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May 9, Day #130 – Finishing Well Is Important



In Judges 7:8-8:35, we see how God uses Gideon – who seems to be a very strange man - to overcome the Midianite oppressors of Israel. Gideon’s other name, “Jerubbaal” (Judges 7:1) means “contender against Baal,” which indicates that Gideon is zealous for God’s purposes against this heathen deity, and his zeal - apparently in Gideon’s mind – confers a self-appointed chip on his shoulder. Although Gideon commendably takes God at His Word, and Hebrews 11 cites him as an example of faith (which I accept and believe as true), nevertheless I find some of Gideon’s conduct questionable (i.e., his demanding attitude and retribution toward the men of Sukkoth in verses 5-8; his incident with the thorns and briers in verse 16; telling his young son to kill the two Midianite kings in verse 20; his creation of a gold ephod in verse 27; his many wives and sons in verses 30-31; his open antagonism toward the Ephraimites in Judges 8:1; etc.). Of course, God’s point for us is that He uses anyone who is willing to serve Him. In chapter 8, however, I’m not sure his reply toward the Ephraimites is gracious or sarcastic, but at least “their resentment against him subsided” (verse 3). In verses 22-27, we see several of Gideon’s failures – none of which is worse than any sins that we commit – which strengthens our encouragement at knowing that, if we are willing, God can use us. The result of Gideon’s judgeship was that “during his lifetime, the land enjoyed peace forty years” (verse 28). We see that “he died at a good old age,” but we cannot help but notice that “no sooner had Gideon died than the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals … and did not remember the LORD their God” (verses 32-34). How sad is that? Gideon’s example should show us that finishing well is important - God is interested in all our time, not just moments of our lives.

In Proverbs 11:19-28, we see the wisdom of practicing righteousness contrasted with the foolishness of engaging in evil. Proverbs 11 also contrasts the placement of our hopes in temporary things (i.e., riches, wealth, pride, etc.) with those that are eternal. Here, the advice is exquisite in its simplicity, and it always amazes me that anyone would knowingly desire to “pursue evil” (verse 19). In our earlier readings of Proverbs 19, we have noticed examples of the fruit of the Spirit (faithfulness; joy; self-control; kindness; and peace). As we complete Proverbs 11 today, we also notice gentleness (verse 25) and goodness (verse 27). This is important because verse 30 says, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.” Practicing righteousness is a whole tree – equated here with “the tree of life” (verse 30). Our lives should be characterized by righteousness.


Reading the Bible in the context of Jesus Christ truly does make a difference. When everything is about Him, we see and sense so much more that God wants us to see. In John 5:31-47, we see Christ’s testimony about Himself. I personally appreciate the increasingly powerful evidence that Jesus cites to support the truth that He is the Son of God. By divine authority and decree, God’s Word is the ultimate reality. No greater testimony to the truth exists than what Jesus is teaching right here. Rejecting God’s Word is equal to the repudiation of reality and truth - a fool’s errand. We wonder how anyone could be that absurd, but we observe every day the substitution of reality or the replacement of truth with all manner of current nonsense – which the Bible simply calls “evil.”


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