Answer His Call
How many of us read Bible stories and think we would do better than those people in the stories? Like when Jonah was told to go to Nineveh to proclaim the Lord’s message, but instead tried to escape. How many of us read the story of Jonah and think that we would’ve just done as the Lord had commanded? We seem to forget that Jonah didn’t know that he would be trapped in a violent storm, thrown over the side of the ship into the sea, swallowed by a great fish, and then spit up on the shore of Nineveh. If Jonah had known the events that the Lord would lay out because of his disobedience, do you think Jonah would’ve just listened the first time to the Lord? We will never know, because that’s not what happened.
The story of the Lord calling Gideon is rife with fear, anxiety, self-doubt, and doubt about the Lord (read Judges 6). The Israelites were under the oppressive rule of the Midianites and Amalekites because God had allowed them to be conquered after they did evil in His eyes. Every time the Israelites tried to get ahead, their oppressors would tear them back down. They cried out to the Lord, so He sent them a prophet who told them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: ‘I led you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of slavery. And I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. But you have not obeyed my voice.’” (Judges 6:8–10).
Getting a prayer response of “No” is definitely a gut punch, especially when you feel that the need is dire. But the “no” answer the Israelites received was actually “Not yet.” The Lord sent His angel to Gideon. When Gideon saw the Angel of the Lord, he did not rejoice, nor did he tremble. Instead, Gideon questioned the Lord and accused Him of forsaking the Israelites. So, the Lord said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” (Judges 6:14). Some of us might claim that our response would be noble and valorous and that we would say something like: ‘I have been inspired by none other than the Lord God Himself! Of course, I will go!’ Unfortunately, most of us would not think, say, or do that. Most of us would say as Gideon said: “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” (Judges 6:15). Now re-read his response with a self-loathing attitude to get the feeling Gideon likely had.
Even with Gideon’s fear, anxiety, and self-doubt, God did not abandon him; rather, He emboldened him again. “The Lord said to him, ‘But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.’” (Judges 6:16). Surely the Lord Himself reassuring Gideon twice in one sitting would convince him – but Gideon then showed doubt that it was even God speaking to him. He asked God to show him a sign if he really did have God’s favor. So, Gideon prepared a young goat and unleavened bread offering to present to God for Him to show Gideon a sign. The Angel of the Lord touched the meat and bread with the tip of his staff and fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and bread. Then the Angel of the Lord vanished.
Finally, Gideon perceived that he was actually talking with God. Did he rejoice? NO! Instead, he became heavy with fearful doubt. How many of us would’ve done the same? Probably most of us. God knew Gideon’s fear and said, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” (Judges 6:23). Once He had Gideon’s attention and trust again, the Lord gave him instructions. Gideon was told to destroy the altar to Baal and the Asherah pole next to it. Then he was to build an altar to the Lord instead. He was to use the wood from the Asherah pole as fuel for the burnt offering. Gideon listened, and did as the Lord had instructed.
The next morning, the Israelites noticed Baal’s altar and the Asherah pole were destroyed, and saw the new altar to the Lord. They discovered that it was Gideon that did it and wanted to put him to death for his actions. However, Gideon’s father interceded, “Will you contend for Baal? … If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because his altar has been broken down.” (Judges 6:31). Gideon was not killed by Baal or the Israelites that day. His life was now a witness to the Lord. Perhaps now, Gideon was bolstered enough to save the people of Israel? He would need his strength and courage because the Midianites and the Amalekites were now united against Israel and encamped nearby.
But Gideon still doubted. He wanted another sign from God. “Gideon said to God, ‘If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said, behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand.” (Judges 6:36–37). God humored his doubting servant and the next morning, Gideon wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water. Most of us at this point are thinking, ‘I would definitely be listening to God now.’ But would we be?
Surely, this time Gideon would take God seriously. Guess again. Gideon wanted yet ANOTHER sign from God. “Gideon said to God, ‘Let not your anger burn against me; let me speak just once more. Please let me test just once more with the fleece. Please let it be dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground let there be dew.” (Judges 6:39). Many of us at this point, if we were in God’s place, and frustrated with Gideon’s doubt, would have sent a flood to the whole area, except the fleece would’ve been bone dry. But God is far better at being God than we could ever dream of and He humored Gideon once more that night. The next morning, “it was dry on the fleece only, and on the ground there was dew.” (Judges 6:40).
We are at our worst when we are immersed in fear. We are at our worst when we are swaddling ourselves in anxiety. We are at our worst we doubt ourselves and our callings, drowning our faith in self-loathing. We are at our absolute worst when we doubt God. However, when we are at our worst, we have to rely on Him alone. It’s when we are at our worst that the Lord uses us. The Lord is faithful and He will call on you. You have a choice: you can either flee His calling and probably learn a hard lesson filled with fear, pain, suffering, and anguish, or you can say, “Here I am Lord, send me!”