Judges 6: 1-3 NIV “The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country.”
Judges 6: 6-12 NIV “Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help. When the Israelites cried out to the Lord because of Midian, 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. I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of your oppressors; I drove them out before you and gave you their land. 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.
The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in the Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “the Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
When you read the book of Judges end to end, you will notice a pattern that goes something like this:
Stage 1: The people rebel through idolatry and lose faith in God
Stage 2: Judgment comes through oppression by a foreign power
Stage 3: God raises up a deliverer (a judge)
Stage 4: The people repent and return to God
In Judges 6 we find Israel in the midst of Stage 2 and are introduced to Gideon, as he is threshing wheat in a winepress to hide his activity and decrease the odds that a group of foreign marauders would take it. This isn’t exactly the image of a “mighty warrior”.
I’m sure he’d tried threshing wheat in every possible way in every possible space over the seven long years, perhaps the winepress was his last good idea. He and everyone he knew was crying out to God. They were afraid, desperate and poor
Have you ever felt like the only alternative was to cry out to God? Maybe you’d tried studying, or living a more healthy lifestyle, or being a nicer person or any number of things and you were just at the end of your rope. Maybe that’s how you feel right now.
I say to you: “the Lord is with you, mighty warrior”.
This week we will talk about how God’s faithfulness to Gideon showed he could totally rely on God, and how we can, too. When we rely totally on God, we can break out of the oppressive patterns in our life and break into God’s plan for our lives.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will come to me and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with your whole heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and I will bring you back from captivity.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV
“Father God, open my heart to relying on you on a different level this week. I know that where I’m fearful you will bring me courage, where I’m poor you will provide and that where I have sorrow you will comfort me. Thank you Lord for your faithfulness. Reveal yourself to me this week, in Jesus name.”