During the period of the Judges, “the Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord handed them over to Midian seven years, and they oppressed Israel. Because of Midian, the Israelites made hiding places for themselves in the mountains, caves, and strongholds” (Judges 6:1–2). Imagine that! God’s chosen people, those who had defeated Jericho and conquered Canaan, were living in fear, hiding in holes, afraid of their own shadows.
I’ve been there. Have you?
Eventually the Hebrews began to cry out and returned to God for help. God answered, first by sending a prophet to remind them of His great grace and faithful love (Judges 6:7-10). Then God did something even better. He showed up! “The angel of the Lord came... Gideon was threshing wheat in the winepress in order to hide it from the Midianites. Then the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘The Lord is with you, valiant warrior’ ” (Judges 6:11–12).
Who is the angel of the Lord? Read a little further. “Gideon said to him, ‘Please, my lord, if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened? And where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about? They said, “Hasn’t the Lord brought us out of Egypt?” But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to Midian.’ The Lord turned to him and said, ‘Go in the strength you have and deliver Israel from the grasp of Midian. I am sending you!’ ” (Judges 6:13–14).
You didn’t miss that, did you? The Lord showed up saying, “Go in the strength you have...” That strength wasn’t Gideon’s. It was God’s.
Generations earlier, God met Moses at the burning bush. Later, as Joshua stood in the shadow of Jericho, the “Commander of the Lord’s Army” appeared. When Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress, He showed up again. Who was in the burning bush? Who is the Commander of the Lord’s Army? Who is the Angel of the Lord?
Gideon still didn’t know the identity of this stranger, but hospitably he invited the stranger to stay for supper. “Gideon went and prepared a young goat and unleavened bread from a half bushel of flour. He placed the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot. He brought them out and offered them to him under the oak. The angel of God said to him, ‘Take the meat with the unleavened bread, put it on this stone, and pour the broth on it.’ So he did that. The angel of the Lord extended the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened bread. Fire came up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. Then the angel of the Lord vanished from his sight” (Judges 6:19–21).
“Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace” (Judges 6:24). Jehovah Shalom! The Lord is Peace! In the coming years Gideon must have returned to that altar. When he did, he likely worshipped and thanked God for rescuing him from his enemy, from threshing wheat in a winepress, from living in fear, and for granting him peace.
Are you a weary and defeated soldier who needed a miracle? Jesus is fixin’ to show up saying, “Peace! Don’t be afraid!” and “Go in the strength you have...my strength!”
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.