What is halting? It is the one who limps, the lame. The halting is the limping. To limp is to halt, a person who cannot walk straight, for he has a deficiency in one of his feet. Jeremiah, the prophet, said these words when he suffered under the hands of Pashhur, who was the president of the priests, in the temple of Jehovah: “For I heard the defaming of many, fear on every side. Report, say they, and we will report it. All my familiars watched for my halting, saying, Perhaps he will be enticed, and we shall prevail against him, and we shall take our revenge on him” Webster’s Bible (Jer. 20:10).
The pressure on Jeremiah was very strong. Hurt by the cruel Pashhur and put in the stocks, being in a spiritual crisis concerning Jehovah (Jer. 20:7-9), hunted by the false prophets, he spoke these words: “All my familiars watched for my halting, saying, Perhaps he will be enticed, and we shall prevail against him, and we shall take our revenge on him” Webster’s Bible (Jer. 20:10). All the righteous, faithful and persevering men are watched by those who pretend to be their friends, hoping that they will halt, in other words, make a mistake; then they fall upon him and take vengeance, stealing their honor and good name.
The teacher of this tactic was the very Jehovah, who presents himself, saying: “But when the righteous turns away from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? None of his righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered: in his trespass that he has trespassed, and in his sin that he has sinned, in them shall he die” (Ezek. 18:24).
Let us talk about Gideon. The children of Israel did what was evil in the eyes of Jehovah, and Jehovah delivered them into the hands of the Midianites for seven years. The Midianites and the Amalekites destroyed their crops, stole their sheep, oxen, and donkeys. They came as grasshoppers, in great number, destroying everything. Israel became poor and called to Jehovah in anguish.
The angel of Jehovah appeared to Gideon, son of Joash, who was beating out wheat in the wine press, and said to Gideon: “Jehovah is with you, O valiant warrior” (Judges 6:12). Jehovah told him: “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian” (Judges 6:16). Gideon offered a gift to Jehovah. The angel waited, and Gideon brought a kid and unleavened bread, and the angel said to him: “‘Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth.’ He did so. Then the angel of Jehovah stretched out the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes; and fire went up out of the rock, and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes; and the angel of Jehovah departed out of his sight” (Judges 6:18-21). With this test he got to know Gideon, who was in the service of Jehovah to deliver Israel (Judges 6:22). Jehovah asks for an altar with sacrifices and holocausts (Judges 6:25-26). The spirit of Jehovah came on Gideon (Judges 6:34). The people, seeing this, entered into an alliance with Gideon. They were 22,000 (Judges 7:3). By the order of Jehovah Gideon selected 300 men (Judges 7:4-6). With these men Gideon overcame Zebah and Zalmunna with his 15,000 men (Judges 8:10-12). The people of Israel, delighted with Gideon, said to him: “Rule over us, both you and your son” (Judges 8:22).
Gideon very nicely refused the position, but he asked for a gift, saying: “‘I would make a request of you, that you would give me every man the earrings of his spoil.’ (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) […] The weight of the golden earrings that he requested was one thousand and seven hundred [shekels] of gold, besides the crescents, and the pendants, and the purple clothing that was on the kings of Midian, and besides the chains that were about their camels’ necks. Gideon made an ephod of it, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel played the prostitute after it there; and it became a snare to Gideon, and to his house” (Judges 8:22-27). Gideon had 70 children because he had many women (Judges 8:30). And one of his concubines gave him a son by the name of Abimelech. This Abimelech, eager to conquer Israel, killed 70 children of Gideon, minus one who escaped, named Jotham. The loss of a good son is such an unbearable pain, let alone the loss of 69. Poor Gideon. He served Jehovah for 40 years (Judges 8:28). And the pay he received from Jehovah for halting was his house destroyed by Jehovah, the keeper of men (Job 7:20). The word of the prophet Ezekiel was fulfilled: “But when the righteous turns away from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? None of his righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered: in his trespass that he has trespassed, and in his sin that he has sinned, in them shall he die” (Ezek. 18:24).
The problem that puts in the balance the cruel and ungrateful behavior of Jehovah is that we read in the New Testament: “For God is not unrighteous, so as to forget your work and the labor of love which you showed toward his name, in that you served the saints, and still do serve them” (Heb. 6:10). And Jesus declared: “Whoever gives one of these little ones just a cup of cold water to drink in the name of a disciple, most certainly I tell you he will in no way lose his reward” (Matt. 10:42).
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira