” (Judges 6:21 NIV)
God does not just receive the offering, the angel touches the food with his staff and it explodes into fire and then the offering and angel seemingly evaporate!
Gideon has touched that food – he knows it was real, and now it is gone. That should be a pretty powerful sign that He has been interacting with the Living God!
What a merciful, patient God! To give him a sign in his material world that he has, in fact, been interacting with God.
I have begun to take notes of the process I go through as I make big decisions, like schooling choices for my kids. I write down the verses, the advice, the reasons, the answered prayers and miraculous provisions that guided me in this direction so that when things get tough I can look back at my notes and see the footprints of my journey with God up to this step, and draw courage from the fact that He has confirmed the steps that have led me to this moment.
I can imagine that Gideon might have moments in his future when he will doubt and want to withdraw his decision to go on the offensive against his oppressors, and having this confirmation from God to look back on would help him to take heart. It would be evidence that this isn’t some arrogant fool-hearty mission he came up with late at night after a bad piece of fish, He was sent by God. End of story.
Praise the God who confirms His direction in Gideon’s life, and in ours!