Brought to You by the Letter…”P”

It’s Wednesday, so we’re talking about faith. Got any? Need some? Have a little to share?

A few weeks ago, I talked about a man named Gideon. A scared, weak man, hiding in a winepress trying to thresh wheat.  We talked about The Angel of the Lord (Pre-Incarnate Jesus) coming to see him, calling him a brave man. You can read or refresh yourself with the story HERE.

Today, I want to talk about the same man from the same book. Judges. Gideon, the man who begged over and over for God to confirm through a sign that he was supposed to deliver God’s people from the Midianite’s oppression. Gideon would throw out what’s called a fleece and God would prove that He hadn’t made a mistake–that Gideon was His man.

You can read about scared Gideon in Chapter 6 of Judges.

I want to skim across Chapter 7 and land us in Chapter 8. Put your seat belt on, we’re moving fast.

Gideon pulls together an army, not the biggest one, but one none-the-less. However, God knows it’s too big for Him to get the glory. He instructs Gideon, (7:4-8) and shortens his army down to 300 men. The odds didn’t look good by human standards, but that was God’s point.

Man can’t do it without Me.

God has a Plan.

Gideon is probably freaking out about now. He’s hesitant to begin with, but he’s being obedient. Now he has 300 men out of more than 22,000 to start with and God is going to use this pitiful army to take down the Midianites and Amalekites. Gulp!

I wonder if the men could sense Gideon’s apprehension. Maybe the whispers amongst the camp sank what minimal courage he had further down toward his tail. Just about the time he’s ready to turn it and run, God speaks to him.

Paraphrase: “Gideon, if you’re still shaking in your boots, and we all know you are, go down with your buddy that you’ve been whining to and listen. I think you’ll hear something to muster up some courage, you brave guy you.” Judges 7:9-12

God had a plan to save his people from these vicious warriors. It’d been laid out all along, He just needed Gideon to partner with Him.

Gideon and his servant, Purah (don’t get me started on the names) slip down in the thick of night and what happens…

God Precedes and Perfects.

They stop dead in their tracks. Someone is talking. One of the enemies is sharing a dream he just had with one of his comrades. “To my surprise, a loaf of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian; it came to a tent and struck it so that it fell and over turned, and the tent collapsed.” (7:13)

“This is nothing else than the sword of  Gideon, son of Joash, a man of Israel! Into his hand God has delivered Midian and the whole camp.” (7:14)

Coincidence? I think not.

God gave that dream to the soldier, woke him up, and prompted him to tell it to his buddy at exactly the right time. Side note: “tumbled” in Hebrew is “haphak” and it means, to overthrow or overturn.

And if that isn’t enough– to be sovereign over time– then look at the detail that went into the dream, just for Gideon.

What was Gideon doing when the Angel of the Lord came to him?  Threshing wheat. Working hard at simply getting some seeds/grains from the winepress.

What came into the enemy camp and took out the whole army?

A loaf of Barley.  A finished product. Barley and wheat are both planted in the fall, but Barley matures faster and is harvested first, usually in April.  Something  Gideon knows all about.

God was saying, “What I began, I will finish. You’re ready. It’s time.  I don’t see a little scared seed. I see a loaf.”

God makes it Personal.

“I saw Gideon.” Not just any old Gideon. “Gideon, the son of Joash.” That’s like saying his first and last name. “A man of Israel.” Israel. God’s people. “I saw Gideon son of Joash, you know, God’s man.” Not boy. Man.

The word for “man” in Hebrew in this verse is “iysh” and it does means man, but also, “great man; champion”

There is no room to doubt. He’s ready. God has made him ready, harvested him, like Barley, for this moment. Used the enemy to prove that he is going to overturn the camp.

God is Patient, and He always Prevails.

With this last boost of confidence, Gideon takes the 300 men, uses his brain and makes a plan, then defeats the enemy. You can read about it in Judges 7:15-25.

And lastly, if you’ve hung on with me for this long, we land in Chapter 8. The high is over. Gideon, by God alone, has freed God’s people from the Midianites. Imagine the pats on the back. Maybe someone poured the vat of wine over his head like a football coach who’s brought his team to victory.

Those strokes of ego, embed in Gideon’s mind…his heart, and in one chapter look what happens:

Gideon chases down kings Zebah and Zalmunna, but they’re running fast, so Gideon asks the leaders of Succoth to help him out, which they snottily refuse. Gideon boldy tells them when he gets back from whipping Zebah and Zalmunna’s tail, he’s gonna whip theirs. Literally. With thorns and briers. (Judges 8:6-7)

Gideon comes to Penuel and speaks to them in the same way and when they refuse, he tells them when comes back he’s going to tear down their tower. (watchtower. Judges 8:8-9)

Pretty bold for a man who a couple chapters back was hiding in a winepress and trying to convince God He had no business enlisting him, isn’t it?

Pretty Speech breeds Pride

Paraphrase: “Rule over us, Gideon.”

“Nah, God’s your ruler, but thanks for the offer. I’ll tell yah what though, you can give me the earrings you took off the dead.”

“Anything for you, Gideon.”

Guess what Gideon did with the 42 pounds of gold? He constructed an ephod. An ephod was the vest, God instructed priests only to wear. It was pretty amazing with colorful threads and dazzling gems. (Judges 8:22-27)

What was the point of Gidoen’s ephod? Not sure. But, in verse 27, the Bible says it became a “snare to Gideon and his house.” The word snare is used in talking about idols.

Gideon also named one of his sons, out of 70 by the way–for he had many wives–Abimelech. Ambimelech means “My Father is King.” Maybe, deep in Gideon’s heart, the one that swelled after victory, he thought he was the king. Maybe it passed down to his sons. It definitely passed down to Abimelech, who killed all his brothers but one to be king. (Judges 9)

Pride will get you every time. Especially after a big victory. Physical victory, emotional victory, spiritual victory. Be wary of it.

Gideon was human. I don’t fault him for a swelled head. I do learn a lesson…

God Picks us anyway

Don’t think for a second God didn’t know what would happen to Gideon. Yet He picked him to do great things anyway. He loved him start to finish. Snares and all.  And in those days of Gideon, regardless of his sins, there was peace for 40 years until he died. (Judges 8:28)

Question for you: Have you ever wondered why God would pick you for…anything? How did it turn out, or how’s it going?