Welcome to a series about men of God in the bible, who today, would be described as 'Great men of God'. The idea for this series came to me when I started exploring the concept of masculinity and how notions of masculinity affect the way I live my life and my relationships. I then started thinking about the. 'Great men of God' in the bible and what they did to become so successful and to some degree, famous. My intention wasn't to look at their lives so I could get tips on how to become famous too but I was fascinated to know: What were their personalities like? What were their daily habits? What did they all have in common to affect change in their communities, and in some cases, across the globe.
The first person I chose to look into was a young man called Gideon. Judges: Chapter 6 - 8
Gideon - Who was he?
Gideon was a young man from a village called Ophrah in Israel. Just like his father, he was a farmer who came from a poor family. He was as ordinary as they come. To stress how insignificant Gideon was in his community, he was seen as the least important member of his family from the weakest clan of all the Israelite tribes. We'll soon learn to find that he was just the kind of person God likes to use. At this particular point in time in history, Israel were being punished for their sins against God. They disobeyed God's command to not worship idols and as a consequence of their actions, the Midianites had ruled them for seven years. It was God's plan to deliver Israel from the rule of their powerful neighbours and God had chosen Gideon, the son of a poor farmer to do it.
Gideon's purpose & mission
God had chosen Gideon to be the person he would use to deliver Israel from the torment they had undergone for almost a decade. However, Gideon was not only a nobody, he was a farmer. He had never lead anything in his life, let alone an army to go and defeat a powerful force like the Midianites. One day, an angel came to Gideon and told him he was the one to rescue Israel. Naturally, Gideon questioned his ability to do the job and whether God was right to choose him of all people. After testing the validity of this message from the Angel, Gideon was ready to undergo his first mission from God.The first thing he did was tear down the altar created by his people for the false god Baal and built an alter to God on top of it.
His second mission was to assemble an army to defeat the Midianites.
God wanted to make it clear to the people of Israel that HE would be the reason for the defeat of their enemies. He knew they wouldn't give him any credit if they won the battle with a great army. They would see themselves as mighty and basque in the glory.
God commanded Gideon to reduce the number of men he was bringing to the the battle and that's exactly what he did.
Gideon trimmed his men of 32,000 by using a number of processes. By the time he was done, he had left behind 31,700 men. He was now ready for battle with just 300 warriors. In a short space of time, Gideon had become a leader of an army preparing for their biggest battle in years. To stress how magnanimous this task was, another nation called the Amalekites had joined forces with the Midianites. He was now preparing to face a combined force of up to 135,000 men. By using clever strategies for each individual mission, this exceptional leader of 300 men was able to defeat the Midianites and saved the people of Israel from their enemies. His victory made him so famous amongst his people, the Israelites even asked him to be their ruler. This would have been a blasphemous thing to request of this man because at this point in Israel's history, it had already been established that their one true ruler could only be God himself. Gideon wisely declined their offer and instead reminded the Israelites that God would be their ruler. The land of Israel was once again at peace ....but only for another 40 years.
Often, after a battle, soldiers would take the gold and jewels from the body of their defeated enemies. Whatever they took would become their earnings for their part in the victory. When Gideon and his army had won the battle, Gideon requested the gold earrings they had taken and his soldiers were more than happy to give it to him. After reminding the Israelites to praise God for their victory over their enemies, Gideon himself then made the mistake of creating an idol used from the gold he had collected before placing it in his hometown.
His actions in the bible were described as a 'trap' for him and his family. A trap that Gideon had set for himself. The people of Israel once again had abandoned God and began worshipping Idols again. After leading the Israelites to an unimaginable victory over their powerful enemies, Gideon had surely reminded the Israelites to once again set their eyes on God, who saved them. Yet, through one reckless decision, Gideon had almost certainly lead his people down the very path of idol worship that caused their punishment in the first place.
His mistake certainly didn't take away his great and famous victory of his enemies but it would place a curse on his family in years to come. Furthermore, this great story of a wonderful and brave leader would end with his downfall. It is a reminder that there are no perfect or great men of God, just men that are used by a great God.
As mentioned above, the purpose of my study into Gideon was to see how he behaved as a man and what he did to be remembered as a 'Great man of God'.
Here are some of his best traits:
A brave man: Judges 11- 12
Reverence for God Judges 6:24
Obedience to God Judges 6:25
Tester of God's promise Judges 6:36 - 40
A worshipper of God Judges 7:15
A leader Judges 16 - 18
Wise & Humble Judges 8:1-3
Praise for God the King Judges 22-24
Judges has many wonderful individual stories within it. I hope you enjoy the book as I do. Please keep an eye out for. my next piece of "No great men of God, Just men of a Great God'