When you think of a hero, you typically think of someone born with extraordinary strength or bravery. As we study the life of Gideon, we will discover this hero’s unique journey. He is a hero that God raises up in the Old Testament to deliver his people. We will see the transformation in his life through a few different stages. They are the same stages we go through as God is changing us into the person that He wants to trust with His great plans and purpose.
The greatest joy of your life is the day you get saved. The second most exciting day of your life is when you find out why you got saved. There are great things attached to your life that God has planned for you. Over the next few weeks, we’re gonna discover what that journey looked like in the life of Gideon.
Judges 6:1-6 (NLT)
The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight. So the Lord handed them over to the Midianites for seven years. The Midianites were so cruel that the Israelites made hiding places for themselves in the mountains, caves, and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, marauders from Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east would attack Israel, camping in the land and destroying crops as far away as Gaza. They left the Israelites with nothing to eat, taking all the sheep, goats, cattle and donkeys. These enemy hordes, coming with their livestock and tents, were as thick as locusts; they arrived on droves of camels too numerous to count. And they stayed until the land was stripped bare. So Israel was reduced to starvation by the Midianites. Then the Israelites cried out to the Lord for help.
So this is where God’s people are at in the story. They’re crying out that for seven years, they’ve been in a pattern that they needed God to break. We all have patterns in our lives that we recognize or don’t recognize; we’re in cycles that we see or don’t see. But there are patterns of this world that get a hold of our lives, hold us back and restrain us from what God wants us to do.
Romans 12:2 (NIV)
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
So if you work backward, how do you know God’s good, pleasing and perfect will for your life? Well, you have to have your mind renewed. How do you have your mind renewed? By breaking the patterns of the world. These Israelites were in a pattern, and God’s gonna use Gideon to help them break out of this pattern.
Maybe you have a pattern in your life of dating the wrong people over and over again. Or perhaps you’re like me, and right when I have gotten out of debt, I put everything on a credit card again. God wants to free you from that kind of financial slavery so that you can be a lender, not a borrower. I’m telling you, whether it’s a pattern or a cycle, the secret to life is understanding that God has given you everything you need to break those patterns. Once you break the pattern, you can be set loose on the plan he has for you. But first, we got to break the pattern.
In a hero’s journey, we see that God is often more concerned with who we’re becoming than where we are going. There are things that God wants to do with your life, but you’re not ready yet. So many of our prayers are like, can I trust God? I wonder if God could just get a hold of our hearts and say, “Can I trust you?” Because he’s eager to do a miracle in your life. He’s ready to bring breakthroughs into your life and do great things. But he’s just putting you in a position to show that you can break that pattern so that you can hold everything that He has for you. So Gideon is in this situation where he’s about to be chosen by God.
Judges 6:11-12 (NLT)
Then the angel of the Lord came and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!”
At the time, farmers like Gideon would have a stock of wheat, and they would have to hit it with a stick, and then the chaff would float off into the wind. The place where they threshed and batted the wheat was called the threshing floor. It would be a high place, so the chaff could blow off into the wind and not make a mess. Then they could take the remains, which would be the valuable part. So the angel of the Lord finds Gideon in a particular place where he is threshing wheat. The passage says that Gideon is not on the threshing floor but instead at the bottom of a wine press. He’s not up; he’s down. Gideon’s in a pit about 10 feet into the ground designed for smashing grapes. He’s in there working but also hiding from the bully Midianites. Gideon knows these guys will invade the land and his possessions. So he’s hiding at the bottom of the wind press, trying to avoid the inevitable.
I love that that is where the hero’s journey begins. It begins at the bottom; it starts in hiding. Gideon is not the hero we would look for; he is the hero only God can see. I’m so grateful that when God looks at our life, he sees the best version of ourselves. When God looks at you, he sees the best version of you. If you have been saved by Jesus, and you’ve been born again, God sees you like his son or daughter when God looks at you. So he sees you through the blood of Jesus. He sees an overcomer and the best version of you. God sees this even when we don’t. He writes out our life for His glory, according to how he sees us.
It says the angel of the Lord stands over the wind press, and he’s calling out to Gideon and says, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” Instead of calling him a little coward, he calls him a hero. The term “angel of the Lord” in Hebrew is Malakh YHWH. This is the term for the pre-incarnate Christ, which is Jesus. In the Old Testament, you see malakh YHWH, where God is in the form of a human speaking to people. Jesus is in the Old Testament, not just in the New Testament. Jesus leans over the wine press of your life, looks down at you in your most disastrous, cowardly, insecure moment, and calls you a mighty hero. That’s how he sees you. He says, mighty hero, what are you doing in the wine press? But that was Gideon’s pattern. He had found a way to get by, hiding there. He was secluded. The following line says, “the Lord is with you.” But when he says the Lord, he means, I am with you.
Judges 6:13-15 (NLT)
“Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.”
Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!”
“But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!”
Go with the strength that you have. That’s not how heroes are made. If you have seen any Marvel movie, you know that’s not how heroes are made. Heroes are usually given the strength they need. No, this hero’s journey is not about receiving more. God looks at Gideon and says, “go and rescue Israel from the Midianites with the strength you already have.” Because God has given us everything, we need to accomplish everything he’s already called us to do.
You might be asking God for more help and more faith. Nothing is wrong with that, but how many of us are hiding or delaying obedience from God? We’re asking God for more when he says, “the fact that I’m with you is enough.” He looks at Gideon and doesn’t call him a coward. God says, “You mighty hero, the Lord is with you.” When Gideon realizes who is talking to him, all the other voices in his life quiet down.
God has given you everything you need to do everything he’s called you to do. When you’re faithful with the last step, he’ll be faithful to provide you with the next step.
1. Who you are is not where you are.
Maybe you’re in a pattern with your finances and see yourself as a financial failure. When you begin to trust God with your finances, you will become an overcomer. You will become the person He can entrust with influence and wealth. But some of us have got to learn that lesson the hard way. You’re not a failure. In jujitsu, there is a saying, “When you aren’t winning, you are learning.” I’m telling you, you’re not a failure; you’re a mighty warrior. You can’t see that for yourself today. But I can tell you if you can see yourself the way God sees you. You’re on your way. Break the pattern.
2. Who you are is not what you’ve been through.
You may have gone through some awful things. You may have overcome some things that brought self-esteem to you or your psyche. Either way, you are not what you’ve been through. You might say that you are who you are because of the difficult things that you have gone through. And some of you say I am who I am today because of the awful things that have happened to me. That’s not who you are.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
For those of you who are in Christ, you are new. You are not where you are. You are not what you’ve been through. You are a new creation, not an upgraded one, not a better one; you’re a new creation. Your future is not written by your past. The old has passed away. We keep thinking about who we used to be like that dictates or changes in any way what God wants to do with our life. If you really want to get serious about what’s been done to make you a new creation. It’s not what you’ve been through. The gospel is it’s what Jesus has been through. You’re not defined by what you’ve gone through. Because you died when you said, “I would rather have the life Jesus has for me than my old life.” You made an exchange with God. So you are no longer defined by what you do but by what’s been done for you. He already died the death you were supposed to die on the cross for all the sins you’ve done and all I’ve done. You’ve already been raised to life with Christ. You are a new creation. Don’t let the things of your past, especially the mistakes and the shame, tell you who you are. If he calls you a mighty warrior, listen up. That’s who you are.
Judges 6:14-16 (NLT)
The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”
I can relate to Gideon. All these voices in his head tell him that he is from the weakest family, and not only that, he is the lowest in his family. We can see the pattern of self-doubt and not feeling worthy of the task. When I was young, I had a lot of learning disabilities. I was dyslexic and had OCD and, ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. I went to quite a few different schools because of behavioral problems and struggled to comprehend the information being taught. My parents were doing everything they could and even got me a private tutor, which discovered that I was also dyslexic.
The world said I wouldn’t be able to learn; I wouldn’t be able to read or do the math. But I’m grateful for my parents, who continued to allow God’s voice to be elevated over all the other voices in their family. During life group, my parents asked everyone to pray for their son. Later, they took me to Sylvan Learning Center to take a three-hour test. The results from the test confirmed that I was far behind where I should be, and it didn’t seem likely that I could catch up to my grade level. My parents said, “This is not what his story is going to be. This is not who he is.” They continued to pray and fast for me and took me a few days later back to retake the test. This time was different because somehow, I could sit there and go through the whole evaluation and answer all the questions. The test facilitators said that I not only knocked the test out in record time but was at grade level. I want my story to encourage you, who might need a little faith, to know there’s a miracle-working God.
3. Who you are is determined by whose you are.
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
When we cry out, “Abba, Father.” We are really crying and calling God Daddy. That’s how personal God wants to get with your life. If we are God’s children, then we are heirs of God, co-heirs with Christ. Every one of you was made in the image of God. And not just any God but a heavenly father who wants you to know Him. I can share this with you today and tell you if it wasn’t for a Heavenly Father, I wouldn’t have graduated from college preparatory school, I would not only have finished my second year of my masters, and I wouldn’t have been able to function. If it wasn’t for a God who said, “No, it’s who I say that you are, not where you’ve been or what you’ve gone through.” Who are you? You’re not just a mom or a dad; you’re a son or a daughter. That’s who you are at your core.
Do you want to be adopted into the family of God? For as long as you can remember, you have had so much pain. The patterns in your life and what the world has said about you have overwhelmed you. You can make the decision to give your life to Jesus. When you do that, you are saying yes to Jesus and realizing that you can’t save yourself. Only by the gift of salvation and forgiveness of Jesus can we become a son or daughter of God the Father. You are no longer an outcast; you are a mighty hero whose Dad is God. Welcome to the family.