Summary: When you think of a hero, you’re usually inclined to think of strength, great intellect, personal charisma and beauty, or enormous wealth, perhaps a profound drive for justice. Not exactly the case with Gideon.
Speaking of Gideon
When you think of a hero, you’re usually inclined to think of strength, great intellect, personal charisma and beauty, or enormous wealth, perhaps a profound drive for justice.
Today we are going to look a biblical hero. But our hero today had none of these. He lived in an environment that was idolatrous, the economy was bad and the people did what was right in their own eyes. In a way we could easily compare our times to Gideon’s day. He started out as a quiet peaceful farmer, but was transformed into a warrior. He was transformed in a sort of unusual way.
He was transformed when He experienced a personal encounter with God.
Today we are speaking 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 together for common good and to bring them back to proper worship of God. Typically there was a cry form the people for justice and salvation from an enemy and God raised up a leader.
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 because of their Idolatry and disobedience. They are living in the Promised Land and fighting all the different neighbors that they failed to remove when they first entered the land. They have even taken on religious practices strictly forbidden by God.
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, which is pretty normal stuff. Except of one detail, he was threshing wheat in a winepress.
You all know how to thresh wheat, right? The Bible talks about using oxen in the process. They would walk around a post and drag a log or a sled with weight or a person riding on it to crush the grain. For a smaller situation, you take a big scoop of wheat and pour it on the floor, use a round stick and lightly crush the seeds. Then you winnow the wheat. That is where a person tosses 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, he was trying to do this working in a winepress.
Normally a threshing floor was on top of a hill to take advantage of the wind from any direction. A floor might also be in a valley where the wind is fairly constant. The evening breeze caught the chaff and let the grain kernels fall to the ground.
A wine press on the other hand was normally down in a valley. It was a stone pool often carved out of rock. The grapes were smashed and the juice collected in the reservoir the collected in jars and wineskins.
An angel of God comes to Gideon at this moment. Gideon looks like a coward because it seems that he is trying to stay out of sight. Perhaps desperate to try to keep what he has out of the hands of the Midianites.
I guess if I had people that came to steal and destroy all I have leaving me with little or nothing, I would be pretty desperate as well. I would guess he is pretty disappointed about life. He is depressed about having to live in the hills.
This introduction to Gideon is not exactly a picture of strength and power or courage. It is hard the imaging that a man that is hiding out and avoiding his enemy is any kind of hero.