By: Patty Joyce
When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
Judges 6:12 NIV
This is what Gideon heard as he was threshing wheat in a wine press to keep it from the Midianites. Gideon probably turned around, looked, and thought, “Who is He talking to?” He certainly didn’t act or look like a mighty warrior—so why the conflicting greeting?
If you will, allow me to briefly give you some background leading up to this momentous occasion.
Following the death of Joshua and the elders, the Israelites did not completely eliminate the enemy from the land, and in so refusing, they began to do evil in the sight of the Lord. God had warned them time and time again not to intermarry and worship the gods of the people around them. The warnings went unheeded, and the Israelites suffered the consequences.
The angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land I swore to give to your ancestors. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.’ Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? And I have also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; they will become traps for you, and their gods will become snares to you.’”
When the angel of the Lord had spoken these things to all the Israelites, the people wept aloud, and they called that place Bokim. There they offered sacrifices to the Lord.
Judges 2:1-5 NIV
The absence of leadership ushered in years of disobedience, attacks, lamenting, and merciful rescue. Instead of enjoying prosperity and freedom in the promised land, Israel continued to decline until God raised up judges to save them. They were by no means heroes, but were submissive to the Lord. There was peace in the land as long as the then-judge lived. However, upon their demise, the people returned to their evil practices until another judge was chosen.
The Book of Judges is so inspirational and exciting. I especially enjoy the story of Gideon. It reminds me of my life before coming to faith. I, too, was disobedient, was attacked by the consequences of sin several times, lamented, and yet, God did not give up on me. I, like the judges, am no spiritual hero, but was submissive to the Lord when he tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Do you want to come with Me?” After years of yo-yoing back and forth from sin to repentance, I finally said, “Yes, Lord!”
Gideon’s story continues:
The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
Judges 6:14 NIV
Hmm...would that be enough to trust the Lord? No. In fact, Gideon hesitated by reminding God he belonged to the weakest clan in Manasseh, and he was the least in his family.
The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”
Judges 6:16 NIV
Surely, that should have given Gideon the confidence he needed, right? Not for Gideon, he still needed more proof. And so do I at times. When I feel that tugging at my spirit, I often question it: ‘Should I, or shouldn’t I? Is this for real? How can I possibly fit this into my already-busy schedule? There must be someone who is better equipped than me.’
One would think that witnessing the angel of the Lord touching a wet offering of meat and unleavened bread on a rock with the tip of His staff and bringing fire down on it would be enough. It did frighten Gideon, but he was assured that he was not going to die from seeing the angel of the Lord face-to-face.
But the Lord said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.”
So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
Judges 6:23-24 NIV
PEACE. Don’t we all long for it? In our day and age, we have the utmost modern conveniences and methods of communication, a world of information at our fingertips, and many more tools than any other time in history. And yet, with all of that at our beck and call, as a believer, I still find myself anxious, overwhelmed, and short tempered with others at times. As Jesus told the disciples in Mark 6:30-31, it is time to get apart and rely on God’s peace that surpasses understanding before I literally come apart.
And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught.
And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.
Mark 6:30-31 KJV
As our story continues, the Scripture tells us God gave Gideon more instruction on defeating the Midianites, Amalekites, and other eastern people who joined together to attack Israel. Gideon was instructed to blow the trumpet summoning the Abiezrites to follow him and to send messengers throughout Manasseh, Asher, Zebulon, and Naphtali, calling them to arms.
When I feel attacked by the enemy, do I immediately blow the trumpet by going to Scripture and using the weapons of my warfare by putting on the Armor of God? Or, do I try to defeat him with my own powerless words? Unfortunately, at times I don’t blow the trumpet quickly enough and use unnecessary emotional energy to no avail.
I am always in awe of God’s patience and mercy towards me. God certainly had an abundance toward Gideon. After speaking with the angel of the Lord face-to-face, Gideon still doubted:
Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised—look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.
Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.”
Judges 6:36-39 NIV
Maybe we shouldn’t be too hard on him. After all, how many times have we put out another fleece before stepping out in faith? Too many for me!
Now, on to the crux of this message. After God convinced Gideon with the dry fleece, Gideon and 32,000 men continued on to do battle with the enemies. In the interest of space and time, I will give you a thumbnail sketch of what happened:
God told Gideon there were too many men and to reduce the number by several means, because God wanted Israel to know it was not their strength that prevailed, but His.
The final count was 300 Israelites against enemies that were as thick as locusts with camels as the sand on the seashore.
At the sound of the trumpets in their right hand and with torches in their left, they shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” Without them even leaving their positions, the Lord caused the enemies to turn on each other with their swords.
For me, the point of this account is that God and I are a majority. Yes, there will be obstacles and challenges on the way towards the finish line, but the Lord is with me always, lighting the way with the sound of the trumpets, proclaiming, ‘For the Lord and for Patty!’
In closing, I would like to share some truths I “relearned” at a recent anointed teaching and testimonial gathering:
God created me to be who I am. I need not try to add or reduce who I am.
Because of Christ, God sees me in absolute perfection.
I am body, soul, and spirit. When I set my mind on things above, my spirit is already there.
I have all I need to walk in authority.
There is nothing the enemy has taken that God can’t take back.
Remember, you are created for a purpose—God’s purpose. You and the Lord are a majority!