The book of Judges is one of decline—an exponential descent exposing humanity’s depravity. To understand any part of Judges, you need to understand the whole story. Basically, after Moses, Joshua leads the Israelites into the Promised Land. Because the inhabitants were supremely wicked, they were to be removed from the Land. Israel failed in this task and the cancer of idolatry began to grow amongst God’s holy people. To understand how the book of Judges works, watch this video that provides an excellent summary.
In today’s passage, Israel has yet again fallen into spiritual bankruptcy. They were oppressed by the Midianite people, so Israel was brought very low because of Midian, and the sons of Israel cried out to the Lord (6:6). God in his amazing grace and mercy sent a prophet to encourage the people, and an angel to raise up for them the next deliverer of Israel—Gideon.
If you watched the video, you’ll know that we’ve moved past the “pretty good” leaders of Israel and Gideon’s leadership can only be described as “okay.” This becomes evident in Gideon’s interaction with the Lord’s angel.
“The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior.” When Gideon heard these words, he probably looked around to find out who the “valiant warrior” was. This phrase, gibor hayel, is probably best rendered in the NKJV as “mighty man of valor.” This was high praise for a man hiding inside of a winepress to thresh wheat—normally done out in the open on a threshing floor. Whether this phrase is ironic, because he was hiding, or prophetic, because he would soon lead Israel to a great victory, we cannot say. What we can say is, a man of utmost faith, Gideon was not—“O my lord (this is not a reference to God, this is simply a term of respect), if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian” (6:13)
Despite his initial underwhelming faith, Gideon believed God and acted accordingly—fear turned to faith. In a bold act, even if it was done under the cover of darkness (6:27), Gideon tore down the Baal alter and raised one to Yahweh. Ideally, this “mighty man of valor” would stand up to the people and call them back to repentance. Instead, Gideon let his dad, Joash, defend him to the angry mob.
Regardless of his shortcomings, of which there were many, Gideon took God at his Word. Because of this, Gideon’s name appears in the “Hall of Faith” of Hebrews 11. Take comfort my friends, human perfection is not required to serve God faithfully. Instead, take God at his Word. You don’t have to be perfect, but in the same breath I need to be clear that God will not leave you in your imperfection. The book of Judges is a warning that we must heed; if we do not pursue the Lord, it will lead to severe consequences. Remember today, o valiant warriors, the Lord is not far off, he is with you; so, by faith, take him at his Word. Ask yourself, “What is the Lord asking me to do today?”
By: Tyler Short — Connections Associate