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Written by: Abigail Atkins
We last talked about how Gideon had been robbed year after year by the Midianites. He was exhausted, losing his faith, and completely insecure. This is where the angel of the Lord meets with him and gives him instructions that it is up to him to save the people of Israel. In Gideon’s eyes, he was the biggest loser in town, but God referred to him as a mighty man of valor. We ended our last post with how we see ourselves verses how God sees us. Now, I want to talk more about how Gideon defeated the Midianites in his life.
It seems to me, that there were a lot of strongholds in Gideon’s life and his community that had to be removed. When I first started hearing this term, stronghold, I had no idea what that meant. I couldn’t make sense of it. But, God has been teaching me the last couple years what that means and how it applies to us today. In the Bible days, a stronghold was typically a fortress surrounded by a strong wall. It was a place you could run to for safety, something you could rely on. Today, we can relate a stronghold to a great many things. Think of it this way, anything that has a strong hold on your life, is a stronghold.
That could be a negative thought pattern, like Gideon seemed to have. For example, when you are entertaining those lies that the devil whispers into your thoughts, you are building a stronghold. Remember how Gideon had gotten to the point where he was losing his faith in God and lost confidence in himself? He said that not only was his clan the weakest in Manasseh, but the he was the least of those. It is important for us to be diligent in taking control of our thoughts.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5, “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
You have to take control of your thoughts. Thoughts become feelings, feelings become words, and words become actions. Whatever you’ve got inside of you will come out in some way, shape, or form. You have to be tough. Take control and choose to replace those negative thoughts with, “whatever is right, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable”(Philippians 4:8).
Here’s a recent, personal example. I went to the doctor for a change of medication. Now, this particular doctor had a reputation of being very brash and unhelpful. She had this sort of, “suck it up and deal with it” attitude. Some would say it was her lazy way of getting out of digging deeper to the root of the issues as she should have done. So, as I’m in the room waiting, I can just feel the anxiety building. I was thinking that she was going to give me a hard time about this. I was thinking that I was going to have to stick to my guns and make her look into this. I was preparing myself for a conflict. I was building within myself a sense of defensiveness. While I was waiting, I recognized this was not the way I wanted to feel and that this was not the way I wanted this interaction to go. I prayed a little prayer about it to myself, “God help me remain calm. Help me get this taken care of gracefully.”
I had to take hold of that thought that this was going to go badly. I had to take hold of the thought that I needed to be prepared for the worst, and I had to CHANGE that thought. I replaced that thought with thoughts such as, “There is no reason why she would give me a hard time about this. I’m worrying about something that is not even going to happen. This is going to go just fine and peacefully.”
The end result was that she came in, with an uptight demeanor as usual. But, as soon as she saw my pleasant attitude and welcoming smile, you could literally just see the tension melt off of her shoulders, melt off of her face, and all went well that day. I realize that not all interactions work out that well, but you are responsible for taking control of yourself, not others.
So, back to Gideon… Gideon was worried about things that weren’t even true. “I’m the weakest man in town.”
God replaced that lie with the truth, “You are a mighty man of valor.”
Gideon had this thought that God had forsaken them (Judges 6:13). So, he says in Judges 6:18, “Please don’t depart from here.”
God reassures him, “I will stay.”
See how his thought that God had forsaken them turned into this fear that if he left the room the angel of the Lord would depart? First, Gideon had to tear down some strongholds in his own life and give God the stronghold of his life.
Judges 6:24, “Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and called it, The Lord is Peace.”
An altar is a place where you lay something down and give it to God. Usually when you do, you realize that the Lord is Peace. He fills your heart, your being, your outlook, and your circumstances with peace.
Second, Gideon had to tear down the stronghold in his town, the idol Baal. An idol to us today is anything that we make more important than our relationship with God. For instance, it could be an addiction, a video game, Facebook, etc. I think of it this way, the people didn’t trust God to take care of them, so they turned to this idol and depended on it to fulfill their longings. It was something to fill a void in their hearts.
Judges 6:25-26, “That night the Lord said to him, ‘Take your father’s bull, and the second bull seven years old and pull down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it and build an altar to the Lord your God on the top of the stronghold here, with stones laid in due order. Then take the second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah that you shall cut down.’”
He was given the task of tearing down that stronghold (which was Baal) and replacing that by making God the stronghold (which was building God’s altar on top of the ruins). Once he built God’s altar, he made an offering. For us today, an offering could be our worship, our time, and our tithes. It’s just about making the decision that we’re not going to let this thing rule over our lives anymore. We’re going to put God first.
Finally, he didn’t let his fear stop him. Joyce Meyers has a saying, “Do it afraid.”
And, that’s just what Gideon did.
Judges 6:27, “Because he was afraid of his family and the men of the town to do it by day, he did it by night.”
Judges 7:10, “But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp of Purah your servant. And you shall hear what they say, and go down against the camp.”
God didn’t get angry with Gideon because he was afraid. He didn’t say, “Oh ye of little faith, depart from me.”
I think that’s the response we expect from God many times. But, you know, when someone goes through things, sometimes it changes a person. Extreme rejection, tragic events, etc. can cause a person to have fear. I think that God understood that about Gideon. And, he was okay with Gideon tearing down the idol of Baal at night because he was afraid. At least he did what God asked. Also, God knew Gideon would be afraid to face the Midianites, so he gave him some encouragement. He said, Gideon if you’re afraid, you and your servant go down here together to their camp, and you’re going to hear them talking. The things you hear them say will give you confidence and courage.
Tear down the strongholds in your mind. Take control of your thoughts. “You will keep him at perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you.” Isaiah 26:3
Tear down the strongholds in your environment. That could be unhealthy routines, addictions, toxic people, etc. Make God the one that has a strong hold on your life.
Do it afraid.
Following Christ and having faith does not mean that there won’t be times when you are afraid. It just means that you have to push through the fear and do what you’re called to do somehow, someway. And, don’t forget, if there’s anything or anyone that is going to have a strong hold on you, let it be God.