Friday, February 14, 2014

Testing Gideon

After reading about Gideon in A Visual Guide to Bible Events and then in Judges 6-8, I realized there's more to the story of Gideon than asking for wet and dry fleece. I for one can associate with him in many ways. Think about it. What would your reaction be if someone suddenly appears where you're at and tells you you're going to do something big? Can you picture yourself asking, "What? Who me?" I can.

I've heard him called a fearful man. . .hiding in the wine press to thresh some wheat he'd gleaned from the harvest; tearing down an altar at night. But when you read the last part of verse 11 you realize he's smart and crafty. Yet, he doesn't believe it when he's told that he, the youngest son of the smallest family in his tribe, will be a conqueror. He doesn't even realize for another five verses that it's an angel of God talking to him.

Before his revelation, he puts the words of this stranger to task and asks for a sign that he has God's favor. (6:17) That's when the angel of God burned up the meal offering Gideon had prepared for him, which turned out to be Gideon's wake up call to God's proclamation. And, obviously his moment to shake in his sandals because he's told to relax; he wasn't going to die. If someone I had been speaking to vanished from my presence and kept talking, I'd be shaking in my shoes.

Then God tells him to tear down the altar built to Baal, the god of the Midianites. Rebuild an altar to God. And, burn a sacrifice on it. Now at that time this is a huge request/test for Gideon. Yes, he knows that he was just told he would lead Israel in victory against the Midianites, but first he has to do something that affects him at home.

Isn't that how God works? Tells us he will do something through us, but then asks us to do something smaller in a place or area that affects us personally. Having us take an action in a smaller setting before putting us on the bigger stage, so to speak.

So, it's no wonder Gideon hesitates in doing this thing for God. He knows that if he attempts this in the daylight he will be stopped by his father and the rest of the men in the city. He will be unable to complete the task God has for him. So in his craftiness yet with fear of the power these men have over him, he does it at night.

And the repercussions of this action? Gideon's father, Joash, stands up and defends him against the men of the city and tells them that Baal should defend himself. Don't you think Gideon was taken aback when he heard what his father did? Joash didn't give the men full access to Gideon so that they could kill him. Gideon had to be shocked.

Of course, as often happens, his dad starts calling him by a nickname that will remind him of what he's done. There is no mention of Gideon's father or family after this episode, but we do know one thing. Joash didn't lay a hand of punishment on him. Perhaps he noticed a difference in his son. Perhaps Joash only went along with some of the worship practices to a fake god because he feared the Midianites as well. And, inwardly was glad to see his youngest son have the guts to stand up to their oppressors.

It's those smaller steps before you get to the final goal that can be the toughest ones to take. Gideon isn't the only one to fear telling family, "hey I have to tear down this family tradition because God told me to." And the courage it takes to do the big thing has to be seeded in the smaller steps. Moving away from the norm is a difficult thing to do, especially in the first step.

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