Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the oak at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, you mighty warrior.” Gideon answered him, “But sir, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our ancestors recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has cast us off and given us into the hand of Midian.” Then the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian; I hereby commission you.” He responded, “But sir, how can I deliver Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” The LORD said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike down the Midianites, every one of them.”
Judges 6:11-16; NRSVue
The longer I’m on my faith journey, the less I like to focus on individuals and individual faith. But it’s a part of life, an important part of it actually, and while the church in Christ is preeminent for our spiritual journey at this time, it’s not like each one of us is not on a spiritual journey, because we most certainly are.
Just like every story in Scripture, there’s something we can gain, or at least we should make the effort to do so. And it’s not hard to see a few things in the Gideon story. One of the questions I ask myself from time to time is just what I can do. I can see enough from the whole of Scripture and from life that there is indeed plenty I can do. Just learning to pray and continuing in prayer, to grow in that is by itself exponential in importance. Good works will come with real prayer; God will make sure of that.
In the passage above, Gideon is humble, understands his limitations, probably doesn’t appreciate well enough the gift that he has so that God’s call makes little or no sense to him at all. And as we see from the rest of the narrative, he struggles somewhat in his faith, or at least I would consider that to be the case given his seeming propensity to demand signs or proof that it is really God who is speaking to him. I can imagine that had I been living in that time, and it were me, I would have been the same way.
God commissions Gideon, but the key seems to me to be the point God makes that God will be with Gideon. This is something for each of us to take home. We are the called in Christ, yes together primarily, but also out from that into our individual lives, to do the good works God has for us, and to see God’s loving rule in Christ present in all of that.
It’s good to read Judges 6-9, the entire Gideon story, and consider. It may have had a good beginning, but not such a good ending. Nor was it necessarily all good throughout. That is a heads up for us. It’s important that we remain steady, which means continued growth in Christ, and for us, in Christ’s body.
Hopefully good things to remember as we consider yet another fascinating story in Scripture.