(Originally posted 7-20-17)
“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” Judges 6:15
One of my favorite things about the Bible is God’s use of characters who by all rights, have no business being placed in the position He gives them. Look at David, the runt of his family who gets anointed king over Israel. Or how about Moses? A stuttering and stammering shepherd; given the task by God to deliver Israel out of Egypt’s hand. And then there’s Peter. A common fisherman who, post-resurrection, preaches to thousands and goes before Jewish leaders speaking with the power and eloquence of a learned theologian.
Yes God loves to take the ones who are considered the least and display His power through them. I believe He does it primarily to show His glory. To show that the thing He accomplishes could not be done without trust and dependence upon Him.
One specific character I want to look at today is Gideon and the call God laid upon His life to lead Israel to defeat the Midianites. Gideon’s call and response to God is somewhat unique. He isn’t known for his strength or courage in battle. He isn’t even seeking to go into battle. But God approaches him and calls him out to be part of the storyline of Israel’s great history. At a time when leaders are scarce and evil abounds, God looks to show His glory through His chosen man. There are several key points we can draw from this story:
1. God sees potential in you before you ever do
In Judges 6, we read about God coming to find Gideon: “Then the Angel appeared to him and said: ‘The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.’” Gideon was not out in the open. In fact, he was threshing wheat in a wine vat to hide it from the enemy, the Midianites. Gideon himself was unproven in battle. We have no record of him being a warrior up until this point. But God calls him “mighty warrior” because of the potential He sees in him.
God sees potential in you too and He gives you an identity long before it’s actualized. From our vantage point, we see only the obstacles and reasons why we can’t be something. Gideon said his clan was the “weakest” and he was the “least” in his family. He had all the evidence He could provide to say “God you’ve got the wrong guy.” But the Lord had other plans. When God places a call upon your life, He already sees you as fulfilling it. If He thinks that highly of you, why doubt Him?
2. God will confirm His call
Gideon famously asked God for a sign with a fleece:
“If You will deliver Israel by my hand, as You said, I will put a fleece of wool here on the threshing floor. If dew is only on the fleece, and all the ground is dry, I will know that You will deliver Israel by my strength, as You said.” Judges 6:36,37
In confirming His will with a sign, God causes the fleece to be wet and the ground dry. Gideon then goes on to ask God to perform the sign again; this time making the ground wet and the fleece dry. And again God does as Gideon asks.
I do not think God balks at our requests for signs. I have asked for a sign or confirmation when I believe God has requested something of me but yet I still want to be sure. In those instances, He has been faithful to answer. I believe it is when we test the Lord knowing already what we are to do, that we walk in disobedience by asking for signs. Gideon’s requests were in line with God’s will and He answered Him.
3. The battle is the Lord’s; it is fought and won His way
If you remember the story, you recall that God whittles down Gideon’s army to next to nothing before Israel’s battle with Midian. Gideon starts with 32,000 fighting men but God tells him to send home any men that are afraid. Right off the top, 22,000 men depart leaving Gideon with only 10,000. From there, God tells Gideon to bring his men down to an area of water and observe how they drink. Some men drink by lapping the water with their tongue like a dog. Others kneel down to drink and lap the water with their hands to their mouths. God tells Gideon to keep the latter group and says “I will deliver you with the 300 men who lapped and hand the Midianites over to you. But everyone else is to go home.” Judges 7:7
God basically takes a well-numbered army and leaves it with no possible way to win, save some sort of miracle. But that’s exactly what God does. Reading further into Judges 7, we see the Israelites win with just 300 men armed with trumpets and empty pitchers with a torch inside. Incredible odds. Crazy battle plan. But the battle is fought God’s way so no one else can claim credit. By being obedient, Gideon leads the army to victory.
I’ll be honest. My heart believes that we still serve a God who wants to use us like that today. But in affirming that to be true, it means He can call us and see something in us before we ever see it in ourselves. Beyond that, God may have a plan to accomplish His will that stretches and pulls us beyond the comfort zone of what we know and expect. He certainly did that with Gideon. Oh to have seen the look on the faces of those 300 men when Gideon told them they were only ones who would fight!
Brother and sister in Christ, please know today that if you feel feeble or weak, you are right where God wants you. I see over and over again in Scripture God taking the least of these, those most “unlikely to succeed”, and accomplishing His will through them. It means an attitude of surrender and submission. It also means a willingness to step out in faith and be vulnerable. I believe that’s the legacy of Gideon and I believe that is our legacy today as well if we choose to live it.
I would love to connect and chat more. How can I pray for you and how can I encourage you today? As always, I hope you are blessed and if so, would you share this message with someone who needs to hear it today? Thanks so much!