At the beginning of Judges, we see the nation of Israel resting in a good place. They are happy, well-fed and strong. Because of that, they have forgotten their good circumstances have come, not because of their own efforts, but because of God’s grace. As a result, at the beginning of Judges 6 we see that, “The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites.” The Midianites were a powerful and merciless people. Every year, they stormed in, took what they could carry and then destroyed the rest. This happened for seven years and then, finally, the Israelites cried out to God for help.
Why did it take so long? Probably because they were trying to fix the mess themselves first. I know that’s what I usually do! The Israelites had a history of being slow to ask for help, but God was never slow to respond.
In this case, he used a man named Gideon. Read Gideon’s story in Judges 6 and 7.
An angel appears and calls Gideon a “Mighty Warrior,” which seems odd since Gideon is hiding in a winepress at the time. Over the next chapters, we see Gideon’s journey. Starting with wondering if the angel is lost and really looking for someone else, to wanting to believe that maybe he is who the angel thinks he is, but needing God to prove some things to him. When Gideon is finally ready to go, God pushes him to handle some distractions and disobedience in his own family first and then set out to face the Midianites, only to have God rework the plan at the last minute.
We can learn a lot from Gideon’s journey:
The Israelites forgot about God. When we look at the good things in our lives, do we remember that they are always a result of God’s grace, rather than our own doing? List the things that are going well, and thank God for them.
God is quick to respond. Where do you need God’s help right now? Ask him for it.
God saw what he could do through Gideon. Gideon just needed some convincing. Have you ever been called to do something, but knew you weren’t equipped for it?
God had a clear plan. Once Gideon was listening, God laid it out for Gideon to follow. Have you had a time when your priorities didn’t match up with God’s? How did God redirect you?
Gideon could have never done on his own what God did through him. Do you trust that God will do what he has promised – in your ministry, your family, your life?