After Joshua led the Israelites to conquer Canaan, “another generation rose up who did not know the Lord or the works he had done for Israel. The Israelites did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. They worshiped the Baals and abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed other gods from the surrounding peoples and bowed down to them. They angered the Lord, for they abandoned him and worshiped Baal and the Ashtoreths” (Judges 2:10–13). Because “the Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord… the Lord handed them over to Midian … and they oppressed Israel” (Judges 6:1-2).
So frail and fearful were the Israelites that they “made hiding places for themselves in the mountains, caves, and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites, Amalekites, and the people of the east came and attacked them. They encamped against them and destroyed the produce of the land... They left nothing for Israel to eat, as well as no sheep, ox, or donkey” (Judges 6:2-4).
When the broken and beleaguered “Israelites cried out to (the Lord) because of Midian” (Judges 6:7-8), the pre-incarnate Jesus appeared to Gideon (Judges 6:11-24). The Lord found Gideon “threshing wheat in the winepress in order to hide it from the Midianites” (Judges 6:11). Defeated, hungry, alone, Gideon was hiding in a hole.
Now, just a note about threshing wheat. This task is best done on a windy hilltop. After beating the seeds out of the head, the farmer, using a pitchfork, threw the wheat and straw into the air. The breeze would carry away the lighter straw and chaff and the heavier grain would fall back to the threshing floor. Nobody every threshed grain in a hole. Gideon was so afraid, that he tried the impossible… threshing grain in a winepress.
The Lord’s greeting to Gideon is intriguing. “The Lord is with you, valiant warrior… Go in the strength you have and deliver Israel from the grasp of Midian. I am sending you!” (Judges 6:12, 14). God’s declaration to Gideon seems kind and gentle. “Oh Gideon, I perceive you as a mighty man, a winning warrior. You are God’s champion. Trust Me!”
Gideon was a scaredy-cat, afraid of his own shadow. “My family is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s family” (Judges 6:15). Gideon couldn’t see himself as a “valiant warrior” capable of leading Israel to victory.
What did the Omniscient God know that Gideon didn’t? God saw what was possible if His servant would submit to Divine leadership. God’s vision wasn’t limited to the here and now… God saw what was possible in the power and present of the Omnipotent God! “ ‘I will be with you,’ the Lord said to him. ‘You will strike Midian down as if it were one man’ ” (Judges 6:16).
With the Almighty leading the way, Gideon and the Israelite army overthrew the Midianites. Although the evil enemy’s armies looked “like a swarm of locusts, and their camels were as innumerable as the sand on the seashore” (Judges 7:12), God prevailed! Gideon, once fear-filled, became faith-filled (Hebrews 11:32). He trusted the Gracious King, who did what only God can do!
When God looks at you, He doesn’t see your brokenness and shame. He sees you as His beloved child, wrapped in robes of righteousness. He doesn’t see a sinner. He sees a saint. That’s grace.