When we think of vows in our day, our minds go immediately to a bride and groom standing before God and a room full of people. The wedding vow is meant to be the promise or pledge that seals the marriage with God looking on. Fun fact: In doing a little google search, I learned that not all cultures or religions use vows during a wedding ceremony.
Unfortunately, some people don’t take their vows as seriously as they should. If you aren’t able to keep your word, you shouldn’t give it in the first place. I held on for years as a battered wife because of the vow I had made to my first husband. I had made this vow in the presence of God. For me to break it and seek divorce would mean I was letting God down, didn’t it? I struggled with that for years.
Unsure how much time has passed when we read “after this,” but suffice it to say that Gideon remains true to his word. You’ll recall in our last reading that Gideon and his army were turned away by two towns until they could bring the two Midianite kings into custody.
I don’t think of Gideon as a gloating type, but he returned with the two kings in hand and was ready to make a statement. He had warned the leaders of these two towns what would happen to them for not helping him in their time of need. Gideon is going to make good on these promises. This will set a good example for his men.
The Promised Land is now ready and available for the Israelites at last. Sometimes it’s hard to put ourselves in the time and place we are reading about. This is one of those situations. I, for one, have never encountered warfare firsthand. I can just imagine how intense the rush of adrenaline must be.
What can we take away from these victories? To trust God’s process! Joshua knew what God had commanded Moses. Joshua was fulfilling that assignment. God was now empowering Joshua when he said, “Do not be afraid of them. By this time tomorrow I will hand all of them over to Israel as dead men. Then you must cripple their horses and burn their chariots.” Joshua understood it was his role to be God’s hands and feet, leading the army to make it happen. Joshua only needed to remember “who” was in charge. It was God.
This was an interesting passage, wasn’t it? Sometimes I feel like God is speaking right at me from the pages of the Bible. Today was not one of those days, but it could be that for you. What I did sense was that no matter where we come from, what we’ve experienced in the past, what skeletons may be lurking in our closets, God can make us new. He will bless his children.
We also are witness to a great promise. “Just as I swore in the time of Noah that I would never again let a flood cover the earth, so now I swear that I will never again be angry and punish you.” God may get angry with us, but we’ll not be punished. We have a shield of protection around us. We have Jesus.
Just to keep our bearings, Samaria was the capital of Israel, the Northern Kingdom. Jerusalem was the capital of Judah, the Southern Kingdom. Isaiah’s message today is about Israel, but we know that his direct audience was the people of Judah. God’s message wasn’t meant to taunt Judah but to protect them with critical information. If God’s wrath was coming down on Israel for their idol worship and refusal to turn to God, then didn’t it follow that those doing the same in Judah would also be subject to God’s wrath at some point? Unfortunately, this truth wasn’t as obvious to them as it is to us.
We weren’t even there, but we can take heed of the message for ourselves. We can design our faithfulness as God would deserve and/or expect. We don’t have to guess at what will please and displease God. We simply need to turn to the clues he leaves for us in his Word.