When things go badly that does not mean that God has abandoned you. It means that God is working in your life. Gideon was wrong (Judges 6:13).
God can use any believer that is willing to grow. He can change you from spiritual timidity, unbelief, and self-centeredness to spiritual courage, faith, humility, and orientation to Himself and His plan. But this takes time. Gideon started (Judges 6:25-27; 7:1-8, 15:8-23).
Believe God right from the beginning and therefore serve Him faithfully by learning and applying His word instead of testing God like Gideon because you do not believe Him and you are worried. Faithful application will result in contented rest (faith rest), accomplishment of your task, and spiritual victory. Gideon failed a lot (Judges 6:12-18, 36-40; 7:9-15; 8:27).
When the will of God is clear (statement or principle from Bible) do not wait for God to verify it. Act on it. Do not check up on God or test Him. If the will of God is not clear, then 1) live inside God’s plan 2) apply the doctrine that you know and 3) use the principles of divine guidance. Gideon did not do this and failed (Judges 6:12-18, 27, 36-40; 7:9-15; 8:27).
The learning of a few spiritual lessons des not make a believer mature. But you are able to serve faithfully with the growth you have. Spiritual growth and health requires day to day learning and applying the Word of God (Judges 8:21-23; Hebrews 11:32-43).
Repeated spiritual failure does not disqualify you from important service for the Lord. Learn by failures and apply God’s word (Hebrews 11:32-34).
Certain kinds of warfare are right (Judges 6:14-16; 7:9).
The Doctrine of Gideon
Israel did not live by God’s plan or follow His will so God sent the Midianites in order to correct Israel’s relationship with Him (Judges 6:1-6). The Midianites were “highly mobile Bedouin marauders mounted on camels. They infiltrated from the desert and filled the valleys with their flocks and tents, harassing the Israelites populace scattered in open settlements.” (MacMillan Bible Atlas, page 55).
After seven years Israel finally asked the Lord for help (Judges 6:6).
The Lord sent a prophet who reminded Israel about God’s goodness to them, their relationship to Him (fear the Lord), and their failure (Judges 6:8-10).
Then the angel of the Lord visited Gideon (Judges 6:11-24).
The angel of the Lord was the Lord (Yahweh), but He looked like a man to Gideon. The writer identified Him as the angel of the Lord and Lord. Gideon calls him Lord (sir). The angel of the Lord was God the Son (John 1:18).
The angel of the Lord called Gideon a valiant warrior (gibor hehayil). He was not a valiant warrior at the time. He was timid. He was beating wheat in a wine press (Judges 6:11-12). Gideon misinterpreted the divine discipline upon Israel (Judges 6:13). The Lord (angel) gave clear instructions to Gideon. He was to lead the Israeli troops against the Midianites and defeat them. Gideon refused to trust the Lord. He made excuses. Gideon was demonstrating pride, not humility, when he said that he was the youngest in the least family in Manasseh (Judges 6:14-16). Gideon eventually realized that the messenger was probably the Lord and asked for verification (Judges 6:17-18). The angel of the Lord demonstrated that He was the Lord. Gideon was finally convinced (Judges 6:19-24). By now God’s will was clear. God’s power was given. Gideon’s answer should have been “Yes sir, Lord.” He should have prepared to fight.
Gideon obeyed the Lord and destroyed the idol altar (Judges 6:25-32). He accepted this order from the Lord. This confirmed that Gideon knew the Lord was commanding him. But Gideon was still timid. He was not thinking and acting with the confidence and energy that God’s representative should exhibit (Judges 6:25-28).
Gideon prepared for the fight (Judges 6:33-35). At this point Gideon clearly knew God’s will and had God’s support (Judges 6:14, 16, 22). He had the Holy Spirit (Judges 6:34), and he even had Israeli soldiers (Judges 6:34-35, 7:1-2).
Gideon tested God by asking that He perform two miracles on the wool fleece (Judges 6:36-40). This showed disobedience toward the Lord (lack of faith, lack of orientation to the Lord and His plan, lack of authority orientation, lack of humility, and occupation with self) by asking for further evidence of God’s support.
The Lord decreased the number of Israeli troops before the battle against the Midianites (Judges 7:1-8). He did this so Israel would have no reason to think their human ability defeated Midian (Judges 7:2). The first cut removed the fearful so 22,000 people left and 10,000 stayed (Judges 7:3). The second cut left 300 with Gideon. God chose those that lapped water from their hand (Judges 7:4-8). God promised again to give Israel victory.
Gideon again showed fear so God let him make an unnecessary reconnaissance with Purah, his servant (Judges 7:9-15).
Gideon wanted to have human evidence instead of trusting the Word of God about the coming battle (Judges 7:9-11).
Gideon heard someone tell about a dream. The dream pictured Israel defeating the Midianite army. Gideon was quick to believe this man, but he had trouble believing God (Judges 7:12-15). Gideon finally believed that God would defeat the Midianites, after other people said God would.
Gideon’s strike force was made up of three companies, each with 100 men. They were all armed with trumpets and torches inside jars. The Lord had already decreed that they would win (Judges 7:15-18). The Midianites had 135,000 (Judges 7:16 and 8:10). They were very mobile. They had camels (Judges 6:5).
Gideon’s strike force was really the Lord’s strike force. When they attacked the enemy (middle watch was about 10 at night) the Lord confused, panicked, and defeated the Midianite army (Judges 7:19-23).
Gideon sent out a call for reinforcements to help the pursuit. The men of Ephraim were mad because Gideon had not asked them to fight in the earlier battle, but they joined in the fight after Gideon (thinking clearly under pressure) calmed them down (Judges 7:24-8:3).
Gideon and his force successfully carried out the mop up operation without any help from the men of Succoth and Penuel (both Israeli cities in Gad on the east side of the Jordan River (Judges 8:4-17).
The men of Succoth and Penuel were hesitant to trust God so they would not commit themselves to Gideon’s cause (Judges 8:4-9). Their resistance showed their rejection of God and willingness to accept the Midianites. They will regret this (Judges 8:13-17; 5:23).
Gideon and his strike force followed a caravan to Karkor, east of the Dead Sea. There they finished off the enemy army (Judges 8:11-12), then executed the Midianite kings (Judges 8:18-21). Note that the Lord’s army searched out and destroyed the enemy. This was the will of the holy and loving God.
Gideon demonstrated by his humility that he was beginning to learn important lessons (obey God, authority orientation, humility, faith in God and His plan), but he had trouble with the details was we learn from the Ephod incident (Judges 8:22-35).
After the Lord had restored the peace through Gideon’s military force, the people asked Gideon to become the king. He refused. The Lord was the true king (Judges 8:22-23).
Gideon was probably well meaning when he made the ephod (priest loin cloth, Exodus 39:1-26), but he should have known that it would become and idol (Judges 8:24-27; Exodus 32:1-8).
Israel prospered until Gideon died. Then, without Gideon to lead them, Israel reverted to the Canaanite way of life. People need strong leaders (Judges 8:28-35).