- Judg. 6:1-8:3
After the forty years of peace which followed Deborah and Barak's triumph over Jabin, the Israelites once again did evil. (This was the fourth time the Bible records the Israelites' return to idolatry following Joshua's death.) GOD gave the Israelites over to the Midianites, and for seven years the Midianites oppressed the Israelites terribly, destroying their crops and herds to the point that Israel dwelt in shelters in caves.
As was the case each time, the Israelites finally cried out to GOD for help and this time GOD raised up Gideon to lead them. When GOD initially sent His angel to Gideon, Gideon was surprised that he had been chosen.
And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him, and said to him, “The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor!” Gideon said to Him, “O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.” Then the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?” So he said to Him, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” And the LORD said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.”
(Judg. 6:12-16 NKJV)
Gideon couldn't see how he could be the one that GOD was looking to lead Israel out of oppression. So Gideon asked for a sign, and then another, and then a third sign—all of which were done by GOD to prove GOD's support of Gideon. Next, GOD had a test for Gideon:
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.
(Judg. 6:25-27 NKJV)
Gideon obeyed GOD, but his faith was still weak, so he did so at night in hopes of not being seen or found out. GOD continued to work with Gideon, strengthening his faith with each passing test, until Gideon became the "mighty man of valor" that GOD described him being from the beginning.
GOD sees the end of things at the beginning, and He knows our end too. He has a plan for your life that can only be achieved if we, like Gideon, are willing to trust Him and allow Him to use us as He pleases. The apostle Paul wrote the following encouraging promise to the Philippian Christians, and it holds true for us today as well:
He who has begun a good work in you will complete it…
(Phil. 1:6b NKJV)