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 was 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.” In this post we look at the third fear, the fear of the past.
The third fear that God had to move Gideon through was the fear of his past. To move Gideon towards a surrendered life God had to move Gideon from saying, “I’ve got a broken past,” to saying, “God’s rewritten my future.”
A Broken Family
The third fear that God had to move Gideon through was the fear of his past, for Gideon that was his family. Gideon’s got a screwed up family. We see Gideon’s perspective on his family come out in two separate times. In verse 15 we read:
Judges 6:15 (ESV) 15 And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”
Clearly Gideon has some doubt not just about his family, but about his position in his family. In other words, “You’re picking a guy from the wrong family. Haven’t you seen the Smith’s down the street. They got it all together. That’s your guy over there.”
Carrying Baggage From Our Past
Some of us come from highly broken backgrounds. Some of us look at the decisions we’ve made in life and we carry a shame with us that hinders us from seeing the future clearly and hinders us from seeing ourselves the way God sees us. We carry the weight of our past sins, and our families past sins around with us as if we were defined by these things, as if they were a shackle around our ankle that limited what God could and might do through us: Alchoholism, debt, drug abuse, mental and physical abuse, self abuse, eating disorders, anger, lust, debauchery, the pain we’ve inflicted on others, the list goes on. If you’re human, then you’re prone to putting your identity in these past mistakes. And if you put your identity in these things you will never be able to see with any clarity the size and scope of who God says you are. You’ll be like Gideon who gets called to rescue Israel and the first thing you’ll do is look backwards and say, “Couldn’t be me, wrong guy.”
He’s Talking to Jesus
And as Gideon is in the midst of telling all the reasons why God is choosing the wrong guy, something funny happens in the text. Verse 11 says, “the angel of the Lord” appeared to Gideon. Verse 12 says it was “angel of the Lord,” again that appeared to Gideon. Then all of a sudden as the conversation is continuing, it no longer says “the angel of the Lord,” but rather says, (v. 14) “The Lord said to him.” And then in verses 19-22 this mysterious figure reveals himself, that the one who called Gideon to step out and become the deliverer of Israel, this “angel of the Lord,” was none other than “the Lord” Himself. The pre-incarnate Word Made Flesh. This is called a Christophany, appears in the Old Testament. Jesus calls Gideon by name!
When Jesus calls you by name, He grafts you into His family. The Gospel tells us that at the cross of calvary, this same Jesus would hang on a cross, pouring his blood out for the consequences of our sin and broken past. By placing our faith in Jesus Christ as our atoning sacrifice, our sins are no longer counted against us because they were counted against Jesus, our substitute. This is why Romans 8:1 says so beautifully:
Romans 8:1 (ESV) 1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
There is no condemnation in Christ, because Jesus was condemned on your behalf. There’s no more penalty to pay. Your past debt is paid in full and therefore does not define you. There’s no more baggage to carry around. The cross cuts the shackle of our past. At the cross, your broken past meets its match. Jesus loads your scars, your wounds, your baggage, and your failures on his shoulders and says, “put it all on me.” When we place our broken past on the shoulders of Christ, it frees us to walk in the newness of life. This is how Jesus rewrites your story. He fills you with the Holy Spirit, He says, “I have bigger dreams for you than you would ever dare to dream. I’m going to win the nations to my Kingdom through you. You’re going to be my ambassador! And your effectiveness is not limited by your broken past!”
Gideon Has to Go Right Back
Once again the Lord is so individual and specific with each person. Before Gideon can conquer Midian, God first calls Gideon to demonstrate that He has conquered his past.
Judges 6:25 (ESV) 25 That night the LORD said to him, “Take your father’s bull, and the second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it
“Gideon, I’ve re-written who you are. You are not the son of a Baal worshipper.” And to prove it to Gideon he has Gideon go right back to his father’s home of idols and tear them down.
This is OUR Story
The next time you start feeling insecure about your past, remember that you come from a long line of men and women who were used mightily by God who had very broken pasts. I heard a preacher somewhere once say it this way: Jacob was a cheater, Peter had a temper, David had an affair, Noah got drunk, Jonah ran from God, Paul was a murderer, Gideon was insecure, Miriam was a gossip, Martha was a worrier, Thomas was a doubter, Sara was impatient, Elijah was moody, Moses stuttered, Abraham was old,… and Lazarus was dead. If God can use these men and women in all their weaknesses, I’m pretty sure he can use you in your weaknesses as well. In Christ your past does not define you, Jesus defines you, and He’s rewritten your future!