Then the LORD turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!”
“But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!” Judges 6:14-15
Gideon was chosen by God to become judge over all of Israel and to become one of the greatest examples of courage in the bible. There are 3 steps he took to become significant and to be listed in Judges. We can take these steps and apply them to our lives. Lets face it, if we become significant, God gets greater glory than if we sit back and let others do all the hard work. The significance we seek is not to make ourselves look good, but to make God look awesome. The significance attitude we should have is the idea that it’s all for God. God will give us the favor we deserve when we work toward His glory.
A little back story here, Israel sinned by worshiping the God of the Midianites Baal. God allowed Israel to be taken by the Midianites for 7 years. When the above scripture happened, Gideon was into full-blown discouragement. You can tell by the above exchange between God and Gideon that frustration was at a high. He was so frustrated that he didn’t even believe he was talking to an Angel from God. We get discouraged when we are going through trials that may have been something we caused, or someone else caused. Trials can just be circumstances that take a wrong turn. Sometimes our first response to these is to blame God who gives us the freedom to choose what we do. If we are tapped into the Holy Spirit through praying and His Word, our attitudes will be different. Still the flesh is a powerful influence in our lives because we are born into selfishness. Discouragement comes at the end of the rope, when we have nowhere to go, but either looking up or letting go. God loves a broken and contrite heart and that is what Gideon shows Him; with the response he gives.
God does not want us discouraged; He wants to encourage us to move our lives forward. The next set of verses show this:
Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised—look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.
Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.” That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew. Judges 6:36-40
You know sometimes we won’t have people around us that can encourage us, but God is always there to encourage. Here Gideon asked for a test, but what he was really asking for was encouragement to do what needed to be done. I guess he wanted to make sure he wasn’t dreaming, so he had to have the confirmation from God with the encouragement. Sometimes in order for us to be encouraged as we are going through life, we have to ask God to encourage us. God also uses people to encourage us no doubt, but sometimes He wants to input Himself in that encouragement, it gives us more of a trust factor with Him. After this godly encouragement, we see the next set of verses as an example of courage.
The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ Now announce to the army, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.'” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.
But the Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.”
So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink.” Three hundred of them drank from cupped hands, lapping like dogs. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.
The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.” Judges 7:2-7
Even though we are reading all of God’s instructions here in these verses, we can read between the lines at the thoughts that may be going through Gideon’s head. “He wants me to do what?” “How can I do this with so few men?” Then the encouragement comes into play and he remembers the fleece, and the courage starts to build, and he realizes that God is behind him, he has nothing to fear. God’s encouragement from Gideon’s discouragement builds his courage and faith instead of fear taking over. Godly courage is when something within you, the Holy Spirit, says you can do this, you can face this, you can defeat this. God is with you no matter what. If Gideon was not encouraged to courage, do you think those three hundred men would follow him into a battle that would seem in human terms like a suicide mission? Gideon set the example for courage and those men were behind him all the way. A leader that is not moving forward will have no one following him. Gideon was moving forward with the courage that God set him up with, and his faith that God strengthened because he had a willing heart.
© [David Howard], [David’s Body Temple], 2011-2015.