The people of Israel had come out of Egypt, God had provided a homeland just as He promised, and then when everything seemed hunky-dory, peachy-keen, they went back to their own way of doing things. Before long, trouble arrived in the form of their cousins the Midianites who lived on the eastern side of the Jordan River. For some reason, the Midianites wanted the crops the Israelites grew, and every time the harvest was good, they came along and took it.
Instead of trying to learn why this kept happening, the Israelites griped about their situation. Why did God let this happen, they complained.
One man, Gideon, was trying his best to provide for his family. He found a hidden place to thresh his wheat so the Midianites wouldn’t get it, and one day while he was hard at work, an angel showed up.
The angel said, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor.” (Yeah, hiding out from the bad guys.) Oh, what a wonderful thing to say about me, Gideon should have thought. Oh, how great that God has sent me of all people, a nobody in my family, an angel!
Is that what he thought? No…
Did he fall down in fear and awe? No…
Did he worship and praise God that an angel had come to see him? No…
Gideon did what all the rest of his family had been doing. He wallowed in self-pity, he griped and complained. He said to the angel, bold as brass — If God is with us, why is all this happening? Our ancestors told us tall tales about miracles, but I sure haven’t seen any — (That sounds familiar.)
Gideon was remembering what his father had said about the miracles, but he was forgetting what God’s prophet had said: I delivered you from the Egyptians, and I gave you this land. I only gave you one warning: don’t get yourself tangled up with the gods of the Amorites whose land this used to be. But did you listen? No, you didn’t. You didn’t obey me, and see what it got you. Trouble again.
When things don’t seem to be going our way, we tend to be like Gideon and his folks. Gripers and complainers.
Fortunately, God’s patience is better than ours. The angel gave Gideon another compliment: “Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have not I sent thee?”
Oooh, Gideon should have said, We’re going to be delivered again! But instead he said, Wait, what do you mean, Me go? Me? And Gideon argued with the angel. He demanded proof that the angel was really from God, and not a secret agent from the enemy or something.
Fortunately again, God had patience with him. He provided the proof, and finally Gideon had to acknowledge, This is really an angel! A for-real, real angel! Now came the fear, and the awe, and the worship, and finally he was ready to do what God told him.
You know the rest of the story, don’t you? God used Gideon to deliver his people from the greedy Midianites. He did become a mighty man of valor.
Do you suppose that would have happened if Gideon had ignored the angel? Refused to listen to instructions? If you read Judges chapters 6-8, some of those instructions were a mite peculiar.
Circumstances don’t look too pleasant sometimes. Hardships. Loss of job. Family breakups. Sickness. Bad weather. Earthquakes. Volcanoes. Tsunami. Blizzards. Floods. Mud slides. Lots of things that make us think God has deserted us, abandoned us, just like Gideon.
Have we listened to God’s messengers? Are we listening for God’s instructions? Sometimes they come in disguised packages, angels who don’t look like angels. Sometimes we’re tempted to ridicule and think, “Who, me?” when we’re instructed to do something.
Food for thought.