Reading For Tuesday Judges 6:1-40
The Midianites were distant relatives of the Israelites and each year at harvest the Midianites, along with their allies, would seize all the grain they could carry away with them. The invaders would leave practically no means of sustenance for the people of Israel or their animals. These incursions brought the Israelites low and once again they cried to the Lord. The answer to their prayer often came in unexpected ways. God gave them what they needed, but necessarily not what they wanted. The Lord reminds his turncoat people of his gracious acts in the past, and then he stressed the relationship that existed between God and Israel had been initiated by God himself and he had bound himself to them by covenant. The purpose of his coming was to bring the nation to repentance and prepare them for the deliverance from Midian. When the Prophet had finished his work, the Angel of God himself appeared in the land. We know more about the call of Gideon than of any of the other Judges. His call involved three types of divine revelation. In the first the Lord appeared directly to Gideon. In the second, God spoke verbally to Gideon. The third revelation involved supernatural deeds of God, and the combination of the three types of revelations were designed to equip Gideon for the work that lay ahead.
Joash’s son Gideon was threshing out wheat in a wine press. By threshing his wheat in this unlikely place, Gideon hoped to preserve a portion of the harvest from the Midianites. The Angel made himself known to Gideon and addressed Gideon as a “mighty man of valor” while he hid from his enemy. Gideon was in no mood for pleasantries and challenged the assumption that God any interest in Israel. The unstated premise is that God would not allow such unpleasant circumstances if he were really with his people. Surely God would not let his people suffer like this. Where were all the miracles that God performed in former generations? Gideon's conclusion was that God had abandoned his people.
Gideon begins to realize that the one with whom he was speaking was no ordinary person, so he raised a question about the wisdom of God’s choice. Gideon saw his family as being the least in the tribe of Manasseh, and he was the youngest in his family. He felt that he lacked both influence and maturity. God reiterated the words of the greeting with which the conversation had begun and gave him the promise to be with him. God’s presence would enable Gideon to conquer the entire Midianite army as though they were only one man. Gideon wanted proof that it really was the Angel of God who was speaking to him, and he requested a sign. Gideon prepared a meal to present as an offering to his guest and brought it to the Angel who was waiting beneath the tree. The Angel directed him to place the meal on a rock which became a makeshift altar and then fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the offering. Gideon now was certain that he had been conversing with the Angel of God and thought it would mean death. God urged him not to be afraid and assured him that he would not die. Gideon immediately built an altar and called it “The LORD is Peace.”
Gideon was directed to destroy his father’s Baal altar and the Asherah pole beside it. Those who would be leaders of God’s people must first set in order the affairs of their own house. These two altars would not coexist. One cannot serve both Yahweh and Baal. Gideon took ten men of his servants and carried out the instructions of the Lord. But because he anticipated interference from his father’s household and the men of the city, he destroyed the altar by night. The men of the city discovered the next day that the Baal altar and Asherah had been destroyed and a new altar constructed. The town leaders demanded that Gideon be handed over by his father to be executed for the sacrilege. Joash refused and argued in effect that Baal, if he really were a god, could take care of himself.
Gideon heard no further from the Lord until the Midianites swept into the land on their annual raid. At the time the Midianites and their allies came up into the valley of Jezreel, the Spirit of God came upon him and he was empowered to assume leadership. He blew a trumpet in the area of his clan and thousands responded and joined Gideon. However, Gideon still needed reassurance that God would deliver Israel. This is cautious faith, but it is not unbelief. The Lord granted both signs with the fleece to Gideon. God delights in strengthening fragile faith. Far better to admit weakness and ask for strengthening than to go into battle with a contrived faith.
Thing To Consider:
- What was the role of the prophets during this time? How is that fulfilled today?
- Why do we question God when times are difficult? Are you facing circumstances that cause you to doubt God?
- Do you have doubts and excuses for why you do not think God can use you?
- How has God reassured you of his presence and peace?
- Why is it so difficult to live out one's faith at home?
- Is it wrong to have doubts?