Now it came to pass the same night that the Lord said to him, “Take your father’s young bull, the second bull of seven years old, and tear down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the wooden image that is beside it, and build an altar to the Lord your God on top of this rock in the proper arrangement, and take the second bull and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the image which you shall cut down.” So Gideon took ten men from among his servants and did as the Lord had said to him. But because he feared his father’s household and the men of the city too much to do it by day, he did it by night. (Judges 6:25-27)
Faith Must Grow
The story of Gideon is one of the heroic men of Old Testament scrip who did much for the Lord with very little. It was a time of great upheaval for the people of God. They had conquered the land of promise under the leadership of Joshua and settled into the new world with great hopes and dreams. A cycle of blessings and cursing plague the young nation of Israel as they allowed themselves to embrace the idol worship of the land and face the wrath of God for their rebellion. In time the Lord would send a deliverer and free the people from the oppression of their enemies. Gideon was a judge of Israel who helped deliver Israel from the Midianites during a seven-year period of fear and persecution. The son of Joash the Abiezrite would be remembered as the judge who subdued the Midianite army with only three hundred men against a host of Midianites, Amalekites and all the people of the East that were as numerous as locusts with camels that were without number. Before this great victory for the Lord, Gideon had to grow in his faith and learn to trust in the power of God to bring victory to Israel. It would not be an easy task for Gideon. His leadership did not appear in one day. Through the longsuffering of God, this great man would be remembered for much more than the challenges he faced early on.
Israel had been greatly impoverished by the oppression of the Midianites. The Lord sent a prophet to the people warning them of their rebellion against His word. He then sent the Angel of the Lord to Gideon and brings about the end of the Midianite rule. Gideon was very reluctant at first and complained to the Lord for what had befallen the people. Asking for a sign of the power of God, the Angel of the Lord told Gideon to prepare a meal and place it upon a rock. Putting out the end of a staff that was in his hand, fire rose out of the rock and consumed the meat and unleavened bread. The Angel of the Lord departed out of the sight of Gideon and the voice of the Lord assured Gideon he would not die. That night the Lord returns to Gideon telling him to take his father’s young bulls and tear down the altar of Baal that his father had and to cut down the wooden image that was beside it. He was then told to build an altar to the Lord on top of the same rock and take a second bull to offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood from the image he cut down next to Baal. Taking ten men Gideon did exactly what God told him to do with the exception of one thing: he was too afraid to do such a thing in the day. The eleven men performed the command of the Lord under the cover of darkness. They feared the household of Gideon’s father and the men of the city too much to do it by day so they did it by night. They were brave but not so brave. Gideon would continue to test the Lord for signs of His divine power and through the longsuffering of God, Gideon would soon have faith enough to lead three hundred men against an innumerable host and win the victory. There is a lesson of faith in the story of Gideon.
Faith is not something men are born with and faith is not something that is easily attained. By definition, faith is the assurance of things that are hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Gideon had suffered greatly under the oppression of the Midianites and questioned where the Lord had been. Sadly, his father and the household of his father had an image of Baal along with a wooden image that was an abomination to the Lord. Gideon’s faith began with going against his father. When the deed was discovered and Gideon was named as the one who destroyed the Baal, the men of the city demanded Joash bring out his son to kill him. Joash challenged the people to explain why Baal could not defend himself if he were so powerful a god. But the faith of Gideon was not strong and he went up by night to do the will of the Lord instead of boldly going in the day. Faith takes time to grow to maturity. Great men of faith are not born overnight but through a lifetime of trusting and serving the will of the Lord. There will never come a time when faith is complete and all the needs of man are fulfilled in the spirit of faith. Abraham struggled with his faith all his life as did Moses, David, Daniel, Peter, and the apostle Paul. It is easy to look at men and women of great faith and believe they achieved this level of faith by some great personality trait of family or privilege. Lost in the recognition of their faith is the osmosis of character that developed over time as they trusted in the Lord in times of doubt and proved through the will of God the word of God is true and everlasting. Gideon struggled with his faith and yet he is numbered with the faithful witnesses. Faith will always need to grow and the more faith is grown the deeper the roots of God’s love will strengthen the heart against the storms of life. Be a Gideon. Take three hundred men against a host of millions and the victory will be given because of faith in God, and in Him alone.