Just before Gideon goes to battle, he tells his men to “watch me,” “follow my lead,” and “do exactly what I do.” His men did and God used their collective actions to throw the enemy into complete confusion. As a result, a great victory was won. Gideon’s actions were worthy of emulation.
From a spiritual perspective, Paul said the same thing. He says what you have seen me do, you should do, too.
Frankly, I’m not sure I would want anyone to do everything I did. Yes, I do believe that I have some worthy qualities, but certainly there are a few areas that are not worthy of emulation, at least not all the time.
You may be familiar with the saying, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Well, Gideon and Paul are bold enough to effectively say, “Do as I do.”
Would you be confident enough in your actions to tell someone to “Do everything you see me doing”?
[Judges 7:17, Philippians 4:9]
Ultimately, Gideon, the Judge, obeys God and realizes a great victory, but he first needs a lot of confirmation to deal with his doubts:
1) Gideon first asks for a sign that the angel had really spoken God’s words. God acquiesces; when the angel touches his staff to the food Gideon prepared, it miraculously ignites and is burnt up.
2) Gideon questions God’s promise of victory and gives God a test to perform. He places a fleece (a wooly mass) on the ground and asks that only the fleece have dew on it in the morning. God lovingly does what Gideon asks.
3) Gideon second-guesses his first test. He gives God another test, but desires the opposite outcome. God patiently complies and in the morning the ground has dew and the fleece is dry.
4) Although Gideon does not voice any more doubts, they still exist. So God offers a final confirmation. God tells Gideon to sneak up to the enemy camp, where Gideon overhears two soldiers talking about a dream one had about Gideon’s forthcoming victory.
Encouraged, Gideon goes forth with his 300 men—and God’s help— routs 135,000.
It is not wrong to have doubts—and God is generally patient with us when we do—but ultimately we need to obey and do what we are told—even when it doesn’t make sense.
[Judges 6:17&21, Judges 6:36-38, Judges 6:39-40, Judges 7:10&13-14, Judges 8:10-11]
Another familiar character in the book of Judges is Gideon (with three chapters devoted to him). Gideon is generally a fearful man who is cautious of God’s call, but who does fully obey God.
There are three initial things that God tells Gideon (though an angel):
- “The Lord is with you mighty warrior!” Gideon’s response is to change the subject.
- “Go in the strength that you have and save Israel.” To this, Gideon in effect says, how? I am nobody!
- “I will be with you.” At this point, Gideon asks for proof that the words are really from God.
We can learn two key lessons from this exchange. First, God may see us differently then we see ourselves — and it’s unwise to question God’s perspective.
The second is that often we need to move forward to the extent that our abilities allow (we need to do our part) and God will be with us (making up for what we lack). This is an important balance to maintain. One error is to not do anything, even what we can do, because of the enormity of the task, while the other extreme is to try to do it all ourselves without God’s help. Instead, we need to do what we can and trust God to do the rest — just like Gideon.