THE HIDDEN WARRIOR
Lord, keep us from straying.
Read Judges 6:1–24
6 The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. 2 Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. 3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. 4 They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. 5 They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. 6 Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.
7 When the Israelites cried out to the Lord because of Midian, 8 he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 9 I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of all your oppressors; I drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.”
11 The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”
17 Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. 18 Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.”
And the Lord said, “I will wait until you return.”
19 Gideon went inside, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah[a] of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak.
20 The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And Gideon did so. 21 Then the angel of the Lord touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the Lord disappeared. 22 When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord, he exclaimed, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!”
23 But the Lord said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.”
24 So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
- Judges 6:19 That is, probably about 36 pounds or about 16 kilograms
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Meditate for a minute or two on ‘The LORD is Peace’ (Judges 6:24).
In verse 1 we see the depressing cycle of rebellion beginning again; God’s response to Israel’s latest burst of unfaithfulness is to allow an invasion by ‘the Midianites, Amalekites, and other eastern peoples’. Israel again cries out to the Lord (7) as on earlier occasions, (Judg 3:9; 4:3) but this time, the Lord has a message for them: simply crying out is not enough – they need to turn from worshipping other gods (8–10). They, and we, must not think that saying the right words will, like coins inserted into a vending machine, produce the required response from God. True repentance is needed, which means appreciating the seriousness of sin and being determined, with God’s help, to break out of its pattern.
The huge number of invaders is emphasized in verse 5. Gideon himself is conscious of his smallness (15), and there seems to be heavy irony in the angel’s greeting (12) – a ‘mighty warrior’ would thresh wheat in an open space so that the wind blows away the chaff, not skulk fearfully in a small hollow in the ground more suited to treading grapes. However, the angel’s greeting has a prophetic edge, indicating what Gideon will become as he recognizes that it is the Lord who has called him, and he begins to fulfill the Lord’s commission.
John Goldingay comments that Gideon ‘has shown no more leadership ability than anyone else in his obscure family’ but that ‘God’s using someone does not depend on that person’s leadership qualities or spiritual insight’ (Goldingay, p109). I recall Paul’s description of the Corinthian Christians in 1 Corinthians 1:26 and 27, of the profound truth of 2 Corinthians 12:9 and of the encouragement given in 1 Thessalonians 5:24. Let’s apply these to ourselves!
Do you identify with Gideon’s feeling of smallness or with the Israelites’ repeated cycle of sin – or perhaps with both? Turn to the Lord now in repentance and faith.
Lord, give us the wisdom and insight to correctly perceive when we are in dire need of repentance.