We see it every season – a winning team with a winning record faces a lesser team whom they don’t take seriously – and then they lose! It’s excruciating if you are a fan of the overconfident team, but exhilarating if you are a fan on the underdog team.
Victory as a way of lulling us into complacency, doesn’t it? It’s very difficult to keep desperately sharp, disciplined and focused when you are undefeated and facing a losing team.
The victory Israel experienced under Joshua lulled Israel into complacency in Judges.
Nowhere can this be seen as clear as in the case of Gideon. Gideon’s victory resulted in disaster. As a result of his stunning victory over the Midianites the Israelite's asked him to be their king (rejecting God as their king). Although tempted with their offer of power he declined. But he still craved power, influence and wealth that being a king would bring. So, he collected gold from every of Israel and made an idol. With this move, Gideon became the first Judge to introduce idols to Israel. He even names his son “Abimelech” which means “my father is king.” Nice. Now he has wealth and at least proximity to power through naming his son.
I had a prof in seminary that said “I fear prosperity more than liberal theology” due to the effect of prosperity on the hearts and minds of believers. Interesting.
Pro Tip: Prosperity is one of the toughest tests a person can endure.
Gideon is a mess - not one we would emulate. So, I’m intrigued, if not slightly confused that he shows up in Hebrews 11 – the great hall of fame of faith. Note, Hebrews 11 is not the hall of fame of the faithful. God is faithful. Hebrews 11 is the hall of fame of those that had faith - at least once or twice in their lives it seems.
John Calvin wrote: “In every saint there is always to be found something reprehensible. Nevertheless, although faith may be imperfect and incomplete it does not cease to be approved by God.”
I’m glad Gideon is in Hebrews 11. Our display of faith doesn’t have to be perfect. Jesus’ display of faith was perfect and through belief in Him, I am forgiven and in good standing with God.