Gideon: Mighty Warrior (02-08-21)
Joshua led God’s people into the Promised Land where they divided the land up according to the different tribes descended from Jacob’s sons. After Joshua died the people gradually turned away from God and, periodically God raised up ‘Judges’ who brought them back to faith. Gideon was one of these people.
Bible Reading: Judges 6:1, 6, 11-16
The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.
The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior." "Pardon me, my lord," Gideon replied, "but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, 'Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?' But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian." The Lord turned to him and said, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?" "Pardon me, my lord," Gideon replied, "but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family." The Lord answered, "I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive."
Imagine what it must be like to live under enemy occupation, where everything you produce, crops and livestock, is either taken by the occupying forces or destroyed by them, leaving you and your family hungry and destitute. This was Israel’s experience as their land was overrun by the Midianites. It is the experience in many countries, even today, and it is the reason Gideon was hiding in a winepress in order to thresh his family’s valuable crop of wheat.
Into this situation, and following the nation crying out to God for deliverance, an angel appears to Gideon and addresses him "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior." This raised important questions for Gideon, ‘How can you say, “The Lord is with you” when there is all this oppression and hardship going on around us?’
In Israel’s case the problem started when the nation turned away from God and chose not to walk under the protection of his blessing. This may not have been Gideon’s own choice, but he was living with the consequences. Absence of blessing does not, though, mean absence of God. God was with Gideon, as he is with us, and he was wanting to lead him back to a place of blessing. God saw Gideon, not for who he was, but for who the mighty warrior he could become.
But that was only the start of it. God then asks Gideon, a young man from the weakest tribe in Israel, living in fear and hiding to protect the family’s grain, to lead the people in battle against the Midianites. “Who me?” asks an incredulous Gideon. And the Lord answered, “I will be with you”.
There are times when God asks us to do something for which we feel quite inadequate. Like Gideon, we might have some questions, but like Gideon, let us also say, ‘Yes’. God knows what he is doing, and he says to each of us, “I will be with you”. And that is enough.
Thank you, God that you see me, not for who I am, but for who I can become.
Give me the faith to respond to your call and to trust that you go with me.
Cornerstone (Weak made strong)