“And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, ‘The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor.” Judges 6:12
It really amazes me, Lord, that You would say this to any one. I mean, really? But here’s the marvellous thing- You, the God of the Universe, our Creator, the God of Angel Armies, who sees and knows everything, God who is so far above us, cares to encourage us and lift us up to Yourself. That is just mind boggling. There is no other god like You. What other god thinks of His own subjects, His own creations that way?
I’m not really sure what got me thinking about this. Maybe because Gideon can represent each of us and how You feel toward us. See, You already know Your plan and purpose for us. You know better than me what I am capable of because You created me for a purpose for You. So You look at me and see the hero, the valiant one You have placed inside that is just waiting to shine forth in You. I look at me and I see weakness. You look at me and see Your handiwork and all that comes from Your hands is valiant.
I went back and read all of Judges 6 with my family last night. And we talked through it and watched Gideon’s progression of faith. I’m not so sure that Gideon was a “scaredy cat” hiding in the winepress while threshing his wheat. That may have been the only wise thing to do under the circumstances. I mean when you have this horde of enemies that sweeps in like locusts and takes whatever they see, it’s best not to let them see what you have. Of course this swarm of locusts was plaguing the Israelites because they where being disobedient to You, Lord. They had lost their way and their focus.
Sometimes You send really tough things back into our life so we realize how desperately we really need You. Well, these invading Midianites and Amalekites were having the desired effect. The Israelites were beginning to cry out to You. But I’m not so sure the full effect was reached yet. Verse 7 says “Israel cried unto the LORD because of the Midianites…” You heard and You sent a prophet to keep the effect coming. You reminded them of Your deliverance from the captivity of Egypt and how they were to continue to obey Your voice. But they weren’t. You didn’t just want them to cry out for deliverance from their rough times; You wanted them to cry out to return to their fellowship with You and the rest would fall into place. It’s the same for us today.
Then You come to Gideon at the wine vat. Gideon, from the smallest, weakest tribe and maybe he was even the youngest or weakest in his family. And You look at him and call him, “mighty man of valour.” And that really throws Gideon for a loop. Because he knows that he is weak and little and of no effect compared to everything around him. And he’s wondering how the Lord could be with them if all these terrible things are happening. Where is their deliverance like in Egypt? God’s forgotten. That sounds like a man without strength, without valour, without hope.
But You, Lord, don’t give up on him and You don’t let him go on thinking that way. Because he’s thinking about things through his perspective and not Yours. Because he’s just looking at himself and not You. And I love what You say next. “And the LORD looked upon him, and said, ‘Go in this your might, and you shalll save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?'” Were You really telling him to go in his own strength? I’m pretty definite You were not. “This your might” was not Gideon’s own might. Gideon’s might was in the might and strength and power and valiancy that You were calling him and sending him and equipping him. Now that’s the lesson we all need to learn. That’s when faith starts, when we start understanding that and acting upon that. When we start looking at You and Your ability instead of us and our ability, then we start learning to walk and battle in faith and power.
Gideon doesn’t get it yet. “I’m so weak and little, God. How can I do this?” Boy are You longsuffering with us! Thank you! “Surely I will be with you, and you shall smite the Midianites as one man.” Think about that, with God with him, he will be able to kill the masses of the Midianites as though they were just one person. At least that’s the image I get. That’s the power of catching God’s vision and following Him in faith and taking our eyes off of ourselves. So what does Gideon do with this?
He wants to make sure this is really God and he asks God to show that. I suppose he wanted to make sure he wasn’t just taking this advice from some other person. Well, You show Him that You are God. He knows it’s You. And finally he “perceived” that it was You and that He had seen You face to face and lived. And that, I believe, terrified him. But You reassured him. And that was all it took. Gideon understood that it was Your valiancy that would strengthen and enable him and now he stepped forward in faith.
It wasn’t immediate, right out in the open, daytime bravery. With your first command to him, he was still afraid of the people so he snuck and obeyed during the night. But the point is, he took a risk, and obeyed You despite the fear and the risk. That’s faith. And when He did, You showed Yourself faithful. He was protected and delivered from death from his people. And He knew even more deeply that He could trust You to perform Your promises in Him. He even got a new name because of it and a reputation.
And his faith increased. And when Your Spirit moved him next, he again wanted to make sure his plan was from you and not just his leading, and so he did the “fleece test.” This time when I read the story, I don’t see it as a test of you because of doubt, I see it as wanting Your confirmation that this was Your desire and that this was Your design. Now that’s a man of faith, a man who is starting to think the way that You will act, before You even tell him, and that is willing to confirm that with You before acting, but ready to act upon the moment of confirmation. That’s that assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. He really is a valiant man after all in You. And You knew it all along.
But this isn’t just a story for men. I just saw that You, Lord, see us women in You the same way. Look at Proverbs 31. There we read about the “woman of valor,” the woman of courage and strength. And where does she get that from? The same place Gideon got it from.
I used to be afraid to speak in front of adults. I was afraid as a teenager and afraid as an adult. And I had other fears. But every time I trusted You and obeyed You anyways, You chipped away at those fears until the joy of sharing You, the joy of loving You before others outweighs any fear and now, I’m looking for opportunities to speak before others, and even though I can’t sing well, to sing songs about You before others that will encourage them and make them think about You. My legs used to shake because I was afraid. But now, when I sit back, there’s this different kind of shaking, that’s like excitement coursing through my body. Nobody else knows, but I feel the excitement. I feel the joy. I feel the pleasure of obedience in faith and the presence and strength and confidence in the Lord that comes with it.
Gideon and I and that women in Proverbs 31, well we’re nobody special on our own. We might as well be John and Jane Doe. What makes us special is what You do in us, Lord. Because You created us to shine with You and You are more than special. It overwhelms me every time I stop to think about how You take the time to place the treasure of You in me and each of Your precious human treasures who are receptive to You in obedience. You don’t have to. You don’t owe it to us because we’re the ones who owe You everything. But You delight in doing this. And all I can say is, God, there is none as good as You. I love You, Lord. Keep making me more like You every day. May I be willing to take any risk You lay before me because I know that You are faithful and You alone are able.