When God Says Go: The Story of Gideon

A few weeks ago during my quiet time, I came across the story of Gideon in Judges 6-8. I've read the story before and knew what it was about, but I decided to read it again for a refresher and to see if I could gain new insight. Turns out it was even more applicable to me today than it was a few years ago. I broke the concepts down into my journal and wanted to pass them along. hope what I learned blesses you!

First, please read Judges chapters 6 - 8 in your favorite Bible or online here.

Now I'm going to break the story down into manageable, bite-sized pieces and include some key insights. After that, I'll include a few journaling prompts for you to take these passages further.

  • The story starts with a very real problem. Israel had been overtaken by the Midianites (a consequence they were given for choosing to worship other gods) and their land was so ravaged by the Midianites that the Israelites started taking shelter in caves and mountain clefts. The Israelites were not strong enough to defeat the Midianite army and they were so impoverished that they cried out to the Lord for help. (6:1-6)
  • The Lord chose a man named Gideon to lead the Israelites to victory. He sent an angel to Gideon and named him "mighty warrior" BEFORE Gideon had accomplished anything, showing us that our identity is not rooted in what we do but by who God says we are. (6:12)
  • Gideon voices concern that he will not be able to live out the calling because he is the smallest and weakest member of his family and clan. This is such a parallel to so many of our lives. Our callings often feel too big for us, far beyond our capacity. But I believe God chose Gideon (and chooses little people every day) to demonstrate His power and show that He doesn't call the qualified, but qualifies the people He calls. (6:15-16)
  • Before Gideon can build an army, God asks him to tear down the altars of the false gods that Gideon's father had built and then to create a new altar to the True God in its place. In this set of instructions, we can see that Gideon had to literally dismantle the old way of doing life, against the wishes and beliefs of his family and peers. (6:25-27) 
  • Gideon was afraid to go against the flow of the tribe, so at first he attempted to fly under the radar by tearing down the false altars at night while everyone was asleep. To his dismay, he was found out anyway. The tribe wasn't happy that Gideon was trying to upset the system they had known for years, and demanded Gideon's death. But unexpectedly, Gideon's own father threw out a different idea: why not let the false gods and Gideon's God prove themselves? Isn't it interesting that the most unassuming people may come to support you when you make your calling public? (6:28-32) 
  • The Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon and then God supernaturally gathered all Gideon needed for the job. This is my favorite part of the story, a part I missed while reading these passages earlier in my life. As soon as Gideon was called and said yes not just secretly, but publicly, the Spirit of the Lord CLOTHED him and God stepped up to the plate to provide. (6:34-35)
  • Gideon asked God to confirm the calling with a few tests, and God graciously accepted. This reminds me of the discernment and confirmation we seek out before taking big steps. Sometimes we have the courage to jump into something new with full faith, and sometimes it is wise to seek good counsel and confirmation from the Lord before moving forward. (6:36-40)
  • Once Gideon had a large army assembled (remember, God came upon Gideon and supernaturally expanded his influence to reach the right people), God instructed Gideon to PARE DOWN the army's numbers multiple times before the battle. Gideon trusted God and listened to His guidance. I think as business owners, it's easy to panic when you feel like you don't have enough. But Gideon trusted that if God had given the gift of abundance to him and asked him to sacrifice part of it, that God must have a good reason for it. Again, this instruction was setting up the miracle to demonstrate God's power. Though God was using Gideon, the glory would be God's. (7:1-8)
  • Even the enemy camp confirmed what God was doing as they shared literal dreams and visions with each other prior to Gideon's army arriving for battle. God told Gideon to go eavesdrop on the enemy, and when Gideon heard of their dreams and visions that Gideon's army would win, he worshipped. This just goes to show us... even the enemy cannot deny or stop what God chooses to start! (7:9-15)
  • Gideon fulfilled God's plan by taking direct action. He stepped up and DID THE DARN THING. (7:16-25)
  • Chapter 8 is filled with Gideon's army taking down other armies, which I won't go into here. But one thing I do want to note: At the end of the chapter, we see that after all is said and done, Gideon unwisely builds a monument to help Israel remember what he helped them achieve. Putting "his" achievements on a pedestal proved to become a snare to his family. (8:27)

An even simpler summary:

Gideon was called by the Lord to accomplish something big.

Gideon was clothed in the Spirit of the Lord.

God supernaturally gathered the people and everything Gideon would need to fulfill the call. 

Gideon was human and understandably afraid, but God gave him confirmation even in the most unlikely places.

Gideon trusted God, took action, and JUST DID IT.

Gideon fulfilled God's call.

If we are not careful, we can put our achievements on a pedestal like Gideon did, forgetting who the glory truly belongs to.

Go deeper with one or more of these Journaling Prompts:

Where have you previously sought your identity? What has God already named you regardless of that?

Have you ever felt unworthy of the calling God has given you? Why? How might God's power be revealed through choosing to use you?

Has pursuing the call God gave you ever seemed to contradict or go against "the flow" of your family and friends? How did that feel? What did you learn as a result of "going public" with your YES? 

In what ways has God radically and supernaturally provided you with what you needed to fulfill your calling? Remind yourself of his providence and rest in the knowledge that if he called you, you will be clothed in the Spirit of the Lord.

Have you ever asked God for confirmation before taking a big step? What did you experience?

Has God ever asked you to pare down your resources, make sacrifices that seemed absolutely crazy, or do something that didn't make sense when it came to your calling? How did it feel and what did you learn?

What unlikely sources of support did you find along the way as you pursued your calling? Is there anyone you can thank for being your cheerleader?

What thing do you need to take direct action on that you have been postponing? 

It's one thing to celebrate and remember an accomplishment, and it's another to "build a monument" for your own glory when God does a good work through you. In what ways can you intentionally check in with yourself to make sure you don't create a snare for your family and future?

What stories of God's radical provision or supernatural fulfillment of a calling do you have to share? Journal about it to remember the moment and worship God for his faithfulness.