Who Is My Enemy?
Christopher B. Harbin
We hear a lot of discussion about enemies, opposition, and those against whom we must fight or take a stand. It is the basis of political discourse on the airwaves. It also seems to be a very common thread of discussion in pulpits across the country. We look upon so many classes and categories of people as our enemies, as the opposition, as those against whom we must struggle to defend the gospel or our way of life. On the other hand, Jesus had a very different take on enemies. They were not to be engaged in battle, but turned into friends. They were to be forgiven, loved, and blessed. Somehow, we seem to have forgotten that motif from his teachings, perhaps even forgetting how to identify our real enemies.
Gideon's is one of my favorite Bible stories. It is not only a very well-crafted story with many twists and literary intricacies, it also addressed several themes at once, themes that have a lot to do with preparing us to serve God in unexpected ways. I can so readily identify with Gideon's uncertainty upon hearing the prophet's words to him and wanted to be completely sure that God was actually calling him into service. After all, the task at hand was dangerous. God had several rather unorthodox restrictions upon how it was to be carried out, and he was putting his life on the line to do God's will.
Gideon was well aware of the enemies arrayed against Israel. The Midianites had been in the land before, and all knew how the story would play out. They would wait until the grain was harvested, threshed, and stored in barns before sending in raiding parties to deprive Israel of it's bounty and sustenance. The Midianites would give Israel time to do all the agricultural work before marching in to relieve them of their produce.
The enemies facing Israel were obvious. It was easy to see that these Midianites were the ones responsible for all the difficulties facing Israel. Gideon issued a call to arms ...
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