June 27, 2010

Examining The Scripture XL: Gideon: From Squirrelly Man to Godly Warrior

I have chosen to list the fears and successes of Gideon no matter how trivial they seem to me and regardless of who they are attributed to. I have found the the things that appear minuscule or insignificant to me are to God, major things spiritually that I have overlooked. I have placed them in chronological order on purpose. You will see and understand why later.

Israel was under the fear and oppression of the Midianites. They terrorized the Israelites and ruined their food for the year by destroy crops planted and killed their livestock. They were so distraught they cried out and pleaded with God to save/help them and God sent them a prophet even though they had worshiped the gods of the Amorites and disobeyed God.

• Fear/Doubt: The angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, "The LORD is with you, mighty warrior." (Judges 6:12) Gideons response: "But sir,if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, 'Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?' But now the LORD has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian." (Judges 6:13)

Because God says He will be with Gideon this particular fear and doubt turns into a success for Gideon. Obviously this is not of Gideon's own doing. It was God's providence working here.

• Success: I don’t know if you would consider it a success when the Lord calls on you out of the blue to help and entire people (and you reject the command) but this is exactly what happens to Gideon. I personally would consider it success it the Lord picked me for anything to glorify Him (but I digress). It is only through God's sovereign choice and His grace and mercy that this happens to Gideon so this success is rightfully attributed to God.

• Success: The LORD immediately and chidingly exhorts him and says, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?"

• Fear and Doubt: Gideon asked, "how can I save Israel?” because he belongs to is the weakest: Manasseh.

• Success: The Lord assures he will strike down all the Midianites together. God is most assuredly on his side.

• Major Success: Gideon worships and offers to the Lord by preparing a meal for Him, just as Abraham had. went in, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak. Gideon had the correct heart (this is what God really wants, not the meat and broth)

• Fear: It is at this point Gideon realizes he is actually dealing with the Lord and not some unnamed angelic messenger.

• Success: The Lord assures him he will not die. Entirely attributed to God.

• Success: Gideon built an altar to the LORD

• Fear: “At night” Gideon took ten men to tear down alter to Baal “at night”.

• Success: He tore down his father's altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole

• Major Success: Built an altar to the LORD on the height using the wood of the Asherah pole. *Note: Took what was once bad and used it for good (Genesis 50:20)

• Success: Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him.

• Fear & Doubt: (After His appearance to Gideon as the Angel of the Lord). The two incidents with the wool fleece on the threshing floor.

Ultimate Success: (unquestioning faith) I read chapter 7 to find the doubts and fears again. I expected to find them because I already knew the story of Gideon and human nature expects to find doubts from Gideon when he sees his massive force being whittled-away to a force of “outward” insignificance. To my surprise I found no fears or doubts by this point in the storyline. I expected them, I looked for them but they were not there. After the miracle of the fleece, Gideon no longer questions God, he is emboldened by the Spirit. We have a new man in God. The Spirit began to do its work right about the time of the fleece incident. The modus operandi after this is: God commends-Gideon obeys-Gideon triumphs in the Lord. Even when God whittles his massive force of soldiers down to 300 men. The Lord takes what appears to be a “squirrelly” and reluctant man and turns him into a steadfast warrior for the Lord.

The funny thing is this: The man called to "save" Israel was himself initially riddled with doubt. It was God and God's actions that eventually turn this prototype of Thomas into a ideal of unquestioning faith. Do you understand what this means? It means that there is hope for you and I through God's mercy and grace. He will gradually event after event build out faith until it is a high tower untouchable by the things of this world unless we allow them to be touched. Be strong in the Lord! We have an example right here that even a man of little faith can be changed in the hands of his Creator. Instead of doubt we need to turn to God in trust and worship Him as we were built to do.

By verse 17 of Chapter 7 we know that God is now working with and through Gideon so this verse holds a particular interest for the people or Israel whom it is direct at and to us as believing Christians.

"Watch me," he told them. "Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do. Judges 7:17

Gideon is pretty much God's vessel at this point. Since he is God's man, by proxy and through a chain of command this can be considered a command from God. "Follow my lead...do exactly as I do". When we look to Christ in the New Testament this holds profound implications. By following Him and doing exactly as He does we will survive what appears to be insurmountable odds and go on to victory. OohRah!

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