This morning we started our journey through the book of Judges, beginning with Gideon. I covered an unusually large portion of Scripture and I had to leave out some of the insights I would have told you if I had the time. So, I told you there would be some bonus information on my blog about the Midianites, so here it is!
It seems like the Bible is full of all kinds of “ites”. The Old Testament seems exceptionally “infested”. Everything from Hittites to Jebusites to Midainites; if it is an ”ite”, you can find it in the pages of the Old Testament. The Midianites present an interesting problem. The Midianites are descendants of Abraham by his wife, Keturah (Genesis 25:1). Throughout the book of Exodus we find favorable notes about them. After all, Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, and his wife Zipporah were Midianites. Moses found refuge in Midian when he fled Egypt and Pharaoh’s wrath. Moses made a life for himself among the Midianites until God called him to lead the people of Israel. After God delivered the Israelites from Egypt, Moses was their Judge. When Jethro saw the great multitude of people coming before Moses, he advised Moses to set up Judges to hear the people’s disputes. The Midianites were well thought of in the book of Exodus.
But now in the days of the Judges, things have changed. The Midianites invaded the Promised Land, taking anything they desired with their flocks, herds, and fast camels. They overwhelmed the Israelites and left them almost nothing for the care of their flocks and herds, much less their own children. For seven years this went on with the people hiding in the mountains, living in caves, clefts, and holes. It is in such a hole, a wine press that God found Gideon, hiding his threshing from the Midianites. What was going on with these Midianites? What was their problem? What had caused them to treat the Israelites with such contempt and indifference? The Bible does not give us the answers to all of these questions. However there are some principles that we can learn that will help us if we ever have issues like the Israelites had with the Midianites.
First, we need to note that God was using the Midianites for the good of Israel both in Exodus and Judges. In the Exodus, God used Jethro to guide Moses in making wise decisions and in his leading of the people. In the times of the Judges, God used the Midianites as an instrument of discipline or chastisement to correct His sinful people. God was still working through the Midianites, only the people’s choices had made a difference in how God used the Midianites. The Israelites hated the Midianites for the awful things they were doing. Yet, we see in God’s plan, that the awful things the people suffered in this case were the direct results of their sins. The Midianites became God’s “rod of correction”. While their actions caused great suffering, God’s purpose was to call His people to repentance and to renew their love and devotion to Him. In this passage, we can see how God was at work in good and bad times. God used both types of circumstances to direct and correct the Israelites.
Herein lies an important insight for us. Many times God uses people in a variety of ways to direct and correct our lives. Sometimes God uses people to guide us. Through our friends and occasionally our enemies God will give us guidance on our journey through life. At other times, God may use our friends and enemies to discipline us. Their impact upon us may seem negative and yet as we step back to see what God is doing we discover that God is using them as a ”rod of correction” to discipline us as His children. Whenever we are “bothered by Midianites” we need to ask ourselves a question; How is God using this circmustance in my life? Is God’s purpose direction or correction? Only as we spend time with God in prayer and in His Word will we be able to discern what He is trying to do in our lives. And as God reveals to us His purpose, we will grow to appreciate both His tender guidance and the correction of His rebuke.
So whenever a relationship changes or you encounter a new relationship that seems negative, ask yourself those questions. Seek to find out what God is doing in your life. Yield to His ways and follow His guidance through others. Be ready to accept God’s discipline and correction. He only desires to draw you deeper in your relationship with Him. Remember: God disciplines His children because He loves them. When you experience His discipline, you can know that He loves you as His child.
So how about you; what is God doing in your life through your relationships with others? Will you yield to His guidance and discipline?
This Sunday (April 18) we will learn about how God can help us with our doubts and weaknesses. See you Sunday!