Gideon Called to Be Israel's JudgeVolume 2, Number 23
Created Date: July 1, 2006
Posted Date: July 1, 2006
Gideon's witness of faith - Part 1:
Deborah and Barak judged Israel 40 years during which time the nation enjoyed peace,b, but after they passed away Israel began worshipping the gods of the Amorites, . This of course displeased God who delivered them into the hands of the Midianites for seven (7) years - Judges 6:1. (Midian was east of Canaan and before the Israelites entered the land of Canaan Midianite women caused them to worship their idols. As a result the Lord told Moses to raise an army and eradicate the Midianites. Moses did as told but his army did not kill everyone as ordered and by the time of Gideon the Midianites had become strong again. They no doubt harbored a deep grudge against Israel for what had happened to them under Moses - Numbers 31.) So the Midianites in league with the Amalekites terrorized Israel by entering Israel's territory when their crops were ready for harvest, stealing or laying waste to everything thus causing the Israelites to hide in caves and strongholds - .
As a result the Israelites cried out to the Lord for help who in response sent a prophet reminding them: He had rescued them from Egypt; given them the land of Canaan; driven out their enemies therein and told them not to worship other idols, but they had disobeyed Him in this -. The account then turns to Gideon who must have been a very young man when the Lord appeared to him - . He is found thrashing wheat by hand near a winepress. Such work would normally have been none by oxen on a thrashing floor however that location would have been open to observation by others whereas the winepress was out of sight and a good place to hide this activity from the Midianites - . Gideon was preparing grain with which bread could be baked for his family. We note in that his family had servants so the fact Gideon was doing this work himself indicates either the servants could not be trusted or the desperate situation of Gideon's family, or both.
While Gideon worked the angel of the Lord came and sat next to him. From their dialogue and the circumstances it is apparent this angel was indeed the Word of God Himself, the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus Christ. He assured Gideon He was with him, describing him as a mighty man of valor, this being a prophesy of what God would do with him in the future and not what Gideon had been in the past -. Gideon asked why Israel was being dominated by the Midianites and why they were not experiencing God's miracles if He was truly with them, . The Lord responded that Gideon would save Israel from the Midianites. Obviously Gideon had not thought of doing anything like this and being caught totally off guard with the prospect he pointed out his lack of resources, training or experience in such an endeavor. Gideon's questions and concerns were logical and legitimate, humanly speaking, but the Lord assured him He was with him and of success in this venture. At this Gideon asked for a sign that the Lord would do this though him - .
Gideon then asked the angel to wait while he brought him a gift. The Lord said He would whereupon Gideon went to prepare a meal. He would have had to kill a lamb, dress it out and cook it while baking bread. This would have taken time as well as using up the precious few provisions available but when he returned the messenger of God instructed him to place the meat and bread on a rock and pour the broth over it. The Lord then touched the meat and bread with His staff causing fire to rise out of the rock and consume what Gideon had prepared and offered -. At this Gideon realized he had truly come face to face with an angel of the Lord and so he feared for his life. He would have known the Lord dwelt in the holy of holies of the tabernacle into which only the high priest could enter once a year bringing an offering for the sins of both he and the Nation and if the Lord did not accept the offering the priest would be struck dead. Therefore Gideon recognized the implications of being a sinner in the presence of the holy God. But the angel assured him he would not die - .
Let us contemplate why God chose Gideon to save Israel from the Midianites. He was not chosen because of his knowledge of military science or his proven leadership skills because Gideon had no such credentials. He was very young man just scratching out a meager living. So we understand that Gideon was chosen for this special assignment because he feared God and had not worshiped false god idols as had many of his fellow people. But before we move on we need to consider Gideon's work in preparing the meal for the Lord and what happened to his work, as it was something Gideon did of his own volition for the Lord. This will be compared in a subsequent study to what Gideon did by faith in God's Word.
It was no easy task to kill, dress out and cook a lamb and bake bread. This was work and had to have taken hours to accomplish but it was the custom in that time and society to be hospitable and accommodating to visitors. However, we note the results of Gideon's work was not eaten and enjoyed as would be expected, instead it was consumed by fire. The natural inclination of a person who has gone to all this work would be disappointment that their labor had gone up in flames but Gideon showed no such inclination. Instead, he immediately took what happened as a sure sign he was in the presence of the Lord and feared for his life because he knew he was a sinner. The same thing happened to almost all of the Old Testament sacrifices offered to the Lord, that is, they were consumed by fire. "Then Gideon built an altar there unto the LORD, and called it Jehovahshalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites." -. The Hebrew word Jehovahshalom means Jehovah is peace.
Many people today don't stop to realize that the Old Testament offerings were the livelihood, the wealth, the substance, if you will, of the people giving them. They did not have money, bank accounts, CD's, etc.; their wealth was in their cattle and sheep. When they offered the best of what they had to the Lord it was a financial hardship many times and only those who truly feared God would do so. When they did their best went up in flames and this is assuredly a lesson for us today who have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and trust in His finished work for our salvation because it should help us recognize that all our work, and that means all we do, is for Him. "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ." -. "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;" - .
It is natural, humanly speaking, for people to want their work to be successful and wish that others recognize it as such. This is true in all areas of life because people are generally proud of what they do and the praise and adulation of others usually feeds their need. This is of the flesh and for self; it is the way of the world. But the mature believer in God's Word comes to recognize that everything we do is unto and for the Lord. Believers should love their wives, submit themselves to their husbands, obey their parents and work hard for those in authority, not for self recognition and praise, but as unto the Lord. The truth of this principle is especially important in believers who go about the so called "Lord's work." The pastor who wants to see many in attendance at his services, add many to his congregation and/or build a new and beautiful church building should ask himself if he is doing this to show the success of his work or if he is truly doing it unto the Lord? People working in the church leading singing, teaching Sunday School, preparing meals or on committees, etc., should ask themselves the same question. The litmus test for such pastors and workers comes when they see their work go up in flames, as in Gideon's case. The question is, do they take this personal and resent it or do they fear God and worship Him because all they did was unto and for Him?
"For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." -.