Oreb and Company

Gideon was commissioned by God
while threshing wheat
The 83rd Psalm talks about a threat to Israel, and it's easy to overlook this chapter of the Bible as just a bunch of unfamiliar names and a prayer against my enemies that I'd never pray. But something caught my eye:

Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb, all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna, who said, “Let us take the pastures of God for our own possession.” 
Ps 83:11-12

The names of those Midianites who had invaded Israel seem weird, but in translation, not so much:

עֹרֵב and זְאֵב (Oreb and Zeeb) mean raven and wolf, while זֶ֫בַח‎ and צַלְמֻנָּע (Zevah and Tsalmunna) mean sacrifice and shade denied.

But it wasn't the names that caught my eye, but the fact that they wanted to take over God's pastures. I don't believe I have ever seen a better metaphor for what has happened to the American church. At some point in the recent past, predatory politicians (Oreb and Zeeb) joined forces with TV preachers (Zebah and Zalmunna) to take over some of God's pastures ("evangelical" churches). Suddenly politicians are endorsed from pulpits... and not just any politicians, but those who have admitted to sexual assault, threatened murder, molested teenagers, and colluded with foreign powers to get elected. The sheep in those pastures now openly condone white supremacy and advocate for the kidnapping of immigrant children and the mistreatment of refugees. Among these people, healthcare and adequate wages are dirty words, while guns are worshiped as deliverers. God's pastures have been violated, and those inhabiting them would rather keep the favor of their new masters than give up their newfound power.

When this happened in the Book of Judges, Gideon was commissioned by God to drive out the Midianites. His reply was, "How can I deliver Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family." And I suppose the remnant of Christians in my own country feels the same way. The pastures taken over by Oreb and company seem so numerous, and the remaining pastures so small. But the story of Gideon is a testimony not to the faithfulness or power of humans, but to the faithfulness and power of God. Though the remnant appear weak, God remains strong.
I am discouraged, God. And I am too weak to accomplish any good against so much evil. But I place my trust in you: With your Son as my example and with your Spirit as my strength, guide me in the paths of righteousness, knowing that in life and in death, I belong to you and no other. Now I pray as Jesus taught me...
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