Thursday, April 7, 2011


The curtain rises on Gideon's story in a time when the people of Midian have been pillaging and plundering the crops and livestock of Israel for seven long years.  The raiders steal and destroy crops, lay waste to farmland, and leave no animals in the barns.  The Israelites have had enough and cry out to Yahweh.

The Lord sends a prophet to state the obvious, or what would have been the obvious if they had listened to the laws given through Moses:  "This is what the LORD God of Israel says: 'I brought you out of Egypt and out of the place of slavery. I delivered you from the power of Egypt and the power of all who oppressed  you. I drove them out before you and gave you their land. I said to you: I am the LORD your God. Do not fear the gods of the Amorites whose land you live in. But you did not obey Me' " (Judges 6:8-10, HCSB).

(So. . . would that be a no?)

We meet Gideon, our hero, hiding from the Midianites.  He is threshing his family's wheat in a wine press near an oak on his father's land.  Has he outsmarted the bad guys?  How long has this strategy been in place?  Has it worked before?  In my imagination, he would have taken some circuitous route, doubling back, watching over his shoulder, making sure to lose anyone who might be tailing him.  Maybe he transported the wheat under cover of darkness, even in small batches he could conceal in his robes undetected.

There he is, working away in secrecy, when he hears a Voice: "The LORD is with you, mighty warrior."  The text doesn't say, but I have to wonder if he started in surprise or even cried out, if it took his pulse a few minutes to return to steady and normal.

At this point, Gideon seems anything but a mighty warrior.  The brains of a military operation maybe, but certainly not the brawn.  The Angel of the Lord appears to this very one hiding in a wine press and calls him a mighty warrior.  Moreover, He commissions him to deliver Israel from the Midianites oppressing them.

This story puts heart into me for my own battles.  The God who spoke into existence the Aurora Borealis, the Pleiades, Orion, the Big Dipper, a Texas summer sunset, speaks into Gideon valor and strength he does not yet possess.  Just as with Abraham, Sarah, Israel, Peter, and Paul, God calls into being that which does not exist, "naming" someone what they will be, not what they are.

As Gideon's history unfolds, he becomes what God has called him.  The Lord graciously answers questions, provides signs of assurance and confirmation (both asked and unasked), reduces his resources to humanly impossible odds, and shows Himself faithful again and again.  God calls, God leads, Gideon obeys (though sometimes with halting, hesitant steps), and Gideon becomes the call.

Sadly, his story does not have a Hollywood ending, and he eventually sets his people on their way toward the next cycle of sin and oppression.  In the end, Gideon proves a cautionary tale, illustrating the dangers of believing the accolades and forgetting who brought the victories, losing sight of the memorial stones.

Still, I love the way he begins.  I love that God sees him as he will be in grace and not as he is in himself.  I love God's gentleness leading him out of that self into bold trust.  I love that Gideon's God is the same today, still seeking, knowing, and transforming.  There's hope for me yet!
Be courageous concerning this, O Christian! be not dispirited, as though your spiritual enemies could never be destroyed. You are able to overcome them--not in your own strength--the weakest of them would be too much for you in that; but you can and shall overcome them through the blood of the Lamb. Do not ask, "How shall I dispossess them, for they are greater and mightier than I?" but go to the strong for strength, wait humbly upon God, and the mighty God of Jacob will surely come to the rescue, and you shall sing of victory through His grace.
                             ~Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, evening of April 6


  1. God is mighty to save. Thanks for this.

  2. @Brandee Shafer Yes, He is. Amen! You're welcome, Brandee. May you know His saving presence in whatever you face today.

  3. I especially love the last paragraph of your words, in particular the line, "I love that God sees him as he will be in grace and not as he is in himself." It is good to remember that, and have faith in the fact that is how God sees us in Christ. Blessings.

  4. @Amy That idea gives me hope, too! The Lord be with you.

  5. Such a wonderful telling! Gideon is one of those reluctant heroes who was always held up to me as an example of our human tendency to need proof. God is so good, isn't He?

    Have I said how cute your little doggie is?

  6. @Laura Thanks for the feedback. We think Ebony is pretty cute, too. :)

    I agree that Gideon seems a reluctant hero, and he definitely needs the reassurance of proof. In the story, at least, God doesn't condemn that but meets him where he is and leads him into confidence. He is good. And gracious!

    The Lord be with you, Laura!

  7. Can I start by saying tinuviel is an awesome name? There has been such a LOTR theme around my vision this week. Thank you. I shall go read your post now.

    valor and strength he does not yet possess...ooh, that is good.

    "naming" someone what they will be, not what they are. as a God named woman (see my Stylish Blogger post) this touches me.

    So I liked this post, breezy in tone and deep in spirit. And great Spurgeon quote at the end. Nice way to wrap up Imperfect Prose for the week. Thx, Tinuviel.

  8. @Joybird Thanks for visiting, Joybird. From your username and blog title, I'm guessing we see ourselves similarly before God, and I like that.

    Thanks also for your specific stylistic feedback and knowing the name source. :) I'll go read the post you recommended now.

    The Lord be with you!

  9. I love that God sees him as he will be in grace and not as he is in himself.

    new friend, i'm so glad to have 'met' you. this post made me well up inside... God is so good. so good. to see us as he made us, not as we are. thank you for this reminder. i hope you'll keep sharing with us. xo

  10. @emily wierenga Thank you for coming over to my place, emily. Your words bless me. I look forward to joining "Imperfect Prose" more often.

    May you know the love of Christ as you go about this day.

  11. Hey, Christina? I don't get tinuviel. I've seen a couple of comments about it and have actually lain awake trying to figure it out. I guess my brain doesn't work that way. Is it, like, a license-plate thing?

  12. @Brandee Shafer So sorry to have cost you sleep!! The username probably deserves its own post, but the short answer is that "tinuviel" means "nightingale" in one of the languages J.R.R. Tolkien invented. Most birds sing in the daytime, but nightingales sing in the darkness. "At night Your song is with me," etc.

    That help? (And yes, I really am that nerdy.)

    Sweet dreams. :)

  13. Oh my. I would've googled, but I was trying to decifer it. Tea in you...then I got lost.

    Well, ok! (I do feel better, now.) I read _The Hobbit_. Love the movies. Love the message. Love that part when Gandalf says something like: "You were made for such a time as this."

    Tolkien was in the trenches during WWI just like my guy Manning.

  14. @Brandee Shafer "Tinuviel" occurs in "The Silmarillion," which is sort of the prequel to Hobbit and Rings. It is the nickname of a character named Luthien (to whom I claim no resemblance). Sorry it noodled your noggin. :)

  15. It's alright. I'm the better, always, for noodling. :)


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