I was 21 years old when my pastor asked me to lead the women’s ministry at church. Why me? I was young and a new believer.
I was a busy and tired soon to be mom of three when the ladies (at the first church my husband pastored) thought the pastor’s wife should lead a Bible study.
I was recovering from postpartum depression and had just moved into a new place when God called my husband and I to move to a new country to plant churches.
If I had to pick one person from the Bible that I most identified with, I would have to choose Gideon. He and I share a lot of the same reluctancies and fears when it comes to leadership. But, at the heart of the matter, we both knew when God called, we would obey.
Background on the Life of Gideon
Gideon was born in a time when “there was no king and everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” (Judges 21:25 ESV) God’s people, who had been delivered from Egypt and who had known the great leadership of Moses and Joshua, had died off and “there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10 ESV)
The time of the Judges was lawless, wicked, and scary. God’s people were caught in a crazy cycle of sinful idolatry, humble repentance, great salvation, a period of rest, and then let’s sin again! Each time the Israelites failed to follow God, they were given into the hands of a foreign enemy. Every time they called out to God, He rescued them by the hand of a “judge”. They didn’t learn their lesson.
And the hand of Midian overpowered Israel, and because of Midian the people of Israel made for themselves the dens that are in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds. For whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. They would encamp against them and devour the produce of the land, as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel and no sheep or ox or donkey. For they would come up with their livestock and their tents; they would come like locusts in number—both they and their camels could not be counted—so that they laid waste the land as they came in. And Israel was brought very low because of Midian. And the people of Israel cried out for help to the Lord.Judges 6:2-6 ESV
“The people of Israel made for themselves the dens, the caves, and the strongholds.” The persecution of Midian “brought Israel very low”. They had to flee their homes and hide out because of the great attack they were under.
“They would encamp against them and devour the produce of the land.” The Midianites came at the time of harvest to steal the crops and livestock. All their hard work was in vain, because they were left with nothing.
“As far as Gaza” Adam Clarke commentary indicates: “That is, the whole breadth of the land, from Jordan to the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Thus the whole land was ravaged and the inhabitants deprived of the necessaries of life.”
“And the people of Israel cried out for help to the Lord.” Who would deliver God’s people? Enter Gideon…
What the Bible Says about Gideon
The Angel of the Lord appears to Gideon in the middle of a normal day while he’s just doing his job. He tells Gideon that God is with him and calls him a “might man of valor.” At this point, Gideon is beating his wheat in the wine press so the Midianites can’t steal it.
His response is very near what you or I might say. Of course, I paraphrase: If God is with us, why are we being bullied by the Midianites. Where is the power of God? And, I am a pretty weak guy from a pretty weak clan. How can I save Israel?
We know that “God does not see as man sees.” (1 Samuel 16:7) God saw something in Gideon that he couldn’t even see in himself. Remember this when you doubt your calling, Sister. You may see weakness but God sees how His strength can made perfect in your weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Once Gideon had done all God required of him and Israel was free, the men of Israel sought to make him their ruler. Gideon however, emphatically states, “I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you.” ( Judges 8:23 ESV)
Here it gives us a glimpse of why God chose Gideon. He was humble and honorable. But above all, He knew God was the only one who deserve the title of Ruler of the children of Israel.
What Life Lessons can we learn from Gideon?
I have a feeling that I’m not the only one that has a ton in common with Gideon. I hope that as you see yourself through Gideon’s story, that it encourages and challenges you to have a bold faith in a trustworthy God.
1. It’s OK to have Shaky Faith as long as we obey. (Judges 6:28-32)
“For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”Matthew 17:20 ESV
Gideon was not so sure he was the one. He tells God that he is weak. He is too afraid to carry out his first order to tear down his father’s idols in broad daylight so he does it under the cover of darkness.
Haven’t you ever read scriptures and felt convicted to do something out of your comfort zone for God? It can be scary to be bold and stand up against the world. And, sometimes, like Gideon, we obey, but we kind of do it under the radar.
God did not condemn Gideon for his fear or for his shaky faith. As a matter of fact, God uses his “faith of a mustard seed” to empower his father and other men to stand up, take notice, and follow Gideon into a victorious battle.
2. God is aware of our neediness.
As a father shows compassion to his children,Psalm 103:13-14 ESV
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.
The armies of Midian had gathered. It was time. Gideon had an army and “the Spirit of the Lord has clothed Gideon.”
Wait a second. Gideon needs a little more resassurance that this is really what God wants from him. So, he asks for not one, but two signs. Now God, don’t get mad, he says, but I just need to be super convinced this is what you’ve called me to do.
Ever been there? God, are you sure? Me? Can you give me some kind of sign?
God did it too. He performed the signs just like Gideon asked and He didn’t get mad. You know why? God is well acquainted with our neediness. He made us and knows we are dust. That’s why His compassion is so great toward us.
And do you know what else? He designed it that way. He meant for us to need Him.
This is why God sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. Just like Gideon or the children of Israel could never have defeated the Midianites on their own, we could never have defeat sin and death apart from Jesus Christ.
3. God knows what it takes to move and motivate us.
Y’all, I don’t think Gideon would have ever actually went to war with only 300 men had he known in advance. I’m pretty sure I would have tucked tail and ran.
God is savvy though and He gets Gideon to the point of no return before He lowers the boom. You thought you were going to have an army of 32,000, that’s cute. Let’s just whittle that down a little, and a then a little more. YIKES!
God didn’t want Israel or Gideon getting prideful and thinking they had anything to do with their salvation. So, he had to do some humbling and reworking.
It’s ok to be a work in progress. God is just reminding you that you can’t save yourself. He is positioning you to have victory that only He can claim!
You might be thinking that Gideon is some brave warrior now, right? Well, God knows he’s still a little timid so He says, “Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hand. But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant. And you shall hear what they say, and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp.” (Judges 7:9-11 ESV)
God knew that His man Gideon still needed a little extra motivation. He was so good to give him that glimpse into the future to know for good and certain that God was in deed going to defeat their enemies.
Don’t get discouraged, Woman of God. He knows what you need to stay motivated just keep walking in faith, no matter how shaky, and keep obeying His word. He will give you victory!
4. The impression we make on others is important.
Gideon was not some strong, bold man like Samson or a confident judge like Deborah, but God did call him a “mighty man.” He proved this by following through with God’s commands even with fear and the odds stacked against him.
We can’t compare ourselves to others either. We all have a different purpose that God has called us to carry out. Our lasting impression on this world will not be the identical to anyone else’s, but as long as we are obedient, it will be enough.
Gideon inspired men to rise up against the enemy that was oppressing their nation. When they blew those trumpets and stormed the camp, they yelled, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon.”
We do not fight against flesh and blood but against the ruler of darkness, Satan (Eph. 6:11-12). Our weapon is God’s word and our help is the Holy Spirit. We can inspire others to stand on truth and prayer.
The men of Israel were so impressed with Gideon that they asked him to be their ruler. Do people long to follow your leadership because they see a humble servant of God who steps out on faith despite their fears?
Questions for Reflection from the Life of Gideon
As we ponder the life of Gideon and the take away lessons, I think its important to ask ourselves some questions that help us search our hearts and apply these truths to our lives.
- Do you feel like you have a shaky faith like Gideon? If not, is your boldness humble and rooted in Christ? If yes, are you obedient despite your fears?
- How does remembering that God is aware of our neediness change how you might live our your faith? Do you need to embrace the neediness more often?
- We are by nature creatures of habit. We don’t like being pushed out of our comfort zones but God knows what it takes to motivate and move us and like Gideon, it may be scary or uncomfortable. Where does God need to motivate and move you today? Are you willing to ask Him for it to grow your faith?
- Are you confident that you will leave a lasting impression on your children, grandchildren, friends, neighbors for Christ? If not, where do you need to step out in obedience to make an impression for Christ?
Lord, I am so thankful for the written account of men like Gideon. Thank you for the inspiration and encouragement it provides. I ask that you would give me a heart like Gideon that is humble and obedient. May I rise up in faith and obedience despite my reluctancy and fear so that you may be glorified. And, please keep me in your will and purpose so that I do not compare myself to others but leave the legacy of faith you mean for me. I trust you and want to give my all to you. Lord, help my unbelief and use me for your honor. Amen.