The book of Judges is one of the most sobering books of the Bible because you see how quickly man can lose sight of God’s gracious acts. I’ve been reading through the book in my daily Bible reading, and I just finished studying Gideon’s life. His is quite an interesting story, and I wanted to share two different truths the Lord laid upon my heart while studying Judges 6-8.
First, God’s patience with Gideon is so comforting for me. Gideon repeatedly doubts what the Lord has promised to do through him, and God does not respond in anger. As God is calling Gideon to save the Israelites from Midian, he asks for a sign (6:17). Gideon, later in the chapter, tests the Lord not once but twice with the fleece of wool. As you read, you’re just waiting for God to finally say, “Enough, Gideon! I’m through with you! I’m trying to do a great thing for and through you, but you won’t trust me. I’m going to use someone else.”
But it never comes.
As a matter of fact, God anticipates the fear and doubt of Gideon as He’s telling him to take the Midian camp. To reassure Gideon, the Lord says, “Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hand. But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant. And you shall hear what they say, and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp (Judges 7:9-11).”
I’m so thankful the Lord patiently brings His people along to accomplish His will in and through them. I might not test God through fleece, but I often do question in my heart some of His promises. God is our patient and gracious Father who loves us dearly and desires for us to depend on Him as such.
Secondly, the end of Gideon’s life should serve a warning for all Christians. The Lord eventually allows Gideon to wipe out the Midians and their kings. Israel responds by wanting Gideon to rule over them as king (8:22), but he refuses because God is to be their only King. But he then takes gold and the garments from the slain kings of Midian and makes an ephod–a priestly garment. Judges 8:27 tells us, “All Israel whored after it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and to his family.”
By the power of God, Gideon freed Israel from its physical oppressors, but his response was to lead Israel into spiritual adultery. The garments of the kings of Midian, which should serve as a reminder of the faithfulness of God, became a part of the idolatrous ephod.
This is sobering because we can easily turn good gifts from God into idols that capture our hearts more deeply than the Lord. This can be a ministry that the Lord has blessed or it can be a child or spouse who eventually becomes your highest priority in life.
We should all praise the Lord because His patience with Gideon is also present in our lives. But we should be aware that, like Gideon, we can take God’s blessings in life and make them an idol that leads us away from Him.