Anytime the Israelites got complacent with their lifestyle they would always resort to the cultures of the nations around them. This meant forsaking Yahweh and worshiping their newly found god. Yahweh would then be displeased and send some kind of calamity, natural or man-directed (army invasion), upon the Jews until they cried out for salvation. In Judges 6-8 it is Gideon's turn to be God's "Champion" of His people. But even in picking the weak to confound the strong, God selects Gideon who has a host of character flaws. However, one in particular is blatantly obvious once you read to the end of Gideon's story.
I have heard the phrase spoken in sports terms, especially the action of taking a shot in basketball. I have heard the phrase uttered when referring to completing a task that requires additional leg-work (on the job stuff). The phrase I speak of is Follow Through and Gideon is an example Not To Follow! But to truly appreciate Follow Through, let me point out some of Gideon's other missed moments of character development.
"The LORD turned to him and said, 'Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?' 'But Lord, ' Gideon asked, 'how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.'" (Judges 6:14-15)
- Wimp! Come-On Man! You know the cycle. He has picked you to be the next "Champion" for Israel! Is anything impossible with God?
"'If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.' And the LORD said, 'I will wait until you return.'" (Judges 6:17-18)
- Really?! Well, I guess I can't fault you there, we are still sign-driven today too. But look! Was it not awesome and gracious of the LORD to wait until you returned? He is still gonna use your wimpy self!
"So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the LORD told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the men of the town, he did it at night rather than in the daytime." (Judges 6:27)
- Yeah..oh...Just when I was going to give you praise about doing what the LORD told you to do, you go and hide your light under a bushel (oh no!) by working in the dark/at night. You are supported by Almighty God, yet afraid of your own family - don't quite get that one.
"Gideon said to God, 'If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised--look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.' And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew--a bowlful of water. Then Gideon said to God, 'Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece. This time make the fleece dry and the ground covered with dew.' That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew." (Judges 6:36-40)
- Signs again?! And you are asking God to jump through hoops concerning these signs too! What is your fascination with this? I mean an offering to God for identity purposes I might can buy into, like before, but this just seems useless. Come on man - Gird-up!
"During that night the LORD said to Gideon, 'Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands. If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.' So he and Purah his servant went down to the outposts of the camp." (Judges 7:9-11)
- Man! Not only are you of the weakest clan, the least in your family, sign-driven, and wimpy, but you are a straight-up coward too! After the Lord God Almighty has satisfied all your requests - you still have to hear the other army say they are the ones that are afraid of Israel and her God! But God still used you! Wow!
"The Israelites said to Gideon, 'Rule over us--you, your son and your grandson--because you have saved us out of the hand of Midian.' But Gideon told them, 'I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The LORD will rule over you.' And he said, 'I do have one request, that each of you give me an earring from your share of the plunder.' (It was the custom of the Ishmaelites to wear gold earrings.) They answered, 'We'll be glad to give them.' So they spread out a garment, and each man threw a ring from his plunder onto it. The weight of the gold rings he asked for came to seventeen hundred shekels, not counting the ornaments, the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian or the chains that were on their camels' necks. Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town. All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family." (Judges 8:22-27)
- Even your follow through stinks! You come up with some snazzy catch-line - "I will not rule over you...the LORD will rule over you" and deny leadership responsibilities. Instead, you take plunder, make it into a gold "ephod" which "All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family."
"No sooner had Gideon died than the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals. They set up Baal-Berith as their god and did not remember the LORD their God, who had rescued them from the hands of all their enemies on every side. They also failed to show kindness to the family of Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) for all the good things he had done for them." (Judges 8:33-35)
Well Gideon your responses and follow through did not leave Israel very far to fall after you died. I don't think you are a good example of much of anything. However, the Lord still used you and your experience is priceless, but that is no reason to be dull about recognizing God's presence, seeing yourself as God sees you and executing His plan with the best Follow Through.
So, it is my prayer that we all acknowledge The Lord when He visits us in a powerful, undeniable fashion. That we obey His Spirit, which always lines up with the written Word. That we believe what God says about us in His Word because of Christ Jesus. And that maybe we go a little above and beyond by making sure our "t's" are crossed and our "i's" are dotted with God's help as we strive to Follow Through! Amen.