Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Sep 15 2011 - E100.28a – Judges 6, Reluctant Gideon

Israelite disobedience has resulted in the withdrawal of the Lord's favour and protection. For seven years they have been oppressed by the Midianites and Amalekites who would invade their land at harvest time to plunder their crops and steal their livestock. In despair the Israelites turned to the Lord and cried to him for help.

The Lord sent a prophet, but his message was not very encouraging. He reminded the people of all that the Lord had done for them and of their own ingratitude and unfaithfulness. The prophet's message seems to have amounted to little more than, "What do you expect if you abandon the Lord?" God wants his people to understand that without him, they are in deep trouble.

But that is only the beginning of the Lord's response to his people's cry. The angel of the Lord (the Lord himself in human appearance), comes down to visit a young man called Gideon and greets him with the astonishing words, "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior" (Judges 6:12).

The words are surprising on two counts. The first is voiced in Gideon's response, "If the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us?" (6:13). The second is the surprising description of Gideon as a mighty warrior. The angel has found him hiding from the Midianites in a winepress as he threshes wheat for the family.

God's words are prophetic; they declare what shall be and what God is about to do through Gideon – God's word performs what it declares. Like Moses before him, Gideon is a reluctant leader of God's people, one who is anything but confident in his own ability. But this is the person whom God chooses to use; the person who knows that they are utterly dependent upon the presence and power of the Lord. When Gideon protests his weakness, the Lord promises, as he had promised Moses and Joshua, "I will be with you" (6:16).

But for Gideon, the promise of the messenger is not enough, he needs a sign. It is only when the food Gideon has brought for the visitor is consumed by fire that he realises that he has been in the presence of the Lord.

Gideon's first task is to remove idolatry from his town and family. Even in this he seems a reluctant warrior, for he destroys the altar of Baal and Ashterah pole during cover of darkness.

Before he will lead the tribe of Manasseh against the Midianites reluctant Gideon seeks further signs that the Lord will be with him. Twice he lays out his fleece and twice the Lord grants him a sign to confirm that he will be with him.

It's good to be a reluctant leader and to know that we can do nothing in our own strength. But it's also good to trust God and to take him at his word. It's good for us to remember that he has given us the ultimate sign of his faithfulness and power in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. This is the demonstration of his love for and commitment to a weak and sinful people. This is the demonstration of his power to save and the promise that we shall be more than conquerors through him who loves us.

Mighty God, teach me my weakness and my perpetual need of your favour, presence and power. Then make me strong in you and equip me through your word of promise and the power of your Spirit to do all that you purpose to do through me for the furtherance of your kingdom and the glory of your name.

Peter Misselbrook