The moment in Judges 6 when Gideon meets an angel is both dramatic and incongruous. The angel calls him a “mighty man of valor” while he is hiding out in a winepress in an attempt to thresh wheat without being seen by the occupying Midianites (Judges 6:11). There is not much might or valor about him!
It’s as if God focused the camera on Gideon as a microcosm of His people. Perhaps in that moment, Gideon looked over his shoulder, wondering if the greeting was really meant for him. After all, the Lord had allowed His people to be reduced to hiding out in caves. So he asked, “If the LORD is with us, why then has all of this happened to us?”
It’s a sensible question: if God is who He claims to be, then why does He allow troubling circumstances in our lives? We can surely relate. All of our lives are full of ifs, buts, and whys. We should be encouraged, though, to know that if God could answer Gideon’s question or the cries of Israel, He can surely handle our difficult questions—even if His answer is not always what we expect.
When the Israelites cried out for God’s help in Judges 6:7, He responded not by sending a warrior to deliver them but a prophet to teach them (v 8). God knew that they needed to hear His word in the midst of their trials. Ultimately, they needed to turn back to Him and trust in His promises. The prophet told them in outline what the angel would tell Gideon: “The LORD is with you.” The presence of God and the existence of trials can co-exist.
The questions we raise are finally answered not in some list of “five easy steps” but in God’s disclosure of Himself through His word. In Gideon’s case, God’s response seemed to be no answer at all. There was no dialogue concerning Israel’s circumstances or any explanation about their enemies. Instead, the Lord turned to Gideon and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” (Judges 6:14).
Gideon felt inadequate: “How can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house” (Judges 6:15). Often, though, it’s exactly when we admit our inadequacy that God begins to work in us. Until we reach the point where we can see our weakness, we will not be inclined to pray, to walk steadfast through trials, or to stop trusting in ourselves. Only when we know our own shortcomings and listen to God’s promise to be with us and to work in and through us will we commit to serving Him with all that we have, weak though we feel and are. For in His word God promises that our weakness plus God’s strength is sufficient for any task He calls us to (Philippians 4:13).
The Call of Gideon
11Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. 12And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” 13And Gideon said to him, “Please, sir,1 if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” 14And the Lord2 turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” 15And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house.” 16And the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” 17And he said to him, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is you who speak with me. 18Please do not depart from here until I come to you and bring out my present and set it before you.” And he said, “I will stay till you return.”
19So Gideon went into his house and prepared a young goat and unleavened cakes from an ephah3 of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and the broth he put in a pot, and brought them to him under the terebinth and presented them. 20And the angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and put them on this rock, and pour the broth over them.” And he did so. 21Then the angel of the Lord reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes. And fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes. And the angel of the Lord vanished from his sight. 22Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the Lord. And Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face.” 23But the Lord said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” 24Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and called it, The Lord Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites.
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