The LORD said to him, "Peace to you, do not fear; you shall not die."Judges 6:23(NASB)
How we all delight to read through the chapter on faith in the book of Hebrews, and rejoice as we consider the exploits of so many godly men and women of faith. How often we wish that we were like these spiritual heroes, and that our faith was as sure and strong as that great cloud of witnesses, who by God's grace, were saved by faith, lived by faith, gave honour to God, and found their way into the holy Scriptures.
We think of Joshua, who was strong and very courageous, whom God chose to lead the people of Israel across the Red Sea and into the promised land, and of David, the shepherd boy of Israel who was chosen to be king and who penned many psalms that have encouraged multiple generations. We remember the beautiful Queen Esther, who was used by God to save the entire nation of Israel from genocidal extermination, and the apostle Paul, who has inspired generations of Christians. And we think of the gallant Gideon, who was the mighty man used by God to save His people from the terrifying Midianite army.
Every one of them was used mightily of God, and yet each one had significant character flaws. Each one compromised their testimony by doing things in their lives that dishonoured God. Joshua brought the people into Canaan, but failed to secure the land, as instructed. David was a man after God's own heart, but he committed both adultery and murder.
The courageous Esther was prepared to participate in an ungodly beauty contest, in a pagan nation, and devalue her virginity. Paul, the mass-murder of Christians, was the wretched man of Roman 7, before he discovered that God's grace is sufficient and His strength is made perfect in our weakness, and Gideon was a frightened little man, who secretly threshed his wheat in a winepress to avoid being intimidated by the Midianites.
The powerful nation of Midian had harassed Israel for seven years. They made themselves dens in the mountains and constructed strongholds in the rocks, so they could attack Israel and spoil their goods. They flooded into the land at harvest time, to spoil Israel's crops and steal their possessions, before retreating to their own land. God permitted them to prevail, as a punishment for His erring people, who had rebelled against the Lord, broken their covenant with Him, adopted pagan practices, and even started to worship the evil gods of their wicked neighbours.
For seven years the Midianites swooped down to destroy Israel's crops and steal their harvest, such that nothing was left to feed the people or their animals. So numerous was the Midianite army, that they were like locusts for number - both they and their camels were innumerable, and they came into the land to devastate it. It was at this point that Gideon was called by God to become one of the primary Judges of Israel.
The Lord had heard the cries of His people and chose Gideon to free His desperate nation from the Midianite snare, and so the angel of the Lord came to Gideon as he was threshing some wheat in the winepress, in an attempt to save his family's crop from the Midianites. The angel of the Lord - a pre-existent appearance of Christ, came to him and said, "The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior." God wanted to use Gideon to turn the hearts of the people back to Himself.
"Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian." Gideon was commanded, "Have I not sent you? - Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man." However, this scared little farmer was anything but a gallant fighting soldier. He had become a double-minded man, who showed a lack of faith and a compromised character. He pleaded his inexperience and inferiority to execute such a calling and demonstrated his lack of faith in the angel's promise by destroying the false god in his father's household in the dead of night!
When Gideon realised the Angel of the Lord was God Himself, he cried out in fear and said, "Oh no, Lord God! I have seen the Angel of the Lord face to face!" The job for which Gideon was being commission terrified the man, for the Midianites caused him and the entire nation to fear greatly, but the Lord comforted him, gave him reassurance, and said to him, "Peace to you. Do not fear. You shall not die."
But Gideon, like all the other saints of old, is recorded in Hebrews as a man of faith, whom God's used in a mighty way to forward His plans and purposes. God equips those He calls with the grace and strength that is required for the task before them, so that the glory goes to God and not to man. God did not call a great and mighty warrior to defeat the multitudes of Midianites, but a frightened little farmer and 300 foot-soldiers who trusted the Lord.
And His promise to Gideon, and to ALL who are willing to be used by God is, "Surely I will be with you - do not fear. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid - I am your peace."
Gideon finally allowed the God of peace to guard his heart and trusted His Word, and Gideon discovered an attribute of God that had hitherto been hidden from humanity - that God was His peace - his Shalom. That He is the Author of peace and the Finisher of peace. And Gideon came to understand that when the peace of the Lord guards one's heart - there is no need to fear.
Gideon was one of the named people in the Hebrew's chapter on faith - "And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms; performed acts of righteousness; obtained promises; shut the mouths of lions; quenched the power of fire; escaped the edge of the sword; from weakness were made strong; became mighty in war; put foreign armies to flight."
If God was able to use flawed people like Joshua, David, Esther, Paul, and Gideon, to do mighty things, do you not think that He is equally able to equip you?
Heavenly Father, how encouraging it is to read about the exploits of flawed people like Joshua, David, Esther, Paul, and Gideon, whom You graciously used to carry out Your plans and purposes for the furtherance of your kingdom in the ongoing history of the world. As you continue to bring Your plan of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord to its consummation, I pray that You would use me, in whatever way You choose. Help me to trust Your Word, more and more, and allow Your perfect peace to guard my heart, for Your greater praise and glory. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.