The Reluctant Rescuer.
“…if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The LORD brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the LORD has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.” – Judges 6:13 NLT
Do you ever doubt God? Do you ever struggle believing He’s there? Or that He cares? Do you feel like you’re out-numbered and under-manned at times? Do the odds ever seem stacked against you? If so, then you’re going to relate well to Gideon. There are some characters in Scripture I have a hard time relating to (i.e. Daniel, Joseph). But Gideon is my kind of guy. He is painfully honest and transparent and the Scriptures don’t cover up his flaws. His story begins with some less-than-spectacular circumstances. Israel finds themselves once again under oppression because of their disobedience and unfaithfulness. The Midianites have been harassing them for seven years. They were experiencing regular invasions at the hands of the Midianites and the loss of their crops and livestock. They had been reduced to near starvation. Their land had been stripped bare and so they were once again crying out to God for help? (Isn’t that just like us?)
In the midst of all this, God sent a prophet to remind them of all that God had done for them. He had brought them out of Egypt. He demanded faithfulness. But they had failed. “I said to you, “I am the LORD your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But you have not obeyed Me.” (Judges 6:10 NASB). The people had been worshipping Baal. Even Joash, the father of Gideon, had been worshipping Baal. And so God comes up with His plan of rescue and redemption. And He chooses an unlikely hero. We find Gideon threshing grain in a wine press. He is hiding from the Midianites, trying to keep what little he has from being stolen. Yet when the angel of the Lord comes to Gideon, he addresses him, “O valiant warrior!” The New Living Translation renders this phrase, “Mighty hero!” What an unexpected greeting. What had he done to deserve this title? Nothing up to this point. But God is actually revealing who Gideon would become, not who he was. It was a title of expectation. Much the same way God called Abraham the father of a multitude of nations before he even had any children. He called him that when Abraham was old and his wife was barren! Jesus called Peter a rock before he behaved as one. God calls us saints even though we’re not yet as saintly as we will one day be. God knew what He was going to do in and through Gideon.
The angel then tells Gideon, “The Lord is with you!” This is the theme of these two chapters. This story is really about God, not Gideon. We are all bit players in God’s grand play. He is the author, director, and star. God is choosing to use Gideon, not because of who he is, but because God wants to reveal who He is through Gideon. But Gideon gives an unexpected response to God’s call. He responds a little flippantly. He accuses God of abandoning them and not doing anything for them. He takes a look at the current circumstances and determines that God has been nowhere to be found. Gideon wants to know why all this has happened. He wants to know where all the miracles are. He’s basically accusing God of doing nothing and of abandoning them. But it was really the other way around. He failed to realize that their condition was the result of their abandoning God, not His abandoning them.
God’s response was to tell Gideon to go and deliver! He tells Gideon to go in his strength. What a strange statement. What strength was God talking about? Gideon hadn’t exactly shown himself to be strong up to this point. Once again, God is not talking about a strength coming up from inside of Gideon. He is talking about a strength that would be based on God’s presence. This isn’t about how strong Gideon is, but about how strong Gideon’s God is. Gideon was to go in the strength of God’s presence. God was sending him. God was going with him. God would give him victory over the Midianites (Judges 6:16). But Gideon shows his doubt again. He tells God he is too weak and insignificant for the job. But God refused to listen to Gideon’s excuses. Instead He tells Gideon to clean house! He commands Gideon to go and clear out the idols in his own home (Judges 6:25). His own father had erected idols to the gods of the Midianites. Gideon obeys, but fearfully. He tears down the altar at night because he is afraid of what they might do if they catch him. And his fears are justified because when the people find out what he has done they threaten to kill him.
Gideon continues to struggle with trusting God. Time and time again, God assures him of His presence and His calling on his life. But Gideon doubts. He is reluctant to believe God and step out in faith. So God continues to reassure Him with a variety of signs. God is preparing Gideon to accomplish great things, and He is willing to tolerate Gideon’s doubt. Much the same way He does with us today. We constantly doubt and question God. We look at our circumstances and question whether God is even there. We look at our own strength and qualifications and determine ourselves unfit for duty. But God has other plans. He has resources we aren’t aware of. He can even use us to do His will. And He will, if we allow Him to.
Father, if You can use Gideon, You can use me. And You do – on a regular basis. And each time You do, I am amazed and humbled. Thank You for tolerating my doubts and using me in my weakness. I know I can’t boast in my accomplishments, because anything I do of value is all a result of Your activity in my life. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men