The Faith of Gideon

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, January 14, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

Have you ever felt like God was giving you way more than you could handle? I’m not sure there is a human being out there who would say “no." We’ve all been at those points in our lives and many who have at least some knowledge of the Bible immediately think, “Well, either that can’t be true or God is a liar because the Word says he will never give us more than we can handle." If you’re a Christian and a follower of that Word, and you’ve come to a point in your life when you just can’t take anymore suffering, then you’ve probably had to go back to that place in the Word to see what isn’t adding up.

The verse is 1 Corinthians 10:13. Click on that link and read it to see what it REALLY says. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently and I’ve realized there is a big difference between “handling” something and “bearing” it. As human beings, we want to be in control. We want to have a handle on things. However, when it comes to the battle against temptation, we’re not told to handle it or control it by our own willpower. We’re told to bear it by the power of Jesus Christ. That’s why the last part of that verse says that God will “provide a way out so that you can endure it." The way out is the Lord Jesus Christ, who demonstrated for us how to bear with temptation (Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13), then defeated death, sin, and temptation by raising from the dead after his crucifixion. Without Jesus, we are still susceptible to those things. But as we walk in the power of our Lord, we can bear our temptations and walk away from them. We do this time after time because we will not be fully separated from darkness and temptation until Christ returns, but the life of a Christian is to be lived to show that Christ is in our hearts even now and with HIS power we can bear with temptation until that glorious day.

One way that we continue to fight this battle and bear with temptation is to remind ourselves of others who have battled and the things that God did to get them through. As we remember the works of God, we gain more confidence and trust that he will continue his work in us. The series we’ve been doing on our heroes of faith from Hebrews 11 has been a good reminder for me, and I hope for you also. The stories of these men and women who were ordinary sinners like you and me help us grow stronger and more committed in our own faith. It’s good to pause and consider where we are in the series. The writer of Hebrews is now done giving us the details of each person’s faith story. He now will give us a few names, knowing that our curiosity is piqued enough at this point that we will do our own research to learn about their faith. In Hebrews 11:32, the writer basically tells us he doesn’t have time to keep telling us these stories, so hopefully we get the point by now and can study the rest on our own. I wonder why he writes that and frankly, I don’t have a clear answer. We don’t know for sure who the writer is, but many believe it was Paul. If indeed it was Paul, he seemingly had all the time in the world, having written his other letters mainly while traveling or sitting in prison. Again, maybe he just decided it was time for his audience to do their own study and be blessed!

The first name he mentions is “Gideon." Let me tell you, I was blessed by going back and studying this story, which can be found in Judges 6-8. As you can see for yourself if you read those chapters, Gideon enters the scene during a dreadful time for the Israelites, who were God’s chosen people. As a nation, they had done evil in the eyes of the Lord, so he allowed them to be overpowered by an enemy, the Midianites. The oppression from the Midianites was so bad that the people of Israel had to go and live in mountains and caves. Then, when they worked hard to produce crops and livestock for themselves, the Midianites simply came and stole everything. After being stuck in their sin for so long, the Israelites finally cried out to God to rescue them (Judges 6:6).

God responds first by sending the Israelites a prophet who reminds them of the great things God has done in their history but also reminds them of their sin. It was important for them to see their sin and remember God’s faithfulness anyway before they could be released from the hand of the Midianites. Then, an angel of the Lord comes and appears to Gideon, while he is threshing wheat in a winepress. This was not a normal place to thresh wheat, but it was the only way to try to keep it for himself and his family. Judges 6:12 tells us that the angel says, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior." Gideon may have laughed at this. He may have even turned to look behind him to see if the angel was talking to someone else. He sure didn’t feel very mighty while he was having to thresh wheat in a private place for fear of the enemy stealing it. After that, he asks an obvious question that we’d all ask: how can the Lord be with us when we’re dealing with so much suffering? At that point, we realize it’s no longer an angel of the Lord, but the ACTUAL Lord himself who is talking to Gideon. This would’ve been an Old Testament appearance of the Christ, who came to assure Gideon that he indeed was with him and was sending him to rescue Israel from the Midianites.

At this point in our reading, we see that Gideon and the Lord then have a prolonged discussion in which Gideon questions the choice (he admits he is basically the weakest in all of Israel), then asks for some signs to show that God really is with them and will deliver the Midianites into their hands. We can learn from this that weak faith is better than no faith at all. Weak faith and insecurity are not heresy. Gideon is still listed among those commended for their faith in Hebrews 11, so clearly God can use anyone who puts even a little bit of faith in him even when we have doubts. God was patient with Gideon and saw the warrior in Gideon that Gideon didn’t even see in himself yet. Once Gideon discovers it truly is the Lord talking to him, he is given a command that may have seemed like a test to him, but was frankly more important than dealing with the oppressive enemy. Gideon is told to destroy the altar to Baal and the Asherah pole that his father and many other Israelites had been worshipping. The Israelites, like many of us, focused more on the external threats and circumstances than their own sin. They continued to worship idols even as they suffered at the hands of Midian. God knew that sin is a far greater oppressor than any foreign enemy, and it had to be dealt with FIRST.

Gideon obeys God and takes down the altars. Once the sin was properly dealt with, he was ready to move forward and accomplish God’s will. The enemy would have well over 100,000 troops, yet God planned to use Gideon and only 300 other men to defeat them. God wanted to make sure that stubborn and arrogant Israel did not take credit and boast of their victory, so he had Gideon reduce the army all the way down from 32,000 through two cuts. Once Gideon was down to 300 men, outnumbered over 400 to 1 by the enemy, he was truly ready to let God lead him to victory. Read the story yourself to see how God does it. Basically, Gideon and his band of merry men were collectively God’s tag-team partner. God did all the work, then tagged in Gideon and his army to finish the job and pin the enemy. God caused the enemy to be afraid, which led to them turning on and killing each other.

Gideon had to be tempted throughout the story to walk away from the Lord and give in to fear. But once he understood that the Lord was with him, that gave him power to bear that temptation and endure the struggle. It was power he didn’t know he had, and truthfully, he didn’t have it until he was obedient and got to know the Lord. If you are tempted, if you feel like you can’t take anymore suffering, if you are overwhelmed by the enemy, then put your trust in the Lord and find the power you need from him. Faith in him is the only thing that allows us to endure.

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