Summary: Have you been afraid that your lack of skills, background, or ability to hear God disqualifies you for service? Learn how God worked with a timid man and turned him into a hero.
Do you remember the Sand People from the original Star Wars movie? They lived on Tatooine - I guess their proper name is: Tusken Raiders. Anyway - these nomads were covered all over with rags with little lenses or something to see and breath out of. They carried these big sticks and traveled on Bantha. I remember them because they would come on you by surprise out there in the desert with this ugly cry then shoot you or destroy your house.
It’s all made up, of course, but I remember that gut wrenching feeling when these guys showed up in the movie - a combination feeling of surprise and dread. Then there’s that scene, after the Raiders kill Luke Skywalker’s whole family, of him standing by the smoldering ruins of his home in the sunset - that’s when he makes up his mind to become a Jedi Knight.
It reminds me of the situation Israel finds itself in here in Judges 6. Israel had been delivered from the hand of Sisera by Deborah and Barak. But they go right back to serving the Baals - and abandoning their relationship with Yahweh.
So, not unlike Tusken Raiders, a nomadic group of desert dwellers starts sweeping up into parts of Israel - stealing the crops, killing people, and causing them to live in a constant state of fear and literally running for the hills.
First God reminds them of why they are in this situation, and then calls a most unlikely hero to rescue them - first from their apostasy, then from their oppression. It gives us hope that if God can use Gideon he can use anyone!
The story has four parts - Gideon’s call, Gideon’s battle, Gideon’s chase, and Gideon’s rule. Gideon could be called a godmaker. He is example of the person who feigns humility but is really extremely proud and thinks very highly of himself. He is much like Saul, who becomes Israel’s first king. Saul hid among the baggage when he was to be crowned, but soon enough took on the role of prophet in deciding what God wanted done.
Gideon seems humble and reluctant at first but eventually takes the lead, leads Israel into victory, then although he refuses the kingship, acts just like a king, and though he was not a priest, he picks up a priestly role that ends up leading Israel right into another idolatry.
He is also a picture of the Christian with a false sense of servanthood - demanding that God work according to his needs. In our study of overcoming the flesh, Gideon represents that part of the flesh that involves the will - our will, not God’s will. God has to overcome Gideon over and over: his doubt, his fears, and then his methods.
On the other hand - Gideon can also represent the timid Christian - one who doesn’t feel capable of doing something that seems way beyond them - and is, in fact. So in the Gideon cycle we see three phases: the call to humility, the creation of humility, and the casting off of humility. Gideon teaches us that when God calls we should listen, and obey, allowing Him to strip us of what we rely on in the flesh and trust him completely - then give Him the glory for what He accomplished.
Verses 1 - 6
The Midianites were descended from Abraham and Keturah (Gen 25:2). They lived south of Palestine but would ride into Israel on camels - all the way to Gaza on the coast. Joining them - the Amalekites, Israel’s enemy who had helped Eglon, King of Moab in chapter 3.
The people were so frightened that they found or made caves in the hills to hide - to return only to find their crops and livestock stolen. Israel was "brought very low" which means to be feeble.
They had served Baal partly because of the promise of fertility and strength. But in reality, this non-existent god delivered only lack and fear. That’s, of course, what happens when we rely on the flesh or the world system to supply our need. The owner of the world, Lucifer, has only three purposes - and they are not health, wealth, and prosperity - they are to steal, kill, and destroy. But Lucifer lies fluently so it always appears as if selling out to the natural self will be good for us.
So anyway - God reminds Israel, again, of why they are in this state:
Verses 7 - 10
The prophet isn’t named, but his message is familiar: I rescued you from bondage and told you not to fear the false gods of this place - but you have disobeyed and that’s why you are in this situation.
Notice that this prophet is not also a deliverer. He only gives the message. Sometimes we want the bad news then instant deliverance. Here God wants them to stew a little on the judgment. Sometimes we need to hear about the consequences for the flesh, rather than get immediate rescue from our troubles. I think it helps the discipline stick.