I have always found Gideon to be an interesting study in humanity and doubt, as well as man’s ability to overcome doubt and step out in faith when God calls upon him to serve. Since early youth Gideon has fascinated me, and for good reason. Here is a man who is hiding in a winepress, threshing wheat in secret, for fear that the Midianites might discover him, yet this selfsame fearful man is called a mighty man of valor by none other than the Angel of the Lord.
Today I want to talk about two different perspectives, two different ways at looking both at the call of Gideon, as well as Gideon’s reaction to the call on his life.
In every scripture there is a lesson, in every passage a teachable moment, and as I reread the sixth and seventh chapter of Judges this morning, there are enough lessons for at least three posts within these two chapters.
Judges 6:11-13, “Now the Angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, ‘The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!’ And Gideon said to Him, ‘O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.”
Throughout the Word of God we see that when God calls someone He never approaches them as they presently are, but as what He knows they will become. From a human standpoint, and through the prism of human reason, Gideon was just a fearful man, hiding in a winepress, who by his own words was the least in his father’s house, who in turn was the weakest clan in Manasseh. There wasn’t much to work with from a human standpoint, and the call of Gideon to be the one who would save Israel from the hand of the Midianites seemed out of place, if not altogether foolhardy. Surely there were greater clans within Israel, surely there were more valiant warriors, surely there were men who were not presently hiding, threshing wheat, performing the task of a farmer, but rather men who were wielding swords, and throwing spears, who could nock an arrow blindfolded, and whose aim was true. Surely there were men who were more physically imposing than Gideon, men who knew the way of war, who had warrior blood running through their veins, yet here stood the angel of the Lord, declaring to Gideon that the Lord was with him, and calling him a mighty man of valor.
The fact that God can take the least among us, the most insignificant, the least logical choice, and transform them into someone that will do great exploits for His kingdom is one of His attributes that is most humbling to me. As human beings, no matter what we are trying to achieve, we need something to work with, something that will establish a solid foundation; something that we can build upon. God however, takes the broken, the rejected, the overlooked, and builds them up, transforming, molding and chiseling until what was once considered irredeemable becomes something priceless. God saw in Gideon what he never saw in himself, not because Gideon had hidden talents, not because Gideon was a closet genius, but because God knew Gideon could be molded and fashioned, because God knew the vessel realized he was nothing more than a vessel, and all that God would do through him could never be mistaken for the work of Gideon, but rather the work of God in him.
When God called Moses, he was a stuttering sheepherder, when God called David, he was a young shepherd boy with a slingshot, when God called Daniel, he was a slave in Babylon, when God called Peter he was a man who reeked of fish, and whose hands were calloused from pulling in nets all day. Seeing them as they were, and not what God made them, one would never believe what these men would accomplish in their lives.
Whatever it is that the Lord has called you to, walk in the knowledge that it is He who will equip you, it is He who will mold you, it is He who will prepare you, and it is He who will put the words in your mouth.
The second perspective I want to delve in is that of Gideon, not so much at his reaction of being called a mighty man of valor, but rather his reaction at being informed that the Lord was with him, and with Israel.
An angel of the Lord stood before him, yet Gideon had the nearsightedness to ask ‘where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about?’ An angel is standing before you, you are seeing him with your own eyes, yet you still ask where the miracles of God are? As strange as Gideon’s reaction might seem to us, we are often guilty of the selfsame reaction.
We experience the love of God, the mercy of God, the blessing of God, and yes, even the miracles of God on a daily basis, yet for some reason we are still ungrateful, and we still look up to the heavens crying out ‘Lord where are your miracles? Lord where are you blessings?’
It is often that we are guilty of not seeing the forest for the trees, of not seeing the hand of God in the little things, being sidetracked by the desire to see grandiose and extravagant things instead.
Another thing that leapt out at me in contemplating the exchange between the angel of the Lord and Gideon is that Gideon never asked why it was that the Lord delivered Israel into the hands of the Midianites. Perhaps he already knew, or perhaps he assumed that the Lord was just fickle and He punishes without warrant or provocation.
I went down this rabbit trail simply to make one thing perfectly clear. God never punishes without warrant or provocation, He does not enjoy seeing His creation suffer, and if a nation is judged, it is justified, and warranted.
Judges 6:1-2, “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years, and the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of the Midianites, the children of Israel made for themselves the dens, the caves, and the strongholds which are in the mountains.”
It was because the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord that the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years. It was not simply because God felt like punishing them, it was not simply because God wanted to see them dig dens and caves for themselves in the sides of mountains, it was because they did evil, it was because they transgressed, it was because they turned their back on a loving God, whose justice demands that He judge with all righteousness and holiness.
There is much more to learn from the extraordinary life of Gideon, and in subsequent posts we will discover other aspects of this man’s life that deserve a second glance, and even a more in-depth contemplation.
“Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors are destined to repeat them.”
– George Santayana
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.