Summary: God is always with us whether we realize it or not.
*Open with skit*
Have a man standing and looking at a piece of art work (Man 1), another man walks up (Man 2) and they stand next to each other for a moment.
Man 2 - turns to the other man and says, “What do you think about this piece?”
Man 1 - answers by completely bashing the piece of art as well as the unknown artist.
Man 1 - when finished answering the question he asks the first man, “What do you think?”
Man 2 - “I like it! I think it’s a very emotional and thought provoking piece of art.”
Man 1 - “You like it!? How could you like this ugly thing!?”
Man 2 - “Well I painted it.”
Man 1 - fumbles with his words, apologizing and embarrassed.
Imagine being in a situation like this? Sometimes when you hear a story like this you just want to laugh at them, but when we find ourselves in a situation like this we feel awful. You are embarrassed and don’t know what to say from that point. You are juggling your words trying to take back or justify what you said. Just last Monday I did something somewhat similar as I was talking to a guy from our church named George at the leader’s dinner.
A couple of the leaders were talking about how it is often so cold in the church building, especially in the fellowship hall. George agreed and said that the other day he found that a couple of the windows in the fellowship hall had actually been left open for a time and that was probably why it had been so cold. I looked over at the windows and saw that the Christmas lights that had been set up weren’t there anymore and quickly put two and two together. I proclaimed that whoever took the lights down probably left the windows open. My tone was a bit accusatory and degrading. George looked up from his meal and shared that he was the one who took the lights down. I just kind of said, “Oh, ok,” and went back to eating feeling a little embarrassed.
Tonight I want to look at the story of a man who found himself in a very similar situation. Please grab a bible and open it to Judges 6:11-23. (Pg. 238 in your pew Bibles) I encourage you to keep the Bible open and follow along tonight as I am going to be walking through the passage.
Just to give you guys a little bit of background on this text, the Israelite people, as 6:1 tells us, “again…did evil in the eyes of Lord” and now the people found themselves being oppressed by the Midianites. Every time the Israelites would plant crops, the Midianites would come and destroy everything in their path, leaving the Israelites with nothing to eat. Because of this, the Israelites had to develop ways to hide their food to keep their people alive. One of the ways that they developed was threshing wheat in a winepress which would have been a pit carved out of rocky ground. Usually wheat was threshed in the open because then the wind could blow away the unwanted chaff. By doing it in the winepress they were hidden from view and they were able to provide food for their people. This is where our story is set.
In verse 11-12 it reads, “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.’”
Gideon responds in verse 13. “‘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.’”
Gideon is upset by the greeting from the angel of the Lord. He basically laughs in his face. “Ha, God is with us!?” What are you talking about? We are being oppressed! People are dying, our cattle and sheep are dying, we haven’t had a good meal in years, and we have had to live in caves the last seven years! God isn’t with us! The very fact that I am in a big rocky hole, threshing wheat shows me that God isn’t with us! Where are the miracles? Where are the wonders? The Lord is not with us, the Lord has abandoned us!”
How many times have we ourselves felt this same way? How many times have we proclaimed this same statement? As we sit in our room, covering our head with a pillow because Mom and Dad are yelling and fighting and are heading for a divorce. When we see our parents working so much that they don’t have time for us. As we attend a funeral of a loved family member or young friend. Or as we sit and contemplate life in the aftermath of an event like 9/11 or the disastrous Tsunami. We have a lot of ways that we can relate to Gideon’s attitude. Let’s look and see how the angel of the Lord responds to Gideon’s blunt comment.