The Colonel has been, as many of you have no doubt noticed, somewhat lax in his writing and posting of late.
He's been feeling a bit overwhelmed -- got a lot on his plate.
Besides the demands of tending to, harvesting from, and distributing the produce of a much too large garden this summer, the Colonel has also taken on responsibility for leading a strategic planning program for his church and has also been led to lead a couple of small group Bible studies.
As happens more and more often nowadays, just as the Colonel begins getting comfortable in a rut of self-sorrow, God reveals new meaning in a well-read passage of scripture.
This past week, in preparation for delivering the lesson to his Sunday School class, the Colonel studied the 6th and 7th chapters of the book of Judges. The story contained therein is a familiar one to all be the most recent beginner Bible students.
The writer of Judges details the Israelites' rhythmic falling away from God, oppression by enemies, calling on God for help, and receipt of a man from God to defeat their enemies. In the 6th chapter the man, Gideon, raised up by God to deliver Israel is introduced to us hiding from the marauding Midianites.
Gideon is in skull defilade, threshing wheat in a wine press.
Ordinarily wheat was threshed on a wind-swept hilltop. But Gideon was afraid of sky-lining himself to the enemy and was instead hunkered down in a small cavity hewn from a rock, probably alongside a vineyard.
While he was evidently successfully hiding from the Midianites, Gideon couldn't hide from God. The writer of Judges tells us that the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and said something in absolute incongruence with Gideon's actions: "You are a mighty warrior."
Amazing point of new meaning # 1: God's omnipresence is not limited to three dimensions -- He is omnipresent in time as well.
God wasn't describing Gideon's present situation, but what he would become. God already knows our battles -- He's out there in the future fighting them as we speak.
When God tells Gideon that he is to lead the Israelite army against the Midianites, Gideon's first reaction is to remind God just how weak and insignificant he, Gideon, is. In effect, Gideon tells God that because he is the youngest son in the least influential family in one of the least influential tribes of Israel, he is absolutely the wrong man for the job.
God says: "Have I not already sent you?"
Amazing point of new meaning # 2: God begins to work on our hearts long before he gives us a definite command.
God was telling Gideon that he, Gideon, had already been receiving a calling -- some call it a "still, small voice" -- telling him that he had to do "something." God is at work in all of our hearts -- he owns 'em, whether we have decided to "give them to Him" or not.
Skip over the parts of the story most of us are familiar with -- the fleece and the dew, God's whittling down of the Israelite army from 32,000 to 300 -- and stop where God tells Gideon to take his servant and go on a reconnaissance of the Midianite camp.
Gideon sneaks down in the dark and hears a Midianite soldier interpret another's dream of tent-flattening barley cakes as the fact that, "This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon...the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands."
Amazing point of new meaning # 3: God sends us, but He goes before us.
God clearly orchestrated the Midianite soldiers' dream and interpretation for Gideon's benefit. God was out in front of Gideon's small force, preparing the battlefield for them. Before Gideon even employed the stratagem of fooling the Midianites to believe that they were surrounded by a much larger force than just three hundred cupped-hand water-drinkers armed with trumpets and torches in clay pitchers, God was already at work in the hearts of the enemy.
That the ruse worked is not a testament to Gideon's cunning, but to God's ownership of the hearts of all men.
Last amazing point of not-so new meaning: The battle belongs to the Lord.
The Colonel begs your forgiveness for his literary lapse. He'll take more time to write now knowing that his coming battles are already won.