The story of Gideon is the story of fear. Gideon again and again expresses his fear of his enemies, his own townspeople, and of God Himself. And while “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” this isn’t that kind of fear. The fear that brings wisdom is the recognition of God’s otherness, supremacy, and rule in our own lives. The fear of Gideon is more what we experience day to day; doubt, threat, and self-preservation.
Gideon begins his story by threshing wheat, an activity that requires the wind to be effective, in a winepress, a place created to be shielded from the wind. How often does our fear make our efforts ineffective?
He then has a conversation with God where all he expressed is doubt, in God’s goodness, in himself, in his people, and in God’s promises. How often does our fear lead us to doubt both God and ourselves?
Accepting God’s command to destroy the altar of the false god Baal in his hometown, he does so at night out of fear of the anger of those he lives with. How often does our fear make us obey God’s commands but in a way that doesn’t put us at risk?
Gideon requires not one sign from God but two in order to prove Himself to Gideon, and patiently God obliges. How often do we wait to obey God until we’re sure of the outcome rather than trusting Him, all because of our fear?
God recognizes that Gideon’s army is following the lead of their leader – they are terrified of the coming battle. So God sends the fearful home, promising to conquer Midian with whatever is left. How often does our fear “send us home” from serving God?
Gideon still doesn’t believe God will give him victory, so God sends a dream to his enemies to encourage Gideon. How often has God reassured you in the midst of your fear, reminding you of past victories or promising future ones?
Finally, Gideon and his 300 warriors shout, “boo” at the Midianites and they all turn and kill themselves. The primary victory comes without Gideon or his people lifting a sword. How often has God won your victories without you having to do anything but obey?