Written by Fiona Monaghan
I love the humanness of Gideon in his dialogue with God’s Angel and being directed to ‘man up’ and take on the Midianites.
Judges begins Gideon’s story with him threshing wheat in a winepress – why would Gideon be separating the edible grain from the inedible chaff in a place used to make wine? Threshing wheat in a winepress conveys the idea of someone hiding and doing something in a place unexpected because usually threshing wheat would be done out in the open. Well, during this time the Israelites were being hounded by the Midianites (because once again they had turned from the Lord) who would rampage through the area, steal their food, their livestock and terrorizing everyone. So Gideon was hiding his crop from the Midianites hoping that it would be spared from pillaging.
Gideon’s life is completely changing when Angel of God comes to him saying, “God is with you, O mighty warrior!” Can’t you just hear Gideon saying, ‘What! Who me? I am just the runt of the litter of the weakest of the tribes of Israel.’’ He responds by questioning that God even cares about the Israelites that He has let them be taken over by the Midianites.
Gideon knew the history of his people coming out of Egypt with Moses; of being in the desert and being rescued and all the miracles God had performed for the people of Israel. However, he seemed to forget was that over and over again the Israelites had been told by prophets to “shape up and follow their One and Only God” and time and time again they had turned to worship the local gods of their neighbors.
In an interesting twist in the story when Gideon is questioning the angel, God himself speaks to Gideon and tells him that He can be depended upon. Not only that, but Gideon will be used to deliver the Israelites from the Midianites.
Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” Judges 6:14 (NLT)
Before Gideon is ready to take on the Midianites he is given a couple of projects to do first. Could this be to build his confidence or test his mettle? Remember, he sees himself as a runt.
He is directed to destroy the altar to Baal in his own father’s house and take down the Asherah fertility pole next to the altar. Then, make an offering of his dad’s prize bull on an altar with the wood from the fertility pole. He decides to do this at night with 10 servants to help. The next morning everyone in town is aghast! “Who did this thing?” They want his head on a stick. Funnily enough, his dad Joash steps up and states, “What is all the fuss about? What kind of god is Baal if he needs defending, let him fight his own battles!” Score 1 for Gideon!
In our lives, we don’t have ‘gods’ like Baal. But anything that makes us question our faith in God or in ourselves, or makes us feel weak and ineffective needs to be addressed. There are many verses in the Bible that tell us that God is for us!
He does not want us kowtowing to anything or anyone who makes us feel inferior and weak. He wants to be our Defender and Protector in anything that life throws at us. By us getting to know God personally, we then have the confidence to face those life situations that challenge us.
Each opportunity Gideon was presented with, allowed him to gain confidence and strength for the next one. This story shows we can ask God those questions when things don’t add up. Gideon asked for signs and he stated how he felt about things. In that, God showed Himself faithful and patient and could be depended upon in these smaller tasks, so that Gideon had no question in his mind where his success would come from in the bigger battle yet to come.
What questions do you have for God?
What is pulling you away from Him? Take 15 minutes today and write down a prayer to God, ask him your questions, and identify what is pulling you away from God. Ask Him how you can tear those things down and replace them with actions/friends/places that will glorify Him.