4 lessons from the story of Gideon
Pardon me my Lord, “Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manassseh, and I am the least in my family.” - Judges 6:15
This was Gideon’s response when the Lord appeared to him under the oak in Ophrah and sent him to save Israel out of Midian’s hand. See, Midian had been oppressing Israel, eating their crops, killing the Israelites animals and not sparing a living thing. Midian had joined forces with the Amalekites and other eastern peoples. They were so many “like swarms of locusts, it was impossible to count them or their camels”. An oppressive giant in the face of Israel. They caused the Israelites to flee into mountain caves.
1. With God’s favour, we can achieve the impossible
When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” (Judges 6:12). A very different and powerful address when compared to Gideon’s view of himself as being the least from the weakest clan.
The Lord was describing him not for who he was but for what he was about to become. With the Lord’s hand and favour upon him, he would soon become the leader of thousands, win battles and claim victory for Israel over Midian. This required obedience on his part.
After Gideon's offer of complaints about how can the Lord be with them if they were suffering so much, the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” (Judges 6:14). When the Lord sends us, we too can be sure that whilst we may view ourselves as being inadequate, and find our present sorrow so great, in him is our strength and victory to conquer battles and emerge victorious. Our only duty is – to obey. The Lord's favour was on Gideon and with it he was able to overcome Israel's enemy. Very similar to how young David, despised by his brothers was able to defeat the giant goliath in 1 Samuel 17 - the lord's favour was on him.
2. The Lord will not share his glory with another
When it came time for Gideon to defeat Midian, the Lord said to him, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel will boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.” – Judges 7:2
The battle belongs to the Lord. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” It is not about how strong we are, our wit, abilities, connections or strategies that we win battles, the Lord is all powerful and able to use only a little to accomplish great things. All the glory belongs to the Lord. True victory comes when we come to him fully surrendered and leaning completely on Him to help us.
3. The fearful have no place on the battle ground
Fear is the direct opposite of faith.
Hebrews 11:6 teaches us that “without faith it is impossible to please God.”
The fearful were indeed the first to be dropped off Gideon’s mission against Midian. “Now announce to the army, “Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead. So, twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.” Judges 7:3
Living in fear makes us the weakest on the battle field. It is only by faith that we can become victors. When twenty-two thousand men left and only ten thousand were left, Gideon lost at least 68% of his army in that first sorting!
Does this mean the larger percentage of us spend time living in fear? Do we consider the size of the giants in front of us as oppose to considering the power and might of our God? According to Hebrews 10:39, as beleivers in Jesus Christ, “…we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”
4. God chooses whom he uses
After the twenty-two thousand fearful men had left Gideon’s army, the Lord still considered Gideon’s army to be too big. The Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water and I will thin them out for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you’, he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you’, he shall not go.”
The criteria that God used to separate the men that would finally go with Gideon is indicative that God looks for certain qualities in his leaders. People that are equipped to fight at the front line. The Lord said to Gideon, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink. “.. “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.”
Having started out with an army of nearly thirty-two thousand men, Gideon was now left with only 300 men chosen by God to lead Israel into victory!
If Gideon had been accurate about his description of himself as being the least from the weakest clan, in the natural, even his leadership of such an important battle was questionable. These men who once hid in caves at the sound of Midian would now overcome this vast army, (the Midianites, the Amalekites and other eastern people who had settled in the valley, thick as locusts) with only 300 men!
“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” - Romans 11:33. If God is for us, who can be against us? - Romans 8:31