Israel is so weak. The sermon on Sunday was from Jonah and in the set up Tom who was preaching compared Israel to a show home, an example of god’s blessing. So they had no natural ability at all to be warlike, to dominate the land. God’s outrageous blessing to them meant they triumphed, nothing else, and this would show people how powerful God is. In their weakness is he made strong.
And Gideon is a one person microcosm of that principle.
In his own estimation he’s the least son of the least house of the least tribe. He’s not only unwilling, he’s completely unbelieving that God really does want him to lead the renaissance in belief.
The people are being comprehensively dominated by the ex-locals. The midianites are deliberately destroying their crops to stave them and break their economy, they are hiding out in caves.
Spiritually it seems to be a chicken and egg situation. a prophet tells them they are being punished by God for unfaithfulness. Yet their response to the attacks seems to be to assimilate more and more with the midianites religion of worshipping baal. Which seems like a pragmatic response to the attacks as much as a cause of them.
God gets timid Gideon to do an act of protest vandalism against Baal, which he does under cover is darkness because he is so scared.
And not without cause, when they discover their altar has been destroyed and the best bull offered to one built to Yahweh they want to kill gideon. His father saves him with impeccable logic: let Baal kill him if he’s God. He lives.
But his action unleashes a surge in support for God, and by next chapter he will have collected 20 000 men.
His story reminds me a little of Jesus, the people around Jesus were always coming up with plans to start a nationalist movement, but he stuck with his 12 and witnessed to God.
Gideon will lead Israel back in a series of stunning reversals for the invaders, however the force of the story is that it’s all about God. The victories are his.
Gideon proves God really wants him, even after the altar event, by tricks with a fleece to show supernatural intervention. God goes along. It is a hobbit story: the weakest most unlikely person being used for the most important task, to show the victory of goodness.
I spent the weekend with random parents of my son’s school friends. Among them there was so much latent, quietly dying, Christian belief. I am timid like Gideon.
I pray that i will use my time, perhaps my music, to bring people towards God. I feel that there are so many people like the Israelites who probably just need a little shove from a timid person to rekindle some love of God in them.
I feel increasingly convicted about this.