By Toni Ford
In the Book of Deuteronomy, God outlined the responsibilities of the nation of Israel, which were to love and obey Jehovah as the one and only true God, teach the children God’s laws, be thankful for God’s blessings and separate oneself from the worship of pagan gods in the land of Canaan.
Unfortunately, members of the new generation failed in each of these responsibilities, and instead of seeking God and His kingdom first, they chose to experiment and worship idols of other nations around them. This led to Israel plunging into moral, spiritual and political disaster. Judges 21:25 describes the state in which Israel was experiencing: “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”
It is interesting how these same truths from Scripture from over 2,000 years ago still apply to us and our nation today. Just as it was for the children of Israel, so it is for us as believers today that the first step away from the Lord is “friendship with the world,” and the next step is “conforming to this world.” 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” Because Scripture is God-breathed and because God is alive and not dead, the Word of God is just as alive and active today as it was over 2,000 years ago when it was written.
Needless to say, the nation of Israel was out of control, going its own way and seeking pleasure from the “gods” of the land. Although God let the Israelites have their way, He also had great mercy on them when they cried out for help. God raised up judges (the Hebrew word for “judge” means “to save, to rescue”) who defeated the enemy and set Israel free. These judges were deliverers who won great military victories with the help of the Lord. One of the judges God raised up was Gideon. There is more description given to Gideon in the Book of Judges than any other judge. Some have described the stages in Gideon’s life from coward to conqueror to compromiser.
Gideon began as a coward. In the sixth chapter of the Book of Judges, we read about an angel of the Lord appearing before Gideon and saying, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” Gideon’s first response was to argue back with this angel. Judges 6: 13-14 says, “Gideon replied, ‘If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.’ Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you.”
Although Gideon continued to question and argue with the Lord, God was faithful to reassure him over and over again with signs of confirmation that God would fulfill His promise to Gideon and help him restore Israel and defeat the Midianites.
Gideon grew to become a conqueror. Gideon at first was full of questions and doubts, but he soon he grew in his faith, believed God’s promises and led his army to victory. Once Gideon stepped out in faith and began to believe God at His word, he began to grow in wisdom and courage. He learned that God does not need large numbers to accomplish His purposes, nor does He need especially gifted leaders. God only needs one person who is willing to trust Him and step out in obedience to follow Him. Gideon and his 300 men were available for God to use, and He enabled them to conquer the enemy and bring peace to the land.
Gideon ended his career as a compromiser. After Gideon defeated the Midia-nites, the people were eager to share their spoils with him, and he ended up with over 40 pounds of gold. Instead of leading the people to worship the Lord for this victory, Gideon led the people into idolatry. An ephod was made with some of the gold, which was used as an idol. The people stopped giving their true devotion to the Lord and started worshipping this ephod and other idols. Instead of using this occasion for God’s glory, Gideon used it for his own profit, which resulted in the nation eventually lapsing once again into sin. He missed a great opportunity to bring reformation and revival to the land. Early on, we find Gideon humbly depending on the Lord for his every move, but over time, he became pious and vindictive. Although Gideon started out as a servant, he now was known as a celebrity, which led to pride, which in the end led to his decline for him, his family and his nation.
Lord, we thank you for teaching us through the life of Gideon. We pray that you would help us keep our eyes on you and not get caught up by the things of this world. We want to align our lives with you from start to finish, so help us to finish well! We long to hear you say as scripture says in Matthew, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
If you would like me to join you in prayer please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to pray for you!