In the last post we looked at what it meant to face battles that are God’s, not ours, to bring victory over. This week, we’ll see a slightly different example through the life of Gideon. He was asked to fight in a battle, but even so, it was God who strengthened him and brought the victory. If you’re in a spot of feeling weary or unsure of where your battle is heading, this one is being written with you in mind!
In Judges 6, we find the Israelites being oppressed by the Midianites. God had delivered the Israelites from the Egyptians, but per the unfortunately usual characteristic of human beings, the Israelites reverted back to foreign gods once they were comfortable in their new setting again. As the Midianites enter the picture as oppressors, the Israelites turn to God again for help.
And that, my friends, is where we find Gideon. He was hiding out in a winepress to thresh his wheat, so the Midianites wouldn’t find and take it. It’s here that Gideon receives the greeting:
“The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, ‘The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior.’” – Judges 6:12 (NASB)
To put things into context, this is generally what a threshing floor looks like:
And this is a winepress:
We don’t know exactly what Gideon’s looked like, but you get the gist: threshing floor = big open space, winepress = a hole in the ground.
Haha, can you imagine how unexpected that greeting must have been? “O valiant warrior.” Gideon must have been thinking: I am sitting at the bottom of a hole in the ground to hide my wheat… Check out his response:
“Then Gideon said to him, “O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” The LORD looked at him and said, “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?” He said to Him, “O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.” But the LORD said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.”” – Judges 6:13-16 (NASB)
It’s interesting how Gideon’s response reveals the belief that God had abandoned them. Have we ever been there? Maybe we got distracted, went down a path we shouldn’t have, then wondered where God was as we experienced the consequences of our decisions? The patience of God amazes me!
I love the response Gideon receives in return. Instead of reminding Gideon of all the horrible things the Israelites had done in turning to foreign gods, the Lord simply responds, “Go… and deliver… Have I not sent you?”
This time, Gideon moves from 1) blaming God [“Why is this happening?”] to 2) plenty of reasons why God’s call doesn’t fit the circumstances Gideon has been born into [“I am the least and the youngest…”].
Again, the patience of God amazes me. Here God is wanting to bring the freedom the Israelites, Gideon included, are hoping for, and Gideon is questioning God’s faithfulness and doubting the victory that He just spoke is possible.
If you were wanting to do something great for someone and they kept arguing, how many of us would walk away with a mumbled “suit yourself” under our breath? Instead, God shows Gideon a sign not once, not twice, but three times… And Gideon didn’t even ask the third time! God knew Gideon’s heart needed encouragement and was faithful to strengthen him for what was ahead.
I love what happens before the battle even starts:
“The LORD said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me.’”” – Judges 7:2 (NASB)
God knows the heart of the Israelites and He knows they have a tendency to rely on their own strength before they turn to Him. So, He sends 22,000 people home, leaving an army of 10,000 with Gideon. Still, God says 10,000 is too many and sends even more people home until only 300 remain to fight with Gideon against the multitude of opposing warriors. Why is that cool? Because God saw a quality within the Israelites that was still a stumbling block for them, so He took steps to help them and to show that He was the One bringing the victory.
Even still, the Israelites wanted to put their trust in Gideon instead of God after their victory came:
“Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, both you and your son, also your son’s son, for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.” But Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the LORD shall rule over you.”” – Judges 8:22-23 (NASB)
The same is true for us. God will direct and protect us, but we have to decide if we’re going to follow Him and His instruction or not. In the case of Gideon and the Israelites, they still ended up becoming distracted again and turned to other objects to worship. The decision is open to us too, but more on that in the closing video 🙂
Music for the journey: Every Giant Will Fall by Rend Collective (music video here). Aside from having a catchy tune, the lyrics sing along with this theme too:
Build their walls around my soul
When my heart is overthrown
Your love is my battle cry
The anthem for all my life
Every chain of the past, You’ve broken in two
Over fear, over lies, we’re singing the truth
That nothing is impossible with You
Here’s to our journey!