Judges 6:6-16 : Gideon's encounter with the Lord
In Judges 6 is recorded the encounter of the Lord with Gideon - the man through whom God would save Israel from the slavery to the Medianites. Verses 1-10 give us the situation that Israel was in at that time:
"Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years, and the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of the Midianites, the children of Israel made for themselves the dens, the caves, and the strongholds which are in the mountains. So it was, whenever Israel had sown, Midianites would come up; also Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. Then they would encamp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep nor ox nor donkey. For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, coming in as numerous as locusts; both they and their camels were without number; and they would enter the land to destroy it. So Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites, and the children of Israel cried out to the LORD."
The reason the sons of Israel turned to the Lord was their deep poverty and distress, which in turn came as a result of their rebellion and disobedience against the Lord. Then verses 8-10 tells us what the Lord did:
"And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried out to the LORD because of the Midianites, that the LORD sent a prophet to the children of Israel, who said to them, "Thus says the LORD God of Israel: I brought you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of bondage; and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. Also I said to you, "I am the LORD your God; do not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell." But you have not obeyed My voice."
As answer to the Israel’s plea for help, the Lord send a prophet who told them what He had done for them and how disobediently they behaved. This answer though didn’t mean that He would not help them. Israel behaved disobediently, but they finally returned and this was the important. Thus in verse 11 we read:
"Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him, and said to him, "The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valour!"
The Lord’s call didn’t come to somebody sitting in a palace. It didn’t come to someone that was especially trained for this mission, to a great fighter let’s say, or to a man that was a leader in Israel. The call of the Lord came to a peasant that was threshing wheat, in order to hide it from the Medianites. "Man looks at the at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart" says the Word (I Samuel 16:7). He looks at the heart and He calls. He calls anybody. You, that you may not have a Ph.D. in theology and you may have never been in a pulpit. Yet, you have Christ. You are a member of His body with the same significant and critical role as any member of your physical body has. So the Lord called Gideon, a peasant that was threshing wheat, to do his work. Was he really looking a "mighty man of valour"? He was threshing the wheat to HIDE IT from the Medianites. And yet that is what exactly you are, "a mighty man (or woman) of valour" when the Lord is with you. "The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalms 27:1), David said. "If God is for us, who can be against us" (Romans 8:31), "I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME" (Philippians 4:13) Paul said. "Without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5), the Lord said. It does not matter what we have or what we can do – without the Lord, from ourselves, we can do nothing – but what He can do through us, if we obey to what He calls us. And carrying on to verse 13:
"Gideon said to Him, "O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?' But now the LORD has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites."
Had Gideon understood that he was speaking with an angel of the Lord? Probably not yet, as only later in verse 22 he admitted it. Gideon answered with a "why" to the Lord’s greeting that opened their conversation. "If the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us". Some brothers and sisters look at the past, to the so and so event and they make the same thoughts as Gideon: "if the Lord is with me, then why all this happened to me"? "I will never leave you nor forsaken you" (Hebrews 13:5) says the Word though. The Lord will never leave you. He will never forsaken you even if difficult times may arise, and they will arise in life. However, God didn’t wait till Gideon had no question. Verse 14 gives us His reply:
"Then the LORD turned to him and said, "Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?"
"Have I not sent you?" It does not matter who you are and what are your credentials. These may matter for men. Men look at titles and names. However the Lord does not – He looks only at the heart. What really matters is that He has sent you. If the Lord sends you and you obey to His instructions, then you will succeed to whatever your mission may be, even if it is the liberation of a whole nation, as here with Gideon. And the conversation carries on in verses 15-16
"So he said to Him, "O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house." And the LORD said to him, "BUT I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man."
Gideon was the smallest of the small. His words remind me the similar conversation between Jeremiah and the Lord, in the beginning of Jeremiah’s ministry.
"Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations." Then said I: "Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth." But the LORD said to me: "Do not say, I am a youth,' For you shall go to all to whom I send you, And whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you," says the LORD."
Yes of course, physically speaking, you may not be the most trained or admitted for this work. Physically speaking, there might be others, better than Gideon, from a more well known family or tribe that might be more acceptable. There might be also speakers in Jeremiah’s time that could handle language better than him. However, again it does not matter what you can do but what God can do through you. When the Lord has called you for a work and you obey Him there is no chance of failure. FOR HE IS WITH YOU. To what Gideon is saying, God does not answer that he is wrong. He replies however with a BUT. "Gideon it may even be like what you have said. BUT YOU FORGOT SOMETHING: I WILL BE WITH YOU AND IF I’M WITH YOU THEN ALL ELSE IS NEEDLESS. THE ONLY THAT IS NEEDED IS TO BELIEVE ME." And Gideon did believe God and the Lord delivered through him the Israel from the Midianites. May we also do the same. May we also believe, follow and obey God to whatever He has called us.