Would you consider yourself to be a mighty hero? Probably not. Yet as we will see in this week’s study, even the least of us can be a person of valor, if we are willing to follow God’s plan. This week I would like for us to study the life of a Bible character named Gideon.
Gideon lived many years ago during a time period when the nation Israel was going through a very difficult time and needed someone who could step up to the plate and take the lead.
The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight. So the Lord handed them over to the Midianites for seven years. The Midianites were so cruel that the Israelites made hiding places for themselves in the mountains, caves, and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, marauders from Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east would attack Israel, camping in the land and destroying crops as far away as Gaza. They left the Israelites with nothing to eat, taking all the sheep, goats, cattle, and donkeys. These enemy hordes, coming with their livestock and tents, were as thick as locusts; they arrived on droves of camels too numerous to count. And they stayed until the land was stripped bare. So Israel was reduced to starvation by the Midianites. Then the Israelites cried out to the Lord for help. (Judges 6:1-6 NLT)
If you have ever read the book of Judges, you know that the circumstances just described in these verses of scripture were not all that uncommon. As a matter of fact, it was a cycle that occurred numerous times. Judges 2 tells us come very interesting facts concerning this time period –
And the Israelites served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and the leaders who outlived him—those who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel. After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel. The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight and served the images of Baal. They abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They went after other gods, worshiping the gods of the people around them. And they angered the Lord. (Judges 2:7, 10-12 NLT)
After Joshua and those who entered the Promise Land with him died, there arose another generation that ‘knew not the Lord.’ No doubt, they had heard much about Jehovah God, but they did not know Him personally. He was little more than something or someone their parents talked about. Because they did not know the Lord, they found it very easy to abandon Him and serve false gods. This angered God and He allowed enemy nations to attack them. But because the Lord is gracious, when His people began to cry out for His help, He raised up a national leader who could deliver them from their enemies. These leaders were called ‘Judges’ and thus we have the book of Judges. Gideon was one of these Judges and his story as inspired many down through the years.
But Gideon did not see himself as a Judge or a mighty man of valor. Like most of his nation, Gideon was fearful of the enemy and questioned whether or not God would help them.
When they cried out to the Lord because of Midian, the Lord sent a prophet to the Israelites. He said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of slavery in Egypt. I rescued you from the Egyptians and from all who oppressed you. I drove out your enemies and gave you their land. I told you, ‘I am the Lord your God. You must not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you now live.’ But you have not listened to me.”
Then the angel of the Lord came and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” Sir,” Gideon replied, “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.” Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” (Judges 6:7-14 NLT)
Gideon didn’t see himself as a hero, yet the angel told him – “Go with the strength you have…” What great strength did Gideon have? He was just an average person like all the rest. Gideon’s strength was not what he possessed within himself, but what he possessed through the Lord’s words – “I am sending you!”
“I am sending you.” Those words are all we need to know to do God’s will. In closing, consider these verses of scripture –
“For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.’ So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” (Heb 13:5-6 NLT)
“I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Php 4:13 NLT)
“If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” (Rom 8:31 NLT)