Gideon's encounter with the angel of the Lord in Judges 6 is one of the most fascinating stories in the Bible. Gideon goes underground just to thresh some wheat for a meal for his family because of the Midianites who had been terrorizing Israel for over seven years. They had been taking Israel's crops, animals and produce for themselves leaving nothing behind.
The angel shows up and in a brief dialogue with Gideon, effectively changes his thinking so that Gideon rises up to defeat Midian. It's remarkable and I believe there are some amazing lessons we can learn from this interaction that may change our mindsets, too.
1. Trusting in God creates calm in the midst of a storm.
Judges 6:11 (NIV) The angel of the Lord came and sat down...
The angel didn't seemed bothered by the chaos around him. He didn't come to Gideon in a panic. He was calm. In fact, he was so calm he came and sat down. It reminds me of Jesus, falling asleep in a boat with his disciples in the midst of a horrific storm. He was perfectly calm while his disciples were frantic around him. Calm is contagious, and I've discovered that the best leaders are those who have the ability to remain calm in the midst of a crisis. How do they do that? I believe one of the only ways to live with a sense of calm, is by putting your complete trust in God. The apostle Paul said "the peace of God passes all understanding." In other words, in the midst of a storm, even though it doesn't make sense, if you trust God you will experience peace.
2. God wants to do things with you not just for you.
Judges 6:12 (NIV) "When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon," he said, 'The Lord is with you, mighty warrior. "
One of the most fascinating names for God in the Bible is is Emmanuel. It means 'God with us.' I find it fascinating, because we naturally desire God to do everything for us. Gideon felt the same way. In fact his response in the next verse would indicate that was exactly what he was expecting. While God does do things for us, what he desires most is to do things with us. After all, he created us for the purpose of relationship, and doing things with us generates a much deeper relational bond than just doing things for us. God wants to change the world with you, just like he wanted to rescue Israel from Midian with Gideon. Wow! What a thought.
3. Blaming brings bondage.
Judges 6:13-14 (NIV) "Pardon me, my lord," Gideon replied, "but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, 'Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?' But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
Not only did Gideon expect God to rescue them, he began to blame God for their situation. Have you ever blamed God for your mess? When we blame someone else for our situations we strip ourselves of the power to change it. Blaming brings bondage. It gives the responsibility and power to change to someone else.
4. Be active not passive.
Judges 6:14 (NIV) 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?”
“Go in the strength you have...” What an amazing statement! The angel effectively said to Gideon that God had placed all of the strength, authority, ingenuity, and power in him to change their situation. It reminds me of the two questions Elisha asked the widow when she needed a miracle in her situation, ”what do you want?" and "what do you have?" When she replied, "I have nothing but a little oil," Elisha used what she had to perform an amazing miracle that transformed her life and the life of her son in 2 Kings 4.
While many of us are waiting for God to move on our behalf, he is waiting for us to move. God will speak to your future but He wants you active in your present. He's equipped you with what you need to change your situation, so go in the strength you have!
5. Change your questions and “I am” confessions.
Judges 6:15 (NIV) “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
I have a problem, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. My problem is that I often limit myself because I ask the wrong questions. Gideon asked the wrong question, too. He asked 'how' he could possibly be a deliverer rather than focusing on 'why' it was important for someone to step up. But then he took it a step further and began making excuses. Yet God didn't accept his excuses. In fact, the angel went to work to change Gideon's confession. I think many times we write ourselves off too soon with our excuses and poor confessions. I mean, think about it. How dare we tell our creator why we are too weak to accomplish what he is asking us to do! After all, he created us. He should know more than any of us what we are capable of accomplishing! Don't you think?
6. Realize that what you're a part of is more important than the part you play.
Judges 6:16 (NIV) The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive."
Gideon's next mistake was assuming that God wanted him to act alone. God created us to work with others. Paul compared the church to a body, stressing the importance of each part working together for a common purpose. When the angel said "you will strike down all the Midianites," the word 'you' was meant to be plural. He was referring to the Israelites as a group, not just to Gideon. God was just asking Gideon to lead the charge. All of us must realize that the part we play is less important than what we are a part of.
Question: Which one of these 6 lessons do you need to work on the most?