On Being a Warrior Before the Fight

I’ve been reading Judges chapter six this week in preparation for Bible study on Sunday. The chapter introduces Gideon, the youngest in a household that was “the least in Manasseh.”

Gideon lived during a pretty terrible time for the people of Israel. It had been a while since they escaped Egypt, wandered through the desert, and claimed the promised land after an epic battle at Jericho. For more on that, here’s a fun tune: 

Now, instead of sending walls crashing and making the sun stand still, they were hiding in caves from the Midianites and Amalekites, who stole their harvest and livestock and generally destroyed everything. In fact, when the angel of the Lord finds Gideon, he is threshing out wheat in a winepress. Yeah, a winepress isn’t the best place to thresh wheat. But it was a good place to hide himself and, hopefully, a little of the harvest. So here we have the youngest of a no-status family hiding in a winepress, and the angel says:

“The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior” (v6 NASB)

He called Gideon a valiant warrior. Does he seem like a warrior here? A terrified nobody hiding from the Midianites? I mean, if I were God, I might have looked around for a BC version of The Rock or Chuck Norris. But that isn’t who God chose. He chose Gideon.

Of course, in true human fashion, Gideon’s first reaction is to whine. “Oh yeah, if God is so good, then why are we hiding in caves? How could you let this happen??” Well, if you read the rest of judges, it’s pretty clear why. They basically forgot all about God and did exactly the opposite of what God commanded. It was a little like yelling at the police officer who stopped you for going 95 in a 45.

God let him vent, and then answered, “Go beat the Midianites. I’m sending you to defeat them.” I have to wonder if Gideon laughed before he answered. I’m pretty sure if anyone else had witnessed this, they would have. We don’t know if he laughed, but we do know he argued.

O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house. (15 NASB)

The story continues. Gideon asks for a sign. Then he asks for another sign. The first thing God asks him to do is to tear down a false altar, which he does in the middle of the night. And for that, he gets death threats. Not an auspicious beginning for Gideon.

Since you aren’t in my weekly study, I’ll share a spoiler: Gideon wins. And he wins after God tells him more than once, “You’re army is too big. Send a few home.” He did this until Gideon’s army was reduced to 300 men. 300 men defeated tens of thousands. Let’s face it, after a battle like that, Gideon had earned the title: Warrior.

But notice God didn’t call him warrior after he won. God called Gideon a warrior when he was hiding in a winepress.

Why am I going on about this? I mean, you didn’t open this article for a sermon, right? I am going on about this because God doesn’t expect us to be amazing before He wants to use us. We don’t have to be strong, perfect, talented, or even confident. It’s okay to have insecurities and fears and ask God, “Are you sure you mean me? Um…have you met me?”

Let’s get honest, Gideon didn’t beat a huge army with 300 people by smashing pots and screaming because he took crash courses in MMA and battle strategy. He defeated the Midianites because God was with him. He went into battle with the ultimate ringer. So, the fact that I have a checkered past and a big nose and I tend to ramble isn’t really a problem for God.

When you look in the mirror, maybe you see an addict, or a failure, or anxiety, or obesity, or just someone who is unredeemable. But that isn’t what God sees. He already sees what He has planned for you to be.

cat looking at water and seeing lion reflection
Image by Leandro De Carvalho from Pixabay

So get out of the winepress, pick up a pot, and start smashing, beloved!

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