In the witnesses of Old and New Testament faith, we find fresh courage for our own race. But if we’re honest, we sometimes struggle with the stories of Abraham, Moses, and Joshua. They barely seemed to bat an eye when faced with enormous challenges. They simply obeyed God. Indeed, they are models of faith!
But there is one soul in the Faith Hall of Fame we can all relate to, and his name is Gideon (Hebrews 11:32).
Gideon’s story begins shortly after Joshua’s death. Like Moses, Joshua had been a man of great faith, enduring to the end and finishing the race. But when Joshua died, the generation after him did not know the Lord or his mighty deeds. Instead, the Israelites only did evil in the eyes of the Lord (Judges 2:10–11). By the time Gideon entered the scene, God’s people were oppressed by the Midianites.
One day, Gideon was out in the fields, hiding his crops from the Midianites, when the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior” (Judges 6:12). To which Gideon sarcastically replied, “If the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us?” (6:13). The Lord let Gideon know that he had been chosen to save all Israel, and again Gideon was skeptical: “How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the weakest in my family” (6:15).
Perhaps you resonate with Gideon’s doubt. Me, Lord? Surely there is someone better for the job! God’s choice of Gideon to lead Israel makes it clear that the battle belongs to God, not mighty warriors.
Unsure of himself and whether this angel of the Lord could be trusted, Gideon devised a test: He placed a wool fleece on the ground and said if, by morning, there is dew on the fleece but not the surrounding ground—then surely God is with me. God was willing, and the next morning, it was as Gideon asked. Still hesitant, Gideon reversed the test: Tomorrow morning, if the fleece has no dew, but the surrounding ground does—then surely God is with me. Again, God was willing, and Gideon awakened to a dry fleece and damp ground.
It’s safe to say that Gideon is not a traditional hero. Next, it is God who would test Gideon. Before the upcoming battle with the mighty Midianites, God told Gideon to send away 22,000 soldiers, leaving only 10,000 left to fight. Next, in a move that shocked everyone, God told Gideon to send away all but 300 soldiers. Meanwhile, the Midianite army was described as being innumerable, just as the sand on the seashore.
Despite being outnumbered at an unbelievable rate, Israel routed the Midianites. Following the Lord’s directions, Gideon and his 300 men surrounded the Midianites at night, then shouted and broke candle jars around the camp. The Midianites were so startled that they turned against one another and wiped each other out.
The witness of Gideon is this: The Lord fights our battles, we need only be still. In other words, take heart!