A Loaf of Bread for the Saints

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, September 6, 2016 0 comments

by Bill Seng

“He said to the men of Succoth, ‘Give my troops some bread; they are worn out, and I am still pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.’” ~Judges 8:5

Some people will go as far out of their way as they can to disrupt God’s work in people’s lives. One of my favorite evangelists in the United States was released from prison last year upon being convicted of some sort of tax fraud. Without going into detail, the case was somewhat absurd and the charges that were brought upon the evangelist could easily have been laid against just about anyone in the United States. After deciding not to fight the charges, as he was expecting the case to essentially be thrown out, the judge, who was strongly anti-Christian, threw the book at him and sentenced him to 10 years in prison, which had expired about a year ago. Now, during that time he brought over 300 prisoners to Christ, but that’s beside the point. Instead of giving this man a lighter sentence or throwing out the charges altogether, these biased legal participants decided to teach this Christian a lesson for being as outspoken for Jesus as what he was.

After forcing the army of the Midianites to retreat, Gideon and his 300 men were in hot pursuit of the remaining forces to wipe them out. They had vanquished 120,000 swordsmen and were looking to finish the job once they caught the fleeing troops. Understandably, Gideon’s men had become tired. Not once but twice, they came upon villages, Succoth and Peniel, and asked for some bread to replenish the battle-exhausted troops. Both villages denied Gideon’s request and sent the men out starving as they pursued their enemies.

2 Timothy 3:12 states, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” In this instance, Gideon and his men were obeying the Word of God. Their request upon these villages was not a toilsome request as there were only 300 men to feed and they were only asking for bread. Nonetheless, those who want to see the saints of God thwarted and humiliated would refuse to spare even this much. Their expectation is that because they deprive the saints a material blessing, they prevent them from fulfilling their cause. In the case of Gideon, this is not true. They continued to pursue their enemy despite their fatigue because God had empowered them to defeat them. Natural circumstances cannot thwart the power or will of God in the hands of an obedient servant.

By denying Gideon’s men a blessing, the people of Succoth and Peniel did not bring down a curse, as they may have expected. Instead, they prevented God from blessing their villages and, furthermore, Gideon returned to bring both villages to justice by oppressing Succoth and killing the men in Peniel. So, not only did they rob themselves of a blessing, they brought a curse upon themselves.

Jesus said that “if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward” (Matthew 10:42). To me, this is a very powerful passage. So often do we focus on what factors bring judgment upon disobedient people that we forget how richly God blesses those who graciously bless his saints. It is important for us to be rich in good deeds as God has purposed us to be a blessing to the world and not a curse.

Also remember, although Gideon lived under the promises of the old covenant, we live under the promises of the new covenant today. He cursed the villages that denied him and his men. The Apostle Paul tells us to bless and not curse those who persecute us (Romans 12:14). It is for God to judge the wicked, not us. The covenant established with Israel in the days of Gideon was intended to cleanse the land of evil and establish a holy nation on earth. The promise we have through the new covenant is to establish a kingdom in heaven. Thus, God is the executive of justice, not us.

When oppressors come around, do not be discouraged. God’s will is that we might grow through times of persecution and become more like his Son who suffered through the ills of the world. We can endure and like Jesus, and we can also bless those who might otherwise deserve a curse for how they try to disrupt the plans of God.

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