At it’s core, the story of Gideon is a story of restoration.
We have such an individualistic conception of faith that we tend to see this story exclusively through the lens of Gideon’s transformation from farmer to warrior. In his weakness, Gideon finds a strength from God that enables Him to do the impossible. That’s completely right, true, and biblical. But it’s not the only thing God is doing in the story. It’s also a time of military, economic, and cultural restoration for Israel. What God does through Gideon changes everything. Families no longer go to sleep fearing for their safety and workers no longer toil fearing they’ll never see the fruit of their labor. Through Gideon, God restores His people to a time of peace, economic stability, and freedom from oppression.
We need to see that larger story because so much of our culture and so much of our lives are in desperate need of restoration. 21st century America needs to rediscover truth, civility, and a sense of value and dignity for all as image bearers of God. We need to fight back against the injustice of racism, abortion, human trafficking, and so many other forms of violence against humanity. At times, our personal concerns seem small in comparison but we all know they are no less painful. We want our marriages to flourish and our families to thrive. We want to get some sleep, get in shape, and have energy again. We want to love others unconditionally and stop getting so disappointed when they don’t meet our expectations. We want to figure out how to make ends meet financially.
When we think about personal and cultural restoration, we need to do so through the lens of Gideon:
That night the Lord said to him, “Take your father’s bull, and the second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it and build an altar to the Lord your God on the top of the stronghold here, with stones laid in due order. Then take the second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah that you shall cut down.”
– Judges 6:25-26
Personal and cultural restoration starts with spiritual restoration and spiritual restoration always leads to personal and cultural restoration.
It’s no accident that God calls Gideon to fight a spiritual battle before a military one. Before he deals with the Midianites, Gideon needs to deal with the idols in his own house. He needs to get back into right relationship with God and rediscover the joy of walking with Yahweh before he’s going to affect great change in the world. The same is true for us. We make a tremendous mistake when we attempt to divorce our spirituality from the rest of our lives. The health of your soul has a direct impact on the health of your finances, your family, your body, and your relationships. We so often want to avoid the pain and introspection of dealing with our souls and just figure out a practical solution to whatever is bothering us today. But that shortcut rarely leads anywhere good or lasting. Real restoration starts in our souls and radiates out to the rest of our lives.
But when real restoration has come to our souls, it will radiate out. Your relationship with Jesus is designed to change every area of your life, the life of your church, and the life of your community. Judges 6:25 starts with the phrase, “that night.” The author is referring to the same night that Gideon met the angel of the Lord. Gideon’s encounter with God immediately turned into spiritual restoration and a sense of mission. There’s no gap. Spiritual restoration, personal restoration, and cultural restoration are inexorably linked, not some multi-step, multi-year process.
The greatest gift we can ever offer others is a soul in vital union with Jesus. When His life is flowing in and through us, the possibilities for restoration are endless. So, start there. When our souls are satisfied in Christ, it changes everything for us and for the people around us.