This summer my mom and I are hosting a small group Bible study on Gideon by Priscilla Shirer. This is the first Bible study of Priscilla’s that we’ve done, and we are loving it! She is a gifted communicator and teacher, and I also have a particular fondness for her knowing her connection with Dallas Seminary where my husband also studied.
We are at the halfway point of the study, and Priscilla encouraged us in the last video session to keep a record of the work God has been doing in our lives. She has also invited us to share throughout the study on social media our #lessonsfromGideon. This then is my attempt.
I am not a visionary. I don’t always see the big picture. I’m more analytical and in the details of the everyday. Throughout my working years, I have supported visionaries, who do see the big picture and future goals, by assisting with the details and hopefully helping to achieve the goals.
I often see this come into play in Bible study. I can do the lesson for the day and love it, but when I finish, I find myself wondering later what it was about and how the whole study fit together. It’s like I have a lot of separate puzzle pieces, each of which are interesting and helpful, but it feels a bit disjointed to me without the overall vision that I haven’t quite grasped. However, once it’s fitted together into the whole and I can see the big picture that’s been coming together, it starts to settle in deep in my soul, and I’m able to find the lessons God has in store. In Bible study, it often means I need to do the studying, not just be fed what others have studied, as wonderful as that is.
So this last week, I’ve taken these parts I’ve been holding, these puzzle pieces, and gone back to the Scriptures and studied for myself – in this case, Judges 6-9. It has helped me answer the questions that have arisen in our Bible study group and in my own mind.
Then this morning, when I awoke, it was like all the pieces were coming together. As I journaled out what God was revealing, I was encouraged by the wonderful truths he was leading me through. And as I turned back to the lessons for reinforcement of these truths, I realized this is what it had been saying all along — my heart just hadn’t quite pieced it together into the whole! I am so thankful that God helps me in my weakness — which happens to be a main theme of this study!
Studying God’s Word is fascinating! It feeds our soul and leads us intro truth. We ask Him to guide us by His Word and Spirit as we seek Him and as we come with a humble dependence to know Him more. So what are my lessons from Gideon?
Here are a few:
1. Partial obedience by God’s people led to giving up ground to the enemy until they ended up in dens, caves, and strongholds in the mountains, as a people oppressed and brought low with their land devastated and them lacking sustenance (Judges 6:1-6).
2. I suspect when they first disobeyed (this partial obedience), the people did enough to think they were actually obeying, but they were really giving up ground, little by little, for various seemingly good reasons to their limited minds (i.e., the enemy had iron chariots in one case so that would surely be too hard to defeat, or perhaps it would be better to enter into an agreement with a group who could help them later rather than defeating them now, etc.).
3. What they were doing that was “right in their own eyes” was actually “evil in the sight of the Lord” (Judges 6:1).
So I ask myself: Do I see my own partial obedience for what it really is? What ground am I giving up? Where am I doing right in my own eyes that may actually be evil in God’s eyes?
4. Gideon may have wondered how he ended up in the wine press beating out wheat in hiding to keep it from their enemy. When the angel of the LORD appeared to him, Gideon questions why this oppression has happened and where the miracles were that their fathers had told them about. Was the LORD really with them? He doesn’t seem to recognize the people’s role (of disobedience, doing evil in the sight of the Lord) in this present situation.
Are we sometimes blinded from the reality of how something has developed in our own lives and wonder where God is when perhaps we have done things our own way?
5. But God is rich in mercy. We see over and over again in Scripture that He responds to those who cry out to him (in this particular study, see Judges 6:6-7). Gideon is who God raises up to answer the cry of His people.
It makes me wonder: Are the wondrous acts of God reserved for those who call upon His name? We see the Israelites cry out from their bondage in Egypt, and God raises up Moses to lead them out. We see this same thing over and over again in the book of Judges, as with Gideon. We see it in many of the smaller stories woven in Scripture. We see it in the Psalms, telling us to cry out and He answers. And much, much more. So whether we are living in obedience and calling on His name daily and in this way seeing His mighty works — or whether we need to stop and return to Him and cry out to be delivered from an area of bondage– it seems the moment we call out His name, He stands ready to deliver and demonstrate His mighty power.
6. Though Gideon sometimes appears fearful, it doesn’t seem so much a cowardly fear as a practical or reasonable one (not that that is necessarily better, and perhaps in some ways, these fears are the same, both demonstrating a need for greater faith):
- He’s beating out wheat in the wine press because to do it openly would cause the enemy to take it (Judges 6:11).
- He’s told not to fear after seeing the angel of the LORD face to face (6:23) because maybe he had heard that “no one can see God and live.”
- He takes down the altar by night because he understandably fears his father’s household and the men of the city (6:27).
- He asks for the signs of the fleece indicating some possible anxiety and needing a confirming sign given the task he was being called to (6:36-40).
- He goes into the enemy’s camp, as God offers, so he can know that it will be given into their hands (7:9-15), indicating again some nervousness and need for reassurance.
7. God seems to be patient with Gideon as he makes him the mighty warrior that He called him to be.
There is much more I could write and plan to write – much more that Priscilla points out, including our identity and callings, how we live life in the routine and ordinary, things we need to let go of, etc. But at this halfway point, I just wanted to list some things that are coming together for me.
Praise God for sending His Son, Jesus Christ, our Deliverer, who has redeemed our lives, forgiven us of our sin, and given us new life in Him through faith in Jesus. May we turn to Him and call upon Him, living in light of this reality every day, looking to Him to revive us, restore us, and deliver us. He is our Mighty Deliverer and a God of abundant and full redemption. Praise Him!