Here is an article I wrote for the latest issue of my church newsletter. Crazy that we are in the 16th year!
Men of the Bible, PCC Scroll, Volume XVI Issue II
Meaning: Cutter or hewer
His Character: Gideon was a hard worker, who worked passionately when aligned with his task.
His Sorrow: Gideon’s faith was tested.
His Triumph: Gideon overcame his doubts and fears and led the Israelites to victory over the Midianites.
Key Scriptures: Judges 6 – 8
Gideon was the fifth of 12 judges to rule Israel. He started as a farmer from the tribe of Manasseh (Manasseh was the eldest son of Joseph and Aseneth, who was an Egyptian.) to become a warrior for God. Gideon was a judge of Israel for 40 peaceful years.
Gideon’s story is told in Judges. In chapter six, we learn that Israel had done evil in the sight of God, so God delivered them into the hands of the Midianites, who were a nomadic tribe who would raid in the Canaan area. The children of Israel lived in fear and were emotionally defeated. A greatly impoverished Israel cried out to God for help.
Gideon’s life was constantly challenged by the Midianites invaders. He was working on his father’s farm when an angel spoke to him. Gideon questioned the messenger. If God was with them, why were horrible things happening? Where were the wonders their forefathers experienced? Why had God abandoned them?
Gideon had been selected to show the people that their struggles were due to their having turned their back from God to worship idols. Gideon was hesitant. He was fearful and wondered why God was allowing Israel to suffer. He worried about his family. He doubted his call, and he doubted his ability and adequacy to complete the task. Once he was convinced, he wholeheartedly went for it.
Gideon was instructed to destroy a temple that had been built by his father for the pagan god Baal in the city of Ophrah. Because he feared the people, Gideon secretly destroyed the temple at night. The people, upon realizing it was Gideon, threatened him with death, but his father intervened.
After that, Gideon led the campaign against the Midianites. Because of doubt, he asked God for a sign of victory. Upon receiving the sign, he still did not believe, so he asked for another one, which was given. To test his faith, God had Gideon reduce the size of the army to 300 men (the army they faced was thousands) so that all would know the victory came from God, not the strength of men. Gideon and the men surrounded the Midianite camp at night and used trumpets and the breaking of pottery jars to cause confusion and the enemy fled.
The people wanted Gideon to be king, but he instead took gold, which he fashioned after an ephod, which is a pagan image. The people began worshipping this image, which is exactly what Gideon was supposed to turn the people from.
In Gideon’s example, we see the importance of relying on God despite seemingly unwinnable circumstances. Even though he showed a lack of faith, he is listed in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11. Gideon, like many of us, focused on his own limitations and was concerned God could not work through him. But God uses our gifts and abilities despite our failures and fears.
God is constantly preparing us today for our tomorrow. We just need to have faith that God will equip and prepare us for our assignment. Like Gideon, we must look beyond the status quo of our lives. We need to set aside our vision for our lives and embrace God’s. When the angel of God spoke to Gideon, the angel called Gideon “mighty warrior.” At that time, Gideon didn’t even know he would be a warrior. God’s vision for us is greater than our vision for ourselves.