In Judges chapter 6, we see the appearance of Gideon who symbolises our best response to adversity in life. His name means ‘one who cuts down.’ He cut down the enemies of God’s people, the Midianites. We, though, are told that our enemy is not one of flesh and blood but takes the form of spiritual oppression from the Devil himself. 2 Corinthians 2:11 indicates that Satan tries to outwit us, but the God’s children should not be unaware of his schemes. Looking at the story of Gideon gives us some key pointers to dealing with life’s hardships proactively. This is not with simplistic escapism from problems, but when embracing God’s power to transcend them.
Judges 6 gives us these important attitudes to bringing change in our circumstances.
1. Faith is the ammunition in our bullets of prayer.
Verses 6-10 show us that the Israelites cried out to God for deliverance, but they didn’t get the response they wanted straight away. He sent a prophet to remind them that they had already been freed from Egypt (symbolic throughout the Bible of the oppression we face in the world). This was for the purpose of conquering the Promised Land. They needed to take possession of their inheritance from the enemy because God had authorised it. They also needed to show their faithfulness to Him by also following His commands.
When we cast (literally ‘throw away’ or ‘shed’) our cares upon the Lord (Psalm 55:22), we don’t deny them or even just beg God for change. Looking to Him means recognising the victory we already have legally through the cross and then holding on to and obeying the word of God as our sure confidence that circumstances are subject to change. We need to do what God’s Word says and also to believe what it says.
Our talking and our praying need to betray a sure belief that what God says will come to pass, irrespective of what we see. This is not blind faith but biblical faith. It is centred on accepting what His Word declares as His will for our lives, and then rejecting lying thoughts to the contrary. His Word is our mighty spiritual weapon for tearing down the devil’s strongholds, including deception that can too easily keep us in our stuckness (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).
2. If it’s to be, it’s through God in me.
Verse 12 has God focusing the present deliverance through a person, Gideon. He declares him prophetically to be a mighty warrior or, as some translations read, a mighty man of valour. This means God calls us to be courageous when we face life’s battles, irrespective of how we feel. Our confidence is in Him, but our actions then have to demonstrate our faith (James 2:17).
Gideon enacted warfare against Midian as he embraced who he already was. Our own identity is in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). In verses 14-18, we see Gideon wrestling with acceptance of God’s truth like we often do today. He said he couldn’t make it and God said He would never leave him nor forsake him (like He does to us today in Hebrews 13:5). Gideon said he was nothing special and God effectively showed him that ‘nothing plus Me is a majority!’
Midian’s name means ‘strife’. We have plenty of it today. Other enemies camped on the doorstep of God’s people included the Amalekites, meaning ‘valley dwellers,’ representing for us the negative and critical voices around us that can sap our faith. Gideon also had to combat the ‘People of the East,’ symbolic of the old ways – the East represented the cradle of civilisation and the location of Babylon.
New thinking as the new creation in Christ helps us to lay hold of what God sees and what we therefore see with the eyes of faith and not with our natural sight. This needs our minds to be transformed by courageously embracing what God’s word says to renew our minds (Romans 12:2). What we choose to believe is important and adverse circumstances are subject to change.
3. Change begins at home.
Before he could conquer the spirit of the age, Gideon needed to own how that spirit had impacted his own backyard. Ironically, his own dad was responsible for building an altar to the pagan deity, Baal. Gideon not only smashed it, but this required him to confront his fear and summon courage in the face of persecution for doing so. When he did, he led his dad to become a defender of the faith for which Gideon stood. Can we muster similar courage and believe for a godly outcome?
Today, people of courage need to first declare that their own house will serve God (Joshua 24:15) and not just everyone else’s. Of course, parents or spouses need sensitivity in bringing change that has remained unchallenged in the past, but to nevertheless take responsibility for what they can. 1 Peter 3:1 shows that wives can bring change when their husbands don’t even obey God; we don’t need to sit back and wait for others. God wants us to determine that we will be His willing change agent.
Holiness requires Christians to take responsibility for one of the key markers of being a disciple; obeying the words of Jesus (Matthew 28:20). This is not selective, but wholehearted. It sometimes means refusing to embrace movies, television programs and music that overtly oppose Christian values.
For Gideon, in verses 25 and 26, it also meant refusing to allow an altar to God – symbolic of dedication and worship – to be built without first eliminating that which contradicted such devotion.
These three actions still didn’t prevent Gideon’s famous fleece being put before God (who made the wool wet and the ground around it dry, and then vice versa, as a sign of His call). God is, after all, patient with us, even though He beckons us to rise with courage and become agents of change through spiritual warfare against the very strife we might sometimes find on our own doorstep, rather than just ask God to take it away.