Weak And Foolish

God has a way of doing things that may be very different from how we would do things, as you can read in I Corinthians 1:27-28

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are.

From these verses we can see that God delights in choosing the least, the unknown, the weak of this world as His instruments. Let’s look at some examples from the Bible to show you that God can use anybody He chooses to work through.

Our first example is Gideon. We find his story in Judges 6. Let’s read Judges 6:1-6

Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years He gave them into the hands of the Midianites. Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelter for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count the men and their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.

Israel has turned away from the Lord, and the Lord disciplines the nation by allowing an enemy to oppress her. This continues for seven years, and after seven years the Israelites finally cry out to the Lord for help. So God chooses someone in their midst to deliver the nation from her enemies, as you can read in Judges 6:11-13

The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” “But sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all His wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, “Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?” But now the Lord has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian.”

God’s choice is a man named Gideon. And the angel of the Lord addresses him as a “mighty warrior”. That is very interesting in light of the fact that Gideon is threshing wheat in a winepress because of his fear for the Midianites. Moreover, God’s chosen instrument feels the need to make a complaint against God because, to him, God has not been good to them at all, but has abandoned them, and Gideon does not understand why that has happened. Let’s pick up the story by reading Judges 6:14-16

The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” “But Lord,” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.”

The Lord simply ignores Gideon’s complaints, and tells him to go and deliver Israel out of the hands of their enemies. However, Gideon just knows that somehow the Lord must have gotten His facts mixed up, for he is not a mighty warrior as the Lord makes him out to be. It seems to Gideon that the Lord does not know his background, so he better spell out the facts for Him that his clan is the weakest, and that he is the least in his family. This means he is the weakest of the weakest and cannot possibly be God’s choice of a deliverer for the nation. However, God tells him that He will be with him and that, therefore, Gideon will be successful.

It is clear that Gideon did not know the principles laid out in I Corinthians 1:27-28

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are.

If he had known these principles, then he would have agreed with God that he was the perfect choice, for he fitted the bill exactly by being the weakest of the weakest.

However, Gideon did not know this and God had to tell him, “Yes, Gideon I know who you are, I know all the facts about your clan and your position in your family. But these things don’t matter to Me for I will be with you, Gideon, and because I will be with you, you will be successful in all that I have for you to do.”

The fact that God was going to be with Gideon would make all the difference in the world. Without God, he would fail, but with God he would succeed. And did Gideon succeed? To find out let’s read Judges 8:28

Thus Midian was subdued before the Israelites and did not raise its head again. During Gideon’s lifetime, the land enjoyed peace for forty years.

So God was true to His word and used a man named Gideon, who considered himself the weakest of the weak, to deliver a nation, because He was with Gideon.

Another example of a lowly and weak person I would like for us to look at is Esther. You can find her story in the Book of Esther. Esther was a young Jewish orphan girl who was brought up by her cousin Mordechai. She and her cousin were living in exile in Persia with other Jewish people. She had been taken into the Court of king Xerxes, as you can read in Esther 2:5-8

Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jehoioachin, king of Judah. Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up for she had neither father nor mother. Esther was lovely in form and features, and Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died. When the king’s order and edict had been proclaimed, many girls were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther was also taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem.

Esther spends one year preparing to be received by the king, and when she does meet with him, he is so pleased with her that he makes her his queen, as you can read in Esther 2:17

Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favour and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.

Esther has not revealed to anyone at the Court, including the king, that her background is Jewish. Then, one day something happens that threatens Esther’s very existence, as you can read in Esther 3:8-11

Then Haman said to king Xerxes, “There is a certain people dispersed and scattered among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom whose customs are different from those of all other people and who do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will put ten thousand talents of silver into the treasury for the men who carry out this business”. So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman, son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. “Keep the money,” the king said to Haman, “and do with the people as you please.”

A certain official at the Court, a man named Haman hates Mordecai because Mordecai is unwilling to bow to him whenever Haman passes by. Knowing that Mordecai is a Jew, he decides that he is going to get rid of Mordecai and all other Jews. The king, not caring what happens to the Jews who live in his vast empire, seals the edict to have all of them killed. By his action he signs a death warrant for his queen and her people. This happens without Esther having any knowledge of it. As far as she is concerned, everything is perfect and she and her people are very secure.

However, her cousin Mordecai, though not living at the Court, learns about the edict and he knows that Esther needs to be awakened to the fact that her life and that of her people are in grave danger. He knows that this is going to be a very rude awakening for her since she has been pampered from the day she entered the court, as you can read in Esther 2:9

The girl (Esther) had pleased him (Hegai) and won his favour. Immediately he provided her with beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven maids selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her maids into the best place in the harem.

The time has come for Esther to be more than just a somewhat spoiled, pampered young woman who has pleased everyone, including the king, with her beauty. Let’s read Esther 4:6-8

So Hathach went out to Mordechai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. Mordechai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to urge her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.

No doubt, these words will have shocked Esther and will have caused her to feel grief towards her people for what is about to happen to them. But they are out there somewhere, and she lives inside the Court, so how can she relate to them? Surely, Mordechai cannot expect her to do anything about it, especially at a time like this, when she is already somewhat concerned about her relationship with her husband, for she has not seen him for a month. Mordechai must be made to understand that she cannot do what he is asking of her. After all, he is not the one married to the king, so he cannot possibly know the kind of pressure she is under. Really, Mordechai is asking too much of her. All she can hope for right now is that she will not be killed herself. But that will only happen if she keeps quiet. So she writes a note to Mordechai, believing that as soon as he reads it he will understand her position, as you can read in Esther 4:10-11

Then she (Esther) instructed him (Hathach) to say to Mordecai, “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that he be put to death. The only exception for this is for the king to extend the gold sceptre to him and spare his life. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”

Esther is fully confident that, having explained her position to Mordechai, he will let her off the hook for he will surely see that she is the wrong person to give this most important task to. Do her people deserve to be saved? Yes, of course. But she is not the right person to intercede on their behalf. Mordechai should look for someone else, someone of great importance, who has great influence with the king. And she just knows she is not that person. She is, after all, just a young Jewish girl and an orphan at that. And Mordechai knows that and he will, no doubt, sympathise with her and apologise to her for having placed her under such duress. So she waits for Mordechai’s answer to her note. But when it comes it is not what she expects it to be, as you can read in Esther 4:13-14

Do not think that because you are in the king’s house, you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?

Far from sympathising with her and allowing her to remain silent, Mordechai takes his cousin to task for not speaking up for herself and her people. Most importantly, he shows her that God has orchestrated events in her life in such a way that she is queen at this time in history in order to save her life and that of her people.

That insight enables Esther to take action and enter the king’s presence to present her request to him, as you can read in Esther 5:2-4

When he (the king) saw queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the sceptre. Then the king asked, “What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.”

“If it pleases the king,” replied Esther, “let the king, together with Haman, come today to a banquet I have prepared for him.”

God is with Esther and touches the heart of the king, so he holds out his gold sceptre to Esther when she enters the king’s hall. Furthermore, God uses her to deliver her people from certain death, as you can read in Esther 8:7-8

King Xerxes replied to queen Esther and to Mordechai the Jew, “Because Haman attacked the Jews, I have given his estate to Esther, and they have hanged him on the gallows. Now write another decree in the king’s name on behalf of the Jews as seems best to you, and seal it with the king’s signet ring – for no document written in the king’s name and sealed with his ring can be revoked.”

Esther speaks to the king and her people are able to defend themselves against any attack of their enemies because of her intervention.

God was able to use Esther in the way that He desired because she was willing to be used by Him, even though she may have felt too weak, too insignificant within herself. Like Gideon and Esther, you too may feel too weak, too insignificant, ever to be used by God. But God wants to say to you that He delights in using weak, insignificant people, for when you are weak you will be made strong in Him.

The Apostle Paul understood that when he wrote in II Corinthians 12:9

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Paul had to learn that he could not use his weaknesses as an excuse not to do God’s will. Likewise, you cannot use the fact that you may not be important in the eyes of the world as an excuse not to do the things God may call you to do, for surely He will strengthen and equip you for your task, whatever that may be. All you have to do is be willing and obedient, and God will make you able.

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