Part 4 in our series on Judges takes a look at Gideon, just a regular guy that God uses to rescue His people.
Many of us have seen the recent film "300." Exciting, visually arresting and entertaining as it was, those 300 warriors all died in the end (sorry for the spoiler, folks).
But in Judges 7, we see 300 mighty men of valor who defeated 450 times their numbers and lived to tell. This is what God can do when He is with us as He was with Gideon and the Israelites in defeating the Midianites.
The Israelites Messed Up Again
In Judges 6, we see the Israelites doing evil in the sight of the Lord by worshipping Baal (Judges 2:11).
Once again, they found themselves roped into oppression. When things got bad enough to drive them to their knees in prayer (Judges 6:6), God sent them a prophet and a deliverer, Gideon son of Joash (Judges 6:11).
Although Gideon was threshing wheat inside the winepress to hide from the Midianites, the Angel of the Lord salutes him as a "mighty man of valor." Again, we see God using a man's weakness to accomplish God's task.
Remember Moses? Moses stuttered and couldn't even speak clearly, but that's who God chose to go to Pharaoh and demand the release of the Hebrews. Moses felt he needed to give God a reality check and said "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh ?" Exodus 3:11.
But just like God told Moses He was with him (Exodus 3:12), God was with Gideon, a faithless coward who required sign after sign from the Angel of the Lord.
God Overcomes Weakness
What's your weak spot? Expect Satan to tempt you in that area to defeat you, but expect God to test you to make you holy through the process of testing. Satan tempts; God tests. Don't get it twisted.
Not only was Gideon a faithless coward, he was prone to blaming God for the problems of his people. Judges 6:13
But God chose to work His undeniable miracle through Gideon to show all who witnessed the whuppin of the Midianites that it was God and not man.
Just as God desires to have a personal relationship with each of us, He desired to have a relationship with Gideon. Over and over in Judges 6 and 7 we see God condescend to Gideon but never once display anger.
God is Patient with Gideon
Gideon requests the Angel of the Lord show him a sign to prove that the Angel is indeed God. What is God's response when Gideon asks Him to wait? I will wait until you come back. Judges 6:18.
I don't know about you, but to me this is a grand illustration of God's abundant compassion and grace toward us. God didn't say "You doubt me, fool? I'll smite you to nothing!" No, He lovingly tells Gideon I will wait until you come back.
Later when we see Gideon's requests for proof, God complies. For this reader, God's willingness to condescend to Gideon in love and compassion is far grander than how God slew the 135,000.
And because God loves us, He doesn't want to trick us. God doesn't tempt us with sin. He will never test us outside of His written rules. This is how we know the true voice of Holy Spirit within us-it always lines up with God's written word.
God Gets the GloryUnlike the enemy who seeks to destroy us (or at least make us ineffective), God tests us to build us up, show us He loves us through His help and make us holy.
The 300 of this historical event lived to tell. The imprint of God's hand on the victory against the Midianites was undeniable. When God tests us, we would do well to remember Gideon but not follow his example of blaming God for our troubles.
God will endure us through our doubt and blame, but as Pastor Miles said in the lesson plan, the quicker and more completely we obey the test, the higher our test grade will be. That will deepen our relationship, strengthen our faith, and bring us closer to God.