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Summary: Gideon wasn’t a natural hero, but God used him to save his people. God often uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things

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"33Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East came together, and crossing the Jordan they encamped in the Valley of Jezreel. 34But the spirit of the LORD took possession of Gideon; and he sounded the trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called out to follow him." Suddenly, this timid, scared little man becomes a powerful leader of his people. He blows the trumpet and 32,000 men come out to fight with him. So what is it that’s made the difference? The Spirit of the LORD came upon him. The Spirit of the LORD took possession of him, empowered him. Now let’s not miss the fact that this is the same Spirit who empowers us today as well. Jesus told his disciples: (John 16:7-11 NRSV) "Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9about sin, because they do not believe in me; 10about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; 11about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned." And he said: "Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father." (Jn 14:12) He said: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."" (Acts 1:8 NRSV) If you’re worried about whether you’re up to the challenge of being Jesus’ disciple then take courage from the example of Gideon, the mighty warrior; mighty only because of God’s mighty power which enabled him to do great things.

4 A Special Assurance from God

This is perhaps the best known part of this story of Gideon. Despite all that he’s seen, Gideon still isn’t ready to go out and face the enemy. It isn’t that he doubts the call of God, notice. He knows God has called him to lead his people. He just wants some added assurance that he’ll be victorious. You see to be used by God you don’t have to be a particular personality type. It isn’t just those who are always sure of themselves that God can use. God equally uses those who need multiple signs, who are emotionally vulnerable, who suffer from anxiety and depression and self-doubt. And so God gives Gideon the sign he asks for - twice. What we find here is another example of just how patient and long-suffering God is. How often he allows for our shortcomings; how often he condescends to deal with us in a way that allows us to serve him despite our failings.

But at the same time we need to be careful that we don’t see this request by Gideon as a model for seeking God’s guidance. You hear people talking about the need to put out a fleece if you want to know what God wants you to do. But the danger with that advice is that it ignores the facts of this situation.

First, this is a one-off event. You don’t find this sort of guidance being used anywhere else so it’s dangerous to make it into some sort of model.


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