In Part 1 of this series of posts we began by looking at the Call of Gideon in Judges 6, and we examined the first fear that God had to move Gideon through as he moved towards a surrendered life, the Fear of our Circumstances. To overcome this fear God needed to move Gideon from crying out in Remorse to crying out in Repentance. In this post we look at the second fear, the fear of failure.
The second fear is the Fear of Failure. To overcome this fear, God has to move Gideon from believing, “I am on my own,” to believing, “God is with me.”
A Fearful Farmer Afraid of His Shadow
When we first meet Gideon we find him hiding in fear from the Midianites.
Judges 6:11–12 (ESV) 11 Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. 12 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.”
I don’t know if I would go so far as to say that Gideon was a coward, but he certainly was not a fearsome warrior. He’s beating out wheat in a winepress. In other words he’s hiding in a hole in the ground to stay hidden from the Midianites. Gideon is scared, and rightfully so. After seven years of oppression, Gideon is in full ‘flight’ mode. And into this moment, the “angel of the Lord” appears to this man and calls him a “mighty man of valor.” I can just imagine Gideon laughing. “I’m a farmer who’s afraid to be in the fields! I’m literally afraid of my shadow!”
Mighty Man of Valor
“The Lord is with you, mighty man of valor.” Talk about putting wind in a man’s sails. You want to take a defeated man and see him move towards flourishing, speak into his life this way. “I see this in you. You have untapped potential.” I imagine at first that Gideon must have thought this strange messenger was mocking him. “Me, mighty?! You mock me in my circumstance.” Gideon’s response shows what he’s thinking at this point.
Judges 6:14–15 (ESV) 14 And the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” 15 And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel?
He says, “You want me to deliver Israel? There’s no way I could do that. Who am I? I’m Gideon, I’m nobody.” Gideon has an absolute fear of failure. “It would be impossible for me to accomplish the boldness of the task that you are giving me.” And then this “Messenger from the Lord,” says words that forever change Gideon’s:
Judges 6:16 (ESV) 16 And the LORD said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites.”
Connection to Moses
I suspect an awful fear must have come over Gideon at this moment, like a chill up the spine. You see those exact words have been spoken before by the Lord to a different man. That man’s name was Moses.
Exodus 3:11–12 (ESV) 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” 12 He said, “But I will be with you…
This mysterious messenger is repeating the words that were spoken to Moses, “I will be with you.” Those words mean that there is no thing that can stop this mission? These are words of bold courage, because what it means is that the pressure is off Gideon to perform, and is now on the shoulders of the unfailing Lord. All Gideon has to do is surrender control and rights over to God. He doesn’t need to be a more committed leader, he needs to be a more surrendered leader, and that is liberating. If God could deliver the Jews out of slavery in Egypt underneath Pharaoh, the most powerful ruler in the world, by the hands of Moses (who by his own words was afraid of leadership), how much more could he use a man like Gideon.
We Have the Mission and the Promise of Gideon
These words, “I will be with you,” are the resounding cry of the church. Those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ have both the mission and the promise of Gideon. Like Gideon, we are called to be a part of God’s people, proclaiming the goodness and the love and the power and the glory and the majesty of the King of Kings to every tongue, tribe, and nation around the globe. That’s our mission. And just like Gideon that ought to freak us out, because what we know about the world is that the world is opposed to the gospel. If left to our own this is a suicide mission, there is only one way to go and that is down. If Gideon is on his own, he is just a man afraid of his shadow, but if God is with Him, that changes everything.
That’s the Promise of Jesus
Is that not the promise of Jesus Christ, that through his disciples, that through you and me, he will build his kingdom and the gates of hell will not prevail it. How can that be!? That’s only possible if God has made promises that he won’t leave us.
Matthew 28:18–20 (ESV) 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Oh church – for us to boldly step into our mission, to live as a city on a hill, we only need to look to the very promises of Christ. He said these words once to Moses. He said them to Gideon. And then he proclaimed them to you and to me. The pressure is off your shoulders to find a way to overcome, to find a way to be a better Christian, to become a mighty warrior. It’s as Romans 8:31 says,
“Romans 8:31 (ESV) 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
The Holy Spirit
Judges 6:34–35 (ESV) 34 But the Spirit of the LORD clothed Gideon, and he sounded the trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called out to follow him.
The Spirit clothed then clothed Gideon. In other words, “God took control.” If your faith is in Jesus, you have already one upped Gideon. The Spirit doesn’t just clothe you it dwells within you. It transforms your heart, it aligns your heart to the Lord, it empowers you. The Christian can never say I am on my own, for God is always with you.
Listen to the Original Sermon
Chisholm, Robert B., Jr. A Commentary on Judges and Ruth: Commentary. Kregel Exegetical Library. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2013.
Keller, Timothy. Judges for You. The Good Book Company. 2013.