God was always aware of the great distress which Israel was under. After the weighing down of the Israelite lives by the Midianites and the “me-too!” nations they called upon God. That was unique for Israel had left this priority behind. God seeing their distress and hearing their call sent a prophet to remind them how they declined to the point where they were. That was discussed in Part 1 of these two sections entitled God Hears. God also answered by sending Gideon. The first part of Judges 6 is national. The second part individual. God is about both the narrow focus and the broad focus, but each needed a God-focus.
“11 Now 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. 12 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.” 13 And Gideon said to him, “Please, sir, 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.” 14 And the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” (Judges 6:11-14–ESV)
Gideon’s new name
Gideon is in a winepress with the little bit of wheat that he was able to find, scavenge or otherwise keep the raiding parties from taking. Usually wheat is winnowed or thrown up into the wind where the chaff is blown away. In the decrepit times of Israel, though, there is little wheat and there is great risk that throwing it up into the sky will attract unwanted attention. So, Gideon is in an enclosure beating out the grains of wheat from their husks.
While Gideon was hidden from the eyes of the raiding parties around him he was not hidden from the eyes of God. God sent one of his representatives to sit down by that winepress. God does not send an angel to scare or intimidate the inferior-feeling Gideon, but comes to engage him so down he sits and at some point begins his discussion.
This stranger knew Gideon’s name. This stranger knew Gideon’s character. This seeming stranger knew some things that Gideon was capable of and so he bestows a name upon Gideon which seems incongruous at its very best.
The childless Abram got the new name Abraham which implied a multitude of children. Simon was given the name Peter before his steadiness had been proven.
Could there have been a double meaning in this phrase? The manner in which I have always taken this is that the Lord by faith was aligned with Gideon. It could also be said, though, that the angel of the Lord was there with him physically at that moment. It was this coupling of God to Gideon that made the title “mighty man of valor” or “mighty warrior” all that it was. God’s presence and engagement meant it was not incongruous. God with Gideon is the whole of the equation.
It does not seem that Gideon was mindlessly beating the wheat out of its husks in a winepress. There were thoughts and ponderings that were firing off and around in his brain. He seems genuinely unaware of why their nation has faltered.
Gideon does not at first take the new name attributing the comments of the angel to reflect upon the nation and not himself. That prophet had come, but the words had fallen on deaf ears. Even Gideon’s ears had not learned the lesson of that preacher.
Gideon says, “We have heard the great stories of God, but we have not known those deeds.” Gideon speaks as if God has dropped the ball abandoning and forsaking them for no reason.
God’s charge to Gideon
At some point in the conversations Gideon has grown aware of this being a messenger of God. God does not answer Gideon with words. God merely tells him to be obedient. Gideon was to go in the strength he had. That strength God had given. Once God had told him again to go God brought him to a point of faith. “Did I not send you?” God asked.
Gideon’s questioning of why no mighty deeds of God is answered by God’s direction of Gideon unto the same mighty deeds. Those deeds though come at points of faith.
How often are our doubts of God answered by a conjunction of faith and calling?
The answer is right there in front of him, but it is an action-answer. It is a “do this” type answer. The doing will require faith. The doing will require God’s strength, but the doing will be the teaching.
The new name is part of the answer. The new name, though, does not make sense apart from faith and obedience.
God’s answer to Gideon
Not only did God see the national difficulties, but God saw the individual difficulties.
God brought a prophet to the nation. God came himself to Gideon.
These will meet in a great and liberating confluence. Gideon will gain the answers that his chaffing mind has while “chafing” 1the wheat. Gideon will learn faith. Gideon will learn obedience. The nation will be liberated and the bad to good cycle will turn toward the good. In Israel apostasy will be put on hold for a generation.
When you ask God for a thing he will bring answers to it. The answers will be on multiple levels. The answers will be perfect. The answers will require faith. The answers will require obedience. Obedience will weld the features of faith upon one’s heart. Obedience will teach the character of God. A great gain will be woven into those lives.
Key points from this section:
- God hears our thoughts
- God comes to us with his answers
- God’s answers for us are action-answers
- The answers often conjoin faith and obedience
- God hears national pleas
- God hears individual pleas
- God has an answer for all