He was a fearful individual which is why we are relating him to the comic book figure “Green Lantern.” In “A Beginner’s Guide to Green Lantern,” it says that “all Green Lanterns are united in their ability to overcome great fear.”
Gideon was definitely fearful and would overcome his fear. He was also a farm boy who became a national hero. Against incredible odds, he saved his nation. Israel was at the lowest point of their nation. They were spiritually, emotionally, physically, mentally, economically bankrupt. An enemy nation called the Midianites had come in like a swarm of locusts 135,000 strong and forced all the people who lived in Israel to move into caves. They were living in caves and eking out survival. We find Gideon initially down in the bottom of a winepress threshing grain instead of out in the open where the wind could get the chafe out. He was hiding. If he was seen they’d kill him and take his wheat.
When things get bad, God looks for a person to use. God often uses the most unlikely person.
Do you think, “God could never use me?” God often uses the most unlikely people. This is what the story of Gideon is about — how God turns nobodies into somebodies. This is the story of the process that God uses to change losers into leaders. He turns zeros into heroes. He turns cowards into champions. That’s what happened in Gideon’s life and it can happen in your life.
Gideon was a very timid person. His personality was, he was afraid of his own shadow. He was scared to death. He had all kinds of insecurities and feelings of inadequacy and self doubt. Psychologists today would say that Gideon had an inferiority complex. We find him hiding out. Judges 6:11 “The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak tree in Ophrah that belonged to Joash [who was his dad] his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites.]
Out of fear, Gideon had climbed down into the winepress and he is threshing grain to eke out a little bit of wheat to make some bread for his family that’s living in a cave in these dark desperate times when everybody’s lost hope. They’re helpless. They’re driven to despair. And an angel of the Lord comes to Gideon and says this (v. 12) “The angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and he said, `The Lord is with you mighty warrior.'” Get the irony in that? This guy is afraid of his own shadow and the angel says, “the Lord is with you mighty warrior.” How did God change fearful Gideon?
God took him through a four step process.
1. Be Encouraged By God
God often starts in our life with a word of encouragement. He sees our potential and He wants us to see it. When God starts to work in your life, first He wants you to get a new view of you. He wants you to get a glimpse of your potential. He wasn’t looking at what Gideon was; he was looking at his potential.
God affirmed Gideon. He said, “You’re a mighty warrior!” Gideon was anything but a mighty warrior. He was hiding. Nothing could be further from Gideon’s image of himself than to be called a mighty warrior. I’m sure Gideon would say, “Hey, you’ve got this wrong. Don’t you mean Gideon the coward?” But God was looking at Gideon’s potential not what he was already.
Jesus often did this. Encouragement is a powerful form of motivation. Jesus would look at Peter and say, “Peter, you’re going to be a rock.” Peter was anything but a rock. He was Mr. Impulsive. Mr. Impetuous. He was always putting his foot in his mouth. God said, You’re going to be a rock.
God looked at Gideon and said, “You think you’re a weakling but you are a mighty man of valor.”
Notice Gideon’s reaction. Gideon started making excuses. v. 13 “But sir,’ Gideon replied. `If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all the wonders that the fathers told about us when they said, `Did not the Lord bring us out of Egypt? But now the Lord has abandoned us and put us into the hands of the Midians.'” Circle these words in v. 13. These are the words of the vocabulary of an insecure person. “if”, “why”, “where”, and “but”. Those are words of insecurity.
Gideon started making excuses. Who me? You’ve got to be kidding! He’s protesting. “I’m no mighty man of valor.” He had so much self-doubt that three times he had to ask God for a confirmation that He was even talking to him. That’s doubt!
He came up with all kinds of excuses. v. 15 “`But Lord,’ Gideon asked. `How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manesseh and I’m the least in my family.'”
Pick out these excuses. In the first place Gideon says, “You’ve got the wrong village, God.” Gideon was born in Ophrah. Ophrah is a little, tiny village. Ophrah means in Hebrew “the place of dustiness”. Does that sound like a lot of potential? Does that sound like a place where you’d want to launch a national campaign? The place of dustiness. He said, “You’ve got the wrong location, Lord.”
On top of that he says, “You’ve got the wrong family. We’re the poorest family in my entire tribe. We’ve got no financial backing. We’re weak. How could I launch a campaign against a 135,000 enemy soldiers.”
On top of that, he said, “You’ve got the wrong guy in the family! Even if you did pick my family, I’m the youngest kid in the family. I’m the runt.” God often uses and chooses the most unlikely person, the youngest guy of the poorest family in the most unknown town at the bottom of a well. God says, “You’re a mighty man of valor.” God starts with encouragement.
Many people miss God’s plan for their life because they just can’t see themselves in that role. They just can’t see themselves as a dynamic Christian. They can’t see themselves as a leader. They can’t see themselves as being an influential person spiritually. “I could never do that!” they say. “Who me?” Do you see yourself as a dynamic leader? Do you think God could use you the way he used Gideon? No? Then this post is for you! God always starts with encouragement. He says, “You can be more than you are right now.” You underestimate your potential. The greatest way we limit God is limiting Him by saying, “Lord, I can’t do it!” So God had to expand Gideon’s vision. He had to give him a glimpse.
Notice God’s response. v. 14 “The Lord turned to him and said, `Go in the strength that you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?’ … The Lord answered, `I will be with you. You will strike down the Midianites as if they were but one man.'” He said, it will be a cinch!
God’s response to our insecurity is three statements here: I’m sending you. I’m going to be with you. You can’t fail.
When we’re doing God’s will we cannot be a failure. When you’re doing God’s will you cannot be considered a failure. God’s will is perfect.
He’s saying “I’m with you. I’m sending you. You can’t fail.” Romans 8:31 “If God be for us, who can be against us?” When God wants to change you from a loser into a leader, when God wants to change you from a coward into a champion, He starts first with encouragement. “You can do it. You can change. You can be something you never thought you could be before.” Are you listening to God’s encouragement? The second way we fight fear is to…
- Experience God
Gideon had a personal experience with God. The fact of the matter is, when God wants to change me, first He encourages me and second, He meets me. He gets to know me. He shows His presence to me. I have a personal experience with God and hope you can too. Life should become more than a religion but a relationship.
This is what happened with Gideon. v. 17, “If I’ve now found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it’s really you talking to me. Please don’t go away until I come back and bring an offering and set it before you.’ And the Lord said, `I’ll wait for you to return.'” God waits. God waits for us. God was ready to use Gideon right there. But Gideon said, “I’m not ready yet.” Gideon went back home and prepared a meal at great expense and he brought it back to God and offered this mean to this angel of the Lord and it was supernaturally consumed. He realized then that he was talking to God.
vs. 22 “When Gideon realizes that it was the angel of the Lord he exclaimed, `Ah, sovereign Lord! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face.’ But God said to him, `Peace. Don’t be afraid. You’re not going to die.’ So Gideon built an altar. And he called it `The Lord is peace’ and it stands there to this day.” Gideon had a personal experience with God and it says he made an altar. He piled up some stones.
What does an altar represent? In the Old Testament, an altar always represents a personal commitment to God. It was a reminder. Gideon was saying, “I don’t ever want to forget this so I’m going to put some stones up here and make an altar so that every time I pass by here I’ll remember that I encountered God personally, face to face here. I had an experience with God.” This represents where God meets man.
Notice he named the altar. He named it, “The Lord is peace”. In Hebrew, Jehovah-shalom. Why did he do that? He’s getting ready to go into battle. The world is falling apart. It’s total chaos around him and yet he says, “The Lord is peace.”
That’s the natural consequence anytime you have an experience with God. For the first time in Gideon’s life he felt at peace. He felt at peace with himself. He had peace of mind. No matter even though the circumstances around him were falling apart he had internal peace. That’s the result of committing it all to God. It always brings peace.
Before we are ready to fight external battles we must have internal peace. Before we are ready to face the tough times we’re facing at work or at home or out there in the world, we’ve got to have an internal peace inside, capable to handle the battles. Where do we get that? We come to the point that Gideon did, an encounter with God. Pray for it, desire it, ask for it.
First, God’s encouragement: “You can do it!” Second, God’s revelation: “Gideon, I’m here. I’m going to help you.” All of a sudden God reveals to you and you realize, “I’m not alone in this situation.” That’s a revelation.
Have you had that experience with God yet? Or are you still trying to face all your battles on your own?
Then there’s the third stage to fighting our fears. And this is the toughest phase in how God changes us from fearful losers into faithful leaders. I want to spend a little bit of time on it in the next post.