Gideon is a remarkable story of faith. If you remember Gideon from your childhood story Bible (or VeggieTale video), you probably remember a guy with a trumpet army, but Gideon is so much more than that. Not only is Gideon listed among the faithful of Hebrews 11, he's specifically listed among the group of guys that includes King David.
Gideon's story starts in Judges 6. The land has been horribly oppressed, tormented even, by the Midianites. It was so bad the people spent their time hiding in caves. In Gideon's introduction, the Angel of the Lord finds Gideon working in a wine press so he could do his job and remain hidden. But when the angel speaks to Gideon, he calls him a "mighty man of valor" (Judges 6:12). Gideon struggled to see himself with such a title, and for good reason; yet, the Lord was with Gideon. The Lord isn't held back by who we are today, but sees who he will empower us to become tomorrow.
The first thing Gideon is instructed to do is more than most of us would probably ever consider. In fact, we might be offended if a Christian came into our town and did what Gideon did. Gideon was asked to go tear down specific alters to the false gods. The ones that sat in the middle of town. His town.
Imagine if God asked you to go cut down the local football stadium. Or the major political offices. Or the media and cultural centers. Or the Apple store retailers. Or what if God asked you to go remove the gold statute off the top of the big temple in town, or the one of a fat guy siting in front of the garden at the temple in Rose Park? Would you be afraid? I suspect so, considering we are often scared just to open our mouths to share the gospel, and that's not even close to physically destroying the place of false worship. But Gideon did it. He did it at night, but still, he did it.
Then Gideon is asked to take out the biggest, baddest enemy of the people. They are many and have oppressed Israel for seven years. Gideon is nervous so he asks for a sign. When he gets his sign, he asked for another sign for conformation. It doesn't sound too faithful but let's not be too hard on the guy. Don't we do the same thing with much less when God asks us to do something?
Now here's the part that should blow our minds. Gideon had an army of 32,300 men. That's great. But God says, "no, we're going to be sure nobody will doubt that it is I who wins this battle" (my paraphrase). So God whittles the army of 32,300 men down to 300. That's less than 10%.
How did Gideon stand there and watch the first wave of 22,000 men walk away? How was he able to remain faithful? And then it wasn't enough--God still sent another 10,000 men home. I can't even imagine what Gideon must have been thinking.
What can we learn from Gideon's faithfulness? Most of us will never command an army of 32,300 men, or even an army of 300. But we are asked to take on the darkness in our city. We are charged with the fight over oppression in our souls, and in the souls of our neighbors. Do we say, "I'll do it God when I have enough resources," or do we say, "yes God, I am with the Lord"?
What are the areas of your faithfulness where you are waiting on more resources before you say yes?
I'll read my Bible when I have more time.
I'll serve when I'm not so busy.
I'll give an offering when I have more money.
I'll share the gospel when I know more.
I'll pray with people when I learn to be less shy.
I'll let people know I follow Jesus when I know it won't offend them.
I'll be faithful when it will cost me nothing.
If we are to take a lesson from Gideon, we should see that it's far better to trust the Lord than to wait for our conditions to be right. In fact, God might strip away even more of your time, energy, money, courage, and other resources in order to make the conditions right as God defines right. And look how that turned out for Gideon.
I'll be discussing the faith of Gideon this Sunday. I'd like to encourage you to read Judges 6-8 in preparation for our corporate worship gathering. I'd also like to challenge you to walk across the hall and talk with a co-worker about the gospel. Walk across the street and share the good news with your neighbor. Invite someone to worship with us this Sunday. Gideon was scared, but the Lord was with him. If you are scared, remember that the Lord is with you too. In Christ, you too can become a mighty man or woman of valor.
See you Sunday!
Pastor Bryan Catherman
Here's a brief video with an update.