Summary: A spectacular mystery is the apparent truth that God uses the least likely and yet the most available person to actively become a part of His work of salvation and deliverance
Great mysteries abound when it comes to the things of God. A spectacular mystery is the apparent truth that God uses the least likely and yet the most available person to actively become a part of His work of salvation and deliverance. We see this over and over in scripture. The least becomes the greatest—whether it’s a mustard seed, yeast or a human being—when someone becomes available to God it is amazing how God responds with graciously using the life given to Him. Over and over again in the Bible from Moses to Onesimus there are those who God gets a hold of and whose life is never the same.
And it’s not just an individual who is touched but sometimes whole nations are taken to a new place. Gideon is one more such story for us. Here is a frightened young man in a winepress who moves from denial to dedication and from doubt to deliverance. With one conversation Gideon is moved from the depths of a despairing life in a winepress into the very presence of God Himself. With one conversation Gideon is taken from the safety of the same old routine and set on a road leading to deliverance for himself and his nation.
Gideon is renamed by this angel who appears. He is a “mighty man of valor” one translations says. Yet, Gideon is down in a winepress trying to separate the wheat without drawing the Midianites attention. As such he appears as anything but a “mighty man of valor”.
A second step to Gideon’s transformation is his getting rid of the idols he had been worshipping. We didn’t read this part of the story so let me summarize. Gideon goes and makes a meal for the angel. He brings it back and the angel touches his staff to it and it’s burned up like a sacrifice. Gideon now knows he’s seen God.
God tells Gideon to take his father’s bull and tear down his own father’s idol to Baal as well as cut down the Asheroth pole. He does this at night because he’s afraid of what others may say. And sure enough the next morning the town people want Gideon dead. In spite of the fact that it was a family as well as community altar Gideon’s father sticks up for him.
After this Gideon was prepared to take the third step which was to rely on God’s ROE (rules of engagement) rather than his own plan. God’s plan was to make it so utterly impossible to beat the enemy that when it happened the only conclusion anyone could have was that God had done it. In this way Gideon is not only used to “save” his family but to “save” Israel as well.
It seems that this same three step process is at work today. We become a part of God’s saving work in our world when we are able to recognize God’s calling in our life. We’ve talked about seeing God for a few weeks now and perhaps you’ve had a little more luck hearing our Lord’s voice directing you in different ways.
Let me add that when God calls us and “names” us, (like he did Gideon, Israel, and Peter) He gives us a name that calls forth His best in us. Our calling will be based on the Spiritual gifts the Holy Spirit has given to us and called us to use. When God calls Gideon a “mighty man of valor” or Christ names Peter, “Rock” these two become those names. Likewise when God calls us “beloved daughter”; “honored son”; “Faithful Mother”; “Strong Father”; “Saved”; “Alive”; “Renewed in Christ” or whatever other name we might imagine He is calling us to live out that name.
Let me quickly explain that we don’t understand the “names” that God has called forth in us because we don’t spend time listening to God’s word and secondly because we’re too eager to adopt the names that the world tosses at us. Many of the “names” we call ourselves are not in line at all with God’s wishes for us but they’ve become so comfortable that “loser”; “martyr”; “no good”; “stupid” and the like have become bearable because we know where in life we fit in. Our first step then is to answer to the names God has called forth in us.
When we have answered to our “God given” title we will discover we get to live out the characteristic of that name. Gideon, the “mighty man of valor” is given the task of tearing down the idols in his life. Likewise we will be called forth to change and be changed in our life as well. Let’s look at how a couple of these might play out. If someone becomes convinced that God’s calling them with the title, “Faithful Mother” then perhaps God’s next direction will be to tear up those idols that keep them from being faithful. Perhaps it’s an idol of selfishness which wants everything for themselves. Likewise if we sense Christ calling us “One who stands firm for Jesus” we may face the idolatry that goes along with doing whatever everyone else is doing. The person named by God as “beloved” will be challenged to cut down the idols of self-pity and defeatist attitudes. Do you see how this may work?