Gideon was one of 12 JUDGES in Israel that God used to bring His people to repentance and to deliver them from their enemies. God raised up Gideon when the Midianites were invading and plundering Israel. You can read the whole story of Gideon in Judges 6:11-8:32. We want to point out several things about his call to service and trust they will encourage us in our life of service and also serve as warnings, for our service can quickly turn from victory to defeat.

1) Gideon’s call to service. “Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites. And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him, and said to him, ‘The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor’” (6:11-12). We see here that Gideon loved the Lord’s people, and he was “doing what he could” to help them survive. God has His eye on Him and appears to him to call him into service. It is striking that He calls Gideon a “mighty man of valor” for we shall see that he was actually quite “weak” in his own estimation.

2) Gideon questions God’s dealings with Israel and his being called into service. “Gideon said to Him, ‘O my lord IF the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us?’…the LORD has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites…the LORD said, ‘Go in this MIGHT OF YOURS, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?’ So he said to Him, ‘O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed, my clan is THE WEAKEST in Manasseh, and I am THE LEAST in my father’s house.’ And the LORD said to him, ‘Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man’” (6:12-16). At first, Gideon was very “WEAK in faith, even though the Lord of glory was assuring him that he would be MIGHTY and “DEFEAT the Midianites.”

3) Gideon continues “weak in faith” and asks for signs. To be absolutely sure that it was truly God speaking to him and calling him into service, we see him asking God for a sign in verses 17-24 and God graciously gave him a sign by making fire rise out of a rock to consume a sacrifice. This caused Gideon to believe, and he worshiped the Lord. He also destroyed the altar of the false god Baal in obedience to the Lord (verses 24-32). But as he saw the Midianites and Amalekites assembling for war his faith faltered again and he asked for two more signs involving putting out fleece for two nights and asking God to keep the fleece wet and the ground dry and then keeping the fleece dry and the ground wet. God graciously performed the miracles (verses 33-40).

4) Gideon is given “a test from God” to increase his faith and make him ready for battle. In 7:1-6 God reduces his army from 32,000 men to 300! “Then the LORD said to Gideon, ‘By three hundred men who lapped I will save you, and deliver the Midianites into your hand” (verse 7). The enemy’s armies numbered 135,000 men so this would be the supreme test of Gideon’s faith. You can now read the rest of the chapter to see the mighty victory that the Lord gave through Gideon and his 300 men. I would encourage you to meditate on verses 15-20 and then compare that to 2nd Corinthians 4:7, which is God’s “Divine commentary” on this remarkable victory by the Lord’s power.

5) Gideon’s VICTORY is followed by Gideon’s FAILURE. It has been said that the child of God is never weaker than immediately after he achieves a victory for God. This was the case with the Israelites after their might victory over Jericho, for they became proud (even though God indeed gave them a miraculous victory…see Joshua 6:1-27) and suffered a miserable defeat at a small town named Ai (see Joshua 7:1-9). Gideon remained humble at first, for the men of Israel tried to make him their king, but he humbly refused and gave God all the glory (8:22-23). But it wasn’t long before Gideon lost sight of God and asked the people to give him gold and he “made it into an ephod and set it up in his city, Ophrah” (verses 24-27a). What we read next is sad indeed, “And all Israel played the harlot with it there. It became a snare to Gideon and to his house” (verse 27b,c). This “golden ephod” became an “idol” and it would seem that though Gideon refused to be KING, he desired to be a PRIEST (see Exodus 28:6-30; 39:1-21; Leviticus 8:7-8). This was IDOLATRY, pure and simple.  (DO)  (548.1)