The past five weeks in my adult Sunday school class have been devoted to the study of the life of Gideon. We will press on in our trek through Scripture with a study of Ruth on Sunday. Below are some of the highlights of our class discussions.
Judges 6:12 “The Angel of the LORD appeared to [Gideon], and said to him, ‘The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor!’”
It is certain that Gideon was fearful and weak when God appeared to him; however, I believe that God saw Gideon for what he could become only after a spiritual transformation had taken place.
God is very aware of how weak, discouraged, doubtful, and inadequate we feel. He comes to us in the hour of our great weakness with the promise of His presence. God taught us through Gideon’s example that it is not our inability to handle life that should be the focus; it is God’s sufficiency to transform us in order to handle life wisely that ought to be our focus.
Judges 6:36-37 “So Gideon said to God, ‘If You will save Israel by my hand as You have said -- 37 look, I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that You will save Israel by my hand, as You have said.’”
Was the fleece-setting evidence of faith or doubt in the life of Gideon? God had already promised Gideon what He would do through him. You can come to two conclusions as you read the text: “I know what You have said. I know Your command and Your promise. But I am not sure I really believe you” or “Lord, I am afraid. I have lots of doubts. Please reveal yourself again to me.” I believe that Gideon needed reassurance and God graciously allowed it.
When engaged in this practice of fleece-setting it would do us all well to ask, “Is my fleece-setting dictating to God my own will?” It is wrong to lay out our will before God. We must determine His will. Confirming the will of God because we are unsure or afraid is not a bad thing; however, we must understand that our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked.
God patiently and lovingly confirmed some things for Gideon. We should not set out a fleece to determine God’s will; there may be certain times in our lives when we ask God to confirm His will by working on our behalf; however, this is just a part of the process.
Judges 7:3 “Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him turn and depart at once from
God will strip us bare and take us to the place of dependence. He will teach us by His grace that we can trust completely in Him. We need the lesson of dependence to move on to the lesson of confidence. We can do nothing without Him. We delight that we can rely completely upon Him even in the face of overwhelming situations!
Judges 8:1 “Now the men of Ephraim said to him, ‘Why have you done this to us by not calling us when you went to fight with the Midianites?’ And they reprimanded him sharply.”
Gideon’s struggle with obtaining resources from brethren in Succoth and Penuel would be repaid after he had handled the Midianites. He kept his focus, but dealt very harshly with these cities after routing Midian. You can’t have unity apart from truth and faith. You can’t have unity with those who claim the name of Jesus Christ but reject the truths of Scripture.
On the other hand, Gideon handled the situation with Ephraim much differently. Twice, he told Ephraim, “What have I done now in comparison with you?” He realized that a battle with Ephraim would be a lethal distraction. It teaches us that if we are fighting and devouring one another, we are not battling the enemy. Satan loves to see believers divided over non-essentials.
Judges 8:27 “Then Gideon made it into an ephod and set it up in his city, Ophrah. And all
Gideon compromised in his later years. It is imperative that we do not compromise our obedience to the Word of God. A profession of obedience is only as good as the wherewithal to carry it out. This is why it is crucial that we keep our eyes fixed in on Jesus (Hebrews 12.1-2).