We are introduced to Gideon in Judges 6. This was a time when the Israelites were oppressed by the Midianites, Amalekites and others. They had their crops and livestock continuously looted and the Israelites often hid out in the mountains to survive. The people eventually did cry out to the Lord. He sends them a prophet to remind them that they did evil in the eyes of God, disobeyed Him, worshipped other gods and basically had turned their backs on Him.
In verse 11, we read about Gideon hiding in a winepress and threshing wheat. An angel of the Lord appears to Gideon and says “The Lord is with you mighty warrior.” Let’s just take note of the way he was addressed, “mighty warrior”. Wheat was usually threshed on a hill to allow the wind to carry away the chaff. Hiding in a winepress does not seem to be very brave or a warrior worthy trait.
Gideon was an ordinary man and if we read his story, we come to know that God indeed enabled him to be that mighty warrior.
For us: We do not have to be extraordinary to do extraordinary things for God. God takes the ordinary and enables us to do the extraordinary for Him. The crux is the Lord being with us, that is what enables and empowers us. A willing, prayerful, devoted, humble and obedient heart enables us to draw near to God, hear His voice and step out in faith.
In response to the statement of “The Lord is with you”, we see that in verse 13, Gideon is quick to complain that the Lord does not seem to be with them at all with all that they have been enduring. Gideon does not seem to dwell much on the disobedience of his people but seems to be quite prompt to voice his dissatisfaction that God has allowed all of this.
For us: How often can we glaze over our actions that grieves the Father and be quick to look to Him for ‘why’ He seems to be allowing us to go through a trial?
In verse 14, the Lord says to Gideon “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?
The Lord does not seem to clarify Gideon’s misguided complaint. He patiently reminds him that His being with Gideon should be enough for him to step out into what God has asked him to do.
Gideon responds with excuses that he is a nobody, belonging to a clan that is not very significant or important.
For us: How often do we credit ourselves with capability because of our standing in society or our work or financial position? The Lord here reminds us His presence with us, His will and His acknowledgment is the greatest and only credit that truly matters.
The Lord responds to Gideon saying “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.” The Lord reiterates the assurance of His presence with Gideon. But let’s just take note that although the Lord says to Gideon that You will strike down all the Midianites, God emphasises that His presence and power is what will enable Gideon to do all of it.
Gideon then requests the Lord to wait on Him so that he can go and prepare an offering to set before the Lord. Gideon goes on to prepare a young goat and some bread made from an ephah of flour. After Gideon prepares and places it before the Lord, fire blazes and consumes the offering. That confirms for Gideon that he truly had a divine encounter.
Firstly, we see a picture of patience here from God towards Gideon. It took some time for Gideon to be fully convinced of this experience and his calling. In the same way, God is patient with us while we work through our doubts and strengthen ourselves in our faith.
Secondly, Gideon did not just rush ahead and do what God wanted him to do, he took some time to prepare his heart and be spiritually ready to take that next step.
We then go on to read that Gideon along with ten of his servants takes down the altar of Baal and Asherah in the night. The directive from God was to take down those altars and build a new one in its place for God. But it was Gideon’s decision to do it at night. He was apprehensive to do it in broad daylight considering the opposition he might face.
For us: We might be scared to take those initial steps that God directs us to, but like Gideon, it is ok to start scared. God meets us where we are at and grows us from there.
In verse 33 of the chapter, we read that all the Midianites, Amalekites and others begin to join forces against the Israelites. And right in the next verse we read that “Then the spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon.” God equips Gideon to face what lies before him and it was just in time for when he needed it.
For us: When God calls us for something, He will empower us for it. We have to trust Him with the timing of it.
The spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon and he took that step, but that automatically does not mean that things will become easy. We read in the rest of the verses of the chapter, the well know story with the wool fleece where Gideon requests God for confirmation twice that the Israelites will be saved by his hand just as the Lord promised. First, he asks that only the fleece placed on the ground will be wet and the second time, the ground all around will be wet with dew except the fleece.
Although God promised Gideon that it would be through him that God saves the Israelites, Gideon still goes through moments of doubt here and hence the repeated back and forth with God.
Firstly, what we see here is a picture of God’s grace in Gideon’s weakness.
And secondly, this back and forth with God paints a picture of a relationship with the Lord.
What God wants most of all is us to have a relationship with Him. A life consistent in prayer and communing with Him builds that relationship. Spend time with Him so that we are attuned to hear His voice in the midst of the noise of our own fears and doubts.
God has a purpose and a call for each of us. To live in that calling and fulfil His plan for us is possible when we live in relationship with Him. Like Gideon, it is ok to start scared. But it is important to remember that HE IS WITH US and we are able only because of Him.