“‘Pardon me, my lord,’ Gideon replied, ‘but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.’ The Lord answered, ‘I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.’”Judges 6:15-16
When you read the story of Gideon in Judges 6-8, you see the miraculous way that God used the weakest man in his family from the weakest clan to lead an extremely small group of men, 300 in total, to defeat the Midianites whose “camels were without number…”
Judges 7 tells us how God clearly and systematically narrowed Gideon’s army from 32,000 men to just 300 “’lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’” In the end, (spoiler alert) Gideon’s army defeats the Midianites and you see a brave, heroic conqueror in Gideon whose obedience led to forty years of rest in the land in his days.
Judges 8:22 says, “Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, ‘Rule over us, you and your son and your grandson also, for you have saved us from the hand of Midian.’” What a legacy! Gideon finishes our tale as a fearless warrior for God who naturally trusted God in every situation! Well, in the words of the great Lee Corso, “not so fast my friend.” The fact is, Gideon, though in the end was strong and brave, began very weak and fearful.
One of my favorite things about the Bible is the beautiful truth it reveals in every story. There is no sugarcoating or embellishment. Just truth. Throughout Gideon’s story, time and time again, you see him question and test God out of fear and uncertainty.
One of my favorite stories (where I can completely see myself in Gideon) is the story of the wool fleece. Gideon asks God, as a test to see if God will save Israel by his hand, to leave dew on a fleece of wool overnight, but none on the ground. He wakes up the next morning and the fleece is drenched with not even a drop on the ground. But, not proof enough for our friend Gideon, he asks AGAIN: “please let me test just once more with the fleece.” Except this time, he asked it to be reversed, with dew covering the ground while leaving the fleece completely dry. Gideon awoke, and (you guessed it) God did so that night and it was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew. God’s patient faithfulness to Gideon strengthened him into the warrior who would boldly obey God and free his people.
The Bible shows us very clearly that our faith is strengthened by God’s faithfulness to us and to the generations who came before us. May our obedience continue to increase as our faith is strengthened by studying and clinging to His faithfulness.