“The command has been to ‘go,’ but we have stayed—in body, gifts, prayer, and influence. He has asked us to be witnesses unto the uttermost parts of the earth…but 99% of Christians have kept puttering around in the homeland.”

Robert Savage

TODAY’S READING: Judges 6–7

It is encouraging to remember that Midian is present day Saudi Arabia. Gideon and friends are under the cruel authority of these desert Bedouins who continually destroy the produce of the earth leaving the people of God impoverished (Judges 6:4, 6).

An honest survey of the church landscape regretfully reveals a body in decline—either due to age or to inappropriate engagement with the world. We are not healthy and we know it, and all our protests to the contrary ring hollow. We, in fact, have the same blind complaining question of Gideon: “If the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles” (v. 13)? And God reminds us that He is not at fault. He brought us out of Egypt (v. 8) to be our God, to dwell among us, and to bless us that we might bless the nations. That is the repeated “formula” of God’s interaction with man. Our undoing is in its negative reverse:  We do not bless the nations, so we lose the blessing of God, so we start complaining. The way out of our general church demise today is the same way it was for Gideon and friends then—tear down idols and win glory for Jehovah among Saudi Arabians and all the unreached of the world.  The church has no right to complain if she will not obey God’s commands: “Go in this might of yours” (v. 14)! This was cure for Gideon and the commission of Jesus, and it is our cure today.

It is interesting that one of the most precious promises of Scripture (that Jehovah is our peace, YHWH is shalom) is in the context of God’s people overcoming their fears and obeying God’s commission to overthrow the Saudis. We live in an age of anxiety, and irrational fears press in to steal the joy of God’s people. We are afraid of the enemies that oppress us, and we are afraid of the God we have forgotten how to fear. We say with Gideon, “Alas, we have messed up! We have done everything wrong,” and God says, “I will be your peace if you will be my missionary people.” The restoration of the people of God came in pursuing God’s glory among Saudi Arabians. The restoration of the church is inextricably linked to missions, to God’s glory among all peoples of the earth.

In order to have revival, we first have to destroy the family idols. Gideon’s father set up an idol to Baal (v. 25). Baal was referred to as the storm god, the god who brought rain and fertility. Baal wasn’t considered particularly smart, but he was considered brave and strong and a foe that could storm back. [1] Gideon tears down his image and Gideon’s father sardonically says that if Baal is so strong, he can plead for himself. Gideon’s name is changed to Jerubbaal—literally meaning, “let the storm god plead for himself.” Before we storm against the nations, we must face the wrath of forsaking the things at home that bring us comfort but are idolatrous. Anything that brings prosperity, protection, growth, or even safety but is not of Jehovah must be broken down. In breaking our idols of program and performance, we will find we didn’t actually need them—they can’t defend themselves or their existence. The next step to revival is to be filled anew with the Spirit and to start blowing trumpets (v. 34). True Spirit fillings have physical consequences, and the way back from church decay includes mobilizing the church to go to mission. Revival actually doesn’t happen around altars—but around Midianites.

The famous lesson of Gideon is that God will not share His glory with anyone—not missionaries and not the church. God will reduce us until we are small enough in our own eyes to ensure He gets all the glory. Maybe revival tarries because we are too big, too brash, too arrogant, too ambitious. Maybe God is waiting for barley loaves (7:13) and men and women so weak they get down on their faces just to survive (v. 7). Our churches are in trouble. But it’s not because God has left the building, it’s because we abandoned the mission. Revival will come—it must come—but it will come to the people who break the family idols, who are small in their own eyes, who get down on their faces in desperation, who, full of the Spirit, mobilize others to battle, and who take up God’s fame among the Saudis, the Tay of Vietnam, and all the unreached peoples of earth. We will be revived if we will be God’s missionary people.

[1] The Chronological Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008. 268.

Prayer Focus: Vietnam (67 UPGs)

Today’s Unreached People Group: Tay
Population: 1,823,000
Language: Tay
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Evangelical: 0.20%
Estimated Workers Needed: 36

[Source: Joshua Project]

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