According to anti-theists, God commanded “genocide” of the people like the Midianites. But as we see, that was not the case. The Midianites are a massive people group, “like a great swarm of locusts” (Jdg 6:5) and “without number” (Jdg 6:5). They oppresses Israel to the point that Israel was hiding in caves and mountains, nothing to eat and were poverty-stricken (Jdg 6:2-6).
Of course Israel called out to the Lord. They wanted their Baals and Asherahs, except when things got bad. They they would cry out to God.
The Angel of the Lord came to him and even Gideon reflected the same thing. He says,
“Please Sir, if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened? And where are all His wonders that our fathers told us about? They said, ‘Hasn’t the LORD brought us out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and handed us over to Midian” (Jdg 6:13).
This is a question not too different from today. If God did miracles in the Bible, where is he now? Where are all our miracles? Where are the mighty moves of God we read about in the Scripture? Did God just set everything in motion and walk away (deism)?
The Israelites, even Gideon, did not take into that “The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the LORD” (Jdg 6:1). The people wanted their own way and they wanted God also.
Not much has changed even today. People want their own way, and they want God also. They want their sin, and they say it’s ok as God loves them. We want our pleasures and want God’s help.
We don’t want God when we want to sin. But we want God when we are in need. And even accuse him if he doesn’t show up and help.
The mercy of God is amazing. Because even in this he heard the Israelites and answered. He came to Gideon, a humble man who was the lowest of the lows. But God saw him as “mighty warrior” (Jdg 6:12).
How it Unfolded
You probably know the story. Because the Lord wanted to deliver them, he had Gideon reduce the army down to 300. With these brave soldiers they stood on the outskirts of the camp, sounded trumpets, broke pots and had their torches lit.
The Midianite camp assumed it was a massive army coming against them and they panicked. As in every panic, it gets chaotic and people trample one another in herd mentality. By the hand of the LORD, the Midianites were defeated as they attacked one another.
Midian was defeated and naturally, Gideon was asked to rule over the people. Wisely Gideon said this”
“I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the LORD will rule over you” (Jdg 8:24) which was the way God had set it out to be from the beginning.
During the life of Gideon things went well. For the most part. Gideon had made an ephod and they worshiped it which was vile (Jdg 8:27). So why their hearts were not fully committed to the LORD, they did have peace in the land.
But soon after we read this:
“The Israelites did not remember the LORD their God who had delivered them from the power of the enemies around them. They did not show kindness to the house of Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) for all the good he had done for Israel” (Jdg 8:34-35).
It’s interesting as the Lord expected that those who had done great things for Israel were to be honored. It was a sleight against them that they didn’t.
A Personal Perplexity
The book of Judges is just exasperating. As we said in a previous post, it’s just the sin cycle over and over and over again. What is it in us that keeps us drifting away from the Lord?
When I look at what they people drifted to, it was always the Baals and the Asherahs. These two “gods” of the times were all about sexual pleasure. Sexual deviance was not only acceptable, it was encouraged.
I can’t say much has changed. It seems like sex is the god of the times even among Christians. It’s nothing to hear of two people living together. In fact, it’s looked down upon if you believe that somehow this is still a sin.
Again it comes down to, “want our own way and we want God and if he doesn’t show up when we want him, he is a bad God.”
Sounds like something from a child. But it’s not.