Gideon’s Stumble Into Faith: Lessons For TodayGuest blog post by Charlene Holsendorff
Scripture reference: Read Judges 6-7
Gideon makes his hesitant entry onto the pages of the book of Judges during a particularly bleak period in Israel’s history. Whereas the Israelites who entered the Promised Land had initially heeded the words of Joshua and obeyed God, the generations that followed fell into spiritual idolatry due largely to not driving out the idolatrous Canaanites.
So began a pattern of rebellion, punishment and deliverance over several hundred years. The book of Judges records Israel’s repeated spiritual failure – and God’s perpetual grace in delivering them. In his book, Twelve Unlikely Heroes: How God Commissioned Unexpected People in the Bible, John MacArthur phenomenally recounts this period from Joshua to Judges. During this time God appointed individuals as “Judges” whom He used to lead His people before the time of Israel’s kings.
When we meet Gideon, the Midianites were tormenting Israel by raiding their land and stealing their livestock – so much so that the Israelites took to residing in mountainous caves to avoid them! Finally, they cried out (yet again) to God for help.
And God heard and responded, yet again.
One day the Angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon as he winnowed in furtive trepidation, hoping enemy marauders wouldn’t discover him. “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior!” the Angel exclaimed to him. (6:12)
With those words began the arduous task of convincing Gideon that God would be with him in bringing victory to Israel. Gideon was scared from his dusty turban to his tattered sandals, and made excuses at every turn to avoid the fantastical assignment heaped upon him. Despite God’s assurances of enemy defeat, Gideon was perpetually doubtful and asked for signs that God would be with him.
The most familiar sign is the one you probably recall from Sunday School as a child. Gideon placed a fleece outside and asked God to let there be dew only on the fleece in the morning while the ground around it remained dry. God patiently obliged. (The Bible says Gideon wrung out a bowlful of water from the fleece!)
Not yet convinced, Gideon then requested another sign, this time the reverse…that the fleece remain dry and the ground around it be wet with dew the next morning. God, again, obliged. (6:36-40)
APPLICATIONS FOR TODAY
Before we upbraid Gideon, let’s put this in today’s perspective. Basically, this poor farmer – with no military background or experience – was commissioned to lead an offensive attack into “Afghanistan”! What has God placed on your heart that seems beyond your capabilities? What “fleece” have you challenged Him with as a sign in the midst of your doubt and fear?
After the Angel of the Lord’s greeting in v12, Gideon retorts with “…if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt? But now the Lord has abandoned us…’” (6:13).
I love how the Lord does not focus on the complaint, but takes Gideon directly to the God-ordained solution: “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand,” He says. “Am I not sending you?” (6:14)
After whittling the army of 32,000 down to 300 men (7:7), Gideon led Israel to resoundingly defeat the Midianites! God had, by choosing the improbable Gideon, made it impossible for Israel to “…boast against me that her own strength has saved her…” (7:2)
I’m reading the James MacDonald book, Gripped By the Greatness of God. One of the chapters focuses on Isaiah 40:10-26 in which Isaiah pens the magnitude of the greatness of our God! All of the verses are powerful, but I bring your attention particularly to the rhetorical questions of verse 12:
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?
None other than the SOVEREIGN LORD. And, just think, we belong to Him!
Charlene Holsendorff is an impassioned training and development professional with a focus in career management. She transitioned from the pharmaceutical industry to become an independent career management consultant, professional speaker and author. She currently manages a career center for 1000+ displaced pharmaceutical professionals.
Charlene has a reputation for providing insightful instruction in a stimulating environment. Her informal delivery style and positive energy quickly engages and holds the attention of audiences. Her areas of expertise include job search strategies; resumé development; interview coaching; interview skills for hiring managers; workshop facilitation and career-focused curriculum design.
As a born-again Christ follower, Charlene has a heart for helping God’s people to distinguish themselves in today’s competitive job market. She presents her career workshops to faith-based community institutions, and is particularly responsive to requests for personal coaching, consulting, speaking and writing within the Christian community.
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