With the dawning of a new year, many of us have lofty goals and ambitious resolutions. Assuming our goals and resolutions are God-honoring, it’s great to set them and humbly seek to achieve them for His glory. In fact, we can be confident that in 2022 there await us “good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).
As I seek to do those good works God has prepared for me this year, I often find myself oscillating between feelings of prideful optimism (“This will be the year I finally…”) and inevitable defeatism (“There’s no way I will be able to…”). The story of Gideon (Judges 6-8) encourages me as I begin 2022 and start walking in what God has prepared for me. I reflect specifically on what God contributed and what Gideon contributed.
First, God sends a prophet, gives the assurance of His presence, and demonstrates extended patience. Early in Judges 6, prior to God’s call of Gideon, Israel cries out to God, and He sends a prophet to Israel, reminding them of His faithfulness to deliver in the past and of their unfaithfulness in the present. Here, before God acts to deliver, He speaks to instruct. Similarly, when we ask for help and deliverance, He often sends His Word to instruct us first. As you begin this year, remember that God’s Word is a precious gift that always accomplishes God’s will and nothing of any significance will be done without it.
Second, God gives Gideon the assurance of His presence. The Angel of the Lord comes to Gideon (likely a pre-incarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus) and states, “The Lord is with you.” He continues by addressing Gideon, “O mighty man of valor!” Remember, Gideon is in hiding from the marauders, just trying to eke out a meal by “beating out wheat in the winepress.” By no human definition is he mighty or valiant. Yet the angel’s statement isn’t ironic or sarcastic. We are, because of God’s presence, mighty and valiant as we walk in His ways.
Third, God shows great patience toward Gideon’s weak faith. Over and over throughout chapters 6 and 7, God graciously and patiently permits Gideon to stall, question, test, and doubt. Truly our God is “slow to anger” (Ex. 34:6, Num. 14:18, Neh. 9:17, Ps. 86:15, Ps. 103:8). Isaiah gives a beautiful picture of the patient gentleness of the Lord: “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out” (42:3).
Having seen what God supplies to Gideon in his quest to do what God has called him to do, let us remind ourselves of what Gideon brings to the task. First, Gideon comes with desperation, cowering in fear (6:11). Next, he comes with questions and doubts (6:13, 17). Then Gideon describes his own insignificance (6:15). Finally, even his obedience is saturated with fear and the constant need for reassurance (6:25-40).
Gideon is not exactly a stellar example of what it looks like to walk in faith! However, God ended up doing amazing things through this man—“good works, which God prepared beforehand, that [he] should walk in them.” He was even mentioned in Hebrews 11 as one “of whom the world was not worthy” (11:32-38). God used the weak faith of an insignificant saint to deliver His people. And in doing so, God received great glory!
As we enter 2022 with our God-honoring goals and resolutions, let’s go into it with both defeatism and optimism, knowing that we will at some point fail, but that because of His Word, His presence, and His patience, our failures do not limit a sovereign God from ultimately succeeding through us. To God be the glory!
Jason Mackey, PhD
Adjunct Instructor of Greek
- Continue to pray for each of the Bethlehem College & Seminary campuses, that God would sovereignly direct our students to seek ministry training.
- Pray for the upcoming conference, that God would use it to encourage and equip church leaders for service in His kingdom.
- Pray for Dr. Rigney and his upcoming inauguration. Ask that God would use him mightily to lead this school for His glory.