We can never discuss Gideon without bringing up two of the more humorous passages in scripture. One is when the angel of the Lord (which may be a theophany) first appears:
And the angel of the LORD appeared to him [Gideon] and said to him, "The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor." (Judges 6:12)Now our complete picture of Gideon tells us that in all likelihood the last thing he considered himself, at least at that time, was a man of valor. You can easily imagine him replying: "Are you talking to me?"
But an even funnier exchange, in fact a top-ten finalist in the category of humorous scripture, occurs just a bit later:
17 And he [Gideon] said to him [the Lord], "If now I have found favor in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is you who speaks with me. 18 Please do not depart from here until I come to you and bring out my present and set it before you." And he [the Lord] said, "I will stay till you return."When Gideon asks God to stick around while he runs inside to get something, God answers. "Go on, take your time. I'll wait." You just have to love it.
Gideon returns and God miraculously burns up his offering. Later Gideon famously puts God to some additional testing:
36 Then Gideon said to God, "If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said, 37 behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said." 38 And it was so. When he rose early next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water. 39 Then Gideon said to God, "Let not your anger burn against me; let me speak just once more. Please let me test just once more with the fleece. Please let it be dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground let there be dew." 40 And God did so that night; and it was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew. (Judges 6:36-40)This is what gets Gideon in trouble—not with God or with the writer of Hebrews, but with teachers who say: "don’t be like Gideon." Well, to them I say: I'd very much love to be like Gideon. You will note that God does not rebuke Gideon for asking for proof. Our premium on blind faith and the view that proof somehow is demeaning to God is darn near 180 degrees off. Blind faith is never called for, and in fact the elevation of blind faith to a virtue is, in my opinion, demeaning to God. Made in his image, we are rational beings, and every indication in scripture tells me that God is quite pleased when we seek evidence (even through science), and when he is visibly present among us, he readily provides it. For more on this topic, see this post.
So if God, or an angel of God, appears to me and says that he will send me to defeat the army of Iran with nothing more than a Ronco VegoMatic, I am going to behave just like Gideon.