Summary: In this study, we take a look at a Bible hero, Gideon and how the Lord can see the heart of a hero in even the most unlikliest of us.
The Heart of a Hero
Have you ever noticed, how some people just naturally seem to have a “heroic gene” and others wouldn’t know the meaning of the word hero if one of them pulled a train wreck off of them? Of course, some people are more heroic than others by nature, and some, through training and study become heroic.
What exactly is a hero by definition? Well…
According to Wikipedia, the word hero, from the Greek: ρως hērōs, was originally a “demigod”… the offspring of a mortal and a diety. It wasn’t until later that the word hero (male) and heroine (female) came to refer to characters that, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and the will for self-sacrifice – that is heroism – for some greater good, originally of martial courage or excellance but extended to the more general “moral excellance”. Politicians, ancient and modern, have employed hero worship for their own apotheosis”.
When I dissect that description of a hero in the original Greek format, I begin to see the birth of Christ in that He was the offspring of a mortal and a diety. Reading further,it is easy to discern that He also fits the other description by reason of His “moral excellance”, and His willingness to make self-sacrifice for the greater good of all mankind.
This is how Webster’s dictionary defines a hero:
1. (Myth.) An illustrious man, supposed to be exalted, after death, to a place among the gods; a demigod, as Hercules.
2. A man of distinguished valor or enterprise in danger, or fortitude in suffering; a prominent or central personage in any remarkable action or event; hence, a great or illustrious person.
Even in the mythological sense one can see the image of Christ unfolding in each description of the word “hero”. He took a position of weakness that gave Him power as a martyr, and He saved the entire world by self-sacrifice. It is easy to understand how to think of Jesus as a “hero”, but how does one ever find a hero in their own heart?
Many of the heroic acts of the Bible were performed by “mighty men of valor”, but even more of them were carried out through faith by less-than-likely heroes.
For this particular discussion, I’ve chosen Gideon as an ensample. The suggested reading is from Judges chapters 6 through 8, but some of the verses will be paraphrased.
In order to understand where we are in the Bible, the children of Isreal have had forty years of peace after the victory of the judge, Deborah. After turning to idol worship and falling into the ways of the people whose countries they’ve inhabited, they find themselves overthrown by the the Midianites and the Amelekites.
God chose Gideon, a lesser son of an unremarkable clan of the house of Mannesah to lead His people to claim their freedom from the Midianites. Gideon related these facts about himself and his family to the holy messenger but was instructed in Judges 6:16:
And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.
In Judges 6:12, He had already called Gideon a “mighty man of valor”, or hero. The Lord knows who can and cannot be turned into a hero by circumstance, even in the most unlikely of people.
Gideon, realizing that he was conversing with an agent of heaven, asked this person to stay right where He was until he could bring Him a present. He needed to know that this truly was an angel of the Lord come down to deliver his people.
This is what happened in Judges 6:19-21:
6:19 And Gideon went in, and made ready a kid, and unleavened cakes of an ephah of flour: the flesh he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot, and brought it out unto him under the oak, and presented it.
6:20 And the angel of God said unto him, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and lay them upon this rock, and pour out the broth. And he did so.
6:21 Then the angel of the LORD put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the LORD departed out of his sight.
Well, the Lord had instructed Gideon to throw down the altar of Baal, and to cut down the grove that was beside it. (The altar was to the god Baal, but the grove was the symbol of the goddess “Asherah”, a fertility goddess.)
Fearing for his life should he be caught, Gideon waited until the long watches of the night to destroy the altar and the grove, and by the dawn was making the second required sacrifice before the Lord upon the new altar he built for God. When the Midianites discovered their altar had been thrown down, they demanded that Joash, Gideon’s father, allow them to reconcile with the young man for the offense. Now normally in those times, it was not uncommon for a parent to hand over a child who had done something unlawful, particularly the lesser of the sons, but Joash took a heroic stand and told the men who came for Gideon, that if Baal was upset about his altar being thrown down, let him do something about it himself.