The things that Gideon did.
Gideon destroyed the altar of Baal that belonged to his father’s house.
Gideon obeyed God and went to battle an army of 135,000 experienced and well armed soldiers with 300 men.
Gideon pursued until he killed the kings of Midian.
Gideon killed the men of Succoth and Penuel that refused to give bread to his army.
Gideon obeyed the Lord.
Gideon is recorded in the history books of Israel as a great warrior who rescued the country from a hopeless situation. He was the fifth in the line of judges that arose after each time the ‘Israelites forgot the Lord their God and did evil in His sight and the Lord punished them by strengthening the hand of a neighbouring nation against them’. After his exploits, we see that the Israelites wanted to make him king over them. So significant were the things he did that he is listed among the generals of faith in Hebrews.
And Gideon was a man like you.
The first encounter
The Israelites had been oppressed by the Midianites for seven years. They came in like locusts as the bible says and ravaged the land at the point of harvest. What they couldn’t cart away, they would destroy completely. Many of the Israelites had dug caves and were hiding out of fear.
Feeding was a problem and the presence of food was an invitation to the enemy. And so, Gideon was threshing or cleaning wheat in a winepress, to avoid a visit from the Midian army. The first impression we have here is that he was a fearful man. But who wouldn’t be in they situation. Yet, the messenger from God referred to him as a ‘Mighty man of valour’
We can say that it is because God knew the future and what He would do through Gideon and we will be right. Perhaps, we should also look at what God might have already seen that we may have downplayed for a long time.
Gideon was no doubt hiding from the enemy but his fear did not keep him from ‘threshing wheat’ – which was the staple of the country. In fact, in that situation, as much as wheat is normally cleaned in an open space, doing it in that enclosed winepress was probably the wisest and most courageous thing that Gideon could do. He wasn’t just hiding out in caves and clefts, he was working secretly to ensure that there was a provision of food – maybe for his father’s household or maybe to sell, but he was working.
So here’s to you, burdened by the troubles in Nigeria. I don’t want to generalize but I do believe that we all have our fears on different levels. I had a long conversation with a friend on Thursday evening about the state of the nation, how long winded the problems are. We talked about the need for a national strategy, a united purpose. From corruption to nepotism and intense mistrust, it becomes almost stupid to stand up for what is right. The fear of swimming against the current and failing makes many of us just go with the flow.
But here’s Gideon, afraid, in hiding, but still threshing wheat. The troubles may be intense and you’ve got nothing to fight it. You may be hiding now and shielding your yam seedling as the Yorubas say, but are you planting the yam regardless? What little can you be found doing in your corner? Like the popular quote says ‘Courage is not the absence of fear. It is acting in spite of fear’. And as Franklin D Roosevelt put it, courage is the judgement that something else is more important than fear.
God met Gideon at the point of his fear not his inactivity.
The messenger called Gideon ‘a mighty man of valour’, saying that the Lord is with him.
And like we do many times after getting a word from God, Gideon focused on the problems and on how the Lord had abandoned His people. And so the Lord responded,
Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?
Judges 6:14 KJV
Gideon knew the stories of how God had rescued the Israelites from Egypt and won battles for them on the promised land. He knew that if God had not abandoned them, they wouldn’t be in their current situation. And then, God said – go in this thy might.
Maybe you are like Gideon today, and you can clearly analyse the problems. But all you do is complain and fume about everything that is going on. Maybe you are wondering why people just can’t see the easy and sane way out of this situation. The truth is, you may just be the one that is supposed to take the lead and show people the way out.
It may be time for you to tune out the loud noise of the problems, and the difficulty of implementing the solutions, and listen to what God is saying. And should you think you come from the smallest tribe in a minority group, you should know that God will be with you as you make a decision to obey.
Stepping up in the dark
After Gideon had accepted the ‘Call of God’, his first assignment was the destruction of the gods in his father’s house. There are two deep lessons here.
The first is that it is amazing that even after crying out to God to rescue them from Midianites, the Israelites still kept the foreign gods!! And they were even angry when someone destroyed the altar of Baal.
How about you? Have you been calling on God to change your situation or the state of the nation, yet you’ve kept your heart filled with the things He abhors? Corruption has a high seat in every sector of our economy and we think it’s just the way things are done.
Let’s bring this home. You’ve been asking God for financial breakthrough, but you’ve refused to stop spending on Friday nights at the club. You’ve been asking God for a godly man or woman but you still warm your bed with the wrong person. Get the picture?
When you cry out to God, does your action match your faith request?
The second thing is that Gideon went at night, again, because he was afraid. But he did it all the same.
What if he was waiting until he was no longer afraid? He simply obeyed. And that’s it. You may have gotten an instruction and a vision from God that looks like a huge deal. And you’ve been spending years waiting for the center stage moment because it is a center stage action. But the truth is that the Lord that simply told you to do this or do that knows the resources available to you now – including your fears. Do what you’ve been led to do where you are. Start from there. Stop waiting to be bold. Be bold in the wait.
What happened next?
Joash, Gideon’s father wisely saved his son’s life. And Gideon, who we have known as being afraid from when we first met him blew a trumpet to summon fighters. How? You ask. Well, the spirit of the Lord in a man makes a difference.
But the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abi–ezer was gathered after him.
Judges 6:34 KJV
You may wonder if the Lord was not with him when he destroyed the altar of Baal. I want to wonder too but I just know that obedience releases power.
The fleece and God’s patience
There may still be those moments when the instruction looks too big to have passed through your ears and you start thinking it must be your overactive imagination. God is patient and can take our excesses. Put out your fleece. God still gives signs to His children. He still confirms His word. If you need clarity or confirmation, ask him. But his greatest sign has already been given in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
He speaks to us through the Holy Spirit and He makes events in our lives line up according to His will for us.
God speaks to us through His already given word – the bible.
We just need to be attentive.
But if you’ve been given a sign of Jonah, what’s wrong is wrong. Move on. (Let’s bring it home. If he beats you or she curses you in the same breath that he or she says ‘I love you’; no sign in the world can get you out of that place. If you know it’s illegal funds and you are being drafted in slowly, don’t say it may be the Lord passing the wealth of the heathen to you and you’re looking for a sign to prove it)
The most important thing about asking God for guidance is first of all submitting to do His will no matter what it is. And the truth remains, God will give you His word to your conviction and peace of mind.
In what ways are you a man like Gideon? In what ways are you stepping up to be used by God?
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