The book of Judges is written during a time when Israel had no earthly king. God was to be their king but that required them to obey and follow his commands. The people rarely did this well. They failed to drive out all the inhabitants of the land, as they were commanded (Judges 1:19, 21, 27, 29, 30, 31, 33, 35) and these people were trouble. The Israelites not only worshipped foreign gods, but were later oppressed by these strangers.
The Lord summarizes it like this:
“I brought you out of Egypt into this land that I swore to give your ancestors, and I said I would never break my covenant with you. 2For your part, you were not to make any covenants with the people living in this land; instead, you were to destroy their altars. But you disobeyed my command. Why did you do this? 3So now I declare that I will no longer drive out the people living in your land. They will be thorns in your sides, and their gods will be a constant temptation to you.”Judges 2:1-3
10After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel. 11The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight and served the images of Baal. 12They abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They went after other gods, worshiping the gods of the people around them. And they angered the Lord. 13They abandoned the Lord to serve Baal and the images of Ashtoreth.Judges 2:10-13
This gives a pretty clear picture of Israel’s troubled state of affairs. When they were oppressed by their enemies, they cried out to God and he delivered them. These deliverers were called judges. Gideon is the sixth judge God raised up to rescue Israel from their oppressors.
At this time, Israel has been reduced to starvation by Midianite invaders who took all their animals, stripped their crops bare and left the land desolate. Gideon was threshing wheat in the bottom of a winepress in an effort to keep the food hidden and avoid starvation. The angel of the Lord came to him and said:
“Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!”
13“Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.”Judges 6:12-13
Gideon’s response hits at the core of the issue — he feels abandoned. Where is God? Why isn’t he delivering us now? It seems when life gives us lemons, the temptation is to accuse God of abandonment. The Lord’s response is a beautiful affirmation of Gideon’s true identity as well as the continual promise of God’s presence.
14Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!”
15“But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!”
16The Lord said to him, “I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man.”Judges 2:14-16
Gideon was afraid, disappointed and weakened. It’s beautiful that God invited him to go with the strength (resources) he had — he didn’t need to be anything else. He was enough, even if he didn’t know it.
Gideon said, “I am the weakest link, the runt of the bunch!”
God said, “You are a mighty hero!”
Who will you believe? Perhaps you are questioning God’s goodness in light of your current circumstances. Is God asking you to move forward with what you have, even if it seems inadequate? Are you believing lies that formed in times of desperation or are you willing to step out of the winepress and grasp God’s hand of strength, provision and truth?
Here is a song new to me that is absolutely powerful in its message of God’s passionate love for you!