Lent Devotion for March 26, in Holy Week
Reader: "When the Israelites cried out to the Lord,”
Response: “He sent them a prophet.”
7 When the Israelites cried out to the Lord because of Midian, 8 he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 9 I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of all your oppressors; I drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.”
11 The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”
17 Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me.
33 No sooner had Gideon died than the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals. They set up Baal-Berith as their god 34 and did not remember the Lord their God, who had rescued them from the hands of all their enemies on every side.
Read Matthew 22 as well.
Reader: "The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
Whoever wrote the book of Judges, (the authorship is not clear), had a sense of humor along with the Lord. The Midianites were giving the Israelites all kinds of trouble as they had once again rejected God and had become completely corrupt. They once again whined to the Lord who heard them, had mercy on His wayward people, and sent an angel to their great warrior leader who was hiding in a wine press thrashing his wheat so no one would find him! Then there is the somewhat sarcastic greeting, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” He might as well have said, “Great chicken, the Lord is with you. What are you doing hiding in a winepress?” Notice Gideon did have some knowledge of Israel’s history and the great exploits of the past where God delivered His people. Someone had passed along the stories. Like Moses before him and Jeremiah after him, Gideon was a reluctant convert to his new role. In all three cases, the Lord said, “I am sending you.” Moses’ objection was “I can’t speak;” for Gideon, it was: “I’m too weak;” and Jeremiah complained: “I’m too young.” In all three cases, the Lord gave a great assurance that He would be “with” His prophets and leaders. Also, in each case, God gave them a physical sign of His presence and call. For Moses, it was the burning bush and staff that turned into a serpent. For Gideon, it was unleavened bread, fire, and vanished angel. For Jeremiah, it was the visions. Through a sign, God confirmed His call to each man. Under Gideon’s leadership, Israel had peace for forty years. Though there was peace, there seemed to be a moral drift though Gideon refused to become their ruler proclaiming “the Lord is your ruler.” At his death, Israel returned to their pagan ways.
"O Sacred Head Now Wounded” by Fernando Ortega (Watch on YouTube)
Father of mercies, hear me for Jesus’ sake. I am sinful even in my closest walk with thee; it is of thy mercy I died not long ago; Thy grace has given me faith in the cross by which thou hast reconciled thyself to me and me to thee, drawing me by thy great love, reckoning me as innocent in Christ though guilty in myself. Giver of all graces I look to thee for strength to maintain them in me, for it is hard to practice what I believe, strengthen me against temptations. Thou alone canst hold back my evil ways, but without thy grace to sustain me I fall. May the Holy Spirit confirm my trust in thy promised help and let me walk humbly in dependence upon thee, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
- The Valley of Vision, p.171