It’s show time in the valley of Jezreel. Canaanite armies from the east have already joined forces and are moving west across the Jordan to camp in a large, flat, fertile plain just to the south of the hill country were Gideon lives at Ophrah. Inevitable forces are in play that will soon collide, and little timid Gideon will be right in the middle of it. But this is a different Gideon from the one who only a few days ago was hiding in a winepress. This is a man whose confidence is growing — confidence not in himself, but in the claim the angel of the Lord first gave him, that the Lord would be with him.
Look at what’s happened: He’s had the angel of the Lord consume his offering and disappear right in front of his very eyes. He’s cleaned house by exposing the farce of the resident pagan worship, and averted a town riot through the wise words of his father, who was apparently gaining his own confidence from watching his son. For Gideon now, there is no turning back. The whole town, and soon the whole nation, is looking to him.
Then the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon with power. He blew a ram’s horn as a call to arms, and the men of the clan of Abiezer came to him. He also sent messengers throughout Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, summoning their warriors, and all of them responded. (Judges 6:34-35)
In the Old Testament, before Christ came and sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in us by faith, the Holy Spirit would come upon someone to accomplish a certain task, and then leave. A specific visitation for a specific task. This first task, after cleaning house, was to call an army, and look at who’s first to come — the men of his own clan. The same guys who just a few days ago were going to kill Gideon have now become his most loyal followers. They want to find out what happens next with this Baal-basher.
And then, after all this confidence-building (it must have bolstered Gideon, as well, to learn that everyone who was called showed up) and being clothed in the power of the Spirit, we have yet another nerve failure on the part of our hero.
Then Gideon said to God, “If you are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as you promised, prove it to me in this way. I will put a wool fleece on the threshing floor tonight. If the fleece is wet with dew in the morning but the ground is dry, then I will know that you are going to help me rescue Israel as you promised.” And that is just what happened. When Gideon got up early the next morning, he squeezed the fleece and wrung out a whole bowlful of water. (Judges 6:36-38)
And we can certainly understand this, can’t we? On the eve of doing something incredibly intimidating, wouldn’t you still be frightened? We don’t even know if Gideon is a warrior. Has he ever fought in a battle before? Even if he has, these odds are not good. Fear is human; it is not sin or unbelief. It is real, and God knows this, and for this reason He is willing to cooperate with Gideon’s request, and not only that, but his second request as well …
Then Gideon said to God, “Please don’t be angry with me, but let me make one more request. Let me use the fleece for one more test. This time let the fleece remain dry while the ground around it is wet with dew.” So that night God did as Gideon asked. The fleece was dry in the morning, but the ground was covered with dew. (Judges 6:39-40)
Just in case it was a coincidence last night… Don’t you love this guy? Isn’t he like us? Like we said yesterday, “Courage is fear that has said its prayers,” and Gideon’s fears have a few more prayers to say. No worries; God is there. He is okay with this. He knows our frame and remembers that we are dust. He also knows that this little sliver of faith Gideon is working from is all the faith he has, and God wants Gideon’s faith to grow, so He’s willing to do all sorts of things to help that happen. Just like He is with us.
Can’t you feel the excitement mounting? Can’t you hear the rumble of the horses amassing for war in the valley below? Confrontation is inevitable. Can’t you hear the horn calling all fighting men to battle? Can’t you hear their swords clanking against armor as they come? Is Gideon ready? Are you?