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Thankfulness Project: Gideon the Fearful

I'm a daughter, granddaughter & niece of pastors. I love God & studying the Bible and want to empower others to do the same.

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…The Lord is with you, mighty/strong/valiant warrior...The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel from the hand of Midian. Am I not sending you?” -Judges 6:12, 14

The Lord calls Gideon a strong, mighty, or valiant warrior (depending on which version of the verse you read) because God has made him so. What God says, He does. Where HE calls, He equips. He tells Gideon to go in the strength he already has, because the Lord has already given it, and tells Him to do what the Lord calls him to do. But Gideon is afraid. He is the youngest in his family (verse 15), and some think the weakest, or possibly even having an anxiety disorder. He doubts what God has told him to do because it seems too big and impossible, so he asks God to show him a sign he requests. While this is not the standard and we should obey whatever God tells us to do immediately, I love how this shows the compassion of God, and His limitless patience with us who are afraid (not with those who are willfully disobedient or arrogant in thinking God will forgive us next time). Gideon is a weak human who doubts that God could do a big thing with little him. I have felt this way many times, especially when God calls me to do things that for me are big, frightening, or seem impossible to me.

“For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” (Ps. 103:14) God is so gracious and knows our limitations and insecurities, knows our fears and doubts, and He quells them, and soothes us. He answers Gideon’s request, twice, because God knows this will give him the courage and trust to obey (Gideon is not trying to manipulate God). And God tells him repeatedly in this chapter “The Lord is with you” (12) “I am sending you” (14) “I will be with you” (16). In this last case, God calls Himself the I AM. He says the “I AM” will be with you. The “I AM” who called Moses from a burning bush to lead the nation of Israel out of Egypt; the I AM who dropped 10 plagues on Egypt and set them free from Pharaoh; the I AM who parted the Red Sea and there destroyed Pharaoh's armies; the I AM who led and fed the people 40 years through the wilderness and brought them to this promised land where Gideon now lives. Gideon grew up on these stories. He knows the significance of this name. He knows the power of the I AM. And yet he is still afraid, still doubts not God, but what God can do with him—weak, small, timid, fearful man that he is. So God says yes and shows him a sign, twice.

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But before Gideon leads the people, God tells him to first remove the gods of his father and family. Before I do this mighty thing with you, you must not worship, follow, or obey any of the generational garbage your family followed or obeyed before. You must be set apart. Like in 1 Timothy 4:12, when we are commanded: “Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” He and we must worship and obey no other gods, impulses, habits, compulsions, guilt trips, manipulations, pity parties, or anything or anyone above the I AM. After he is called by the Lord, God says to him, “Peace be to you; do not be afraid” (23) and Gideon, in worship and obedience, builds an altar there to the Lord in the place where he met the Lord.

And what does he call it? Yahweh Shalom: The Lord is Peace. Why? Because what is the thing fearful Gideon most lacks and needs, and God promises to supply and be for him and with him all along the way: peace. God’s peace that passes understanding, human capacity, all possibility, and more powerful than any fear or doubt. "When I am afraid, I will trust in Him" (Ps. 56:3) and I pray, Lord, Yahweh Shalom, please grant me Your peace to do what You call me to do today, no matter what. (No matter what fears, doubts, pressures, guilt or shame or discouragement by others, distractions, etc. come across my path, keep me in Your peace and obedience. Give me strength and resolve to keep going, no matter what).

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So Gideon obeys in this first small test of destroying the altar of his father and family, but he does it at night, “because he was too afraid of his fathers household.” I imagine Gideon was also a people-pleaser (as I am still recovering from, and grateful to not be alone, yet have hope for freedom), conditioned most of his life to not go against his family’s opinions or judgments on his life. If you’re from a big family, or a confident family, it’s hard to go against them, even for God. Peer pressure and shame is an awful enticement that can lead us into all sorts of wrong paths and generational sins, until someone, finally, has the courage to stand up and say “No more. This toxic trait, this worship of ourselves and our opinions and our ‘wisdom’ above God’s ends with me!” Gideon didn’t have the courage to do it in the daylight, to confront them in person—not that we should be rude in it either—or to be bold. So Gideon obeyed, but hidden, in secret, at night. Whether this was direct disobedience or not is debatable, but the Word does tell us that we should “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15), “in the light...proclaim on the roofs” (Luke 12:3).

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Then after Gideon obeys, God has him do the “big thing.” When the timing is perfect, after God dwindles the army down to an impossibly tiny size, where there’s no way anyone but God could get the glory for this defeat, God tells Gideon “Get up and attack the camp (do what I told you), for I have handed it over to you.” (7:9) In other words, do whatever God has told you to do and don’t fear (anything or anyone) because God has already cleared a straight, lamplit path and opened all the right doors to make it happen as He said at His appointed time and in His perfect way so that He gets all the glory and credit due Him, because Yahweh Shalom is the I AM. So Gideon and his army go to the enemy camp as commanded, armed not with swords and spears, but with trumpets and clay jars, as God commanded. They have trumpets to blow into, to shout the victory, to give praise to God for what HE has already done—for this is like the already-completed past to Him—and with a clay jar over a light. Why?

“...we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” -2 Cor. 4:7

The jars that must be shattered, like us at times, will reveal the light from God that will terrify the enemy army and throw them into confusion so that they defeat themselves. God gets the victory because God brings it in a way only He can. This same God-light shines in us believers now to terrify and push back our enemy and to encourage others. This light in us believers shows God’s power in our weakness. In the places where we lack, He shines, even blasts through, mightiest of all powers. He does the impossible that only the I AM can. He uses us to showcase His power, even if we are afraid or doubt what He calls us to do, even if we are “exhausted but still in pursuit” (8:4), even if we are the only one in our families or friends or groups standing up to do what’s right according to God’s Word. We never stand alone. God is with us, mighty/valiant/strong warriors. Go in the strength He has given. Do not fear. Do what He says, and trust Him to do the rest, the impossible. “As You—God, Yahweh Shalom—said” (6:36), “that is what happened” (6:38). He will do it. It's already done.

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© 2021 Amanda Lorenzo

Comments

Naude Lorenzo on March 25, 2021:

Beautiful detailed article, I love this book of the bible

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