Wednesday, July 28

The Faithfulness of Gideon

Not too long ago, I wrote an entry, The Faithfulness of Abraham. I decided to write another lesson based on the theme of faithfulness, so I would recommend reading that entry first, if you have not already. When I reached the internal debate as to whether to talk about the faithfulness of Joshua shown in the fall of Jericho or the faithfulness of Gideon shown in the Midianite attack, I chose Gideon. (Picture credit to Lavista Church of Christ)

Why did I chose to write about Gideon? Joshua had been a trained leader. He had served alongside Moses during the forty years he led Israel. Joshua was his successor. So while many can relate to Joshua, I felt that most can relate better to a man who, previously, had no leadership experience - Gideon. Judges 6-7 give the account of Gideon. Gideon, son of Joash the Abiezrite, lived in the land of the Amorites. Keep in mind these things happened after Joshua led Israel into the Promised Land, Canaan. (See Book Overview: Joshua)

The Book of Judges shows how, time and time again, Israel turned away from God, God sent a Judge to save Israel, they entered a time of "peace" again, growing in their relationship with God, only to turn their backs on him again. Gideon was one of the Judges. The Angel of the Lord was sent to Gideon while he sat under an oak tree and told him, "The LORD is with you, mighty warrior." (Judges 6:12) Gideon questioned the Angel of the LORD, asking that if God was with him, why had all these things happened, why had God given Israel into the hands of Midian?

God replied to Gideon, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?" Gideon continued to question God, and he asked, "If I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me." So God waited until Gideon returned with an offering. The Angel of the Lord touched the offering with the tip of his staff, and fire consumed the meat and unleavened bread. Gideon exclaimed, "Ah, Sovereign Lord! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!" Who is THE Angel of the Lord? I will talk more about the identity of the Angel of the Lord in the next entry, but THE angel of the Lord, as he is many times also called God, (and scripture many times over shows the deity of the "angel of the Lord,") was Jesus before he was incarnate. That is why Gideon, Nebuchadnezzar, Abraham, and many others say they had seen the Lord.

There is a difference between when the Hebrew Bible says "an" angel of the Lord and "THE" Angel of the LORD, for when it speaks of THE Angel of the Lord, it also calls him God - a title which no other angel has. Keep in mind that the word angel can also mean messenger - so when you read THE Angel of the Lord, It could mean, The Messenger of the Lord - his son, Jesus. Back to Gideon.

Gideon also asked God to give him another sign. He would lay out fleece and if the ground was covered in dew in the morning, and the fleece dry, he would take that as a divine sign from God. Judges 6:40 says, "That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered in dew." What does all this have to be with being faithful to God? Continue on. God sent Gideon to the camp of Midian. But God said to Gideon, "You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, 'My own strength has saved me.' Now announce to the army, 'Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.'" (Judges 7:2-3) 20,000 men left, 10,000 men remained.

God said to Gideon, "There are still too many men." So Gideon told the men to drink water. Then God said to Gideon, "With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go, each to his own place." So 9,700 men left... and only 300 men remained. Against an army of thousands. (Judges 7:4-8) But Gideon remained faithful, he did not question God this time. So what did God have Gideon do? They didn't need to have a surprise attack. God gave them into Israel's hands - to show HIS faithfulness to his people, to those who turn to him. Gideon and his 300 Men surrounded the camp, and they sounded trumpets and smashed clay jars - and the Midianites, in their confusion, since they were surrounded, turned on each other, and killed each others, while others fled. The remaining Midianites were caught. (Judges 7:19-25)

What can we learn from all this? Even in times of trial and tribulation, God is faithful, even when we are not. God's people were "captives in a foreign land," as they had been so many times before. Yet he delivered them. As Christians, we need to trust God, obey his commands, and put out faith in him, be faithful to him unto the end, no matter what crosses our path, even though that can be hard at times.

Troy Hillman

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