“Now the Angel of the Lord came and sat under the oak (terebinth) at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Fleabite, and his son GIDEON was beating wheat IN THE WINE PRESS to hide it from the Midianites” (Judges 6:11 AMP).
Well, you guessed it. I am still reading in the Book of JUDGES, where the Spirit of God is inspiring my thought process to investigate the truths of the Bible. So we are beginning the JOURNEY, of discovering what God’s Spirit has for each one of us based on GIDEON’S experiences.
ANCIENT WINE PRESSES.
To make the situation clear, we need to understand in those days, wine presses were generally dug into the ground. If you got inside a wine press you would be out of site. Gideon is found hiding in the wine press and won’t be seen by the marauding Midianites while he’s threshing the wheat.
PERSONALITY FACTORS IN.
GIDEON isn’t exactly your Hollywood image of a hero. The fact is, he’s the OPPOSITE! He is much more the indecisive and timid type. He is one of those people who want every i dotted and every t crossed before they make a decision. And even then, they won’t be able to make up their mind. We can see the sort of person he is in finding him at the beginning of the story.
THE ENCOURAGING THING FOR SOME OF US–
Some of us relate to ‘GIDEON the timid’, the nervous type, despite the UNPROMISING substance from which he was made.
God takes him and makes him a hero of Biblical proportions. After digging and investigating the Biblical evidence, I began to discover the process through which GIDEON was CHANGED by God into a LEADER and SAVIOUR of his people.
A PERSONAL ENCOUNTER WITH GOD:
“And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, The Lord is with you, you mighty man of [fearless] courage” (Judges 6:12 AMP)
It becomes obvious that “the Angel of the Lord” is a distinct person in Himself from God the Father (Gen. 24:7; Exod. 23:20; Zech. 1:12, 13). Nor, does “the Angel of the Lord” appear again after Christ came in human form; the “Angel of the Lord”, the visible Lord God in the Old Testament. The Cambridge Bible observes, “There is a fascinating forecast of the coming Messiah, breaking through the dimmers with amazing consistency, at intervals from Genesis to Malachi. Abraham, Moses, the slave girl Hagar, even the humble parents of Samson”; and now here in Judges 6:12, are seen talking with Him centuries before the herald of angels proclaiming His birth in Bethlehem [footnote in Amplified Bible in Genesis 16:7 (b)].
BEATING OUT THE WHEAT IN A WINE PRESS. WHY?
Because GIDEON is scared; because he might be seen by the enemy, the Midianites marauding the land. And the Angel of the Lord addresses him as a mighty warrior! Can you imagine what GIDEON must have thought?
“Hey, you’ve got the wrong guy, fella. What you’re looking for is a hardened soldier. I am no fighter! I am the youngest in my family and even they are the weakest family in our tribe.”
Do you ever feel like that? Like you’re too weak to do what God’s asking you to do? I remember when I was first asked to teach adults in the church. Personally, I felt insecure but at the same time I was reminded of the first chapter of Joshua, where Joshua is told over and over again to be strong and of good courage. This was a message to me to TRUST God working through me in any given ministry, and it is the same with GIDEON.
“And Gideon said to him, O sir, if the Lord is with us, why is all this befallen us?” (verse 13).
But God IS with them and He DOES have a plan for their salvation, and a plan that involves Gideon:
“The Lord turned to him and said, Go in this your might, and you shall save Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?” (verse 14).
At the right moment, despite Gideon’s protest, God adds, “Surely I will be with you” (verse 16). Here is the FIRST STEP to Gideon’s revival! A personal encounter with God; where God’s promises to empower him for the TASK ahead.
Don’t underestimate the importance of this sense of personal calling in your life. The New Testament speaks often of the Christian having been CALLED to a life of service to God and to others. But while we are thinking about our own personal call to discipleship, let’s remember the example given to us in Scripture of GIDEON: The thing about GIDEON’S CALL is the sort of person he was when God called him and the personal attributes he possessed at the time. THEY WEREN’T THE ISSUE! Actually, the shrinking nature of GIDEON may in fact have been his GREATEST ASSET! He didn’t have the natural characteristics of a warrior or leadership qualifications to lead his people against the Midianites. GOD CHOOSES the LEAST in the world so His glory is manifested and NOT the person. Do you remember what the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:27?
“[No] for God selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is foolish to put the wise to shame, and what the world calls weak to put the strong to shame.”
I’ve discovered that this seems to be God’s modus operandi in my life anyway.:
“He has put down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of low degree.  He has filled and satisfied the hungry with good things and the rich He has sent away empty-handed [without a gift]” (Luke 1:52-53).
If you are unsure of yourself and aware of your failures, you’re just the sort of person God can use. Let Him speak to your spirit and tell you what He wants you to do in any situation that arises. Ask Him to EMPOWER you for the task. Then look for Him to speak to you with the sorts of words He spoke to GIDEON; in the FIRST PERSON; surrounding Gideon’s ego with His ego: “I AM with you, you mighty man of courage; you warrior.”
STARTING WHERE YOU ARE:
Before God sends GIDEON off to fight the Midianites, He gives him a task to fulfill at home. FIRST, he has to go and remove the source of idolatry that is polluting his home town. As much as it seems, Gideon’s family may have been followers of the Lord, but they had become POLLUTED by the pagan worship of their neighbors.
A similar thing has happened in our world. Not that we have shrines to our gods like they did. Nor do we make regular sacrifices to the gods of our culture. Our gods are a bit more SUBTLE:
1. “gods” of consumerism and affluence.
2. “gods” of pleasure and ease.
3. “gods” of economics and politics and more!
All to often, Christians are as much caught up in these pursuits as the rest of the world. So it wouldn’t hurt us to look at our own home town situation from time to time. The way GIDEON was called to see if there are THINGS we need to clean up in our own lives before going off fighting the enemies of the Lord.
IT WASN’T AN EASY THING FOR GIDEON TO DO.
But he did it! Even if it was with the help of 10 of his friends; even in the darkness of night, just in case someone caught him at it. I get the feeling here that an GIDEON-like individual is the sort of person, when challenged to speak to someone about JESUS, does it by dropping a gospel tract inside of a DVD rental from Blockbuster when returning it to the store; hoping someone who rents it next, will read it. That is my confession by the way. I just did that last week.
But despite the TIMIDITY of GIDEON’S actions, look at the effect it has on his father (Judges 6:30-31). It’s as though his father had been waiting for someone to step up to the plate about these idols. PERHAPS, timidity was a family trait! But in either case, Gideon’s actions reawakened Joash’s devotion to the Lord.
So God tells GIDEON to start at home for a number of reasons. ONE is to clean-up their own act first, before they START THE BATTLE. Another is to show him he isn’t alone!
There are others you run into every day that certainly CARE about serving God. THIRDLY, it shows him in a small way, when he ACTS, God will bring him success.
A GIFT FROM GOD – THE SECRET DISCOVERED:
Here in this passage of Scripture, we discover the SECRET of great heroes of the Bible. What is it that made them great? Was it their own NATURAL ABILITY, their EXPERTISE they learned from good teachers and mentors? Was it in their TRAINING?
Leadership EXPERTS [by the way, I’ve NEVER met an EXPERT], will tell you these sorts of things today. And some may be true up to a point. But none of them is the CRITICAL FACTOR! The REAL SECRET is, God CHOOSES to equip each one of us in special ways for His work:
“Then all the Midianites and Amalekites and the people of the east came together and, crossing the Jordan, encamped in the Valley of Jezreel.  But the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon with Himself and took possession of him, and he blew a trumpet, and [the clan of] Abiezer was gathered to him” (Judges 6:33-34).
Suddenly the timid, scared little man becomes a powerful leader of his people. He blows the trumpet and 32,000 men come out to fight with him. So what’s the difference? I love the way the Amplified Bible says in verse 34, “But the Spirit of the Lord CLOTHED Gideon with Himself and took possession of him.” Can you visualize the EMPOWERMENT? I sure can. Let’s don’t miss the FACT that the same spirit EMPOWERS us today. He is on us, in us and around us! JESUS tells His disciples,
“However, I am telling you nothing but the truth when I say it is profitable (good, expedient, advantageous) for you that I go away. Because if I do not go away, the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you [into close fellowship with you]; but if I go away, I will send Him to you.  And when He comes, He will convict and convince the world and bring demonstration to it about sin and about righteousness and about judgement;  About sin, because they do not believe in Me;  About righteousness (uprightness of heart and right standing with God), because I go to My Father, and you will see Me no longer;  About judgement, because the ruler (evil genius, prince) of this world [Satan] is judged and condemned and sentenced already is passed upon him” (John 16:7-11 AMP).
AND HE SAID:
“I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, if anyone steadfastly believes in Me, he will himself be able to do the things that I do, and he will do even greater things than these, because I go to the Father” (John 14:12).
“But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy spirit has come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth” (Acts 1:8 AMP).
If you are worried about being up to the challenge, of being a disciple of JESUS, take courage. The example of GIDEON, the mighty warrior; mighty only because God’s might and power enabled him to do great things.
SO WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM GIDEON’S STORY?
There are of course some obvious parallels aren’t there? We too have to battle to fight against God’s enemies; against the idolatry of our world; against the powers of darkness that oppose the Church at every turn; against forces that oppose truth and righteousness.
So what can we learn from GIDEON? To me it is the importance of recognizing the personal calling of God. Let’s be aware that each one of us has been CALLED BY GOD. To a LIFE OF DISCIPLESHIP, a life of SERVICE to the living God that will find its ‘outworking’ in different ways for each of us. But the CALL is just as REAL for each of us despite any differences.
WE NEED TO LEARN to BEGIN where we are. There is no use to try to fix the world’s problems if our own home is polluted with sin. Next, as the Lord EQUIPS us for the task, with His POWER and not our own; ask Him to fill you with His Spirit. So you and I can know what to do and where to go. And as long as you’re asking, ask Him for the ASSURANCE that only His Spirit can give.
Finally, let’s LEARN to TRUST GOD more! It is an important lesson to learn when you’re part of a small church. Equally important lesson is to KNOW it individually when you are living and working in a world that is opposed to the gospel message. That the BATTLE is His and we don’t NEED superior ‘fire power’ of our own doing. Not when God is fighting alongside of us.
As Paul says in Romans 8: ‘Ig God is with us, who can be against us?’ Recognize God’s call; clean up your own act first, then TRUST God to give you what you need for the VICTORY!
I hope that you have enjoyed the study of GIDEON in The Book of Judges as much as I have. Be sure to read the rest of the GIDEON STORY, for there are many other parallels and truths to discover.