Then the angel of the Lord came and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” “Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.” Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!" Judges 6:11-14
Where are Your former lovingkindnesses, O Lord, which You swore to David in Your faithfulness? Remember, O Lord, the reproach of Your servants; how I bear in my bosom the reproach of all the many peoples, with which Your enemies have reproached, O Lord, with which they have reproached the footsteps of Your anointed. Blessed be the Lord forever! Amen and Amen. Psalm 89:49-52 (NASB)
The severity and complexity of our circumstances can at times be overwhelming to us. The troubles of our heart can become so enlarged that the presence of God becomes a fleeting reality to us and our sense that he's really at work in our lives diminishes drastically and fades away to almost nothing. We would welcome an intervention of God into our lives like the one Gideon experienced. It is likely that previous to this moment, Gideon would have said that he would welcome an intervention of God. However, it seems that the calamity of Gideon and Israel totally overshadows the reality that God has begun to intervene with the appearing of the angel of the Lord.
Notice that when the angel of the Lord says to Gideon, "the Lord is with you," Gideon responds, "if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?" Gideon is more focused on his perception that the Lord has been absent than he is on the commencement of his intervening work on behalf of Gideon and Israel. God is going to put an open door before Gideon and Israel but for the moment he is not even ready to hear what the angel of the Lord is going to say about it. Gideon's questioning of the past continues as he asks, "where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about?" We would like to think that if the angel of the Lord appeared to us, we would have kept quiet and listened to everything God wanted to communicate to us through him.
The word "bottom" in today's passage from Judges depicts literally and figuratively where Gideon is when the angel of the Lord appears to him. While Gideon, as we said earlier, would welcome an intervention of God, he does not believe it will happen. Gideon has hit bottom and that is all he can see. Notice his words that confirm this, "the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites." For Gideon, God is absent, he no longer intervenes, and he caused their calamity. Gideon has so bottomed out, it seems he is incapable of comprehending that God is intervening through the angel of the Lord and that he should shut up, listen, and respond.
Fortunately, the angel of the Lord speaks again and says, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!" These words break through to Gideon in a startling turning of the tables, so to speak. We will take a closer look at this tomorrow. Let's just say for now, that this is the change point that allows Gideon to begin his ascent up from the "bottom." If you read chapters 6 and 7 of Judges, you will see more fully how God intervenes. Truly, God put an open door before Gideon and Israel and, yes, eventually they go through it and God provides deliverance for them from the Midianites.
But how about us who say we would have kept quiet and listened? Think about those moments in your life where you have bottomed out and joined Gideon and said, "God is absent, he no longer intervenes, and he has caused my calamity." And now think about this: How many times did God show up and set open door before you, but you were so caught up in your calamity and so at the bottom, that you were not at all aware of God and his "open doors" of intervention and provision? This is the danger of giving ourselves to the full time occupation of denouncing where we are and voicing our "whys" of objection and frustration. God is always present, he always intervenes with open doors, and he never is the cause of our calamities (Judges 6:1).
Lord, forgive me for the times I have let my troubles become the Lord of my life instead of you. I realize that the intervention and deliverance I need more than anything is deliverance from myself and not so much from my troubles. Turn my heart and life toward you more fully and completely than ever before. Help me to believe that you are Lord and Master over everything and that you are Lord over my heart and life. I reaffirm that you are always present, you always intervene with open doors, and you are never the cause of my calamities. Amen!
Posted on Wed, August 5, 2015
by Alan Porter