GOD GROWS IN US A MIGHTY FAITH

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The pendulum of Israel’s faith swings once again away from their God. The Israelites do “evil in the eyes of the Lord” (Judges 6:1). God’s people are led astray by the idolatrous worship of the surrounding nations. For seven years, He gives them into the hands of the Midianites, a nomadic people, who proceed to take over their farms and pasturelands. The Israelites are forced to flee their homes and live in caves in the mountains.

In Scripture, when consequences overwhelm… when God’s chosen ones reach their lowest point, they at last cry to the Most High God. Gideon, a young man from the tribe of Manasseh, is the answer He brings their way.

Gideon is threshing wheat in the family winepress, hidden from view of the Midianites. The angel of the Lord appears to him… perhaps an appearance of the preincarnate Christ. He approaches young Gideon with this prophetic greeting…

“The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” – Judges 6:12

The angel places on Gideon the anointed calling from God to deliver Israel from the oppressive hand of Midian. The young man questions how he, the least of his tribe and family, could ever succeed at so great a venture. The angel heartens him with a promise…

“Go in the strength you have… I will be with you.” – Judges 6:14, 16

Still fearful and unsure of his potential, Gideon asks the angel for a sign. He wants assurance that this calling is truly from God. When he prepares an offering and places it on a rock, the angel touches it with His staff. Fire flares up, completely consuming the offering. The angel suddenly disappears.

“Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon.” – Judges 6:34

Gideon is filled with the power of God’s Spirit. He sends messengers throughout Manasseh, calling to arms the men of the land. He gathers an army of 32,000 to face the Midianites. Gideon’s faith is growing and maturing… yet he is still not seeing himself as God sees him. He asks the Lord for two signs.

Gideon requests that the first morning a wool fleece be covered with dew while the ground remains dry. The second morning, the fleece will be dry while the ground is covered with dew. God performs these miracles to fortify Gideon’s faith for the challenges ahead.

“You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against Me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’” – Judges 7:2

God understands the Israelites. He knows they may try to claim His victory for themselves and not for Him. As Gideon gathers his army and encamps at the spring of Harod, the vast, intimidating army of the Midianites can be seen encamped below them in the valley. God sets out to whittle down Israel’s troops.

First, He has Gideon announce that all who are trembling with fear at the battle ahead may turn back. 22,000 leave the camp and head home. Still, the army of the bravest is too great in God’s eyes. Next, He has Gideon lead the men to water nearby. God chooses not the ones who kneel down to drink, but only the ones who cup their hands to drink. The army is left with just 300 men. There can now be no mistake that any victory is from God.

“If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp… and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” – Judges 7:10-11

Gideon heeds God’s advice and heads down to the valley with his servant under the cover of darkness. The Midianites are as thick as locusts and their herds of camels uncountable. Gideon overhears a soldier describing his dream: A round loaf of barley tumbles into their camp, hitting the tent with such power that it collapses.

“This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon… God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.” – Judges 7:14

Gideon listens while the soldier’s friend gives this interpretation of the dream. Encouraged by the revelation, Gideon bows down and gives praise to God… trusting Him for the victory ahead. He returns to his encampment and rallies his troops for battle. He acts with faith and courage.

God has grown Gideon into a valiant and fearless leader. Following God’s plan, Gideon divdes the 300 soldiers into groups of 100. All are given trumpets and torches in jars. The three groups surround the Midianite camp. At Gideon’s lead, they together blow their trumpets and smash their jars. Holding high their torches, all the Israelite soldiers shout…

“A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” – Judges 7:20

The Midianites are terrified and cry out. God causes panic and confusion in the camp… and the enemy soldiers turn their swords upon each other. Any who escape death begin to flee in fright. Gideon and his army watch in awe as God brings them victory.

The Israelites in nearby locales are called out to help stop the retreating army. Gideon and his men pursue the Midianites across the Jordan River as far as Karkor. There they attack and rout all that remains of Midian’s original army of 120,000.

Israel’s victory rests unquestionably on the Lord… all by His power and for His glory. God grows and establishes in Gideon a fearless and resolute faith. This young man becomes a mighty warrior, as prophesied. Gideon accepts God’s calling and follows His plan… and sees His promised victory.