Have you ever been put into a position of leadership that you felt totally unprepared for? God constantly puts his children in positions where they feel stretched even uncomfortable. And that is okay, God seldom calls you and I to lead in an area in which we are fully equipped. Gideon felt the same way when God called him in Judges chapter 6.
The book of Judges covers a period of roughly three-hundred years in the life of the nation of Israel. Joshua has died and left the nation with two instructions; defeat the remaining Canaanites and obey the law of Moses. The children of Israel fail on both accounts. As a result, God uses the nations surrounding them to punish them and cause them to cry out to Him for help.
As the chapter begins with a familiar phrase, “The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord…”
Israel had begun worshiping the idols and follow the pagan ways of the tribes that remained in the land. They had turned their backs on God after all that God had done for them.
God used the pagan nations of the Midianites and the Amalekites to punish the Israelites for a period of 7 years. The first six verses of the chapter describe the fear and the oppression of the Israelites. The Midianites forced them out of their homes and towns and caused them to hide in the hills, they were hiding in caves to get away from these invaders. The midianites came in vast numbers and raided their crops, taking their livestock and their tents.
In verse 11 we read that Gideon is also hiding, as he is beating out wheat in a winepress. Normally one would grind wheat in a large open area so that the wind could blow away the chaff. But a winepress was a smaller area, hidden in trees for shelter, probably a hollowed rock in the ground. Gideon was hiding and grinding out just a small portion of wheat, probably just enough for his family.
When the Israelites had nowhere left to turn, their own resources and means were over, they remembered the Lord and cried out to him (verse 7). The Lord responds by sending a prophet with a clear message (verses 8-10). The prophet tells them the obvious, he tells them all that God has done for them, and then he tells them how ungrateful and disobedient they are. The prophet declares the obvious, but the people needed to hear the obvious.
Sometimes we also need to hear the obvious as we miss the mark in our Christian walk. Maybe you have been blessed with a family, a home and many good things, but along the way you have lost your first love, you have stopped worshipping God, you have stopped spending time with God everyday in prayer and reading your Bible.
The prophet ends his message from God with a powerful accusation, “but you have not obeyed my voice.”
In the very next verse, we see the plan of deliverance that God began working out. God’s plan of salvation for his people always involves a person. God used Abraham, Noah, Sampson, David and many others in the Old Testament. But ultimately God sent His only son, Jesus Christ, to bring his perfect and eternal plan of salvation.
The Angel of the Lord appears to Gideon and sits under the Oak tree (V12). But this is no ordinary angel. The writer begins by calling him by the Hebrew term, “Malak”, which means messenger, but as the account progresses, we see in verse 13 that Gideon addresses him as, “Adonai” or my Lord, and then in verse 22 he calls him “Yahweh” – The Lord God. This messenger is God himself, the second person of the trinity, the pre-incarnate Christ. God was implementing a rescue plan for his people and as a foreshadowing of what is to come a thousand years later, God the Father sends the Son.
The angel addresses Gideon with a dramatic introduction, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor”
Gideon must have looked around to see who the Lord was talking to. Here is was hiding in a cave and grinding a little wheat to make some food for his family. But God saw the real Gideon, the man that He had created.
When God calls you and I to serve him, to witness for him, to be his ambassador, He knows our weaknesses, but he also knows what he created in us. We must never respond to God’s call by explaining to Him our weaknesses, he knows them, but he also knows everything about us, because He created us and His ways are perfect.
The Lord responded to Gideon with a firm directive (verse 14). But Gideon continues to try do persuade God by pointing out his weaknesses in verse 15. Some of what Gideon said was out of humility, but mostly he was simply stating the facts, and asking “why me?”
And that is precisely what God wanted to hear. Gideon could not do anything in his own strength, and this is the position everyone who is to be used by God must come to. God loves to use people who are keenly aware of their weakness. Because when someone is fully conscious of their weakness, then God can begin to use them for His glory.
The person who relies on his own strength, intellect, skills and financial resources, is not likely to lean into God for courage and provision, and that person is also not likely to give God the glory for anything that is achieved.
Gideon tried to voice his lack of skill, and the Lord responded with an amazing promise in verse 16. God promised to be with Gideon, and that he would strike the Midianites as one man!
Remember, if you are doing what God has called you to do, you will always be in the majority – even you and God alone is the only majority that counts.
Jumping forward over one thousand years, when Jesus gave the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 he gave the church an impossible mission, but just like the Lord said to Gideon, Jesus said to the Disciples, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
What is God calling you to do? Where is he calling you to go? What excuses are you using?
God can use you like He used Gideon, because he promises to be with you always.