During my adolescent, I suffered from a lack of self-confidence. This lack of self-confidence came to the forefront of my life as I sensed God calling me into ministry during my freshmen year of college. How could God use me? Surely, God knew others were more qualified. Despite my protests, God continued to lead me into ministry. Throughout the years of my ministry, God continually provided confirmation and assurance.
The angel of the Lord called Gideon “mighty warrior.” Yet, Gideon was anything but a “might warrior.” How did God transform this fearful, hiding, unimportant person into a true warrior?
First, God called Gideon in the context of difficult days for Israel (Judges 6:1-6). Although the book of Judges describes repeated oppression from Israel’s enemies, the Midianite oppression particularly was severe as evidenced by the lengthy description of the Midianite atrocities. The Midianites oppression affected every area of Hebrew life: sustenance (crops), sheep (food and clothing), oxen (farming) and donkeys (transportation). During times of desperation of the people of God, God often moves in unusual ways.
Second, God provided assurance for Gideon’s doubts (Judges 6:11-15). The Angel of the Lord (a manifestation of God) appeared to a fearful, hiding Gideon. People threshed wheat on hilltops where the wind assisted in the separation of the chaff from the wheat. Gideon threshed wheat in a winepress, a pit to avoid exposure to the enemy. The Angel addressed Gideon as “mighty warrior,” yet, at the time of his calling Gideon was anything other than a mighty warrior.” God looks upon people in their potentiality rather than actuality.
Gideon expressed reservations about the words of commission. Perhaps, he felt unqualified because of family background. Gideon’s father did not worship the Lord. His father built palaces of worship for Baal and Asherah. He gave his son a new name Jerubaal meaning, “Baal judges” (Judges 6:32). Gideon asked a series of protest questions in response to the Angel’s words. The first two questions are theological questions. Why have you allowed this to happen? Why are you not performing mighty works as you did for the exodus generation? Yet, the theological questions may cover the more important question. “How can I deliver Israel?”
God patiently responded to the reluctant warrior with a command, an authorization, an endowment of power, a promise, and a sign. God commanded Gideon to “Go” (Judges 6:14). He authorized Gideon with a reminder, “Am I not sending you?” (Judges 6:14). He gave to Gideon an endowment of power (Judges 6:14,34). God told Gideon “to go in the strength you have.” Yet, God provided the strength necessary for the accomplishment of the task. The Lord clothed Gideon with the Spirit (a literal translation of Judges 6:34). The term clothed means “to invest with power.” God promised His personal presence -“I will be with you” (Judges 6:16). Finally, God performed a sign for Gideon (Judges 6:17-20).
Third, God provided encouragement to Gideon (Judges 7:9-11). God was ready for Gideon’s “mighty army” to attack. Gideon was afraid—“if you are afraid” expresses Gideon’s true condition (Judges 7:10). Gideon’s fear is understandable. Gideon has three hundred God-picked men but the Midianites and their coalition have an encampment in which the soldiers swarm like locusts (Judges 7:12). God encouraged Gideon in three ways. First, Gideon received moral support from the presence of his servant Purah. Second, God promised victory (Judges 7:11). Third, God encouraged Gideon by means of the fear of the enemy. Gideon overheard a dream of a Midianite soldier. In the dream, a barley loaf rolled and squashed a tent. God also provided an interpreter for the dream. Barley was the common food of the poor. The barley loaf represented the poor Hebrews. The tent represented the encampment of Midianites.
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