Make the Impossible Possible (Judges 7:12-22)

The camp was huge. The Midianites, Amalekites, and other eastern nations covered the valley like a swarm of locusts. And it would be easier to count the grains of sand on a beach than to count their camels. Gideon overheard one enemy guard telling another, “I had a dream about a flat loaf of barley bread that came tumbling into our camp. It hit the headquarters tent, and the tent flipped over and fell to the ground.”

The other soldier answered, “Your dream must have been about Gideon, the Israelite commander. It means God will let him and his army defeat the Midianite army and everyone else in our camp.”

As soon as Gideon heard about the dream and what it meant, he bowed down to praise God. Then he went back to the Israelite camp and shouted, “Let’s go! The Lord is going to let us defeat the Midianite army.”

Gideon divided his little army into three groups of 100 men, and he gave each soldier a trumpet and a large clay jar with a burning torch inside. Gideon said, “When we get to the enemy camp, spread out and surround it. Then wait for me to blow a signal on my trumpet. As soon as you hear it, blow your trumpets and shout, ‘Fight for the Lord! Fight for Gideon!’ ”

Gideon and his group reached the edge of the enemy camp a few hours after dark, just after the new guards had come on duty. Gideon and his soldiers blew their trumpets and smashed the clay jars that were hiding the torches. The rest of Gideon’s soldiers blew the trumpets they were holding in their right hands. Then they smashed the jars and held the burning torches in their left hands. Everyone shouted, “Fight with your swords for the Lord and for Gideon!”

The enemy soldiers started yelling and tried to run away. Gideon’s troops stayed in their positions surrounding the camp and blew their trumpets again. As they did, the Lord made the enemy soldiers pull out their swords and start fighting each other.

The enemy army tried to escape from the camp. They ran to Acacia Tree Town, toward Zeredah, and as far as the edge of the land that belonged to the town of Abel-Meholah near Tabbath. (Contemporary English Version)

It took some doing, but Gideon finally got around to taking on the massive army of people.

For years, marauders from the East came and raided Israel. They ate crops and livestock, then destroyed anything that was left. The Israelites, of course, were miserable. Yet, what could they do? There were so many of them!

So, they begged God for help. (Judges 6:6-7)

And the Lord responded. God chose Gideon to be the agent of change.

But Gideon failed to see it. He just couldn’t wrap his pea brain and small heart around the fact that God was choosing him to lead the charge against this humungous mean-spirited ornery bandits.

It was as if Gideon was Barney Fife, being made Sheriff in the Old West town to try and stop the powerful thieves from making off with all their cattle and drinking all of the saloon’s whiskey.

So, it took a while for Gideon to envision what the Lord was doing. And, on top of it all, God went and whittled the Israelite army down to 300 men. That’s it. A few hundred townsfolk against an army that was too big to count.

Yet, Gideon, bless his doubtful and fearful heart, was handed one last piece of gracious information. He caught a conversation between two of the enemy about a dream; it emboldened him to listen and act. And the result was a miraculous victory in which the big bullies were driven from the valley – not because of Gideon’s superior faith or ability – but because the Lord made it possible through him.

And that is precisely how it still works today.

I’m a guy who likes his research; and I can study something to death before pulling the trigger. For me, knowledge is power; and I’ll gobble up every morsel of information I can get my hands on in order to feel a semblance of confidence and courage. But the real issue is trusting God and sensing the Lord’s presence. God is with me. And if God is with me, who can be against me? (Romans 8:31-39)

And I’m not the only one. We all have our ways of trying to feel better and make some sense of the nonsensical situations we get put into, such as:

  • Creating a detailed plan of everything that’s going to happen, accounting for every contingency possible. But God already has a plan. The real issue is: Will you accept it?
  • Making everyone around you happy. Giving, helping, serving. If you could just bake enough cookies for all those men, then everything will be okay, right!?… Wrong. God already loves you and has your back. If some people don’t like you, that’s not the end of the world.
  • Working harder than everyone else. Putting your nose to the grindstone and determining you’ll outwork the enemy. That might get some short term results, but it will only result in burnout. The victory isn’t up to you; it’s up to God.
  • Giving in and giving up. Meh. Why even try? They’re just going to beat up everyone and steal everything anyway. I’ll just tap into my spirit animal, Eeyore, and watch a bunch of British dark comedy on TV. Yet, that approach helped get you into the mess you’re in now. Pay attention to the Lord’s voice, not somebody else’s.
  • Retreating to the high ground. We just need to get away. Stay safe. Keep everyone protected by getting them out of harm’s way. However, anyone outside of God’s will is never safe. If the Lord says to take on something, that’s the safest place you can be.
  • Throwing a party. Hey, let’s try and make the best of it. Let’s eat and drink today, for tomorrow we die. It’s better to go out having fun than wasting away worrying about everything. Pass the chip dip, please. *Sigh* You’re the dip! Trying to put a positive spin on a terrible situation is a terrible solution that will have negative results.
  • Taking charge. If everyone will just listen to me and do what I tell them, we’ll get out of this mess. Reality check, my friend: Who put you in charge? The Lord is God; you are not him. Stop it! Start taking orders from God and follow the Lord.
  • Failing to take a side. Why all the conflict? Can’t we all just get along? Maybe if I take a nap it will all go away. I’m not even going to touch that one. Did you hear yourself?

Most of life is about calming ourselves long enough to hear the voice of the Lord speaking to us. And if we will just take a few deep breaths and follow through with what God tells us, it’s going to go a lot better than any of our contrived ways of coping.

God is with you. God loves you. God makes the impossible possible. Faith over fear. Calm over chaos. Armed with that understanding, you’ve already won.

Sensing the Divine (Exodus 3:1-5)

The Burning Bush by Yoram Raanan

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”

When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” (New International Version)

The burning bush is one of those iconic objects and stories in Holy Scripture. Moses had an experience which changed his life, as well as the lives of all the Israelites then and now.

Having spent the first forty years of his life as a darling in the Egyptian court; and then the next forty years far from that life on the backside of the desert with a bunch of sheep; it’s an understatement to say that Moses did not expect or ever envision encountering God in a burning bush. The impossible has no possibility… Or does it?…

The experience of the burning bush fired the five senses of Moses:

  • See. There was the paradoxical sight of seeing fire in a bush that isn’t burning up.
  • Smell. All around there were the smells of sheep, the outdoors, and perhaps, even the lack of smelling burnt wood.
  • Hear. Listening to the voice and call of God from within the bush.
  • Taste. Spiritually and emotionally savoring God’s attentive justice toward the people.
  • Touch. Removing his sandals to feel the grounding of sacred space.

The story also comments on the senses of God, as well. Even though God is Spirit and is worshiped as such, God is alive with divine sensations:

  • See. Observing the approach of Moses, and the misery of the Israelites.
  • Smell. The stench of injustice wafting into God’s nostrils, bringing a strong divine reaction.
  • Hear. Listening to the cries of suffering and oppression amongst the people.
  • Taste. Anticipating the savor of showing mercy, justice, and righteousness.
  • Touch. A profound and holistic touching of Moses so that both he and the Israelites would never be the same again.

Through it all, the close identification between God and the people is expressed. The Lord feels the humiliation and pain of the Israelites – and vows to uproot them from the Egyptian factory farm of slavery and plant them firmly into rich Promised Land soil.

And what God promises to do, God has the authority and power to make good on.

Although experiencing all of this unbelievable sensory encounter, Moses knew it to be an impossible task in freeing so many Israelites from such a powerful Egyptian juggernaut.

After all, the people had their senses aflame, as well; and not in a good way:

  • See. The sight of family being worked to the bone; and cruelly treated.
  • Smell. The constant smell of bricks baking, mixed with the ever-present smell of death.
  • Hear. Listening day after day to the groans of people, just trying to survive under awful conditions.
  • Taste. Every day tasting the desert dust.
  • Touch. Overstimulated with handling tools to the point of hard callouses and dry, cracked, bloody hands.

Hundreds of years of backbreaking bondage to a national force so mighty that nothing can be done about it be broken…. Ah, but God specializes in systems of oppression and miserable people.

It is the Lord’s abilities which conquer the mightiest of foes and can extend mercy to the lowest and the least powerful. The entire Israelite situation was ripe for divine intervention and supernatural wonders to occur.

God will make a way where there seems to be no way. God works in ways which transcend our senses.

  • See. We are blind, but God gives us the gift of sight.
  • Smell. Our nostrils have become accustomed to the smell of death, but God’s aroma of life awakens us to new hope.
  • Hear. We are deaf, but God opens our ears with the sound of justice.
  • Taste. Our taste buds are shot with the gruel of poverty, but God causes our tongues to dance with the zest of mercy.
  • Touch. Our nerve endings are raw from cruel bondage, but God touches us with freedom.

You already intuitively know deep in your spirit that the impossible is possible with God. It’s never a question of God’s ability, but of God’s timing.

God is able and works the impossible in its proper time so that justice and mercy will have their full effect.

God of the impossible: I believe. Help me in my unbelief.

God of mercy: I receive. Help me in my denial.

God of justice: I accept. Help me in my rejection.

God of all time: I endure. Help me in my impatience.

God of All: I submit. Help me in my rebellion.

God of power and of might: I trust. Help me in my distrust.

God of our Lord Jesus Christ: I follow. Help me in my wandering.

God of the nations: Yes, you know that I love you. Yes, Lord, you know I love you. Lord, you know all things, and you know that I love you. So, yes, I will answer your call to go. Help me in my sending. Amen.

Isaiah 11:1-10 – All I Want for Christmas Is a Savior

Welcome, friends! Advent is upon us. May this season spark faith, increase hope, stir up love, and surprise the world with joy. Click the video below and let us acknowledge the coming of the Christ child…

Isaiah 11:1-10

For the Scripture set to song…

And for a traditional Advent hymn…

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus by Shannon Wexelberg

May the light of Christ lead us to the joy of his kingdom, now and for ever. Amen.