There’s a stretch of time between God calling Gideon a mighty warrior and Gideon acting like one.
Gideon had questions. Gideon needed proof. An angel of the LORD met him and Gideon made excuses. Perhaps that is what happens when a culture drifts away from intimacy with God. They forget Who God is. What He alone can do.
Gideon seemed to have an understanding of Yahweh and how to build an altar to Him.
Unfortunately, he also tolerated the pagan gods who had seeped into his culture.
Eventually, Gideon began to baby step towards something that maybe, from a distance, if you look at it at the right angle, in the right lighting, might actually be faith.
God asked for more.
I want to zero in on a particular interchange where God asks something of Gideon.
In Judges 6:25, God tells him to take his father’s second bull, seven years old, tear down the altar to baal, and cut down the asherah pole. Use the wood from the pole to offer the bull as a burnt offering. Burn it up so the only thing that remains is that which you use to worship Yahweh.
In other words, before you battle, make sure you and the people know that I am the LORD. There is no other god before Me. It’s the first command I established with My people. If you get that wrong, then the rest of the commands tend to fall out of place.
Isaiah 45:5 echoes this principle so no one thinks it was just a cute suggestion. “I am the LORD, and there is no other; There is no God besides Me. I will gird you, though you have not known Me, That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting that there is none besides Me.” God is clear about Who He is and what place He wants in our lives.
Before Jesus can be the only LORD of your life, you must get rid of all the altars to false idols.
What mindsets, habits, even blessings have attempted to elevate themselves before God in your life? Could it be that they are blocking your victory? Your breakthrough?
How can you partner with God’s Spirit and a brother or sister in faith to tear down those false idols and get on with your life? Covenant to break bad habits? Repent of what you’re justifying? Declare God’s word into the aching soul hurt of your life? Demolish them. For good.
Need a start? Try declaring this, personalizing it with what needs to be demolished. “We demolish all arguments and pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5. If you want to be a mighty warrior, follow the instructions given to Gideon. Get out that axe. And get to work on your idols.
After the command to tear down the poles and altars to paganism, Gideon did it. But, not like a mighty warrior. He brought in backup and tore it all down under cover of darkness. (6:27). He was scared. He might be put to death. It might cost him a whole lot, this being obedient to God only.
Before you can experience victory, Jesus will ask you to deal with what scares you. Will ask you to go to a place where only true faith can take you. Where only He can sustain you.
Because faith that doesn’t require anything of you, is flimsy faith. Not something that stands up in a crossfire.
And a God Who fits into our preconceived notions. A God Who is all safe and predictable, well, is not really God.
Our God calls people out of graves. Out of boats and onto the water. Our God tells people to leave their jobs and follow Him. Heal people. Feed people. Love on people you’d rather not. Is that even possible if you don’t deal with your fear? Fear of man and fear of what could happen.
In the first light of morning, the people of Gideon’s hometown reacted. Who did this? Who’s gonna die?
It was a crowd. The Bible calls it hostile. Capable of following through, if it weren’t for Gideon’s father speaking some truth. He publicly points out the powerlessness of the false gods. Why didn’t they do anything to stop their altars and poles from being torn down? Maybe they’re not who we thought they were. Maybe we got this all wrong. Look around! The only people who are going to die are the ones following these gods. (6:31)
And, the Bible records the very people who organized themselves against Gideon, ended up fighting with him and winning a battle.Their numbers had to shrink from 32,000 to 300 so God would get the glory. What happened to the hostile crowd Gideon was so scared of?
God knew it from the moment He met Gideon in the winepress. The place where grapes are crushed and made into wine. The people would turn. All it took was one warrior willing to tear down idols which had been muddying the generational waters. God’s heart was revealed. It was about righting a whole nation, not one person.
As we prepare for battle, God’s move in our lives is never just for us.
We lay down our idols. We walk in obedience. We face down fear.
So that others will do the same.
So that others will catch on and do what it takes to make Jesus Lord.
God takes the very situation and people we seem to label as impossible, too hostile, too overwhelmingly against us, and actually uses it to display His glory, bringing us to victory. Isn’t that what He did on the cross? Colossians 2:15 states “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”
All the real enemies in our lives have been disarmed. Jesus’ death on the cross made a public statement. While some might have thought it was the end, all those with the eyes of faith understand it was a shout of victory.
Would Gideon have been victorious on the battlefield if the foreign altars remained? If he had sidestepped being faithful to God? A quick glance at any part of the Old or New testament suggests a hard no.
There’s just some things God wants us to deal with before we gain a victory. While everyone wants to be blessed, not everyone wants to do the heart work which God asks of us. Victory is costly. And messy. Look at the cross. Time to take up your own.
Get rid of idols. Go to the place where only faith can take you. Make Jesus Lord. Really Lord this time. Unclench those hands off the ideas, habits, and hidden altars which tend to rob you of intimacy with God.
Hand the battle over to the One Who already disarmed your enemies. You are a mighty warrior. God says so. Time to start acting like one.
P.S. So, I did a thing. A friend encouraged me to put some of the prayers I had into writing. And I did. At three in the morning, the fourth watch. It is a booklet with prayers inspired by the life of Esther, positioned for such a time as this. This little booklet of prayers has a place for reflection, and is dedicated to any person who feels a calling placed on their life, but struggles with the boldness to say yes. (yes, me, too) https://www.amazon.com/Esther-Fourth-Prayers-Julieanne-Riddle/dp/B08ZDWPN19/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Esther+julieanne&qid=1620089377&s=books&sr=1-1