“Gideon, Get’ Em!” Part II: The Hero’s Journey Begins (Judges 6:11-18)

 

Updated: 11/4/2017 | Photo Cred: (1)

The first installment of “Gideon, Get’ Em!” focused on the general background of the book of Judges and set the stage for God to raise up the next judge of Israel: Gideon. This time, we meet the hero of our series. The chosen one if you will that God appoints to do His will in saving the Israelites from certain death. Without jumping too far ahead, let’s read the text for this portion of the series.

“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).””

There is a lot to go 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 Jesus the Christ and this is when Jesus is physically present in history. This occurs a few times in the Old Testament (2). These are also a foreshadowing of later on in history when the Word became flesh (3) 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 (4), He appeared as a man busting Jacob’s hip in a wrestling match. 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 & the 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 learning about “real Christians” like King David and John the Baptist who did 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 (5). 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 wine-press, in order to hide wheat 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 wine-press 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 great triumphs (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 bench-warmers are the starters and the starters are the bench-warmers. God loves to use the foolish in the world’s eyes to shame the wise of this world (6). 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.

Back to the text, Gideon responds with basically “God, you left us and now we’re doomed. 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 something cool and then show you my cool thing” (v17). The LORD ends the conversation with “Yeah, 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. God tells him to stop being a dweeb. Gideon listens to God and goes to get some power-converters. You get the jist of it. So Gideon heads out to go and prepare this offering for God, while God stays around for the offering. Come back next time 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!

Footnotes

  1. https://glitchup.com/2017/08/30/luke-skywalker-looking-like-true-jedi-knight-newly-released-image/
  2. Genesis 18:1-33, Joshua 5:13-6:5
  3. John 1:1
  4. Genesis 32:22-30
  5. Romans 8:28
  6. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
  7. Disclaimer
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“Gideon, Get’ Em!” Part I: Setting the Stage for the Savior (Judges 6:1-10)

Updated: 11/4/2017

When I say “Bible Heroes,” who comes to mind? Daniel? Esther? Samson? You know, those historical figures that did mighty things for the LORD and are praised for their amazing courage in Scripture. Well for now, forget about those peeps because today we are going to look at one of the more underrated figures of the Bible: Gideon. This 12-part blog series will be a study on the life, death, and legacy of Gideon. A man whose impact was so far reaching in the Bible that he is praised by the author of the book of Hebrews as a man of faith who served God diligently, but we’ll get to that later. For now, let’s look at some historical details to set the stage for this first installment in this series.

Author

The majority of Gideon’s story is written in the book of Judges in the Bible. The author of Judges is most likely the Prophet Samuel, but that’s not for certain and is only attributed to Samuel because of the oral Jewish tradition. Although the case can be made that it was a collaborative effort (1). The author would have to be someone who lived just after this period in history, about 1045-1000 B.C. and Samuel the Prophet fits this bill the best. Also of note, “the Book of Ruth was originally a part of the Book of Judges, but in A.D. 450 it was removed to become a book of its own” (2). So the author of Judges may have also been the author of the Book of Ruth.

Background & Culture

The book of Judges is the Mad Max of the Bible and the time of the Judges was kind of insane. There was outright anarchy, rebellion, violence, and all other things of that nasty sort happening everywhere you went. Then every once in awhile, God would handpick someone to be a judge and do His will in drawing His chosen people back to Him. Whether that be Deborah or Samson, God would pick out some nobody to do something absolutely magnificent, in order to bring God’s people back to Himself. Israel at this time was a wreck and broken from the inside by sin, as well as on the verge of war by opposing nations seeking to annihilate them permanently.

As the book of Judges says itself, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes (3).” Rightly so, because the people of Israel rejected God and went their own way towards sin. This time period could be compared to an emergency room where one goes to die, yet lives. Where death and life clash. Where eternity and time cross paths. Often the times of Judges was a continual back and forth of resuscitation. Where Israel would spiritually die, God would resuscitate them, and then they would experience spiritual revival. This is where we start our study in the life of Gideon. Israel is dead and needs God, so God decides to use Gideon to get’em back to being alive in Him.

“Then the sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD gave them into the hands of Midian seven years. The power of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of Midian the sons of Israel made for themselves the dens which were in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds. For it was when Israel had sown, that the Midianites would come up with the Amalekites and the sons of the east and go against them. So they would camp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel as well as no sheep, ox, or donkey. For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, they would come in like locusts for number, both they and their camels were innumerable; and they came into the land to devastate it. So Israel was brought very low because of Midian, and the sons of Israel cried to the LORD.” (NASB Judges 6:1-6)

Notice how Israel is always in this continuous cycle of dependency for God and in-dependency from God. How in the previous chapter, “the land was undisturbed for forty years” (4), completely dependent on God’s mercies and now after merely a generation are back to their evil ways. In chapter 6 we come to the second half of this vicious cycle of humanity’s relationship to God and His mercies: the independent stage. It’s a very dangerous stage. Full of volatile lifestyles and chaotic consequences on humanity’s part as God eagerly awaits to save His precious nation.  

So because of this rebellion, God allows the Midianites to completely wreck the lands of Israel. The Midianites and Amalekites were Arabian nomad races: groups of people that wandered for resources with no homeland. They were from the east (modern day Middle East) and would continuously raid Israel of all its resources until they were full and then leave, while the Israelites would take shelter in caves, mountains, or strongholds to avoid conflict. Since their numbers were too many and the Israelites were no match for such mighty people groups like the Midianites and Amalekites, this series of raids went on for seven long years.

It’s usually during times of war when one finds out what they are made of in the face of extreme circumstances. Whether that be physical, mental, or spiritual, warfare is the ultimate way of revealing one’s true character. Or in this case, the character of the nation of Israel: afraid and resistant to conflict. They showed their true colors. They let their enemies take anything they desired as they sat back in fear. It was probably embarrassing for those who lived during the days of deliverance when Deborah and Barak faithfully did God’s will, which led to ending the tyranny of Jabin the king of Canaan just forty years ago (5). But Israel in their time of trouble finally cried out to God and God, in the following verses of Chapter 6, replies with some scathing words of correction and comfort.

“Now it came about when the sons of Israel cried to the LORD on account of Midian, that the LORD sent a prophet to the sons of Israel, and he said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘It was I who brought you up from Egypt and brought you out from the house of slavery. I delivered you from the hands of all your oppressors, and dispossessed them before you and gave you their land, and I said to you, “I am the LORD your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live.” But you have not obeyed Me.”’”” (NASB Judges 6:7-10)

The sons of Israel were guilty for committing sin against God by disobeying His laws and doing their own thing. Now they are rightfully repenting of their sins and believing in the saving grace of God. In response to their turning away from sin, God sends a prophet to speak on His behalf and speaks to the people of Israel. In His response as spoken through the prophet, God essentially says “Did you forget who I am? What I’ve done for you? How I saved you from back in the day?” Even when Israel was again in rebellion towards God, He still spares them and keeps His promises. A key theme in the book of Judges is God’s ability keep His promises and the inability of mankind to listen to Him.

Although they have rightly repented and turned back to God, sin has long-lasting consequences that are harder to get rid of than the actual sin. In this case, the Amorites and the Midianites are back in the picture. The next step is for Israel to remove the their enemies who are destroying God’s chosen people. But how? They’re no match! The Israelites have nothing compared to the massive forces of the Amorites and the Midianites. Well, God has a plan of redemption and it begins with the heroes journey of one specific man: Gideon. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

  1. 1 Chronicles 29:29
  2. http://www.gotquestions.org/Book-of-Judges.html
  3. Judges 21:25
  4. Judges 5:31b
  5. Judges 4:4-6, 23-24
  6. Disclaimer