We’ve made it halfway through our study on the book of Judges! I hope you’re all still with us. If you’re new to this series of posts, scroll back a bit through past posts to see anything you may have missed.
This week we’re covering Judges 6–9. The whole section centers on Gideon, his battles and his sons. Gideon’s story often raises questions about how to decipher the will of God. Before we get to that application, however, we need to talk about the facts of the story. (We will talk about deciphering God’s will on Saturday. Be sure to come back then to join in that discussion!)
I’ll not recount Gideon’s whole story here. It’s far more effective for you to read the passage yourself. (You can do that HERE.) It won’t take terribly long. I promise.
Let’s make some observations. What did Gideon do right? What did he do wrong?
Seriously, God? You want to diminish the army until we’re outnumbered 450 to 1? And our weapons will be torches, trumpets and clay pots? Can’t we have some swords? Maybe even a decent ox goad or a woman with a tent spike?
It’s possible Gideon thought all these things, but that’s not recorded for us. What is recorded is that he eventually did exactly what God told him to do.
Gideon tested God. (See Luke 4:12.) It is one thing to ask God for direction, to ask Him for a sign when you don’t know what to do. It is another thing entirely to ask God to miraculously prove to you that He means what He has already said. God clearly told Gideon what to do. He sent an angel to talk to him face-to-face! Yet Gideon didn’t believe. He obeyed eventually — but only after challenging God and His Word. (Curious about Gideon’s “fleecing” and how to properly decipher God’s will? Come back on Saturday for a post of Do’s and Don’t’s!)
Gideon tried to point the people toward God. This raised some strong discussion in our group last night, mostly because Gideon’s devotion seems like a two-step. He takes one step for God, but makes sure his next step is for himself.
First, Gideon tears down the idol altars. Gideon does this at night so no one will get too mad at him. This is an attempt to redirect the Israelites worship back to God (one step), but Gideon ensures it is done in a way that won’t cost him too much personally (two step).
After getting the army together the way God wants them, Gideon sets out to conquer the Midianites the way God tells him. He obeys (one step), but he also makes sure he gets credit for it (two step).
When the people ask Gideon to become their king, he insists that God should be their king. That’s a huge one step for God! But then Gideon runs around acting like the king. He collects gold from the people, acquires lots of wives and has seventy sons. SEVENTY. He even names one of his sons Abimelech which means “my father is king!” This is more than a two step. This is several steps back. Even his attempt to build an ephah for God turns into an opportunity for the people to worship Baal. By reading about his sons in chapter 9, we cannot help but recognize that Gideon did not train his children in the way of the Lord. As is the pattern in the book of Judges, a reverence for God and His Truth was not passed onto the next generation.
The message behind Gideon is very similar to the message behind David and Goliath. Battles are not won by the size of the warrior but by the strength of the warrior’s God.
Sadly, we can compare Gideon and David in more than this message. Both men failed to train their sons in the ways of the Lord. Yes, David was a man after God’s own heart, but he was also a human, falable, imperfect man who made some big mistakes. His sons learned from those mistakes how to justify their own mistakes. Both families launched into blood baths shortly after the deaths of their fathers. Both families engaged in battles for power and prestige. Both families forgot their God.
How does this happen? They lost perspective.
Sandra Glahn, the author of our workbook wrote this: “We’re never too small or too weak for God to use, but we can be too big and too strong.”
This is not a statement of God’s inability, but a testament to our unwillingness. It’s a warning against our pride. When we puff ourselves up, we leave very little room for God to glorify Himself in us.
This is the good news: If God can use people like Gideon and David, He can use people like you and me.
The author went on to say: “God is bigger than any obstacle you face. Once you recognize your weakness and [choose to] worship, God has you right where He wants you. You’re in a perfect position for Him to show His power in such a way that there’s no doubt who won the battle.”
More Scripture to Discover
Take a moment to look up these other passages discussing weakness.
- 1 Corinthians 1:27
- James 2:5
- 2 Corinthians 12:7–10
- Isaiah 41:14–15
Our “in-house” group is vibrant. The group exhibits a beautiful cross-section of our community. We have women from different ages and stages, and I love that. Too often small groups lack diversity among their members. When everyone comes from the same background and the same present, the group may gel well, fellowship may be easy and fun, but the discussions can be shallow. People assume everyone is on the same page (which they usually are) and so conversations are less involved. In contrast, when the group is diverse, when it includes people who don’t necessarily know one another well, everyone benefits. We speak honestly and (hopefully) without inhibitions, and we all learn from one another. It’s fantastic.
Now, we haven’t had much discussion (hardly any, actually) online. I’m not sure why that is. I know you’re reading! Please don’t be shy about leaving comments. If you have ideas about how to spark more online interactions, let me know! I am very open to suggestions. My hope is to do another study in the spring, so I need to know what’s working, what’s not and why. If you have thoughts on how to make it better, I am all ears.