An Undisciplined Man
Gideon is often credited as a hero. Afterall, he took on a great army with only 300 men. How many of us get called a “mighty man of valor” by one of God’s angels? Gideon was. While he did show more faith than those around him, and God did use him to accomplish much, his opportunity is largely wasted and his overall testimony is negative. Why? Gideon was a thoughtless, fearful, undisciplined man.
When the angel appeals to Gideon’s might, he is likely referring to his position in the community. Gideon’s first response is one of faithlessness – “If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?…But now the Lord has forsaken us.” (6:13) Then, despite God telling him not to fear, we see Gideon so afraid of his family and townspeople that he destroys his father’s altar to Baal (the false god of their neighbors) at night so no one will see him do it. Again, we see his faithlessness when he demands a sign from God, knowing he is breaking God’s law (Deut. 6:16) by testing God when he clearly knows what God has instructed him to do.
His undisciplined treatment of God and His Word continues, as Gideon has the people make a Golden Ephod (a priestly outer garment of which there was to be only one). The Ephod was to be used by the priest to inquire of God. Gideon presumably has his own made so he can inquire of God at his own whim. Further, he takes many wives and fathers seventy children, one of which grows into a vicious, bloody ruler. Gideon is too fearful of man in the beginning and not fearful enough of God in the end.
What should we learn from Gideon? First, we should be reminded that God uses imperfect people and we should be encouraged by that. Second, we should be reminded that no human is a hero. Only Christ is our perfect hero. Any human we set up as a hero will fail and disappoint. Finally, we should be cautioned that a man who began with such influence and with such great successes, was undone by his undisciplined handling of the will and Word of God, squandering his influence and, in the end, leaving a negative legacy.
How disciplined are you in seeking to know and obey God’s will and His Word for your life? What sort of legacy are you leaving?