No Crisis That Powerful
Before we dive into the story of Gideon I want to recall some key historical events preceding this moment. Israel’s years of slavery in Egypt and wandering in the desert have long past. Israel's conquest of the promised land and the division of the land amongst the twelve tribes has already occurred. They’ve just taken possession of the land, each to their own inheritance and buried a great leader, Joshua. The Israelites served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for them (Judges 2:7).
Now, we open in the Book of Judges where there’s a new generation, a generation whom grew up and did not know the Lord nor what He had done for Israel. The people were in great distress, they were following other gods, and were being defeated by the very same enemies they had once conquered in Joshua’s timeframe. They had forgotten the One who gave them the blessings and victory and instead were focused on the crisis in front of them. The invasion of the Midianites in their land had not occurred once or twice but seven times so they knew loss and devastation were upon them in this eighth invasion. It was a crisis that resurfaced over and over again with massive amount of food and livestock taken, and they were trying to figure out how to stop the Midianites.
Gideon’s story unfolds in the midst of this crisis. The Israelites, like many times before, were disobedient to God’s instructions (Judges 6:7-10); however, God hears their cry and in their moment of need He demonstrates His love by faithful to His people. Like any parent in response to their disobedient child God showed them His disapproval by allowing their enemies to defeat them (Judges 6:1). God will not excuse or overlook our sin; His loyalty does not equate to His approval (Shirer 49). God did hear their crisis and responded by sending a judge, Gideon.
And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” And Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” And the Lord turned to him and said, “God in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” (Judges 6:12-14, ESV).
The first take-away provided in the study by Shirer is “The crisis, whatever it is, is not powerful enough to place you out of the reach of God” (Shirer 38-39). NO matter what your crisis has done to your finances, to you emotionally or mentally, how difficult the circumstances have been, the crisis has not placed you out of reach from the hand of God. We, like the Israelites, may allow our circumstance to define our outcome and may never take the time to look up and call to the One whom has always been faithful. I know in my time of need, I’m most focused on the crisis and how I’m going to solve it, and then I end up so discouraged by the events that are unfolding that I lose hope before hope has even had the chance to show up! Oh, if in those moments I would pause, pray, and seek hope from the only one whom can provide it, instead of letting my circumstance define my hope.
The second take-away is “The crisis does position you for your calling” (Shirer 38-39). Gideon pushed back on his calling; just like many of us have. “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family” (Judges 6:15, NIV). In the study, we learn Gideon is a weak, insecure, and lacking in encouragement, fearful individual whom has now been called upon by God through God to save his people. We also learn how Gideon perceives himself has no bearing or potential on how God will use him. From what we read in the bible, Gideon has shown zero capability or characteristic of being a man of valor yet before God speaks “one” word about His plans for Gideon, He calls him a “man of valor” or a “might warrior” (Judges 6:11). This Scripture teaches us that God has a different view of you and me. We see this unfold more in Judges 6:12-13, when angel of the Lord says “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor” versus Gideon’s response “but if the Lord is with us.”
We see that God is more interested in changing our hearts than He is our circumstance. We’ve all experienced a time when we wanted God to change our circumstance. You may be wanting him to change your environment, the people you work with, a challenge at work, the marriage that’s barely hanging on or your financial situation. From our view those are all very real and challenging situations but from God’s view, His focus is on you. When God changes your heart, your perspective and your willingness to lean on Him changes, then guess what happens? Your view on your circumstance changes. Our faith in God is the powerful act that will change any of our circumstances. We see this over and over again in stories like Gideon, Jehoshaphat (2 Chron. 20:1-37), the widow that feeds Elijah (1 Kings 17:9-24), and many more. When we respond to a crisis based on our feelings we often go down the wrong path. It’s in those moments, we have to rely on Scripture. No matter how you feel, what Scripture says about you is real truth. Read 1 Peter 2:9-10.
Shirer reminds us that your crisis can do a lot to you. It can change your job, marriage, remove loved ones, cause pain but in those moments we need to encourage each other to read stories like Gideon. We are reminded of this in the New Testament, read Hebrews 11:32-24). God will use the crisis to position you exactly where and in the position He can and will use you. Too often we look inward which is where the enemy would have us look to make us feel insecure, fearful, worried leading us away from the change God wants to work within you and me. Allow God to work on your heart and start with a position of looking upward and outward instead of inward.
To take a deeper dive, reference Session 2 from Shirer, Priscilla. Bible Study -Gideon: Your weakness. God’s strength. Lifeway Press, 2013.