He caught a young man of
Succoth and questioned him,
and the young man wrote down
for him the names of the
seventy-seven elders of the town.
Gideon, fresh from the victory, starts his parade. Imagine the scene! Gideon and company have overcome the 15,000 troops with 300 men, and have captured the 2 kings alive. They are returning to the two cities that denied them help because they doubted them and had no faith in their God.
I can imagine that Gideon was walking so proudly back to the group, ready to display his capture. He was eager to make the doubters eat their words, and to uphold the promise that he gave them. He would torture the leaders of Succoth and destroy the tower in Peniel. I’m sure they saw him approaching victoriously, and knew that he would honor his word, and that suffering was about to be experienced at his hands.
As a servant of God, the journey of faith we take often leaves us to look foolish in the sight of man. People are often questioning how and why, and their doubt in God, and our belief in God is considered by some to be a sign of weakness. They speak of us as though our acknowledgement of a superior being is foolish, and our willingness to submit to a higher power, is irresponsible. There are those who believe they are truly the captain of their soul. But not the believer! We know that God is alive, and is in control, and is looking to direct us towards His perfect will for our lives.
It is amazing that while walking in the ordered steps of the Lord, we have moments where we receive praise and accolades. Gideon, like all of us, has to endure challenging moments where our ability and our sanity is questioned.
I thank God that as we follow Him, He gives us moments where we are validated. Times where those who doubted, feel foolish for not believing in the God we serve, and in some cases are inspired to follow the God we serve or even gain faith in us and our abilities.
Sadly, this will not happen in this encounter, mainly because Gideon is about to use the same power and authority he walked in to capture the 2 kings, to destroy those who didn’t help him. I believe this is a story similar to what we experience today. While people watch God accomplish amazing feats through us, and witness miracles upon the earth, people are challenged by the encounters they have with those God uses to carry out His will on the earth. As opposed to being focused on the power and authority of God, they are distracted by the anger and frustration of men and women who are distracted by the flesh. Gideon like many of us was so caught up in the negative encounters, that he was determined to punish those who didn’t believe in him. He took a moment that could have been the early equivalent to the show down of Elijah and the prophets of baal, and turned it into two armies fighting it out in the sight of man.
Not only where these men and those that witnessed the encounters challenged, but so was the focal point of this verse! Gideon caught a young man, and directly questioned him. Caught helps us to understand this young mans position. He was like these leaders of his city. He most likely wanted to steer clear of any drama and feud that existed and would exist between the people of Succoth and Gideon. He wanted to go home to his family after a long days work and enjoy their presence. But Gideon is so concerned with proving himself right that he involves this young man, capturing a 3rd person, and then uses his power of “influence” to get him to give up those who decided not to invest in him. Notice “influence” is in quotes, as this young man knows his life is on the line if he refuses to participate.
Under pressure, the young man gave up 77 elders!
The young man protects His life and writes on the paper. My heart goes out to this young man, as his efforts to steer clear place him as a cog in the effort to severely punish 77 people. In this “snitches get stitches” culture, we should acknowledge that his safety with the community once Gideon leaves.
Besides that, this young man might be like many of us. Maybe he wasn’t afraid of any physical harm that would come his way, but dreaded living with the results of his actions? Even if his listing of the names remained a secret, he would wake each day, and encounter as he walked through the town, either the 77 elders, or members of their family; forced to live with the role he played in their injuries.
Not were they just 77 people, but 77 Elders, which were leaders in the community. I’m sure as he wrote, he knew his part in this effort, would remove much wisdom and some resources from the community. This small community would be challenged, but the injury and loss caused to its leaders. Remember, Gideon’s plan is to gather thorns and briers and to tear their flesh. He want’s to make them suffer by shedding their blood. Lord forbid that this young man could potentially watch his country deteriorate.
Not that I’m looking for confessions, but I have been in this place before. That moment where you look at what has occurred and have to consider your role in said event. Now, I haven’t cratered a city, or destroyed a culture, but I have regretted words spoken that has given tension to a relationship that was eventually destroyed.
What about you?
Ever had a moment you wish you could take back?
Or maybe like Gideon, you evolved someone past their wishes into a situation they desired to steer clear of, and didn’t consider the potential affect it would have on their life? I This young man would eventually witness 77 people have their flesh torn off because of his testimony, and I am sure he would eventually loose sleep over his decision. In a rage, Gideon impacts this mans life by including him in the punishment of those he desired to get revenge with. This isn’t right! I wonder how many people can’t close their eyes because of a situation you placed them in? How many scurry past the mirror, hastening to look at themselves after they consider their choices?
I aim to consider my actions first, and then the actions of those aiding me as I journey. I believe God wants us to see people not as pawns, but as participants in life whose lives we are to value and respect even when we are eager and desperate to achieve.