Does Fear Disqualify Us? (Judges 6-Gideon)
Faith in God overcomes fear of the enemy.
Gideon’s chief characteristic was fear. In Judges 6:11 Gideon is afraid that the Midianites will steal his grain, so he’s beating out wheat in the wine press to hide it from the Midianites. Normally one would beat out the chaff from the wheat out in the open, where the wind could blow it away, leaving the heavier grain to fall down for collection. But Gideon is in what amounts to a cave – trying to prevent the Midianites from stealing his grain. Just then the LORD shows up and says (with a touch of irony), “O mighty man of valor.” I’ve often wondered if Gideon looked around to see who the angel might be talking to. Then the LORD gave Gideon his marching orders - “Go….save Israel” (6:14).
It’s a common misunderstanding to think that Gideon’s fleece was a tool to discern the will of God, but that’s not what Gideon was looking for. Gideon wanted assurance that God would come through for him, if he obeyed. So, God graciously plays along with Gideon’s requests and burns up a sacrifice, and does the wet fleece/ dry fleece deal – but in the end, Gideon was still afraid.
Pro Tip: when we lean on external signs, symbols or assurances for our confidence, instead of leaning on the character and reputation of God and his word – we will still be afraid.
Then it just gets worse. God’s next steps didn’t help his confidence – God said Gideons army was “too big for me to give the Midianites into their hands” (7:2). So, God reduced Gideon’s army down from 32,000 to 300 (yup – that’s not a typo). These 300 were to take on the experienced warriors of the Midianites. All 135,000 of them. Do the math, that means that for Gideon’s army to come out with a victory each one of them would have to kill 450 Midianites. That’d make for a busy day. Oh, did I mention that the only weapons his army had were trumpets and torches in some jars? (7:20). Sounds like he’ll have to overcome his fear and have faith in God, right? Yeah – that’s the whole point of Gideon’s story.
Gideon marches ahead with his limited troops, finds God faithful and achieves a huge victory!
In spite of his fear, Gideon discovered that faith in God overcomes fear of the enemy. I’m comforted that fear doesn’t disqualify us from walking with God, or being used by God.
Are you afraid? Who or what, represents the 135,000 forces opposing you? Instead of looking for assurance in external signs, symbols or assurances, why not go back to his word and believe him and act on it?