I can’t say for certain that Gideon struggled with anxiety. Honestly, as with most of the accounts in Judges and the later books of Kings, the details are sparse as they cover decades of Israel’s history. Instead, I’m writing this next series on Gideon because he kept coming to mind. I believe that if something keeps coming to mind, God probably has a reason for it. So, I thought we’d start this series with an introduction to Gideon, the judge in the Bible.
When did the Judges come?
The Israelites followed Joshua into the promised land and started settling the territory. Against the Lord’s commands, though, they took some of the existing people as servants instead of driving them out completely. This led to a lot of problems as the Israelites frequently turned to the other gods and religions. God punished the Israelites by subjugating them to other kings. Israel would call out to God to save them, and God would raise up a judge to lead Israel into freedom from their captors.
Then the LORD raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. They quickly tuned from the ways of their ancestors, who had been obedient to the LORD’s commands. Whenever the LORD raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the LORD relented because of their groaning under the judge who oppressed and afflicted them. But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.Judges 2:16-19 NIV
Who is Gideon, the Judge?
Gideon is the fifth judge whose story we read in Judges. His account fills chapters 6-9 of the book. Gideon’s story follows Deborah, the female judge, whose leadership led to 40 years of peace. However, as the Israelites turned from God when Deborah died, He gave them over to the Midianites for seven years. We meet Gideon threshing wheat in a winepress because the Midianites were taking everything the Israelites had. The false god Baal heavily influenced Gideon’s community, and we get to experience a lot of Gideon’s fears during his encounter with the angel in chapter 6.
If you want to see a quick timeline and map of who was in charge from the time of the judges until Israel’s request for a king, I found this easy to read outline at Biblestudy.com. On Wednesday, we’ll start looking at the calling of Gideon. His story reads very differently than that of the warrior prophetess who came before him. Instead, Gideon reminds us of God’s kindness in responding to our fears and of God’s ability to use us despite our weakness.