And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon...who through faith...[was] made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Hebrews 11:32-34
Open up your Bible and read Judges 6-7. Pay special attention to the interaction between God and Gideon.
What do you learn about God from his responses to Gideon?
What do you learn about faith from their interactions?
What did Gideon have to lay aside in order to endure?
In each interaction, where was God call him to look?
Often times we are too timid to pray the way Gideon did. Three times Gideon asked for a sign (one in preparing a present and two more regarding the fleece), and two times God himself gave Gideon a sign to watch and listen for. For the Jewish people, signs were evidence of God’s work and presence among them. Prophets proved their ministry trustworthy when what they declared from the Lord actually came to pass. When Jesus came to earth, the Jews continually demanded signs from him to verify his ministry as the Messiah, though they did not believe the signs he already performed.
Jesus pointed to his upcoming death as the sign upon which everything hinges: “when the crowds were increasing, he began to say, ‘This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation…the men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here” (Luke 11:29-30,32).
As Jonah descended into the fish for three days, so Christ entered the belly of a tomb for three days. As Jonah miraculously rose up from the darkness and preached the hope of repentance to the crooked people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man resurrected from the grave would bring life for the salvation of mankind.
Though we have been given the ultimate sign of the cross, we are not immune to doubt. Yet, instead of allowing shame to distance us or pride to harden us when doubt arises, let us learn form Gideon the way forward. Let us speak with God in both boldness and humility. Let us take up our privilege of entering the holy places—made possible by the blood of Jesus—and make our requests before the Lord in faith (Hebrews 10:19-20).
But let us also assess our agenda. Gideon ultimately asked for assurance to know God and for assurance that God would do what he said (Judges 6:17, 36-37). We can discern that his requests were in faith because when God answered, he believed and obeyed. For us who live on this side of the cross with a canon of Scripture, our bold and humble asking will find it answers as God speaks to us through his Word. He certainly may affirm his response through his people and other circumstances, but his primary means of answering our questions comes through the Bible.
What requests have you been hesitant to bring to God? What is at the heart of your agenda in those requests? Where have you searched for answers?
My favorite part of these chapters is found in Judges 7:9-15. God gives Gideon a command, but he also makes room for his fear. God gives him an alternate command, saying, “…and afterward your hands shall be strengthened” (v. 11). When Gideon chooses option B, the strengthening came not merely from what he overheard but from what he did afterward: “he worshipped” (v. 15). God makes room for our fears—he remembers we are but dust—and desires to encourage us in our weakness. May we take heart in his grace to obey and discover that our strength will come from worship.