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Judges 6:11–7:25 (LEB)

The Angel of Yahweh Calls Gideon

11 The angel of Yahweh came and sat under the oak that was at Ophrah that belonged to Jehoash the Abiezrite; and Gideon his son was threshing wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. 12 The angel of Yahweh appeared to him and said to him, “Yahweh is with you, you mighty warrior.” 13 Gideon said to him, “Excuse me, my lord. If Yahweh is with us, why then has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonderful deeds that our ancestors recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not Yahweh bring us up from Egypt?’ But now Yahweh has forsaken us; he has given us into the palm of Midian.” 14 And Yahweh turned to him and said, “Go in this your strength, and you will deliver Israel from the palm of Midian. Did I not send you?” 15 He said to him, “Excuse me, my lord. How will I deliver Israel? Look, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.” 16 And Yahweh said to him, “But I will be with you, and you will defeat Midian as if they are one man.” 17 And he said to him, “Please, if I have found favor in your eyes, show me a sign that you are speaking with me. 18 Please, do not depart from here until I come back to you and bring out my gift and set it out before you.” And he said, “I will stay until you return.”

19 And Gideon went and prepared a young goat and unleavened cakes from an ephah of flour; he put meat in a basket, and the broth he put in a pot, and he brought them to him under the oak and presented them. 20 The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened cakes and put them on this rock; pour the broth over it.” And he did so. 21 Then the angel of Yahweh reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand, and he touched the meat and the unleavened cakes; and fire went up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes. And the angel of Yahweh went from his sight. 22 And Gideon realized that he was the angel of Yahweh; and Gideon said, “Oh, my lord Yahweh! For now I have seen the angel of Yahweh face to face.” 23 And Yahweh said to him, “Peace be with you. Do not fear; you will not die.” 24 And Gideon built there an altar to Yahweh, and he called it “Yahweh is peace.” To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

25 Now on that same night Yahweh said to him, “Take the bull of the cattle that belongs to your father, and a second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal that belongs to your father, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it; 26 and build an altar to Yahweh your God on the top of this stronghold in the proper arrangement, and take a second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah that you will cut down. 27 Gideon took ten men from his servants, and he did just as Yahweh told him; and because he was too afraid of his father’s family and the men of the city to do it during the day, he did it during night.

Gideon Destroys the Altar of Baal

28 When the men of the city got up early in the morning, look, the altar of Baal and the Asherah that was beside it were cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar that had been built. 29 And they said to one another, “Who did this thing?” So they searched and inquired, and they said, “Gideon son of Jehoash did this thing.” 30 And the men of the city said to Jehoash, “Bring out your son so that he may die, for he has pulled down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah that was beside it.” 31 But Jehoash said to all who stood against him, “Will you contend for Baal? Will you rescue him? Whoever contends for him will be put to death by the morning. If he is a god, let him contend for himself because his altar has been pulled down.” 32 Thus, on that day he was called Jerub-Baal, which means, “Let Baal contend against him,” because he had pulled down his altar.

33 Then all the Midianites, Amalekites, and the people of the east gathered together and crossed the Jordan; and they camped in the valley of Jezreel. 34 So the Spirit of Yahweh took possession of Gideon, and he blew on the trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called to follow him. 35 He sent messengers throughout all Manasseh, and they were also called to follow him; and he sent messengers throughout Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and they went up to meet them.

Gideon Tests Yahweh With the Fleece

36 Then Gideon said to God, “In order to see that you will deliver Israel by my hand, just as you have said, 37 I will place a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece only, and all of the ground is dry, I will know that you will deliver Israel by my hand, just as you have said.” 38 And it was so. He arose early the next day and squeezed the fleece, and he wrung out dew from the fleece, a full drinking bowl of water. 39 And Gideon said to God, “Do not let your anger burn against me; let me speak once more. Please let me test once more with the fleece; let the fleece be dry, and let there be dew on the ground.” 40 And God did so that night; only the fleece was dry, and dew was on all the ground.

Gideon’s Three Hundred Men

7 Then Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) rose early, and all the army that was with him. They were camped beside the spring of Harod; the camp of Midian was north of the hill of Moreh, in the valley. And Yahweh said to Gideon, “The troops that are with you are too many for me to give Midian into their hands; Israel will boast, saying, ‘My hand has delivered me.’ So then, please proclaim in the hearing of the troops, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return and depart from the Mount of Gilead.’ ” About twenty-two thousand troops returned, and ten thousand remained. And Yahweh said to Gideon, “There are still too many troops; bring them down to the water, and I will sift through them for you there. For whomever I say to you, ‘This one will go with you,’ he will go with you; and for all whom I say to you, ‘This one will not go with you,’ he will not go.” So he brought down the troops to the water, and Yahweh said to Gideon, “You must separate everyone who laps up the water to drink with his tongue like a dog from those who kneel.” The number of those lapping up the water with their hand to their mouth was three hundred men; all the rest of the troops kneeled to drink the water. And Yahweh said to Gideon, “I will deliver you with the three hundred men lapping up the water; I will give Midian into your hand, so let the other troops go, each to his own place. So they took their provisions and their trumpets into their hand, and he sent all the men of Israel, each one, to his tent; but three hundred of the men he kept; the camp of Midian was below him in the valley.

And that night Yahweh said to him, “Get up; go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hand. 10 But if you are afraid, go down to the camp with Purah your servant, 11 and you will hear what they say; and afterward you will have courage, and you will go down against the camp.” Then he went down with Purah his servant to the outpost of the armed men that were in the camp. 12 Now the Midianites, Amalekites, and all the people of the east were lying in the valley, like a great multitude of locusts; their camels were without number, as numerous as the sand that is on the shore of the sea. 13 When Gideon came, a man was recounting a dream to his friend, and he said, “Behold, I had a dream; a round loaf of barley bread was tumbling into the camp of Midian, and it came up to the tent, it struck it, and it fell and turned it upside down so that the tent fell.” 14 His friend answered him and said, “This cannot be anything except the sword of Gideon son of Jehoash, a man of Israel; God has given Midian and the entire camp into his hand.”

15 When Gideon heard the recounting of the dream and its interpretation, he bowed down and returned to the camp of Israel; and he said, “Get up, for Yahweh has given the camp of Midian into your hand.” 16 He divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put trumpets and empty jars in everyone’s hand, with torches inside the jars. 17 And he said to them, “Watch me and do the same. When I come to the edge of the camp, do just as I do. 18 When I and all who are with me blow on the trumpet, you must also blow on the trumpets and surround the camp, and you must say, ‘To Yahweh and to Gideon!’ ”

19 So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle night-watch, when they had just finished setting up the guards, and they blew on the trumpets and smashed the jars that were in their hands. 20 When three companies blew on the trumpets and broke the jars, they held in their left hand the torches and in their right hand the trumpets for blowing, and they cried, “A sword for Yahweh and for Gideon!” 21 And each stood in his place all around the camp, and all the camp ran, and they cried out as they fled. 22 When they blew the three hundred trumpets, Yahweh set the sword of each one against his neighbor throughout the whole camp, and the camp fled as far as Beth Shittah toward Zererah, up to Abel Meholah, the border by Tabbath. 23 And the men of Israel were called from Naphtali, from Asher, and from all of Manasseh, and they pursued after Midian.

24 And Gideon sent messengers throughout all the hill country of Ephraim, saying, “Come down to oppose Midian, and capture from them the waters up to Beth Barah and the Jordan.” He called out all the men of Ephraim, and they captured the waters up to Beth Barah and the Jordan. 25 And they captured the two commanders of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb, and they killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and they killed Zeeb at the wine press of Zeeb, while they chased Midian; and they brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon from beyond the Jordan.

Philippians 2:1–11 (LEB)

Humility and Unity

2 Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, complete my joy, so that you are in agreement, having the same love, united in spirit, having one purpose. Do nothing according to selfish ambition or according to empty conceit, but in humility considering one another better than yourselves, each of you not looking out for your own interests, but also each of you for the interests of others.

Christ’s Humiliation and Exaltation

Think this in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,

who, existing in the form of God,

did not consider being equal with God something to be grasped,

but emptied himself

by​ taking the form of a slave,

by​ becoming in the likeness of people.

And being found in appearance like a man,

he humbled himself

by​ becoming obedient to the point of death,

that is, death on a cross.

Therefore also God exalted him

and graciously granted him the name above every name,

10 so that at the name of Jesus

every knee should bow,

of those in heaven and of those on earth and of those under the earth,

11 and every tongue confess

that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.

Psalm 66:1–20 (LEB)

Shout joyfully to God, all the earth.

Sing the glory of his name.

Set forth his glorious praise.

Say to God, “How awesome are your works!

Because of the greatness of your strength,

your enemies will cringe before you.

All the earth will bow in worship to you,

and sing praise to you.

They will sing the praise of your name.” Selah

Come and consider the works of God;

he is awesome in his dealings with the children of humankind.

He turned the sea into dry ground;

they passed through the river on foot.

There we rejoiced in him.

He rules by his might forever;

his eyes keep watch on the nations.

Do not let the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah

Bless our God, O peoples,

and cause the sound of his praise to be heard,

the one who has kept our soul among the living,

and has not allowed our foot to slip.

10 For you have tested us, O God;

you have tried us as silver is tried.

11 You brought us into the net;

you placed a heavy burden on our backs.

12 You let men ride over our heads.

We went through fire and through water,

but you have brought us out to the place of abundance.

13 I will come into your house with burnt offerings.

I will pay to you my vows

14 that my lips uttered,

and my mouth spoke in my distress.

15 Burnt offerings of fat animals I will offer to you,

with the smoke of rams.

I will do cattle with rams. Selah

16 Come and hear, all you God-fearers, and I will tell

what he has done for me.

17 I called to him with my mouth,

and he was extolled with my tongue.

18 If I had considered evil in my heart,

the Lord would not have listened.

19 However, God has listened;

he has attended to the sound of my prayer.

20 Blessed be God,

who has not turned aside my prayer,

or his loyal love from me.

May 4: More Than I Can Handle (Rebecca Van Noord)

May 4

“God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.”

This Christian maxim is a well-meaning attempt at putting our difficult times into perspective. It holds the view that God knows our weaknesses and knows when we can’t measure up to a challenge. But if we’re going through trials, this same saying can be debilitating when we feel that we can’t possibly handle a situation.

The psalms often describe circumstances that leave the nation of Israel hopelessly struggling and helplessly in need of God:

“For you have tested us, O God; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you placed a heavy burden on our backs. You let men ride over our heads. We went through fire and through water, but you have brought us out to the place of abundance” (Psa 66:10–12).

Israel doesn’t often “handle” situations very well. Throughout its history, the nation chosen by God repeatedly rebelled against Him. Only when God gave them over to their enemies and they suffered through trials would they cry out for deliverance. Only when they stopped relying on themselves or foreign gods to sustain them would He come to their rescue.

It may be that God does give us more than we can handle. But this is actually—perhaps strangely—a source of comfort. If we could handle every circumstance, we’d never reach the end of our self-reliance. And it’s only when we get to the end of ourselves that we realize how much we desperately need Him.

Our trials give us hope. The people of Israel were “tried as silver is tried” (Psa 6:10). Just like them, we’ll be purified by fire. We will go “through fire and through water,” a process by which He makes us more wholly devoted to Him. And His work will bring us through “to the place of abundance” (Psa 66:12).

His faithfulness to us, even when we’re unfaithful, is reason to praise Him. And this is precisely the psalmist’s response: “Blessed be God, who has not turned aside my prayer, or his loyal love from me” (Psa 66:20). We see God’s perfect love for us in Jesus, who was obedient when we couldn’t be and suffered so we wouldn’t have to (Phil 2:5–8).

Do you think you can handle the troubles in your life? How can you see God’s faithfulness to you, even when you’re going through difficult circumstances?

Rebecca Van Noord is editor-in-chief of Bible Study Magazine. She has developed content for several Bible reference products, including Lexham Bible Dictionary and Faithlife Study Bible.

Connect the Testaments: A Daily Devotional

Author: John D. Barry & Rebecca Van Noord

Publisher: Lexham Press

Publication Date: 2012

This 365-day devotional walks you through the Bible in a year, following a custom reading plan that delves into the stories of the Bible from five unique perspectives.