“The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.”
Reading scripture as a child, I often wondered why God included stories of oppression in His timeless word when biblical and contemporary times seemed so different. Now adult, I no longer wonder why injustice and aggression are fixtures of the biblical narrative. It is because they are perennially relevant. In existence in times past and existent in times present. In fact, according to a published report from Open Doors, in 2022 Christian persecution had reached its highest levels in 30 years. The report went on to say:
“Across 76 countries, more than 360 million Christians suffer high levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith – an increase of 20 million since last year (2021).
312 million Christians live in the top 50 persecuting countries.
One in every seven Christians lives under high persecution or discrimination for their faith.”
Now, the similarities in hostilities between biblical times and today are clear to me. While there are differences, it can be stated that modern Christians face differences of the same kind as believers in the days of old. And just as did the oppressed people of God in Judges chapter six, we must cry out for help from the Lord in the season of our distress.
In Judges chapter six, we find, “When the people of Israel cried out to the Lord on account of the Midianites, the Lord sent a prophet to the people of Israel. And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I led you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of slavery. And I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. And I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.’ But you have not obeyed my voice” (Jdg. 6:7-10).
Here, we encounter a common three act play from biblical history. In the first act, God miraculously extricates His people from captivity or peril, as He freed the people of Israel from the hand of the Egyptians. Later in act two, the people of God experience a shocking strain of amnesia causing them to forget their promise to obey His laws. When disobedience deteriorates their situation, the people of God find themselves again in a state of unbearable oppression, leading to the third act when they again “cry out” to the Lord for relief.
It is then God reminds His followers of His faithfulness throughout their history, and provides a remedy in the present. In Gideon’s case, “The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor” (Jdg. 6:12). “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” (14).
Theologian Adam Clarke remarks, “God chooses for His work those instruments which, in the course of His operations in nature and providence, He has qualified for His purpose. The instruments chosen are generally unlikely, but they will be ever found the best qualified for the Divine employment.”
Demonstrating faith, repentance, and courage, Gideon reenacts the curative turnaround and Midian is defeated. God's people will always experience victory when the voice of God is obeyed. This is because God is present with those who obey Him. He will never leave them or forsake them. When we listen to His commands and follow His will, we receive His power and strength to overcome any obstacle. In His name, we are more than conquerors.
God, we ask that You guide us to faithfulness, repentance, and courage. Grant us the strength to cry out to You. Transform us into mighty men of valor, overcoming all obstacles. For no one will be able to stand against God.
Dr. Chris Coppernoll
Ministry Director, Christian Union Nova
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