Things got bad in Post-Deborah Israel. Real bad.
Midian took over. And they did something that no other nation had done: destroyed Israel’s crops and livestock. They were like locusts. The only way Israel could survive was to hide in the mountains and caves.
So that’s what Israel did.
And that’s exactly what our plucky hero, Gideon, was doing when the LORD found him. He was threshing wheat in a winepress to stay out of sight.
Apparently God is not averse to finding his “mighty warriors” huddling in pools of their own cowardice.
We Are All Gideon
The LORD nominates Gideon as the next Judge of Israel, something Gideon isn’t exactly . . . giddy about. (see what I did there?)
If God is with us then why has all this happened to us?
Why isn’t God doing now what he did then?
I am the weakest member of the weakest family in my tribe. Don’t my ethnicity and family disqualify me?
Show me a sign that this is for real!
I love this about Gideon. Here, at the beginning of his story, he is so relatable. A frightened young man full of doubts about himself and his God. He faces overwhelming odds and all he has to go on is the words of a strange man sitting under an oak tree.
The answers Gideon receives from his mysterious visitor my not be all that intellectually satisfying, but they are true and they will change everything.
The truth is, I wasn’t with you before. But I will be now.
You are about to see for yourself what God can do.
Go in this might of yours and deliver Israel.
(I’ll talk about the sign in a moment)
Do any of these responses connect with you? How?
Connection to His Past
A mysterious visitor arrives with strange news. The man the visitor hoped to see responds by preparing a meal and setting it before the visitor while he sits under a tree.
We’ve seen this before. Genesis 18. This is the same thing that happened when Abraham was visited by the three angels.
When the meal is presented, the visitor reaches out his staff and touches the rock, consuming the meal in flame.
We’ve seen this before. Moses reached out his staff and brought water from a rock. And the offerings to the LORD were done by fire on an altar.
The visitor is giving Gideon his signs. And the signs are designed to conjure up images from his people’s history. Abraham, Moses, the Tabernacle.
God wants Gideon to know that he is a part of the story. He is the next chapter. He will add his own voice to the choruses of Miriam and Deborah.
That is, if he takes the invitation.
Do you ever have trouble seeing your life as part of the story that began with Abraham and Moses? How would things change for you if you could see yourself that way?