And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, the Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valor.” Judges 6:12
After seven years of persistent attacks, there was an outcry to take a stand
by Israel against the Midianites and others who were plundering their land.
Inside a winepress of those days where grapes were usually pressed,
a young man, Gideon, was threshing some wheat that he’d managed to possess,
when the angel of the Lord came to Him there, calling him mighty and brave–
and that it would be through him, that the people of Israel would be saved.
Gideon hoped for a “sign” that this was from God, then went to prepare some food–meat, unleavened bread, and broth were the generous items he pursued. He returned with the gifts for his visitor, presenting the things he’d brought;
he set them out upon a rock, contemplating the sign that he’d sought.
The angel of God touched the offering with his staff, and flames consumed it all–
Then Gideon knew he’d gotten his sign and that it was the angel of the Lord who’d come to call.
At that, the angel disappeared–the encounter wasn’t of long duration;
yet Gideon wondered if he could be the one to lead the fighting for the nation.
Realizing that he had actually seen the angel of the Lord face to face,
he built an altar there to God–“The Lord is Peace” he named the place.
The first thing God required of Gideon was to build another altar to take the place,
of Baal’s–worshiped there among the Israelites, much to their disgrace.
At a time when no one would hinder them, Gideon led ten men into the night,
and they tore down the altar of Baal, and a so-called sacred idol on the site.
Then a firm, strong altar was built by the men to the true God on that ground,
and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord there before anyone had come around.
In the morning, the townsmen saw the change and found out that Gideon was to blame, so they went to Gideon’s house where his father, Joash, met them in his name.
Baal’s altar had been on Joash’s land–he’d strayed from the true God and His ways; but he’d had a change of heart and responded with questions he wanted to raise. “Are you taking Baal’s side?” he asked, “If he’s really a god, can’t he contend? Let him punish my son, if he’s able…” and he thereby brought their anger to an end. So Gideon had accomplished, by this action, what was of first priority to the Lord–turning the people back to God, before he could lead them with any battle sword.
Then the Midianites and Amalekites began to assemble, camping in the valley;
the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he blew the trumpet rally.
But he still sought further clarification that God had called him to lead the way–
that victory for Israel was assured–they wouldn’t just be keeping the enemy at bay.
So he put out a fleece of wool on the threshing floor used there for the wheat–
“Let it be wet with dew in the morning,” was a sign he asked God to meet.
“And let the ground be dry beside it” was Gideon’s further stipulation,
which God met for him because He understood his need for confirmation.
Gideon wasn’t yet totally convinced, so he asked God still again–
“This time let the fleece be dry–and let the ground about it be wet then.”
So, once again, God caused the situation to be as he had asked,
He knew Gideon needed certainty before undertaking the leadership task.
Some things we can say that are lessons, in this Bible account, that we can heed–
anything that’s an “idol” to us needs to be torn down before we can hope to succeed. Then, we need to keep faith in Jesus–in all of our ways, acknowledging Him–trusting for the peace that He gives, or not–finding our way by His Spirit within. And since there are very many scriptures where God says we’re people of valor to this day, we’ll know that we can do all things through Christ, going forth with confidence after we pray.
P. A. Oltrogge
If you’re not familiar with the rest of the story, Gideon went on to lead the Israelites to victory over enemies that the Bible says were “as numerous as locusts, and their camels were without number, as numerous as the sand on the seashore.” This he did with only 300 men, to the glory of God, who was with him!
Gideon had initially said that his clan was “the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh and that he was the least in his entire family.” Yet in Hebrews 11, we read of Gideon among those mentioned: “Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight.”
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6