Summary: Don’t doubt and limit God because of what we are going through.
Judges describe a very sad time in the history of Israel. They had no king, and everyone did as they saw fit. Each time they drifted away and suffered under the hands of their enemies, they cried out to God. And God will send a deliverer - a judge - who will help them and free them from bondage.
In Judges 6, we read that the people has been suffering for 7 years under the hands of Midianites. They were so oppressive that the Israelites have to hide in mountain clefts and caves (v.2). Whenever they plant some crops, the enemies will come and destroyed them all. The Bible says in v.4 they "did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys." And when they come, "they come up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts…", so huge a force that "it was impossible to count the men and their camels." In fact, in 7:12 says that their camels "could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore."
Look at what Gideon was doing, and we will know how desperate the situation was. V.11 says Gideon "was threshing wheat in a winepress…" That was strange because no one thresh wheat indoors. They do it out in the open fields where the wind can help separate the wheat from the chaff. And Gideon was beating grain indoors to hide it from the Midianites. Imagine you have to work in hiding for your livelihood.
If we understand human needs according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs - all their basic needs were not met. They were looking for shelter, for food, for safety, security. In such a desperate situation, "the Israelites cried out to God for help." (v.6).
Praise be to God! When man cried out to God, He listens and He responds. And He came to their rescue. That’s the pattern throughout this book. God cares about man. He cares enough to act. As if man is not so sure about that, God sent 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. 9I snatched you from the power of Egypt and from the hand of all your oppressors. I drove them from before you and gave you their land. 10I said to you, ’I am the LORD your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’…"
God delivers us from bondage, set us free so that we can return to Him - the true God and worship Him. God cares enough, to free us from the bondage of sin, set us free, give us the gift of an abundant and eternal life, so that we can be reconciled to Him and worship Him again. It is as if God says, "I did not free you so that you would suffer; I free you so that you can return to Me, worship Me and be blessed!"
But that was not the case of Israel, because the last line said: "But you have not listened to Me." (v.10b). They have chosen to go their own way and do their own thing. 6:1 "Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord." It was not God who has moved away, but man. We have drifted from God.
So God is going to send Gideon to restore the situation.
(1) Don’t Define God Through Limited Experience
The angel appeared to him and said, "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior." (v.12). Gideon was surprised to hear that. Looking at the sufferings he was going through, his reply was one of disbelief - "if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?" (v.13).
We ask the same question all the time.
· You had cancer, and had been spending lots of money going through chermotherapy treatment… Why? Why must this happen to me? If God loves me, how can this happen to me?
· You must got your exam result from your teacher, realised you had failed most of your subjects. You had to repeat another year. Why didn’t God help me? If God is with me, how can this happen to me?
· Your business was not doing well. In fact, this month you’re not able to pay your staff. Creditors were coming after you. If God is with me, this should not have happened…
Man asks today, "If God is good, why is it that there are so much sufferings in our world today?" The blame is on God. We put the responsibility on His shoulders.
We end up with this conclusion - Gideon’s conclusion (v. 13b): "but now the Lord has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian." God must have left us.