Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
And Gideon said to him, “Please, sir, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” (Judges 6:13)
The Israelites were oppressed by the Midianites. It was not a random event. The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and God gave them in to the hand of Midian seven years. During the period, the Midianites overpowered the Israelites, and took sheep, ox, donkey, and devour the produce of the land. They came like locusts in number, and they lay waste the land as they came in. Israel was brought very low.
Gideon was one of the Israelites, who was not much different from others. He was equally afraid of the Midianites. From the fear, Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the sight of the Midianites. Then suddenly an angel of Lord appeared to him, and said to him “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor” (Judges 6:12) It was totally unexpected. For the last seven years, the Israelites including Gideon had never experienced God’s presence.
Gideon was not able to keep silent, and expressed his frustration, which was always lingering in his heart: "Sir, if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? “ For the last seven years, Gideon had doubted the presence of God in the deepest part of his heart: If God existed; all these bad things that he saw and experience everyday should have had not happened, especially to the Israelites, the God’s chosen people.
Gideon continued “Where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about?” What he saw and was experiencing for the last seven years was a harsh reality of the oppression of the conqueror, not those victorious miracles that he was told about. Thus, he could not resist, but ask “Didn’t they say, ‘The LORD brought us up out of Egypt?’ His rationale was that if God really did bring us up out of Egypt, God should have had already rescued the Israelites from the hands of the Midianites. The entire Israel cried out to the Lord on account of the Midianites day after day, but God did not hear. For Gideon, it simply did not make sense. Then he continued sharing his despair, “But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” He waited and waited for God’s hand, but the oppression and the misery under the Midianites remained with him and the rest of the Israelites. God was silent.
Bible records the reason: the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. They abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, and went after other gods while bowing down. Bible tells that they even fought against God. Then God, who dearly loved the Israelites, had to give them to other people so that they suffered from their unfaithfulness and rebellious acts against God. God patiently waited till they came back to Him and cried for help. The pain of God must have been greater than that the Israelites experienced.
After seven years, the Israelites’ suffering was sufficient. They were ready to be rescued by God. God sent an angel to Gideon. The gracious God, first, let Gideon open his heart and vent out his frustration and resentment. Gideon poured out his pain and anguish question in the deepest part of his heart, and it was heard by God. (Imagine God personally listens to your frustration and pain in the deepest part of your heart. Gideon got this opportunity.) Gideon was released from his heavy burden in his heart. Then God gave Gideon a new mission of rescuing Israel by saying: “Go in the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. Am I not sending you?” (Judges 6:14)
Gideon quickly looked at his feeble hand, and thought about whom he was and his capability. He was so afraid of the Midianites that he was hiding in the winepress, while beating out wheat. He knew he was nothing but one coward person. Thus, he humbly opened his mouth and said: “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house.” (Judges 6:15) His clan was the weakest in the Manasseh tribe, and he was also the least in his father’s house. He authentically confessed his inability.
God, who saw Gideon’s authentic humility in his heart, said to him, “I will be with you, you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive." When Gideon met the angel of God, and was told: “The Lord is with you. O mighty man of valor.” Gideon missed the important part – The Lord is with you. Although Gideon was a mere ordinary scared person, God was ready to transform him as a mighty man of valor. However, the fear of the Midianites prevented him from hearing what was told by God. With patience, God led Gideon toward the man of valor that God wanted step by step.
First God let Gideon fully unload all of his fears occupying his heart. Second, God let Gideon get to a point to directly see who he was, and let him authentically cry out his weakness to God with humility and meekness. This made Gideon have an ear to truly hear what God’s say: “I am with you”, which was the most assuring word that Gideon could get form God, and he understood His calling of rescuing the Israelites. We all know the rest of the story about Gideon. Empowered by God, he led the Israelites and defeated the Midianites with only three hundred warriors even without actually drawing a single sword, but by the power of God in faith.
God is fully of compassion and love. He carefully watches over His people with His infinite love and patience. He is always with us. Sometimes we feel that He is not with us and He does not hear us. It is not true. He patiently waits us till we realize how sinful we are, and then He reaches out His hand to take us to His own bosom. His hand is mightier than anything, and His love is strong than anything we can imagine. Be still and listen to Him and His calling for His glory on earth.
The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them. (Psalm 145:18-19)
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