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A Warrior's Concerns

The Faith of Gideon

Once again, Israel's addiction to idolatry led her into apostasy (Judges 6). In His chastening, the Lord handed the nation over to the Midianites, a people more interested in desolation than in occupation. At critical times, these Bedouins would swoop in like a plague of locusts; what they couldn't carry away they destroyed (6.3-5). The threat they posed to life and property was such that Israel was reduced to hiding in caves. When the nation finally turned to God for help, the LORD chose for a deliverer a man of Manasseh, a warrior named Gideon.

To write about Gideon's faith, I want to look at the conversation in Judges 6:12-17, where he expresses to the Lord three concerns that commonly present as obstacles to faith.

The Problem of Evil

To the assurance, "The Lord is with thee" (6:12), Gideon responds: "if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us?" (6:13). It is the classic statement of the dilemma that results when the godly must reconcile the apparent disconnect between their belief in an all-loving God and extreme, unmerited hurt that has come their way. There are times when pain is such that it's not a question of getting through the day, but of getting through the hour, the minute. At such times—when we feel betrayed or abandoned by God—faith enables us to see the glory, honor, immortality, and eternal life that lies beyond our agony (Romans 2:7, 8:18).

In his play, A Masque of Reason, Robert Frost has God say this to Job:

    But it was of the essence of the trial
    You shouldn't understand it at the time.
    It had to seem unmeaning to have meaning.

When the meaning of life is hard to see, faith enables us to see it (Hebrews 11:1). To have doubts at such times is to be human (Job, Psalm 22), but God doesn't condemn us for being human. He only asks that we not allow suffering to loosen our grip on Him, that we endure and not quit (James 5:11). Faith gets us past the question, "why do the righteous suffer?" to where we see that the God we worship is worthy of our suffering (Daniel 3:16-17, Hebrews 11:34).

The Problem of Insignificance

To the command, "Go … and … save Israel from the hand of the Midianites" (6:14), Gideon said, "wherewith shall I save Israel? … My family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house" (6:15). God knew this, which is probably a reason why he selected Gideon in the first place.

The other night during our Bible study we sang the hymn Glorify Thy Name (by Donna Adkins). Afterward, I noted that if we want to know how the Lord does this—namely, glorify His name—we can do no better than to read the book of Judges. The judges were not taken from "the ruling class, nor the noblest families, but [from] what the world calls foolish (weak) of little strength and small repute, that no man may boast in the presence of God" (1 Cor. 1:26-30, JBP).

From positioning Barak as a sitting duck (4:12), to his suicide charge (4:14), to the whittling down of Gideon's army (7:2,4,6), etc., the deliverances God gave Israel were designed to glorify Himself. God deliberately chose the insignificant, so that he who glories will glorify in Him (1 Cor. 1:31).

The Problem of Proof

Although the LORD gives Gideon His word that He is with him (6:16), Gideon is still hesitant and asks for proof (6:17)—a sign—to verify this claim. And the LORD provided it, in abundance (6:21,36-40). He who "left not himself without witness" (Acts 14:17) has provided "many infallible proofs" (Acts 1:3) that pass the test of intellectual validity. Christian faith is grounded on fact, and believers should never back down when challenged by unbelief. Christianity is flush with reasons that support belief. It is the Midianites who are unarmed here, not we.

Are you troubled by evil? Keep believing. Do you have an inferiority complex? You're a person can God use. Do you need proof? Nothing is more provable than Christianity. Whenever the path seems blocked by problems, may Gideon show us the way forward.