Last week’s commentary was on the general background information and set the stage for God to raise up the next judge of Israel: Gideon. Where we pick up this week, we meet the hero of our study. The chosen one if you will that God appoints to do His will in saving the Israelites from persecution. Without jumping too far ahead though, let’s read the text for this study picking up in Judges chapter 6 starting in verse 11….
“Then the angel of the LORD came and sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press in order to save it from the Midianites. The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior.” Then 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 abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” The LORD looked at him and said, “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?” He said to Him, “O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.” But the LORD said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.” So Gideon said to Him, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who speak with me (NASB Judges 6:11-18).””
So, there is a lot to mull over in this passage. Let’s start with the simple stuff, then progress from there. References to “the angel of the LORD” are Christophany moments. A Christophany is an Old Testament appearance of Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus the Christ) and is when Jesus is physically present in history. This can be seen in many places such as Joshua 5:13-6:5 when Joshua meets the Captain of the Host of the LORD and in Genesis 18:1-33 where Jesus, accompanied by 2 angels, visits Abraham and Sarah. These are also foreshadowings of what is to come in the future when the Word became flesh (John 1:1) and paid the debt of humanity by atoning for all the sins of mankind.
It’s always awesome to see God interact with His creation in such interesting ways, yet at the same time in ways that the people of that time could relate too. For Joshua, a soldier, God appeared as a soldier. For Jacob in Genesis 32:22-30, He appeared as a man busting Jacob’s hip in a wrestling match. And the list goes on and on. Yet, living under the New Covenant, we too interact with God in ways that on a person-to-person basis, makes sense to us. When I got saved and came to Christ, I was compelled by the way the Bible was written as a storyteller reading the ultimate story. I was so enthralled by God’s Word when I became a believer that I read the entire book of Genesis the night of my conversion. It was so enthralling! To see the greatest storyteller unveil just a snippet of His master plan was exciting to say the least reading it for the first time.
Although no one living today is apart of the A-Story found in the Bible, we all are apart of the B-Story in history, otherwise known as history or His-Story. The A-Story is a film term referring to the journey the protagonist takes during the duration of a film. The B-Story is the side story that at first, seems unrelated to the A-Story, until it’s tied together at the end of the film with the A-Story. That’s what we are right now. Chugging along through our own B-Stories waiting to enter Heaven and see where our story fits alongside God’s A-Story.
It’s a very interesting time to be in because we look back at the A-Story revealed so far (the Bible, excluding Revelation & prophecies to be fulfilled, history/the past, etc.) and then look at our own B-Stories, feeling useless in the grand scheme of things. It honestly is really hard sometimes because it’s like we’re on the sidelines watching the pros like King David and John the Baptist having done incredible things in God’s A-Story. But rest assured, God promises in His Word that all things will be worked together for those that follow Christ (Romans 8:28). Just remain faithful in living out your B-story and one day God will reveal your essential role in His A-Story when we enter His Kingdom.
Something else of note in this passage is how we are introduced to our hero of our story. It’s the perfect example of the humble-beginnings type of hero. Gideon is found serving his household diligently beating his winepress in order to hide it from the clutches of the Midianites. I like how bible-history.com describes this moment as the following: “Gideon, in order to avoid being seen by the Midianites, beat out his wheat in a winepress instead of threshing it on the threshing-floor,” which is not usual because in those times someone would thresh the floor, not beat the winepress. In other words, Gideon was scared out of his mind and arguably should be with the life he has being so insignificant in the grand scheme of things from his perspective. The Midianites were going to take all that they could consume, so he tried to hide it from them.
Gideon is the Luke Skywalker of this story: a nobody going nowhere in life. Or so he thought. He was the youngest son in his family (v15), of a family of little to no name in society or Israel for that matter (v15), is most likely tired of living out his B-Story compared to past mighty people of God who had such great triumphs in His name (v13), and has doubts when it comes to miracles (v13). It’s understandable that Gideon would complain to the LORD about his B-Story when the A-story looks so awesome. Little did he know that his B-Story was about to become an essential part of the A-Story. You see in the kingdom of God, the benchwarmers are the starters and the starters are the benchwarmers. God loves to use the foolish in the world’s eyes to shame the wise of this world (1 Corinthians 1:26-29). It’s kind of God’s favorite method: using the broken to fix a broken world. So too, Gideon is our broken protagonist who God has chosen as the centerpiece vessel for His plan of redemption for Israel. What happens next in this encounter is the first few steps in the master plan from the master.
The LORD comes to Gideon in verse 12 and starts the conversation with “The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior.” As if Gideon was some valiant warrior to begin with, which he was not, and the following conversation between the two seems to imply this truth. Just on a side note, it’s always interesting when God will call someone by what they will be one day as if they already are this position or title. Since our timelines are linear and God is outside of time, he can look at our entire timeline, instead of us who only see the pieces of the past or present. So from God’s point of view, Gideon is a valiant warrior. He just does not know it yet. Just something to think about.
Back to the text, Gideon responds with basically “God, you left us and now we’re doomed to death at the hands of our enemies. What happened to all of those promises you said you would keep and the things you did for us in the past” (v13)? At this point in time, Gideon seems quite frustrated and afraid of the future believing the worst is to come for Israel. But God has other plans, so He presses with His proposed plan: “Gideon, you’re the chosen one. I picked you to save Israel. Go as you are to do My will” (v14). Then Gideon wines like a Skywalker about how unprepared he is to do God’s will (v15), so the LORD replies with “Dude, I’m God. They will lose” (v16). Next, Gideon is like “Alright God, if it’s really you, then show me somehow. Please stay, so that I can build you an offering and present it before you” (v17). The LORD ends the conversation with “Sure thing Gideon.”
Now that’s my own paraphrase of their conversation, but you get the idea. God wants to use Gideon. Gideon wants to water his dirt farm, uh, I mean take care of his winepress. God tells him to stop being a dweeb. Gideon listens to God and goes to get some power-converters, uh, I mean an offering for God to lay before him. You get the jist of it. So Gideon heads out to go and prepare this offering for God, while God stays as is written in the Word. Come back next week as we observe what happens next in the life of Gideon as his B-Story ends and his A-Story begins. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!