By Kenneth E. Ware
Pastor, New Sholar Avenue Baptist Church, Chattanooga
Don’t put limits on yourself. God can use you to defeat a myriad of threatening problems. From the words of Tony Evans who has said, “If what you see is all you see, you haven’t seen all there is to be seen.” Gideon, whose name means “hewner,” went from a hewner to a hero.
Though it wasn’t easy, he had to learn to stop focusing on himself and realize God wanted to use him to deliver an entire nation from oppression. Gideon learned the secret of living by faith during a crisis. Apply these three principles to your life if you want victory over your circumstances, for “the Lord is with you, O valiant warrior.”
(1) Devote to godly reverence (Judges 6:19-24). How often do we leave and come back to God in fellowship as Gideon did (vv. 16-19)? It wasn’t until Gideon saw the Lord face to face during the Midianite crisis that his faith in God changed for better. For Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face” (v. 22). All the while, Gideon had been in the presence of the pre-incarnate Christ. You see, unless you have personal encounters with the Lord, your faith will not grow. Those who devote themselves to the daily disciplines of prayer and meditation will cultivate a godly reverence for Christ.
In the process, Gideon learned two important truths about the Lord. First, he discovered the known fact that peace comes from God (v. 23). Gideon, after seeing the Lord face to face, experienced a peace that encouraged him to trust God’s plan for his life. He was finally in a place where he was ready to live by faith. Secondly, he learned to worship the Lord by faith before going into battle with his enemy oppressors. In times of adversity, we, too, must trust God’s plan and worship Him by faith. We must focus on our Christ, not on our crisis.
(2) Depend on godly resources (Judges 7:15-23). When Gideon overheard a man reveal his dream to his friend, he was then assured that the Lord had given him the victory over the Midianites (v. 15). Consequently, he worshiped the Lord by faith again before the battle had taken place. Again, Gideon learned to live by faith as he trusted God during a crisis. Moreover, there were tangible resources that he used during the battle. The resources were strange but strategic weapons, namely, trumpets (rams horns) and empty pitchers with torches inside of them (v. 16).
Wait a minute! So, Gideon is going out to battle against more than 135,000 Midianites, Amalekites and sons of the east with only 300 men, ram’s horns and empty pitchers with torches inside? Well, look at it this way. The victory had already been given to Gideon and the sons of Israel. The Lord would fight their battle for them as they trusted and obeyed Him by faith. Just as our Lord said to the disciples, “with men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (cf. Matthew19:26). Depend on God to get you through times of uncertainty.
(3) Develop a godly reputation (Judges 8:13-21). The men of Israel pursued the Midianites (Judges 7:23). Gideon and the 300 men crossed the Jordan River, “weary yet pursuing” (Judges 8:4). Although Gideon and the sons of Israel were given victory over the Midianites, they were much aware of their human responsibility to pursue their God-given victory.
Although God is sovereign, believers must still carry out their human responsibilities. What are you pursuing in life? Economic success? Popularity? A bigger boat? Political power? A dead religion? Gideon was weary yet pursuing. There are times fatigue, exhaustion and natural concerns may come due to a constant pursuit of godly things, but keep on pursuing godliness. Jesus said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).
With God working through him, Gideon went from being a worrier to a warrior. The Lord developed his character from being the least in Manasseh and the youngest in his father’s house (Judges 6:15) to the leader of Israel. Gideon developed a godly reputation. He went from being a victim to becoming a victor. He captured a youth in Succoth (v. 14); he disciplined the elders of Succoth with thorns and briers (v. 16); he tore down the tower of Penuel and killed the men of the city (v. 17); then, he killed Zebah and Zalmunah, the two kings of Midian (v. 21).
After all, Israel asked him to rule over them as king, but he refused and said to them, “the Lord shall rule over you” (vv. 22-23). At this point, Gideon no longer looked like a coward, he resembled the son of a king (v. 18). He had developed a godly reputation. How’s your reputation among others? As the Scripture says, “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation” (I Peter 2:12). B&R