The Gideon phenomenon
Featured Blog by Diana Levine, January 7, 2019
What is the Gideon phenomenon? It is the amazing six encounters that Gideon had with God in the book of Judges in chapters 6 and 7. In this blog we are just going to look at two of the encounters that Gideon had with God that are real life lessons for us!
Our encounters with God are supposed to be these special moments when we connect with Him, and through this connection, something is transferred to us by Him. In this transfer from God, something can be learned about Him. For example we can experience His peace, His love, His power. He can give us a word which can encourage us. It can also give us a direction in our life. Encounters are being created for us all of the time, because God desires to have interaction with us. The problem is that many times we are just too busy to notice these encounters, or our hearts are too hardened to perceive the moment. Gideon’s first encounter in Judges 6:11-16 seems to be the kind of encounter which Gideon could have missed but, didn’t! Let’s look at v. 11. It says, “the angel of the Lord came and sat under the oak”. God didn’t show up as a burning bush, he wasn’t floating in the sky. He came as a man sitting simply under a tree. Sometimes we expect only the fiery bush encounters instead of the everyday occurrences where God is also reaching out to us. God is always there, He is alway around us and always speaking to us.
So, the angel of the Lord appears to Gideon under the tree, as he is threshing out the wheat in a wine press. Gideon was terrified of the Midianites who would raid the Israelites and take their harvest. That’s why he is in a winepress instead of threshing in the open air. The Lord says to him in v. 12 “The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior”. When Gideon heard God’s statement I don’t think that he believed God. Gideon didn’t believe that God was with him or Israel and he certainly didn’t feel like a “valiant warrior”. If God was with Israel why were the Midianites raiding Israel and taking all of their harvest? Where was God’s protection? Also, Gideon didn’t believe himself to be a valiant warrior as he threshed the wheat in a wine press instead of the open air. In this encounter, we see God expressing how He actually saw Gideon! God is not even entertaining the thoughts that Gideon had about himself. You see, Gideon was behaving like a terrified man but, that was not who he actually was. God’s view of Gideon and of us is very different than the way that we see ourselves! God knew the potential that was in Gideon and what he could do if he believed God. If we look at v. 14, “The Lord looked at him and said, “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you”? “Your strength” didn’t mean that Gideon was powerful but, whatever strength he had it was enough because the Lord had sent him on an assignment. Gideon then goes into a “pity party” telling the Lord how his family is the least in Manasseh and he’s the youngest. But, the Lord says something really important to Gideon. He says, in v. 16 “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.” All of us, just as Gideon, struggle with the confidence to believe that what God says about us is true. If we look at Exodus 3:11-12 we see Moses having almost the exact same dialogue with God! This is also our dialogue with God when He gives us an assignment and we can’t see how we can do it. Notice, that in both verses God says, “I will be with you”. When we encounter the living God that knows what our purpose is, what we have been created to accomplish, He accompanies us to fulfill the assignment that He has given us. He does not abandon us!
The next encounter we’re going to look at is in Judges 6:25-27, 30-34.
In the evening, the Lord speaks to Gideon and tells him to take his father’s two bulls and pull down the altar of Baal and the Asherah pole that was beside it. He builds an altar to the Lord and sacrifices one of the bulls on top of it. Gideon takes ten men to help him do this and he does it at night. Then the men of the city wanted to kill Gideon but, his father, Joash, argued for his son. He said, “If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because someone has torn down his altar.” Then on that day Gideon’s name was changed to Jerubbaal (let Baal contend against him). This is a very interesting encounter with God that Gideon had. First of all notice that Gideon along with his family and all of Israel were committing idolatry. The idolatry was everywhere. Israel was not worshipping God and they had taken up the worship of foreign gods. Gideon had grown up not knowing his God.
This encounter that Gideon had with God was going to show them all that not only was He going to achieve a military victory but, He was going to bring them back to worshipping the one true God. Only God could save them not an idol. How many times do we fall into this trap? We place our idols in the place where God belongs. God had Gideon start with his own house before he could fulfill the plan that God had for him, he had to clean up his own house. Isn’t that what God does with us when we encounter Him? He shows us the idols that we have made and then we mourn how we have forgotten Him. There has to be that turning point from our idols to the living God. Even though Gideon was afraid (that’s why he tore down the Asherah and altar at night) he was still obedient to the Lord. In v. 32 we see that Joash renamed Gideon to Jerubbaal. A name is usually changed because God wants to establish a new identity through that person. Through this encounter with God, Gideon was going to have a new identity. But wait, God has more! Right after his name is changed the Midianites and Amalekites assemble to fight the Israelites. Then, in v. 34 it says, “So the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon;” This is an extremely important gift that God is giving Gideon. The word in Hebrew for “came upon” is “labash” which means to put on, wear, clothe, be clothed. God is infilling Gideon so that he can be an instrument of obedience and a vessel for God. The Lord is equipping him with exactly what he will need to perform the task that the Lord is sending him to do.
Gideon’s encounters with God gave him exactly what he needed to accomplish the will of the Father. May we encounter God each and every day so that we may be his servants to accomplish His will.