When I say the word “warrior” what, or who, comes to your mind?
We have great Hollywood examples of mighty warriors like Mel Gibson in Braveheart or Jason Bourne in the series that won’t die, but for me the Hollywood portrayals of what it is to be a warrior just don’t cut it.
My favorite, real life, warrior of all time is Marcus Cassius Scaeva. Many probably don’t know that name… but he was probably the toughest Roman to have ever lived. He was a decorated centurion in Caesar’s army, who in his spare time away from war enjoyed putting his life at risk training with professional gladiators. During the Battle of Dyrrhachium Scaeva was fighting in the front ranks as usual when he was shot in the eye with an arrow. Yes… an arrow pierced his eye and went into his skull leaving him permanently blind on that side! Just the thought of that makes my eyes water!
Yet, despite having a pretty bad case of “arrow in the eye” syndrome, Marcus pulled out the arrow, and kept on fighting and killing with more intensity than ever before (probably because of the adrenaline of having an arrow shot into your face). During the same battle, he was struck by two more arrows, one to the throat and one to the knee, and historical accounts say that hundreds of arrows bristled from his shield. Marcus managed even under these conditions to hold the line and keep fighting.
The story of Gideon can be found in the Old Testament book of Judges. Gideon was a young man who lived about 1100 years before the birth of Jesus. He was the son of Joash, of the tribe of Manasseh. He and his family made their home in Ephra. During this time, the 12 tribes of Israel were assigned to various territories throughout Canaan. While Joshua was alive, the tribes worked together as a nation. However, only 130 years later each tribe functioned individually, leaving them more vulnerable to attack. The Israelites had also turned to idols and were worshipping a false god, Baal.
Throughout history, many people persecuted the people of Israel and for Gideon’s tribe, their oppressors were the Midianites. The Midianites were the descendants of Abraham and his concubine, Keturah, who had six sons after the death of Abraham’s wife, Sarah. The Midianites tormented Gideon’s tribe by attacking and stealing all their food just when it was ready for harvest. Gideon and his people were forced to hide in caves along the hillside. The Israelites cried out to God for help, and after seven years, God sent an angel to a young man named Gideon.
Judges 6:1-16 sets the scene,
The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help. When the Israelites cried out to the Lord because of Midian, he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of all your oppressors; I drove them out before you and gave you their land. I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.” The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” “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.” 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?” “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.” The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”
When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
When the angel called Gideon a “mighty warrior,” he must’ve thought the angel was joking. Think about it, he was the least promising member of his family, which was the weakest clan in his tribe. He was only a farmer and a scared young man from the weakest tribe of Israel. He didn’t know anything about fighting or battling enemies!
Like Gideon, we often resist the challenges God sets in front of us because we don’t think we are good enough or strong enough or skilled enough to meet them. But God doesn’t ask us to do anything we cannot do through Him.
The angel of God greeted Gideon in a way that surprised Gideon. Why? Because the angel called him a mighty man of valor. Some translations say mighty hero, or mighty warrior. Not surprisingly, Gideon doubted the angel had the right man because Gideon often hid in fear from the Midianites while they were ransacking and stealing all he and his tribe had worked for. Gideon asked the angel why he and his people were being oppressed if God was truly with them. God answered Gideon by telling him to “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites.” In his doubt, Gideon reminded God that Gideon’s clan was the weakest in Manasseh and that he, himself, was the weakest of his family. Gideon also asked God for several signs before realizing that God was truly in control, despite the outward circumstances.
The biggest thing we all have in common with Gideon is doubt. We doubt our abilities and we doubt we can be of much use to God. However, God sees us as He created us to be, not as we see ourselves. When we try to accomplish things totally in our own might, we will fail. However, when we see ourselves as God sees us, miracles can happen and lives can be changed.
We must be willing to let God lead us even if we don’t understand His plan.
We know that as the story progressed God called Gideon to trust on another level asking him to dwindle his army to 300 and lead them against the 120,000 man Midianite foe.
Has God ever called you to a deeper level of trust?
Judges 7:2-8 says,
The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead.’” Then 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained. And the Lord said to Gideon, “The people are still too many. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ shall go with you, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ shall not go.” So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “Every one who laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set by himself. Likewise, every one who kneels down to drink.” And the number of those who lapped, putting their hands to their mouths, was 300 men, but all the rest of the people knelt down to drink water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand, and let all the others go every man to his home.” So the people took provisions in their hands, and their trumpets. And he sent all the rest of Israel every man to his tent, but retained the 300 men. And the camp of Midian was below him in the valley.
God knew the heart of the Israelites. They were quick to boast based off of His accomplishments. Sometimes we are quick to miss what God has done, and how He accomplishes things through us that for us alone are not possible apart from Him.
Sometimes, we also doubt that God is with us. I’m sure that Gideon thought that God had awarded his faithfulness and obedience with a certain death sentence. Gideon thought that the Lord had forgotten all about him, his family, and his people. However, God simply wanted his trust. He wants us to remember His promises, not to dwell on our circumstances. God loves nothing more that a person who magnifies and worships God amidst their greatest challenges.
Gideon was certainly not the most qualified man for the job… but God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called! We simply have willing to answer God’s call!
God wants to do amazing things through you! Don’t be afraid to answer the call! How can you trust like Gideon or persevere like Marcus? What are you willing to do today to answer God’s call?