by Tom Moll
The story of Gideon is intriguing. When the angel of the Lord called Gideon a “mighty warrior,” he was threshing wheat in a winepress in hopes of not being discovered by the Midianites. He was not exactly a typical candidate for a general. But God often does not choose the people we would for a specific job. He sees things that we do not see. That’s why it is always best to let God be in charge.
When God Rules
In Judges 7:2-4, God told Gideon that he had too many soldiers. Knowing how easy it is for men to believe that victory comes because of something they have done, God told Gideon to cut the size of his army so that when he won the battle, he would know that it had to be because of God. Giving God glory is seldom at the top of our lists after achieving success.
Sensing that the “mighty warrior” needed encouragement, God sent him into the camp of the Midianites where he overheard a dream that was interpreted to mean, “God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into (Gideon’s) hands” (7:14). With his trust in God fortified, Gideon led his small band of soldiers into what looked like sure defeat and saw God give him a resounding victory.
And When He Does Not
I wish the story ended there, but it does not. The Israelites asked Gideon to rule over them. He gave the right answer: “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The Lord will rule over you” (8:23). But he followed the right answer with the wrong actions. He fashioned a golden ephod which he placed in Ophrah. The people prostrated themselves and worshiped the ephod. It became a snare to Gideon and his family.
Just as it was for Gideon, so is it all too easy for us to say the right thing: “God is in charge of our lives!” Then we follow the right words with wrong actions. We center our lives around ephods of our own making. They become a snare to us and they break the heart of God.
Tom Moll is senior minister at Christ’s Church at Mason (Ohio), where his wife Kay is director of Women’s and Missions Ministries.