Then the angel of the Lord came and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. – Judges 6:11
Rocky Raccoon checked into his room,
Only to find Gideon’s Bible. – The Beatles
Starting today and running throughout the rest of May, we are going to be looking into the life of Gideon, one of the heroes of the book of Judges in the Old Testament of the Bible with a bit part in a Beatles song. That part in the “Rocky Raccoon” song doesn’t have much to do with anything except to point out that an international Bible company whose goal is to place free Bibles in every room of every hotel in the world chose to name itself after Gideon in light of its passion to complete an impossible task. Gideon had an impossible task, too, to free the Israelites from their dreaded enemies, the marauding Midianites, who were camped in a valley, 120,000 strong, and terrorizing the Israelites at will. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.
When our story begins, Gideon is not at all aware that he has been chosen to do anything but try to stay alive. Like everyone else in his country, he is hiding. Many of his people have left their homes and are living in the mountains in caves because their homes are constantly being attacked and looted. They are all hiding and they are all afraid.
The same thing happens, I think, when bad things happen to us. We have a tendency to want to hide. We don’t want anyone else to know that things are so bad. We tend to think it’s a reflection on us, so we retreat to our winepresses and start beating out wheat or some other menial task that makes us feel better because we are doing something but we’re really not doing anything to help our situation. And like Gideon, we are afraid. We don’t know what to do, but we’re afraid if we don’t do something, things will only get worse.
That’s when God shows up, and if we’re paying attention, we might even see Him. In Gideon’s case, it was the angel of the Lord that sat near him under the great tree, and in the next verse it says the angel of the Lord appeared to him. Who knows how long the angel sat there before he “appeared” to Gideon, but it does seem that the angel being there, and the angel appearing to him, were two different things.
When things seem to be going wrong for us, I wonder how long it takes before we realize that the Lord has been there all along? Sometimes not until afterwards, and we realize we could have called on Him a lot sooner. For Gideon, the appearance of the angel became clear when the angel spoke to him, and what he said would turn Gideon’s world upside down. Little did he know that in a matter of days, he would be chasing fleeing Midianites, wielding his sword in battle two towns over, that all 120,000 of them to the last man would end up dead or captured, that the heads of the two Midianite kings would be brought to him on a platter, and that he would be judge and ruler over Israel for forty years of peace.
No, all he heard was, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!”
“Who, me? Mighty hero? You have to be joking.” And Gideon will go on to be cynical, doubtful, fearful and he will need three different miraculous signs to prove to him that the Lord is truly with Him, and with a fourth sign thrown in for extra measure.
And isn’t that just like us? Wouldn’t we need the same thing?
What are you afraid of today? What are you facing that seems impossible? What enemy are you fighting? What addiction? What temptation? Do you know what the Holy Spirit is saying to you? The same thing.
He is saying, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” That’s right — you. You are the mighty hero. God’s heroes have always been unsuspecting.
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