The Lord said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me.’ vs. 2
We don’t often get insight into what God is thinking when he commands or creates, but in this instance we have a glimpse into his perfect understanding of human nature. Think about it 300 men who lap water like a dog is generally not how you would advertise for a group about to overthrow your enemies. God also understands that we need nothing confusing our reading of the situation: we can do nothing apart from God. Has God surprised you lately? Has he done something that you would have done differently? Perfect, then you know that God is still in control. Trust him in all things.
My initial reaction to this passage is to ridicule Gideon. How could he doubt God after everything God has already done? He has already asked God prove Himself by performing a miracle (17-22) then Gideon asks for another miracle, not once, but twice! Isn’t this the type of mentality that Jesus addressed in the Pharisees? “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” Matthew 16:4
Then my wife said to me, “Isn’t it cool how patient God is with Gideon?!”
I realized in that moment that I am Gideon. I may not demand signs, but time and time again I act as if God hasn’t miraculously provided for me. I continually doubt His plan and try to do it my own way. God is patient with me and waits for me to see His plan. Because of that patience I get to experience His love in a whole new way.
So, that night God did as Gideon asked. Judges 6:40
God doesn’t punish doubt, he nurtures faith.
Gideon was on a hero’s journey, one that required a growing faith in God. Along the way, we see God graciously nurture his faith in midst of uncertainty and doubt. God could have ignored Gideon’s request, or chastised him for his lack of faith, but he didn’t. He profoundly and graciously did what Gideon asked.
Now, we know that doesn’t mean God will always do what we ask, but what it does mean is God is eager to nudge our faith along. We all are at different places on our journey of faith. Rest assured God wants to help you, not hurt you.
Jesus said, “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find…” (Matthew 7:7)
God’s answer to Gideon, is what I think Jesus meant. So, when facing doubt, don’t be hesitant to go to God out of fear you are disappointing him. He wants to reassure you and nudge you along your journey.
“Then Gideon said to God, “If You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken,”
Can you see the trust and faith forming?Gideon is understanding God’s word more and more. Now, he’s beginning to apply it to his life. Gideon is connecting the dots between understanding and application. And, he’s asking the Lord to help.
What have you learned recently from God’s word?New direction, new insight, conviction, correction, new facet of God’s character?Now, it’s time for application.The hardest step- Where spiritual growth culminates. Will you ask the Lord to help?
God has initiated many of the biblical encounters we have in scripture. Moses, Saul, Esther, Jeremiah…all were tasked with a seemingly impossible assignment. Like Gideon, they initially questioned God whether they were really the one for the job. Each recognized their inadequacies and failures and were amazed that God would actually choose them for His work.
Have you ever questioned God whether He really wanted you to be the one to carry out a task? Maybe He prompted you to witness to a co-worker or a family member…or maybe He wanted you to go on a mission trip…or maybe He confronted you with an opportunity to teach His Word! Were you looking around for a fleece to lay out to confirm that God really meant what He said? Truth be told, we are just like Gideon. When we are uncomfortable with our instructions, we question God, hoping for a different answer when He sees it from our perspective! Learn to recognize God’s voice and learn to obey without question. God does not need our input!
Why would God have responded any other way to a humble request? One might view God as working up against our limitations, but the witness of the Bible is instead that God works with our limitations – especially when it comes to doubt. We give doubt a pretty hard time. And though it is possible for doubt to harden into a default posture for dealing with the world, doubt is really just a function of our limitations. We understand that our senses have limits, that we can’t always trust that what we think we understand is the way things actually are. Gideon was not acting from a place of hardened skepticism, but rather from a place of honest doubt. We might even say that he was “doubting in good faith.” God will work with that all day long.
Then Gideon said to God, “Do not let Your anger burn against me that I may speak once more…vs. 39a
To be clear, Gideon had been in conversation with the Lord for quite some time. It was evident that the Lord was dealing with Gideon’s uncertainty and fear. This was not the first exchange between them. It is easy to look at this story and think that we can bargain with God. “Lord, I know you have given me a task to fulfill, and if you give me ten million dollars I will know that you really mean it.” That kind of logic will fail every time. Take your assignments from the Lord seriously, and seriously be in dialogue with him at all times. You will never regret seeking God in all matters. That is where to begin discerning how God wants you to proceed, not giving outlandish parameters for your begrudging obedience.
Last week we saw Gideon questioning the existence of the Lord (vs 13). How does God respond? He uses Gideon to disprove the existence of other gods (vs 31). Gideon asks for God to work. God puts Gideon to work.
Gideon was also complaining about being the low man on the totem pole (vs 15). How does God respond? He puts Gideon in charge of thousands of warriors (vs 34-35). Gideon complains. God give Gideon responsibility.
Gideon then asked God to prove that this was all real (vs 17). How does God respond? The Spirit of God rests on Gideon (34). Gideon asks God for sign. God makes Gideon the sign for others.
Be careful what you ask for. God has a knack for putting the solution to our problems back on our plate. How will you respond? Will you continue to complain, or will you take responsibility, get to work, and let God shine through you?