Three thousand years ago, when wheat was harvested, it was taken to the threshing floor. The threshing floor was a smooth, circular area, often thirty or forty feet in diameter, and often on a hillside. There, the harvest was heaped up. To separate the grain from the stalks and chaff, it was trampled by oxen, donkeys or sometimes by the farmer and his family. After being threshed, it had to be winnowed. Using a pitchfork, the threshed wheat was winnowed, tossed into the air, where the wind would carry off the unwanted portions, leaving the heavier grains to fall back to the floor. Harvested, threshed, and winnowed, the grain was finally ready to be collected and then ground into flour.
When the Bible introduces Gideon, we find him threshing wheat in a winepress. Gideon presents a ridiculous picture. Trying to winnow wheat in a hole was absurd. Silly. But as Gideon is working away at his impossible task, “the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘The Lord is with you, valiant warrior’ ” (Judges 6:12). Ha! I would’ve called him a scaredy-cat, a yellow-bellied, lily-livered, wimp... not a valiant warrior.
Gideon couldn’t see what the angel could. I wouldn’t have seen it either. “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” (Judges 6:13).
Gideon knew the stories of God’s miraculous power: the crossing of the Red Sea, water from the rock, manna from heaven, etc. But where, thought Gideon, was God now? He had obviously abandoned His people. God didn’t care that the Midianites were making his life unbearable.
Verse fourteen says, “The Lord turned to him...” Hold on! Stop the presses! Verse eleven says “the angel of the Lord came...” Now, three verses later, “The Lord” is at center stage. Yahweh ... Jehovah... spoke to Gideon saying, “Go in the strength you have and deliver Israel from the grasp of Midian. I am sending you!” (Judges 6:14).
Gideon was still struggling with fear and doubt. “Please, Lord, (master) how can I deliver Israel? Look, my family is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s family” (Judges 6:15). Again, Jehovah spoke to Gideon. “But I will be with you ... You will strike Midian down as if it were one man” (Judges 6:16). Really? No kidding?
Like Gideon, I know what God says is always true. The Bible says, “If God is for us, who is against us?” With Jesus fighting for us, “we are more than conquerors” (Romans 8:31, 37). He promised, He “will never leave (us) nor forsake (us)” (Hebrews 13:5, ESV). Yes, I know that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment” (2 Timothy 1:7).
Unfaithfully, Gideon demanded, “If I have found favor with you, give me a sign that you are speaking with me” (Judges 6:17). God delivered. Fire sprang from a rock to consume a sacrifice which Gideon had prepared (Judges 6:21). Wow!
One more time, the Lord lovingly spoke. “Peace to you. Don’t be afraid...” (Judges 6:23).
Listen carefully! Jehovah is speaking to us... to you... today! “I will be with you ... Peace to you. Don’t be afraid!”
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.