God Calls Gideon
Gideon (part one of three)
Gideon was the fifth judge of Israel. He played a small but important role in the history of God's people. Gideon lived during a time when Israel had forsaken God and had worshipped idols. The nation had abandoned its true source of national strength and the source of its blessings much like our own nation has done today. God had withdrawn his blessings and protection, and the nation had suffered. As voices began to call upon God for deliverance, God used Gideon to answer the need. Gideon was a reluctant leader who was finally convinced of the power of God. He ultimately led the children of Israel in victory over their enemies, the Midianites. We find the account of this part of Israel's history in Judges chapters 6-8.
The Call Of Gideon
During this particular time, it was the Midianites who oppressed Israel. This oppression took the form of organized bands raiding Israel and burning homes and planted fields and killing the animals. Many of the people of Israel took to hiding in caves and strongholds in the mountains. As one might guess, they were hungry due to the loss of their crops and livestock (Judges 6:1-10).
The problems had begun when the children of Israel "did evil in the sight of the Lord" (vs. 1). As things grew worse and worse, many in Israel cried out to the Lord. A prophet was sent to the people with God's message. The three part message reminded Israel that God had "delivered you" in the past and secondly they were told, "Do not fear the gods of the Amorites." Thirdly, they were told the reason for their suffering as God spoke through the prophet saying, "You have not obeyed my voice." (vss. 8-10).
Then, the Angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon at Ophrah while Gideon was threshing his wheat (vss. 11-27). Gideon is referred to as a "valiant warrior" (vss. 11-12). But this valiant warrior had a question for the Lord. Gideon's question was why had things gone so badly if God was with them (vs. 13). The Lord promised to be with Gideon and that he would defeat the Midianites (vss. 14, 16). Like many of the people God chose to work for Him, Gideon wondered "Why me?" He said his father's house was the least in the whole tribe of Manasseh and he was the youngest in the house.
Gideon asked for a sign. As instructed, Gideon prepared a meal and brought it to the Lord. The Lord touched the meat with His staff, and it was consumed with fire. (vss 19-24).
Following this, Gideon was commanded to tear down the altar of Baal and build one to God (vss. 25-27). He destroyed the altar of Baal, but many of the people, still not ready to renounce idolatry altogether, were angry and demanded Gideon's life. Gideon's father, Joash, said, "If he (Baal) is a god, let him plead for himself, because his altar has been torn down" (vs. 33). Gideon was called Jerubbaal by the people after that (which means "let Baal contend against him").
The Midianites and the Amalekites assembled at Jezreel for war and Gideon called for help from neighboring tribes. (vss. 28-35). Gideon, being exceedingly cautious, requested two additional signs from God: "If you will save Israel by my hand..." (Judges 6:36-40). The first sign: dew on fleece, ground around it dry in the morning. The second sign: dew on ground, fleece dry. Yes, God was with Gideon and Gideon was ready to do whatever the Lord asked of him.
Even "the least" in the kingdom of God are of use to the Father. By faith, Gideon, the "least one in his father's house" became a valiant warrior with God. (Judges 6:15). Gideon is mentioned in the New Testament as being one who by faith "... became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight" (Hebrews 11:32, 34). Though the "weapons of our warfare" are spiritual, and not carnal, the same principle holds true. We will win the battle by faith. That is our confidence and strength.
We need to understand that the strength comes from God by faith. Paul said, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13). Paul made the point that every member of the church has important roles to fulfill which contribute to the overall success of the body (Ephesians 4:15-16; 1 Corinthians 12:14-26).
Also, when we face the "impossible", we need to remember: "With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God." (Mark 10:27).
God Blesses the Faithful and Obedient
God blesses those who obey Him, but withholds the blessing for those who sin. This is true for individuals as well as nations. There are several reasons that this is so.
First, with God one is aware of eternal and wonderful blessings which faith brings. This is true even in the evil day. We recall Paul and Silas singing praises to God from an inner prison (Acts 16:25). Nothing in which we suffer loss here will take away our eternal blessings!
Second, we are assured of salvation if we obey the Lord. "And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation..." (Hebrews 5:9). The source of our salvation is the Lord Creator of the universe! It is the same one about which that the Book of Hebrews begins by saying, "You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of your hands" (Hebrews 1:10).
Thirdly, For those who use the blessings, whether time, material or talents, to serve Him He promises to bless by providing more and greater opportunities; "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; as it is written, 'He scattered abroad, He gave to the poor, His righteousness endures forever.' Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God." (2 Corinthians 9:8-11).
False Gods Are Worthless
Idolatry is a bankrupt system of belief. False gods can do nothing. Jehovah is God, Baal is a god. There is a big difference!
The same is true of false religion systems and humanistic philosophies and occultist practices. Jeremiah cautioned, "Do not fear them, for they can do no harm, nor can they do any good." (JER 10:1-5). In the New Testament, we read, "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority..." Colossians 2:8-10). Let us serve the Lord with joy! Let the God of Gideon also be our God!
By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 14.5; May 2007