“The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the LORD So the LORD handed them over to Midian seven years, and they oppressed Israel. Whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites, Amalekites, and the Qedemites came and attacked them…They left nothing for Israel to eat, as well as no sheep, ox or donkey.” Judges 6:1-4
“The Angel of the LORD came, and He sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joask the Abiezrite, His son Gideon was threshing wheat in the wine vat in order to hide it from the Midianites. Then the Angel of the LORD appeared to him and said: “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.” Judges 6:11-12
Other People’s Failures = Encouragement
One of the great encouragements from the Bible is that we get to see people fail. I know, that doesn’t sound like it should be an encouragement, but if you’re like me and you are so far from perfect you can’t even see it on the map, seeing other folks mess up is definitely an encouragement.
How can that be? Because God doesn’t give up on them! And, that means, du du du du, He won’t give up on me either!
Gideon, Mighty Warrior
I was thinking about this as I was reading the account from Judges about Gideon. It is amazing, isn’t it? Here is this dude in the land that has been completely picked on by the bullying Medianites. The Isrealites were literally hiding from these people who were tormenting them by stealing their crops and livestock. God had allowed this, because the Isrealites had not been faithful to Him and had (once again) turned away from the Lord and worshiped false gods.
But, God is merciful and He did not let His punishment go on forever. That’s where Gideon comes in–God is going to use him to deliver the Israelites from the grip of the Medianites.
So, the Angel of the Lord appears to Gideon and says, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior (Judges 6:12).”
Hmm, that’s interesting. “Mighty Warrior?” Seems like a stretch for a dude who is literally hiding from the Medianites in order to extract a few kernels of wheat for his family when the Angel of the Lord appears to him. That doesn’t seem too mighty or warrior like to me. (Also sounds like something I would do, but that’s another story…)
Neither does sneaking out in the middle of the night to tear down the altar of Baal and the Asherah pole, because he was too scared to do it during the day (See Judges 6:25-27). Nope, definitely not mighty warrior stuff, in my opinion.
And, what about the whole fleece thing? Gideon’s like, “Yeah, Lord, before I do that for you, I’m gonna need You to prove what You’re saying–not once, but twice.” (See Judges 6:33-40) Kinda wimpy.
But, God’s Word is true and it records that God addressed Gideon as “Mighty Warrior.”
The Greatest Encouragement
Besides seeing that my own wimpy behavior is not at all unique, this is the part that encourages me greatly-God saw what He would help Gideon become way before Gideon was that in reality. God saw, not what Gideon was at the moment, but who God Himself would shape Gideon to be.
That must mean that God could do the same thing for me, right? That even though I mess up constantly and am very much a work in progress, God calls me by the name of who He is shaping me to become.
What, then, does that mean for me and for you?
Now, I’ve never heard Him speak to me audibly like Gideon, so I don’t know if I have a name specific just for me and I can’t begin to fathom what that might be, but I know some names He has called me.
Hasn’t He called me His Child? (John 1:12) His Workmanship? (Ephesians 2:10) The Apple of His Eye? (Psalm 17:8) Heir to His Kingdom? (Romans 8:23) Hasn’t He called me Victorious? (Romans 8:37) Free? (Galatians 5:1) Chosen? (1 Thessalonians 1:4)
Gideon couldn’t have become the Mighty Warrior God saw in him without God shaping him into it. In the same way, I would not be able to be the things God calls me without His amazing grace and mercy in my own life. I am so amazed that God looks at this person I am, who I feel is so inadequate, and sees what He would have me become. Could I be a Mighty Warrior? A Great Encourager? Or, maybe, a Powerful Victor?
I don’t know what my specific calling is, but I do know that my ever faithful God will shape me, just as he did Gideon. And, I can stand with power and obey my God in whatever great plan He has for my life, because He has called me by name and will be faithful to make His Words come to pass.
He made Gideon into that Mighty Warrior. What will He shape me into?
My precious Lord, I am humbled that You called me at all–let alone that You have called me such wonderful things. Help me to see myself the way You see me, so nothing will stand in the way of me accomplishing Your plan in my life. Help me to hear the name You call me by and please shape me to become nothing less than who You say I am. Amen.