The next few months we will be looking at a variety of Biblical characters and what we can learn from them in our Christian walk both at home and in our medical practices. This month we will discuss Gideon, one of the Judges of Israel. One of the hallmarks of Gideon’s story was his reluctance to lead his people. So we opened our discussion with relating instances in the past or present when we have been asked to assume leadership and how we felt about that request. There were a variety of examples given both from medical practice and from church experiences. One frequent aspect that was shared was the frequent feeling that we did not feel particularly skilled to perform the job. This we will see is not unlike Gideon.
At the time of Gideon, Israel was under the oppression from the Midianites. The Israelites lived in fear of the Midianites and Israel had incorporated much of the Midian culture into their way of life including worship of the Midian god Baal. We started our reading with Judges 6:11-18. In this passage we see that Gideon is called by God to lead his people against Midian. Gideon sees himself as extremely weak while God views him as a mighty warrior. We discussed in what way we see ourselves differently than how God sees us. Just as Gideon throws up a variety of excuses to avoid following God’s will, we often use an excuse as well to avoid a task that God may be directing. Excuses such as time constraints, family obligations and financial consequences were mentioned. We talked about God’s response to Gideon’s excuses and how this is summed up with trusting God to do what he says he will do. We then read in Vs 36-40 how Gideon continues to test God to be sure that indeed what he is hearing from God is what God wants him to do. This is basically Gideon’s attempt to truly discern God’s will. This lead to a discussion as to how do we each discern God’s will in our lives. The need for praying into the subject, for quiet reflection and the importance of speaking with other believers and people of wise counsel to help make decisions were mentioned. It was mentioned how this is particularly true in practice when facing difficult patient decisions. Then we shared instances when we have seen the process of discernment delay the implementation of God’s will. Some will just continue to “pray on it” to the point that they enter into a state of inertia and nothing is ever acted upon.
In Chapter 7 God culls the Israelite army down from 32,000 men to just 300. In verse 2 it tells us this was done so Israel would not be able to boast that their victory was due to anything other than God’s intervention. The battle plan is described in Vs 13-18. We made note of the fact that the plan does not involve the Israelites carrying any weapons at all. We discussed how this must have raised some concerns on the part of the 300 soldiers of Gideon and they might have asked how this is possibly going to be successful. But God has a plan that in Vs 19-22 leads to the complete destruction of the Midianites. We discussed how this is an example of how God is always working in ways that we neither discern nor understand. We than shared instances in which we have experienced God’s work in retrospect.
Gideon experiences a tremendous success in his battle with the Midianites and one would think this would have kept him on the straight and narrow walking with God. However, Chapter 8 describes how Gideon became prideful and self-dependent and soon fell away from following God’s ways. He kills several Israelites, gathers gold and jewels for himself and he and his people even return to their Ball worship. This all goes to illustrate the dangers of success. In our lives we also have similar dangers. We then discussed what these modern day dangers of success are. These mostly revolve around our tendency to become self reliant instead of remaining God-reliant. We finished our discussion by sharing successes that we need to celebrate and point back to God.