Summary: Gideon - living life in a winepress, We all too often live a minimum existance in a winepress instead of living in the fresh air. That only wil happen when we encounter God.
Fine wine from dry wheat
Are you talking to me?
When you think of a hero, you’re usually inclined to think of strength, great intellect, personal charisma and beauty, or enormous wealth. But our hero today had none of these. He started out as a quiet peaceful farmer, but was transformed into a warrior in a most unlikely fashion.
Today we are talking a about Gideon.
During this time the nation of Israel was occasionally were led by judges who were raised up by God to call the people to together for common good and to bring them back to proper worship of God. Just before our scriptures today, the land had peace for 40 years. Then the people again start doing evil in God’s sight.
For 7 years God has allowed the people of Israel to be attacked and abused. They brought it on themselves. They are living in the promised land and fighting all the different neighbors that they failed to remove when they first entered.
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. When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, "The LORD is with you, mighty warrior."
"But sir," Gideon replied, "if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, ’Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian."
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?"
"But Lord , " Gideon asked, "how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family."
The LORD answered, "I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together."
When we first meet Gideon he is doing the work of a farmer. He is threshing wheat. Pretty normal stuff. Except he was threshing wheat in a wine press. You all know how to thresh wheat, right? You take a big scoop of wheat and pour it on the floor, use a round stick and lightly crush the seeds. Then you toss batches of crushed seeds in the air and let the chaff, the crusty outside blow away.
That is what Gideon was trying to do. Clean up enough wheat to feed somebody, maybe his family or to sell. However, we was in a winepress.
Normally a threshing floor was on top of a hill to take advantage of the wind from any direction. It really helps to separate the chaff. A wine press on the other hand was normally down in a valley. It was a cistern like one that might be used to hold water. The grapes were smashed and the juice collected in the cistern.
An angel of God comes to Gideon at this moment. He looks like a coward. Trying to stay out of sight. Perhaps desperate to try to keep what little he has. Trying to hide it from the Midianites.
I guess if I had people that came to steal and destroy all I have leaving with little or nothing I would be a pretty desperate character as well. I would guess he is pretty bitter about life. This introduction to Gideon is not exactly a picture of strength and power ore courage.
But, The angel appears and says “"The LORD is with you, mighty warrior."
I imaging that Gideon looks around wondering who the angel is talking to. When he is sure they are alone, he is thinking, sorry fella you have go the wrong guy.
And he tries to make a point, If the Lord is with us, how can all this happen?
Every group of people that pass by attack and take what they want from us. The medinaites are a constant thorn in our side. Where are the wonders that our fathers talked about. Where is the God that led people out of Egypt? He has abandoned us.
Gideon is not exactly the poster child for encouragement and readiness. He is more likely the best example for a defeated people. Hiding and wanting to avoid conflict. And trying to place blame for all that is happening on God.
He neglects to mention how the people are acting. What they are doing and that they might have some personal level of failure and blame themselves.
Two things contributed to his cowardice: bitterness and timidity. Gideon was set up to live a life of frustration. He was bitter with God for not coming through for him. In addition to the bitterness, Gideon felt that he had nothing to offer to help improve things. He didn’t have the skills and power to turn things around he thought.