After Gideon and his army had routed the entire army of the Midianites and began marching their kings Zebah and Zalmunna back toward the Jordan, he must have been wondering why his Israelite brothers had refused to support him. Angrily he must have decided that they remained turned against Yahweh, unwilling to trust the mission that he had been given. Given the distance of time, do we see the irony in Gideon’s rage against them. They were bypassed by the Midian army but would suffer humiliation and destruction at the hands of God’s judge.
Perhaps the irony is masked by the change we see in Gideon himself. Starting out as hesitant and fearful, he slowly obeys God’s commands and embarks on the restorative mission. Obedience marks this Judges’ cycle until ego and the need for revenge transforms the man. Does he feel that God’s mission gives him permission to act independently to punish Piniel and Succoth? He crosses ‘over the line’ in crossing over the Jordan. Are we at similar risk?
Christian leaders are all tempted by ego and the human desire to get ‘even.’ It’s easy to even momentarily forget that we serve at the pleasure of God and it is His glory alone that should be the result of our service. Obstacles may come, we may have to face struggles that prick our every nerve ending and exhaust the limits of our patience, we may even find ourselves sidelined for a season when we feel as though we should be in the middle of the action but we must maintain our trust in God and the purpose he calls us to.