Valley Experiences of Gideon

Gideon is the fifth major judge of Israel. Gideon was given the task of delivering the Israelites from the Midianites and Amalekites, desert nomads who repeatedly raided the country.

The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. {12} When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.” {13} “But sir,” Gideon replied, “if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian.” {14} 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?” {15} “But Lord, ” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” {16} The LORD answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.”

Gideon was in a valley experience when the Lord first approached him. He was that way because he concentrated on the circumstances he was in. In his circumstances, he could not see any of the miracles his ancestors experienced. We too can look at the current state of our live and feel depressed.

Gideon also had a low image of himself. He described himself as being the least of the least, a complete good-for-nothing. He could not believe that someone would actually describe him as a mighty warrior.

According to the Lord, Gideon was not in a valley at all. He was a mighty warrior and God was with him. With that, the Lord promised that he would lead his people into victory against the Midianites.

When we feel like we are in the valley, do not concentrate on our external circumstances. Concentrate on how the Lord would have viewed the situation. Did God promise that you would come out victorious? What did God promise that you could do?

(Phil 4:13 NIV)  I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

In his valley experience, Gideon asked God for a sign that would encourage him. The first sign God gave him was to consume the food that Gideon brought to him. When we are in a low point, we can ask God for assurances that He is with us. God did not get angry with Gideon for doing so. God knows that we need some visible confirmation in moments of doubt. Sometimes the confirmation may come from someone who is praying for you, who receives a word from the Lord for you.

(Judg 6:17-22 NIV)  Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. {18} Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.” And the LORD said, “I will wait until you return.” {19} Gideon went in, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak. {20} The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And Gideon did so. {21} With the tip of the staff that was in his hand, the angel of the LORD touched the meat and the unleavened bread. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the LORD disappeared. {22} When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the LORD, he exclaimed, “Ah, Sovereign LORD! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!”

The next thing the Lord did to Gideon was to test him. Our valley experiences may be times of testing by God. The example of Job is a good one. Here God tested Gideon to see whether he would obey Him. The tearing down of Baal’s altar carries great risk, even death but Gideon obeyed.

 (Judg 6:23-30 NIV)  But the LORD said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.” {24} So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The LORD is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites. {25} That same night the LORD said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old. Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. {26} Then build a proper kind of altar to the LORD your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering.” {27} So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the LORD told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the men of the town, he did it at night rather than in the daytime. {28} In the morning when the men of the town got up, there was Baal’s altar, demolished, with the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar! {29} They asked each other, “Who did this?” When they carefully investigated, they were told, “Gideon son of Joash did it.” {30} The men of the town demanded of Joash, “Bring out your son. He must die, because he has broken down Baal’s altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.”

Gideon could have reasoned, “I am already in the low point of my life. Why must I do something that may cause me to go even lower.” But he did not consider that. We could be in a low point of our career and wonder why we should obey God and practice integrity since it seems to be bringing us further losses. In these situations, God may be testing you to see if you would obey Him no matter what.

When Gideon was in the valley experience, he thought that he was the least in the whole tribe. Why on earth would people follow him? Yet God declared him to be a mighty warrior that would lead the people. It is not about Gideon’s ability but about what the Spirit of God can do in a person. When the moment arrives for Gideon to lead, all the people responded because God was with him.

(Judg 6:33-35 NIV)  Now all the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples joined forces and crossed over the Jordan and camped in the Valley of Jezreel. {34} Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him. {35} He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, calling them to arms, and also into Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, so that they too went up to meet them.

Your valley experience is for God to bring glory to His name. When you are stripped of everything and God turns around your situation through the exercise of His power, all those observing it will know that it is God who has done a miracle in the situation.

The Lord would not allow Gideon to fight the Midianites with 32,000 men. He would only allow 300 to fight so that all glory would go to Him. When you are in the valley, your situation may get worse and worse until such point when you feel totally helpless. You may be moving closer and closer to the point when you are totally helpless and relying on God’s strength alone to deliver you.

(Judg 7:1-8 NIV)  Early in the morning, Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) and all his men camped at the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. {2} The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, {3} announce now to the people, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.'” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained. {4} But the LORD said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will sift them for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.” {5} So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the LORD told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink.” {6} Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their mouths. All the rest got down on their knees to drink. {7} The LORD said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the other men go, each to his own place.” {8} So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites to their tents but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others. Now the camp of Midian lay below him in the valley.

While the Lord is making Gideon’s situation more desperate by removing his resources, he is making His promise even surer by continually providing confirmation. You may find that your situation is worsening but God’s promises are increasing. Which you choose to believe is the real test.

(Judg 7:9-15 NIV)  During that night the LORD said to Gideon, “Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands. {10} If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah {11} and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” So he and Purah his servant went down to the outposts of the camp. {12} The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore. {13} Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. “I had a dream,” he was saying. “A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.” {14} His friend responded, “This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.” {15} When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped God. He returned to the camp of Israel and called out, “Get up! The LORD has given the Midianite camp into your hands.”

Even though it was God who delivered Israel out of its valley experience, it is not as though they did nothing. They did have to play a part in the deliverance although at the end of it, it would be clear that it was the Lord who had delivered them.

(Judg 8:4 NIV)  Gideon and his three hundred men, exhausted yet keeping up the pursuit, came to the Jordan and crossed it.