What Gideon In The Bible Can Teach Us About Facing Our Fears

Judges 6 is a well-known Bible story, it’s in this chapter that we meet Gideon in the Bible in a rather unassuming way. The men and women throughout the pages of the book of Judges always show up with little fanfare, and we are immediately tossed into their story as they step into a leadership role and help their people face fears and turn from their sins.  But in Judges 6 we’re given a bit more background before we are plunged into Gideon in the Bible’s story.

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Who Were The Midianites In Judges 6?

The curtain reopens from Deborah’s story in Judges 4-5 and we find after 40 years of peace the people of Isreal have once again turned their back on the Lord and forgotten His ways. For 7 years the Israelites have once again been living beneath the oppressive rule of their enemies the Midianites. But who exactly were they? The Midianites are descendants of Abraham and one of his concubines that were sent away with the rest of Isaac’s rivals. You may remember the Midianites from the Exodus story when Moses fled Egypt and lived among them until God brings him back to set the people of Israel free. 

The Bible says that whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianite army would come and destroy and kill their crops and livestock. Because the oppression of the Midianites was so strong the people created shelters for themselves in mountain clefts and caves to hide. They lived in fear under the oppressive strength of the Midianites.

Facing Your Fears: Preparing Your Heart

An interesting observation the writer of Judges makes is that only after the Midianite army had impoverished the Israelites that they called out to the Lord. In Judges 6 verse 8 scripture tells us that the Lord raised up a prophet, no name is given to him or her but they remind the people of their history and where they have disobeyed their God.

…“This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of all your oppressors; I drove them out before you and gave you their land. I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.” Judges 6:8-10 NIV

A theme throughout the book of Judges in the Bible is a call to repentance, before a leader ever steps on the scene to free the people of Israel from their oppressors God lifts someone up to call them back to Him. To draw His people’s hearts back to His, 

  1. They call for the people’s repentance.
  2. Remind them the people of Israel of their history.
  3. And finally, they remind the people of who their God is. 

The People Had To Return To God Before They Were Ready For Gideon In The Bible

Like every great move of God in the Bible, these are the precursors to God’s hand moving. Before the people would be ready for the next Judge, this prophet had to prepare their hearts. They first needed to repent from their sins, face their fears, and be reminded of God’s love and what He had done for them.

They had to be reminded that despite the times that the people rebelled against God, He still loved them. Just as He had loved them enough to save them from Egypt then, He loved them enough to save them from the now Midianites. But the prophet also reminds the people that it isn’t the Midianites that are the problem, but their own hearts.

How To Grow Your Faith So You Can Face Your Fears

What Was Gideon In The Bible Doing When God Called Him?

It’s in verse 11 that we finally meet Gideon in the Bible, doing something ordinary in a rather unorthodox fashion. We find Gideon in the Bible threshing wheat in a winepress if you know anything about growing wheat or making wine you know the process for threshing wheat or pressing the wine is nothing like the other.

Wheat is threshed in wide-open spaces often on top of a hill, where the chaff and grain could easily be separated. A thresher would toss the wheat in the air so that the wind could carry away the chaff. While on the other hand, a wine press would be an enclosed space made for crushing the grapes to release their juices. Often you’ll see some sort of trench or bowl with a very large stone that can be rolled around to crush the grapes. The very fact that Gideon in the Bible would even attempt to thresh wheat in a winepress speaks to the people of Israel’s fear of the Midianites.

What’s driven us into hiding? The betrayal of someone that was supposed to love us? Harsh words of someone we thought a friend? Or perhaps the fear of what others will think. And so we’ve retreated into hiding, Hiding from God, hiding from those who love us, hiding from where we’re meant to be, and sent us retreating into a place that was never meant to be used like that.

Perhaps it’s the fear of judgment that has become our wine press or the fear of being hurt that has sent us into hiding, or the safe place of our comfort zone that we’ve buried ourselves in. Fear keeps us buried in our own personal wildernesses far away from the arms of our savior, enslaved to old scars, and allows things to take hold of that were never meant to. 

Why Did God Choose Gideon In The Bible?

After Deborah’s entrance in the last chapter, we half expect to find Gideon in the Bible in much the same manner- but instead, we find a frightened man, desperate not to draw attention to himself. Hiding, sneaking, not trying to draw attention to himself, just trying to get by. This act of threshing wheat in a winepress would not only be incredibly difficult but a humiliating act born out of extreme fear.

Perhaps this is what makes the angel of the Lord’s greeting so striking “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” I wonder if Gideon in the Bible looked around to see who these words were meant, only to realize he was the only one there. You can almost see the confusion on his face as the Bible paints this picture.

 

Was Gideon In The Bible A Coward, Or Was He Broken?

Gideon in the Bible’s first words uttered are ones of doubt, unlike Barak, in the last story his doubts outweigh his faith and he asks a question I’ve heard in so many forms from those hurting “If the Lord was with us, why did all this happen?”. He’s speaking from a place of pain and fear, his life is out of control and his nation is being oppressed. From his perspective, it’s God that has abandoned them when in truth it is the people who have abandoned God.

But to his credit the state of his homeland bothers him, this isn’t a man who is apathetic towards the world around Him. Yes he is frightened, but he has a right to be. Yes, he is hiding- but how many of us have been chased into hiding from what is oppressing us? This is a man not who is broken over the state of his nation, his country, and his family. You don’t get that kind of question from someone who is merely a coward.

Gideon In The Bible Must Trust God Despite What He Sees

Have you ever noticed that when you are walking through a stormy season that fear and doubt are much stronger? It’s much harder to cling to the faith you built up, on the good days. We wonder if perhaps God has changed, not realizing that it’s our perspective that has changed. It’s the size of the waves that have swelled and pounded all the harder upon our foundations. Gideon wants to believe Him, you can almost feel it in his words, but that fear has seeped in deep. He’s hurting, he’s frightened, and maybe more than anything Gideon in the Bible doesn’t understand. 

Questions and doubts are something we all face at some time or another, especially in the hard seasons. Perhaps this is why this section of Judges 6 stands out to me so much. We’ve all walked through that storm-tossed season at some time or another. We’ve walked through the wastelands of loss, and brokenness desperate to be saved but wary of trusting once more. I think we are often too quick to throw stones at Gideon in the Bible for his fear, and lack of faith when the truth is many of us are in the same boat- or have been at some point.

We’ve been hurt. We’re living in captivity, enslaved to something we were never meant to be. Listening to the lies telling us that we could never be anything more, or go any further than this broken place. This is where it ends. So we’ve retreated into a place that was never meant for us.

When God comes knocking at the chamber door of our hearts to set us free, we have questions that need answers. Where were you? Why would you let this happen? Didn’t you bring me here? I thought you cared? Is Gideon all that different from the man in the New Testament that lived among the tombs? We want to be saved, but our scars won’t let us trust easily. 

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Learning From The Story Of Gideon In The Bible

The key is getting past the questions, the fear, and the doubt ragging to hold us back and letting God set us free. Allowing the chains that have held us in bondage for so long to fall away. We may not get the answers to all of our questions now or in our lifetime. But we can not let them become a prison for us. Gideon is the perfect example of letting go of our doubts and facing our fears to embrace what the Lord is trying to do in our life.

The Lord you serve is in control, He is not asleep, nor is the storm too strong for Him. He’s seen every heartbreak, He knows every doubt, He’s caught every tear. Even in your darkest, most fearful moment, you have been held safely in his hands without a chance of slipping through the cracks. You can never be lost to Him. He is not done. Your story is not over yet, He’s been with you, walking through the fire every step of the way. 

Are you ready? Like Gideon in the Bible to face your fears, to step out of your winepress and be set free? To step into the plan the Lord has for your life?


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4 thoughts on “What Gideon In The Bible Can Teach Us About Facing Our Fears”

  1. There are so many lessons from Gideon’s story in the Bible, and learning to face our fears is certainly a big one! Thanks for this wonderful Bible study lesson. I enjoyed learning about the significance of him being in the wine press to thresh his wheat. Really puts the beginning of his story into perspective. Great job!

  2. There is so much we can personally learn from Gideon’s story in the Bible. Facing our own fears is definitely one of them. As you state…questions and doubts are something we all face at some time or another, perhaps this is why this section of Judges 6 stands out to me so much…I couldn’t agree more! Great study and post!

  3. I love the story of Gideon because he is so much like us and he sets an example for overcoming his doubt and fear. Wonderful post to remind all of us to also be overcomers.

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