“The Oak Tree of Ophrah”

Judges 6,7

Following Judge Deborah came Judge Gideon.  After God delivered the Israelites from the Canaanites to their West using Deborah, Barak and Jael, the Israelites did evil and the Midianites from their East side oppressed them.  An angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak tree of Ophrah near where Gideon was threshing wheat secretly in a wine press.  He greeted Gideon as a “mighty warrior”.  Gideon was flabbergasted, “15 He responded, ‘But sir, how can I deliver Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.’” He was a nobody secretly threshing wheat!  God uses nobodys like us!

         Gideon secretly pulled down the idols to Baal that night.  The town objected.  Gideon has become famous, not because of the oak tree but because in his doubt he checked to make sure he was listening to God.  He asked God to confirm that he was revealing a plan to him.  Gideon used a “fleece.”  Would God allow a real fleece laid out over night to be wet in the morning and the ground to be dry.  So it was.  Gideon realized that was actually possible so returned to God and asked that the fleece be dry and the ground wet!  And so it happened.  The story of deliverance is another miracle story but Gideon has become synonymous for “laying out a fleece” to confirm God’s will.

         My husband and I were debating where to build a village house among the people in the famine relief camp we were working at.  We prayed that God would make it clear as we were divided, by having someone invite us.  The next day as I walked through the camp a woman came up to me and said, “When are you going to build a house here?”  No “hi” or “hello”, just the words I had prayed.  Another time we prayed that the God would speak through our pediatrician we would come down country to see for our son who was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.  We walked into our jovial pediatrician’s office and he looked up from his desk and said point blank, “I have only one word to say to you.  You need to move to Nairobi to be near medial help for your son!”

         The angel chose to sit under the oak tree of Orphah to speak to Gideon.  Gideon made sure that he was hearing God’s will.  Many of have used “fleeces,” ways we confirm we are hearing from the Lord.  We may double check with Scripture and Bible study.  We may seek the advice of friends.  Think of a time when you have needed leading and how you confirmed your decision.  Perhaps you did not meet with God under an oak tree but for sure God is ready to meet with us and help us sort out our doubts.  Let’s thank him today that he is the God who speaks with us and confirms his will!

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