Gideon: A Character Study | Part 3: Altars + Offerings

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 4/23/2019

Before we starts this week’s study, let’s recap real quick with caveman talk. God told Israel stop doing the bad stuff. Israel does the bad stuff. God face-palms. Israel cries for assistance and forgiveness. God saves Israel’s skin and starts His plan to pummel the dweebs that are hurting His nation.

So now that we’re all caught up, let’s get to today’s text! Picking up in verse 19, we find Gideon preparing his offering for the LORD who has stayed where He promised He would remain in the oak tree. Before we go any further let’s take a look at our text for this study:

“Then Gideon went in and prepared a young goat and unleavened bread from an ephah of flour; he put the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot, and brought them out to him under the oak and presented them. The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And he did so. Then the angel of the LORD put out the end of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. Then the angel of the LORD vanished from his sight. When Gideon saw that he was the angel of the LORD, he said, “Alas, O Lord GOD! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face.” The LORD said to him, “Peace to you, do not fear; you shall not die.” Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and named it The LORD is Peace. To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites (NASB Judges 6:19-24).”

It’s hard not to admire Gideon’s insistence on worshiping God through his offering to God. It’s such an admirable approach to the calling of God. Basically what Gideon was saying through this display of worship was “LORD, thank You for all that You desire to do in my life. Use me as You wish and I will serve You according to Your will. With that, here’s my gratitude from me to You.” It’s honestly beautiful how Gideon responds to this call of God.

As far as great starts go, this is one of the best in the Bible. Remember, this was voluntary on Gideon’s part to sacrifice to God and bring this offering before Him, so that God could reveal to Him that He is the great I Am with a sign (v17). God didn’t ask for this affection, it was given to Him and that just speaks for itself.

Do you answer God’s calling in your life for great and mighty things first with an offering of worship? If not, you’re not alone. Often times I too forget the essential aspect of worship in my life and how critical it is to do so out of love for God, before doing anything else. This little passage is humbling and encouraging because it’s a great reminder to us all to act towards God with a heart of worship.

With all of this in mind, Gideon presents his offering and like God told him, He reveals through a sign that He is indeed the great I Am of old. The angel of the LORD does so in a peculiar, yet powerful manner: He places His staff on the rock where the offering was poured out and immediately the rock bursts with flames that utterly consume the offering. Then to top it all off Jesus, who is also known as the angel of the LORD, vanishes. Just simply leaves. Without another utterance or anything.

I’ve always loved how God shows who He is throughout Scripture and in life. It’s always mesmerizing and awesome. With Job, He gave Him the teleological talk of the century by showing all that He designed and created. With us, the second person of the Tri-Unity of God (Jesus), took on a second human nature in order to show us the true Messiah. This is known as the Hypostatic Union and is explained in further detail here. Anyways, it’s always these amazing acts of power that God reveals who He is to us and I always love hearing about the moments when the Creator reaches down to interact with His beloved Creation.

Back to the text, Gideon’s next response to seeing the angel of the LORD and what he does about seeing God is also of note. Once the angel of the LORD leaves, Gideon exclaims joyously how he has laid eyes on the LORD (v22). A powerful moment indeed.

When the angel of the LORD leaves and after Gideon verbally responds to this sweet encounter with the angel of the LORD, the LORD then responds verbally with “Peace to you, do not fear; you shall not die.” For one, God always says “do not fear” to those who encounter Him because He is truly worth fearing. The fear of the LORD is a genuine fear and the most genuine fear.

Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7, and Hebrews 12:28-29 help define this concept for those who are saved. Put simply, for the unbeliever the fear of the LORD is fear of God’s impending judgment for their unrepentant sin. For the believer, it is an awe or reverence of how great God is and all that He has done for us.

So Gideon has this fear of the LORD and his reaction to God’s call to action is to erect for Him an altar, which we can see in verse 24. Gideon then calls this altar “The LORD is Peace” and at the time of the writing of this book, it was still there in Ophrah of the Abiezrites. Which for those who do not know your Middle Eastern geography, this is succinctly explained by bibleatlas.org:

“A city in the tribal lot of Manasseh West of Jordan. It is mentioned only in connection with Gideon, whose native place it was, and with his son Abimelech (Judges 6:11, etc.). It was, indeed, family property, belonging to Joash the Abiezrite, the father of Gideon.

In other words, this was Gideon’s hood. He lived in this area when God met with him in Judges Chapter six and this is where he built the altar to the LORD. One of the ways that the Bible is different from the rest of religious writings is the specificity in how detailed it is compared to other writings that are always rewritten to match new archaeological findings or no findings at all (here’s looking at you Book of Mormon).

The Bible is the most historically accurate religious text. There is no other book that can compare to the gravity of truth found within the covers of God’s precious Word. It is such a blessing to be able to read and study it.

Well, we went over a lot today! Next week we will discuss what happens after nightfall when God gives Gideon further instruction on what to do next in His plan of redemption for the Hebrews. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

  1. https://www.pexels.com/
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Gideon: A Character Study | Part 2: The Hero’s Journey Begins

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 5/21/2019

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. Star Wars (1977)
  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
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