This week’s study is on one of my favorite Old Testament characters, Gideon. Let’s dig in.
- Brought Low
Read Judges 6:1-6.
The Lord takes our obedience of Him and His commands seriously. He should, because He is God. When His chosen people blatantly disregard His commands and do not give Him the worship He is due, they are ripe for judgment.
The oppression for seven years at the hand of Midian is brutal on the Israelites. Can you imagine? They couldn’t just sit and do nothing, so they labor and grow the crops, raise their animals, and try to live, but just as the hard work is ended, the harvest is ready and the animals are fattened, the enemy comes and consumes it all leaving them none.
With their tails between their legs they come to God begging for mercy, so God sends a prophet. The prophet reminds them of all that God has done for them and that His command to worship Him alone and not the false gods of foreigners was clear; and yet they did not obey. We must take seriously the commands of God, because He is God. He is deserving of what He wants. He has been gracious to us and shown us great mercy. We must never forget that we were His enemy and yet He sent His son to redeem us and make us His very own. What can He give us that is greater than that? Why would we trade Him for anything else? Have you failed to really see and be thankful for all that God has done for you? Are you unsatisfied and always wanting more out of Him?
- When Everything Seems to Be Against You
Read Judges 6:11-16.
Gideon’s situation is terrible. He has a hard time believing the stories of his ancestors about a God who delivered them out of great struggle and slavery. His clan is the weakest among his people, and he is the least in his house. Nothing about Gideon makes sense in human thinking—to send him as the leader of the uprising that will conquer their long-time oppressor. Have you ever felt like Gideon; like everything was against you; like nothing was in view that gave you hope of getting out of your situation? What Gideon hears next are the greatest words we could ever hear: “I will be with you.” There are no greater words you and I could hear than the God of all creation saying to us, “I will be with you.” For us, who are saved in Jesus Christ, He has said this to us in His great commission.
Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
May our Lord’s words to us give us the same vigor and faith to trust in Him, despite what we face, like Gideon!
Read Judges 6:17-21.
Gideon shows great faith in his offering to the Lord. This was not like your and my going to the fridge and giving up our steak dinner. This kind of sacrifice cost him something significant. And the Lord saw this and was satisfied with it.
- The Lord is Peace
Read Judges 6:22-24.
Gideon is in awe at the fact that he saw the Lord face-to-face. “Peace be with you.” “Do not fear.” “You shall not die.” These are the very words Jesus would say to His people as He prepared to die in their place and rise to victory over death so that we would have true peace and not fear for we are victorious in Christ forever. Praise God!
In Judges 6:25-40, the Lord gives Gideon a test and he does it. Then Gideon asks the Lord for more confirmation and He does it. So, the table is set for Gideon to trust in God and do what He asks even though his leading the uprising is an unthinkable reality by human measure.
- God Gives Us More Than We Can Handle
Read Judges 7:1-8
The only thing working for Gideon, humanly speaking, is the large number of men he is poised to take into battle against their enemy. Thirty-two thousand men is not a small number of soldiers. But God wants to be sure He will rightly receive the praise and adoration of His people. So, He only sends 300 men.
The next time someone says that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, point them to Judges, chapter seven. God’s instructing Gideon to take on over 100,000 enemy soldiers with just 300 men fits into the more-than-you-can-handle category. Imagine how Gideon and his servant, Purah, must have felt trying to come to grips with a humanly impossible assignment.
When people say, “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle,” what they mean is that God’s redeemed will endure to the end; the hardships we face will not undo us. But what it doesn’t mean is that God only gives us things we can handle. God gives us more than we can handle all the time. Why? So we will rely on Him; so He gets the credit when we endure; so our faith is put on display.
Picture this scene with me: standing on the side of Mount Gilboa, Gideon gazes over the Plain of Jezreel, which sprawls beneath him northward toward the Hill of Moreh. Picture it: the plain is a sea of tents, teaming with more than 100,000 Midian warriors. With renewed faith, Gideon and Purah rouse their mini-army and launch a night attack. This throws the Midians into a panic and, as a result, they slaughter each other in confusion; it is a rout. Not one of Gideon’s three hundred men perishes in the battle. God gives them more than they can handle in order to force them to rely wholly on Him. To God be the glory!
When we’re confronted with an impossible situation or trial, Gideon’s three hundred men preach to us “salvation is from the Lord” (Psalm 37:39) and “if God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). God really intends for us to cast our all onto these massive truths and for them to give us more-than-conquerors confidence and peace (Romans 8:37) no matter what we face.
The defeat of our sin, which Jesus accomplished on the cross, dwarfs Gideon’s victory. Compared to overcoming God’s wrath against our sin, defeating 100,000 Midianites was very small. And if God “did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all, how will He not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)
God certainly does give us more than we can handle. And He does it “to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9). If you’re facing an overwhelming adversary or adversity and you wonder how God could possibly deliver and work it for your good (Romans 8:28), then take heart. He is granting you the joy of experiencing the reality of Judges 7, Romans 8, and 2 Corinthians 1. We must trust in Him despite how the situation is stacked against us.
Judges 7:9-8:32 tells of the great victory and conquest of Gideon’s army against their enemies. Gideon has a huge family with many offspring and dies at a ripe old age in peace. But, how quickly Israel forgets all they have seen and runs back to their flesh.
Judges 8:33-35 As soon as Gideon died, the people of Israel turned again and whored after the Baals and made Baal-berith their god. And the people of Israel did not remember the Lord their God, who had delivered them from the hand of all their enemies on every side, and they did not show steadfast love to the family of Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) in return for all the good that he had done to Israel.
May we not be like Israel, but instead be like Gideon—faithful and willing to put our lives on the line to trust in God and fight for His glory to be the center of our praise!
By His grace and for His glory,
Pastor Joshua Kirstine