The times in Israel were very tough. As the cycle of deterioration set in again with Israel after the end of the Deborah/Barak leadership, God again gives His people into the hands of another oppressor, Midian. This time, God does not immediately raise up a judge when they cry to Him for deliverance. He allows a process to work in one individual, which we will see in this man Gideon. The ravage of Israel by Midian leaves them without food, sheep or donkeys. The point of God’s message through the prophet was not to supply food, but to awaken their hearts to realize “I AM the Lord your God, you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell” (6:10). The proper fear of God dictates behavior that honors Him.
At the foundation of our relationship with God, there must be a reciprocal commitment based on knowing who He is that causes us to love Him more than the influences and circumstances of the world, to the degree that our obedience to Him is based on our of love for Him, not because of any demand. We will see this obedience in Gideon even though he had questions.
Why would we call Gideon an unlikely leader? There was no predecessor to mentor him, but it is evident that God had been watching the secret life of this man. He was moldable clay in God’s hand. Imagine a divine person making their appearance to an ordinary man, in a difficult situation, among a rebellious people who are taunted by a nation stronger than them. Yet, Gideon was doing what he could to provide for his people with the energy and determination God had given him – in a winepress. It is to this kind of person the Lord appears; first to give His personal affirmation for the character that Gideon had. What he was doing proved that he was a “mighty man of valor” (6:12). There is another side to his character which we will examine tomorrow.
What are you doing in secret that honors God and blesses His people, without seeking recognition?
Would you recognize God speaking to you through His Word by the Holy Spirit?
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