Gideon is a faithful man mentioned in Hebrews 11. His life reveals many lessons that show us how to submit to God’s will and purpose. The story of Gideon is narrated in Judges 6-8. In his time, Israel once again did evil in the sight of the LORD. They were previously enjoying 40 years of peace and prosperity because of the victory God has provided through Deborah and Barak.
However, the Israelites have the tendency to forget God. This time, they are being hounded by the Midianites, Amalekites, and Mesopotamians. These groups of people attack Israel during the harvest season and steal the produce of the land.
Gideon is the man God will mightily use to save Israel from the hands of the Midianites.
God calls Gideon to deliver Israel from the hands of their enemies. His name means overcomer. Through the power of God, He mightily used Gideon to remind the Israelites that it is God alone who can save them from troubles and pain.
In this blog post, it is important for us to look back at the life of Gideon. Let us now explore his life and see what lessons we can learn from his story.
Lesson no. 1: God sees the best in every man
The book of Judges introduces Gideon in a somewhat funny way. Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress. Normally, a person threshes wheat out in the open on a threshing floor. Gideon was afraid that the Midianites will find his crops and so he hides himself.
Notice what the Angel of the LORD said to him in Judges 6:12.
“The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor!”
In the eyes of man, we can certainly see that Gideon is not a mighty man nor a man of valor. The strong and fearless warriors do not hide as what Gideon is doing. The men of valor are courageous enough to embark on the battlefield and mightily give up his life for the cause he is called to fight for.
Undeniably, this is not Gideon.
To make the statement of the Angel seems to be more absurd is His declaration that the LORD is with Gideon. For almost a decade, no one seems to feel the presence of God especially this man.
Gideon is quick to question this statement as well. He said:
“O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites” (Judges 6:13).
From the response of Gideon, we can see how weak his faith has become during the course of time. Instead of accepting the words of the Angel, he doubted and questioned it immediately.
The LORD replied to Gideon and said that He will save Israel from the hands of the Midianites. But Gideon fearfully reasoned:
“O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house” (Judges 6:15).
The conversation between God and Gideon reveals the character of Gideon. He lacks the faith and godly confidence to lead the Israelite army against the Midianites. Using human reasoning, there is no doubt that Gideon is not up for the challenge and God should have just chosen the another person.
However, God looks at every man and sees the best in them. When God called Gideon a mighty man of valor, He is SERIOUS and He is not mistaken. He means every word that He says. God put His confidence on Gideon and that should be more than enough for him.
Indeed, Gideon initially lacks faith and courage to overcome the enemy. But as we will see later, he will eventually rise as one of the most notable heroes of Israel. He will become, as what God said, a MIGHTY MAN OF VALOR.
No matter what our current situation may be, God always sees the best in us.
As Christians, the same can be applied in our lives. Most of the Christians that God calls today are not the popular and successful people by this world’s standards.
The Apostle Paul tells us in I Corinthians 1:26-29 that God calls the weak and foolish of this world.
For you see your calling, brethren, that NOT many wise according to the flesh, NOT many mighty, NOT many noble, are called.
But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;
and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,
that no flesh should glory in His presence.
Though we are counted foolish, weak, and despised of this world, God certainly refers to us as what we will become. Our present circumstances may not reflect who we will be, but God makes it very CLEAR that we will be His future sons and daughters in His kingdom! We can read:
“I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (II Corinthians 6:18).
Just like Gideon who was called by God of what he will become, God also calls us sons and daughters because that is EXACTLY what we are and what we will become in the future!
Lesson no. 2: Idols are nothing
The first task God gives to Gideon is to destroy the altar of Baal. This is another evidence of how Israel has fallen deep into the ditch of idolatry. It is hard to imagine that a nation founded on godly principles would soon have the pride to turn away from God and developed their own system of idolatrous worship.
Because Gideon has not yet fully developed the boldness and courage to stand up against idolatry, he followed God’s command during the night. So when the morning comes, the Baal worshippers are enraged. They want to put to death the one who desecrated their altar.
Using images and statues to worship God is like reducing God to a mere pile of lifeless stone.
When they found out that Gideon has done it, the men of the city talked to Joash, the father of Gideon. They want Joash to bring out his son so that they would put him to death. You can really see how wicked and rebellious the nation of Israel has become. They are even willing to kill a man who has done something good and right.
But Joash wisely responded to their request and said:
“But Joash said to all who stood against him, “Would you plead for Baal? Would you save him? Let the one who would plead for him be put to death by morning! If he is a god, let him plead for himself, because his altar has been torn down!”
Therefore on that day he called him Jerubbaal, saying, “Let Baal plead against him, because he has torn down his altar” (Judges 31-32).
Joash challenged the follower of Baal to prove the divinity and power of their god. If he is really a god like what they love to believe, let Baal avenge himself since it was his altar that was destroyed. The people are speechless and let Gideon live.
Gideon was then called Jerubbaal, meaning let Baal plead. On that day, Gideon has become a living mockery and taunt to the worshippers of Baal.
We must learn a lesson from this instance in the life of Gideon. As Christians, we must worship only God the Father and Jesus Christ. They are the Ones who truly lives and have the power over life and death. Idols are nothing but a sign of man’s rebellion against his Creator.
The Bible is very clear when it comes to idols. We can read in Psalms 115:5-8.
“Their idols are silver and gold,
The work of men’s hands.
They have mouths, but they do not speak;
Eyes they have, but they do not see;
They have ears, but they do not hear;
Noses they have, but they do not smell;
They have hands, but they do not handle;
Feet they have, but they do not walk;
Nor do they mutter through their throat.
Those who make them are like them;
So is everyone who trusts in them.”
Idols are powerless. If we use statues and images to worship God, our worship is in vain. Jesus Christ, our Lord and Master, said that anyone who wants to worship God must do so in SPIRIT (John 4:24) and not with the use of physical stones and statutes.
We must also remember that idols are the things we put between us and God. This means that it does not have to be like statues and images. Idolatry can take any form. It can be our career, possession, friends, families, habits, and sins. As long as you covet and consider something or someone more important than following God, then that is idolatry (Colossians 3:5).
Lesson no. 3: God is willing to help increase our faith
We know that Gideon is a faithful man who deserves to be mentioned in the hall of fame faith chapter. However, Gideon is not always like that. He is a man who has little faith, confidence, and trust in God. The many years of being afflicted by the Midianites and the absence of God’s deliverance has made him spineless and coward.
Nevertheless, God sees Gideon as an unfinished product. He knows that Gideon is better than his current situation. God will then set different events to further improve the faith of Gideon.
You might have already heard the expression “putting out the fleece”. This expression is derived from the story of Gideon.
After sending messengers throughout the land of Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, Gideon started to doubt again and wanted the reassurance of God. Here we find the story of the sign of the fleece.
Gideon wants to find out if God would really deliver the Israelites form the hand of their enemy. He asked God to make the fleece wet while all the ground around it very dry. He asked this to be a sign of God’s deliverance. The following morning, he has found the fleece in exact situation as what he has asked God. However, this did not convince Gideon enough. He once again asked God to make the ground wet while the fleece very dry. God answered His request.
An unshakable and strong faith is not something we develop overnight. It should be tested and developed through time.
In this story, we can learn a vital lesson. God is more than willing to help Christians who struggle in strengthening their faith. Gideon previously asked for a sign before this and it was answered by God. The mere fact that an Angel of the Lord appeared to him should have been enough to convince him but Gideon is still not sure.
Gideon’s situation is reminiscent of the father who exclaimed to Jesus, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” We can, therefore, ask for God’s help when it comes to strengthening our faith. As long as we are willing to become more faithful, God is able and will help us deal with our unbelief.
Gideon’s fleece test might have also done for the sake of the people around him. He wants other people to see that God is with Him. In the same manner, we also want to let people see our faithful works so that they will glorify our Father in heaven.
Today, asking for a sign from God may or may not work. First of all, we have the Bible to guide us and we are given by God free will. However, God still has the prerogative to provide signs to His people. Still the best way to go is to ask God’s will to be done in our lives.
Lesson no. 4: The few that we have can turn into many by God
Now we come to the famous 300 men of Gideon.
After receiving the sign of the fleece from God that He will truly be with Gideon, it is now time to gather the mighty army that will defeat the Midianites. At first, Gideon was able to gather about 32,000 men to battle against their enemies. However, God deems this as too many for His purpose. In case that the battle was engaged with this number, the Israelites would soon attribute their victory to themselves, rather than God.
To trim down the army of Gideon, the men who are afraid to fight are asked to go home. This paring down has left Gideon with 10,000 men. This should be enough. But when Gideon is about to sigh a relief, God said to further decrease their number.
God can always help us turn our weakness to strength.
At this point in time, Gideon and those who are with him might be starting to doubt if ever they will still win this battle. Gideon finally obtained his army of 300 men. So from 32,000 men, his army is now composed of 300. But Gideon knows that God is with them and that is more than enough.
Through a brilliant and remarkable strategy, Gideon’s 300 men were able to subdue a vast army of their enemies. They were able to overcome and obtained a great victory for the nation of Israel. So that day, a strong Midianite army was conquered by an insignificant army led by a man considered to be the least in the house of Manasseh.
Today, the true followers of God are just a few. They are not the majority and their number are just even compared to a little flock (Luke 12:32). As this might be the case, God has promised that the gates of Hades shall not prevail against the true church (Matthew 6:18).
We must realize that God is not after the quantity, but the quality. God can magnify the little that we have. All we have to do is to surrender and give it to Him. If we just keep the little that we have thought that it is nothing, then God will not be able to perform a miracle through us.
We must have the faith and surrender everything that we have no matter how small and insignificant they are. From there, we can let God do His part and magnify our work.
Lesson no. 5: Let God rule your life and not men
The legendary and epic victory of Gideon against the Midianites soon spread throughout the land of Israel. Gideon suddenly attained a “superstar” status and many people started to look up to him. They have seen how Gideon transformed, from a man hiding in the winepress to a man leading 300 men to victory.
The Israelites saw Gideon as someone who is fit to rule over them. Judges 8:22 tells us:
“Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, both you and your son, and your grandson also; for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.”
Imagine Gideon enjoying the success that he had accomplished and now the people want him to be a king over them. Gideon would have surely felt the pride starting to run through his vein. However, his momentous reply was of humility:
But Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you.”
Gideon saw something that the Israelites did now saw. It is the same reason why they have the vicious cycle of being punished by their enemies and delivered by God over and over again. The Israelites has lost their sight to their One and true God. They have lived their life by sight and not by faith.
The problem comes when we start putting our trust and confidence in man rather than in God.
Similarly, we need to learn that God should be the Ruler of our lives. God should be the center of our lives. We need to remember that we are to live this life according to His will and not our will.
The problem comes when we start to putting our trust and confidence in man rather than in God. Man is bound to commit mistakes and failures but we can certainly be assured that God will never fail us because His words are true and enduring.
Letting God rule our lives means that we surrender everything to Him. It means putting 100% of our lives into His hands and letting Him direct our paths. Though we may suffer, we will only suffer for a while. But we can be assured that in God’s presence there is the fullness of joy and at His right hand are pleasures forevermore!
Gideon shows how insignificant men can rise up and become great in the eyes of God. His life story gives us the encouragement that no matter what the situation we may be in right now, God will eventually work things out for good. So just be patient and put your faith in God!