God Gives All Authority and Leadership

In old western movies, there were good guys and bad guys. The good guys wore white cowboy hats, and the bad guys wore black cowboy hats. Life, however, is a lot more complicated than an old gunslinger show. If we are honest, even if we are believers, some days we wear the white hat, and some days we wear the black hat. This is the case with Gideon. In Judges 6 he began to put on a white hat. In Judges 7 he wore the white hat into battle. In Judges 8 he has been wearing the black hat. However, in the next scene he puts back on the white hat, before then putting on the black hat yet again. Seeking to make Gideon into a king with a generational monarchy, “the men of Israel said to Gideon, ‘Rule over us, you and your son and your grandson also, for you have saved us from the hand of Midian.’ Gideon said to them, ‘I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the LORD will rule over you.’” 

What the people want, and eventually get, is a human king. However, first they are to honor God as the King of Kings. The same is true of us, because we are sinners in a fallen world. Everyone needs to be under some kind of leadership (e.g., children need parents, employees need bosses, students need teachers, citizens need police officers, and people need politicians) to bring some sense of order to what would otherwise be anarchy and chaos. However, all authority and leadership are given by God, who has all authority and is to be the Leader that everyone else follows. Unless there is a respect for God, there will not be human flourishing. At the height of national popularity, having pulled off a miracle and routing an overwhelmingly larger terrorist invader that has tormented them for seven years, Gideon can cash in all of his success and become the king, securing his family on the throne for generations. Rightly, Gideon declines that offer, and later God would raise up David to be their Spirit-filled warrior king instead. 

The final scenes of Gideon’s life are that God’s battle victory through him brought forty years of peace, Gideon took many wives, fathered 70 sons, lived to a “good old age” and was “was buried in the tomb of Joash his father[.]” Throughout the Old Testament, polygamy is common despite God forbidding it by declaring that marriage was between one man and one woman, any sexual activity outside of the marriage covenant was adultery, and a leader “shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away.” Furthermore, when there are children born outside of the marriage covenant, the results are repeatedly disastrous for generations, which is the case with Gideon. 

The final lines are haunting, showing that despite his imperfections Gideon was far godlier than the rest of the nation. “As soon as Gideon died, the people of Israel turned again and whored after the Baals and made Baal-berith their god. And the people of Israel did not remember the LORD their God, who had delivered them from the hand of all their enemies on every side, and they did not show steadfast love to the family of Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) in return for all the good that he had done to Israel.” 

Although Gideon is honored as a man of faith, his work is imperfect, and the change he brings is temporary. This sets the stage for the coming of Jesus Christ, whose Father truly is King. 

In studying Gideon, what is the big lesson you have learned about yourself?

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