Brought to You by the Letter…”P”

It’s Wednesday, so we’re talking about faith. Got any? Need some? Have a little to share?

A few weeks ago, I talked about a man named Gideon. A scared, weak man, hiding in a winepress trying to thresh wheat.  We talked about The Angel of the Lord (Pre-Incarnate Jesus) coming to see him, calling him a brave man. You can read or refresh yourself with the story HERE.

Today, I want to talk about the same man from the same book. Judges. Gideon, the man who begged over and over for God to confirm through a sign that he was supposed to deliver God’s people from the Midianite’s oppression. Gideon would throw out what’s called a fleece and God would prove that He hadn’t made a mistake–that Gideon was His man.

You can read about scared Gideon in Chapter 6 of Judges.

I want to skim across Chapter 7 and land us in Chapter 8. Put your seat belt on, we’re moving fast.

Gideon pulls together an army, not the biggest one, but one none-the-less. However, God knows it’s too big for Him to get the glory. He instructs Gideon, (7:4-8) and shortens his army down to 300 men. The odds didn’t look good by human standards, but that was God’s point.

Man can’t do it without Me.

God has a Plan.

Gideon is probably freaking out about now. He’s hesitant to begin with, but he’s being obedient. Now he has 300 men out of more than 22,000 to start with and God is going to use this pitiful army to take down the Midianites and Amalekites. Gulp!

I wonder if the men could sense Gideon’s apprehension. Maybe the whispers amongst the camp sank what minimal courage he had further down toward his tail. Just about the time he’s ready to turn it and run, God speaks to him.

Paraphrase: “Gideon, if you’re still shaking in your boots, and we all know you are, go down with your buddy that you’ve been whining to and listen. I think you’ll hear something to muster up some courage, you brave guy you.” Judges 7:9-12

God had a plan to save his people from these vicious warriors. It’d been laid out all along, He just needed Gideon to partner with Him.

Gideon and his servant, Purah (don’t get me started on the names) slip down in the thick of night and what happens…

God Precedes and Perfects.

They stop dead in their tracks. Someone is talking. One of the enemies is sharing a dream he just had with one of his comrades. “To my surprise, a loaf of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian; it came to a tent and struck it so that it fell and over turned, and the tent collapsed.” (7:13)

“This is nothing else than the sword of  Gideon, son of Joash, a man of Israel! Into his hand God has delivered Midian and the whole camp.” (7:14)

Coincidence? I think not.

God gave that dream to the soldier, woke him up, and prompted him to tell it to his buddy at exactly the right time. Side note: “tumbled” in Hebrew is “haphak” and it means, to overthrow or overturn.

And if that isn’t enough– to be sovereign over time– then look at the detail that went into the dream, just for Gideon.

What was Gideon doing when the Angel of the Lord came to him?  Threshing wheat. Working hard at simply getting some seeds/grains from the winepress.

What came into the enemy camp and took out the whole army?

A loaf of Barley.  A finished product. Barley and wheat are both planted in the fall, but Barley matures faster and is harvested first, usually in April.  Something  Gideon knows all about.

God was saying, “What I began, I will finish. You’re ready. It’s time.  I don’t see a little scared seed. I see a loaf.”

God makes it Personal.

“I saw Gideon.” Not just any old Gideon. “Gideon, the son of Joash.” That’s like saying his first and last name. “A man of Israel.” Israel. God’s people. “I saw Gideon son of Joash, you know, God’s man.” Not boy. Man.

The word for “man” in Hebrew in this verse is “iysh” and it does means man, but also, “great man; champion”

There is no room to doubt. He’s ready. God has made him ready, harvested him, like Barley, for this moment. Used the enemy to prove that he is going to overturn the camp.

God is Patient, and He always Prevails.

With this last boost of confidence, Gideon takes the 300 men, uses his brain and makes a plan, then defeats the enemy. You can read about it in Judges 7:15-25.

And lastly, if you’ve hung on with me for this long, we land in Chapter 8. The high is over. Gideon, by God alone, has freed God’s people from the Midianites. Imagine the pats on the back. Maybe someone poured the vat of wine over his head like a football coach who’s brought his team to victory.

Those strokes of ego, embed in Gideon’s mind…his heart, and in one chapter look what happens:

Gideon chases down kings Zebah and Zalmunna, but they’re running fast, so Gideon asks the leaders of Succoth to help him out, which they snottily refuse. Gideon boldy tells them when he gets back from whipping Zebah and Zalmunna’s tail, he’s gonna whip theirs. Literally. With thorns and briers. (Judges 8:6-7)

Gideon comes to Penuel and speaks to them in the same way and when they refuse, he tells them when comes back he’s going to tear down their tower. (watchtower. Judges 8:8-9)

Pretty bold for a man who a couple chapters back was hiding in a winepress and trying to convince God He had no business enlisting him, isn’t it?

Pretty Speech breeds Pride

Paraphrase: “Rule over us, Gideon.”

“Nah, God’s your ruler, but thanks for the offer. I’ll tell yah what though, you can give me the earrings you took off the dead.”

“Anything for you, Gideon.”

Guess what Gideon did with the 42 pounds of gold? He constructed an ephod. An ephod was the vest, God instructed priests only to wear. It was pretty amazing with colorful threads and dazzling gems. (Judges 8:22-27)

What was the point of Gidoen’s ephod? Not sure. But, in verse 27, the Bible says it became a “snare to Gideon and his house.” The word snare is used in talking about idols.

Gideon also named one of his sons, out of 70 by the way–for he had many wives–Abimelech. Ambimelech means “My Father is King.” Maybe, deep in Gideon’s heart, the one that swelled after victory, he thought he was the king. Maybe it passed down to his sons. It definitely passed down to Abimelech, who killed all his brothers but one to be king. (Judges 9)

Pride will get you every time. Especially after a big victory. Physical victory, emotional victory, spiritual victory. Be wary of it.

Gideon was human. I don’t fault him for a swelled head. I do learn a lesson…

God Picks us anyway

Don’t think for a second God didn’t know what would happen to Gideon. Yet He picked him to do great things anyway. He loved him start to finish. Snares and all.  And in those days of Gideon, regardless of his sins, there was peace for 40 years until he died. (Judges 8:28)

Question for you: Have you ever wondered why God would pick you for…anything? How did it turn out, or how’s it going?

Seriously? You’re just gonna…sit there….

I’m letting you know it’s a little longer than blog style, but it’s Wednesday! I can’t help it! Stick with me, you’ll survive.

Have you ever seen someone do something so odd it made you do a double take?

During a crisis, cousin Joe is on his smart phone playing Angry Birds while you run frantically, or Aunt Sadie is knitting socks during a tornado.

Or maybe during a trip to the E.R. Granny Lou is sitting quietly, hands neatly folded in her lap, a tiny smirk, dare I say, on her face.

Two out of three might be morons, but Granny Lou isn’t. Granny Lou has something we all want. We all desire. We all seek.


Gideon’s story in the Old Testament is rather humorous to me. Let’s take a look at was going on around him and then we’ll see how odd someone behaved.

“Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years, and the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel.” Judges 6:1-2

God sounds pretty mean, huh?

What exactly were they doing that was so evil?  Well, for starters, they were having orgies on mountains in front of anyone who would watch to please false gods in hopes they would make it rain. They served their first born up to some of these false gods. I wish I had time to go into how they did this in detail, but I don’t. They ignored God. Exalted themselves. And forced the wonderful things He’d done for them out of their minds, homes, and hearts.

So God would send in an army–foreigners–in this case the Midianites, to discipline them. It wasn’t like it didn’t come without warning.

In Deuteronomy 28, He tells them IF you’ll be obedient and IF you’ll follow after Me, then I will bless…but if they do not, then He forewarns them of the consequences.

“The LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them; and you shall become troublesome to all the kingdoms of the earth.” Deuteronomy 28:25

So here we are. With the Israelites at one of their times of discipline. 

“Because of the Midianites, the children of Israel made for themselves the dens, the caves, and the strongholds which are in the mountains. 3 So it was, whenever Israel had sown, Midianites would come up; also Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. 4 Then they would encamp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep nor ox nor donkey. 5 For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, coming in as numerous as locusts; both they and their camels were without number; and they would enter the land to destroy it. 6 So Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites, and the children of Israel cried out to the LORD.” Judges 6:1-6

Now at this time in the story, Gideon is threshing wheat, in a winepress. A wine press is a concrete circular contraption for stomping grapes.

A threshing floor, was open on both ends so the breeze would blow the chaff away and leave the grain. Threshing wheat in a winepress would be difficult and grueling at best, but that’s what Gideon was doing.

Imagine the sweat on his brow from the work in the heat, the buds of perspiration on his upper lip from trembling fear that any moment, the Midianites would approach him, catch him secretly threshing, and probably kill him and his family.

Every few moments, he would glance this way and that. I bet his stomach was in knots like the practice laces in my six-year old son’s shoes. I’ll never get those out.

On one of his glances, he notices someone.

I can see him look, take a second glance and then stare. Seriously? Do you see me here killin myself? You’re just gonna sit there…under that tree…like no one is trying to slaughter us? Really, man?

I wonder if the man under the tree smirked, if only a tad. A tiny twitch of an eyebrow as he read Gideon’s thoughts. Private thoughts.

At this point, I think he flat out grinned.“The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor!” 

I bet this got Gideon’s dander up, but I don’t know because I’m not sure what dander is, just that it isn’t supposed to be up.

A mighty man of valor? That means bravery. Courage. Helloooo, I’m in a winepress, man. Do you have any idea what it’s like to thresh wheat in a winepress? No, no you do not…because you’re sitting under a tree. Relaxed. At ease. At…peace.  Man, I wish I had peace.

Gideon was living in fear. Uncertain of the future and angry about his current circumstances. Check out this dialogue.

13 Then Gideon said, “Sir, if the Lord is with us, why are we having so much trouble? Where are the miracles our ancestors told us he did when the Lord brought them out of Egypt? But now he has left us and has handed us over to the Midianites.”
 14 The Lord turned to Gideon and said, “Go with your strength and save Israel from the Midianites. I am the one who is sending you.”
 15 But Gideon answered, “Lord, how can I save Israel? My family group is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least important member of my family.”
 16 The Lord answered him, “I will be with you. It will seem as if the Midianites you are fighting are only one man.”
 17 Then Gideon said to the Lord, “If you are pleased with me, give me proof that it is really you talking with me.18 Please wait here until I come back to you. Let me bring my offering and set it in front of you.”
   And the Lord said, “I will wait until you return.” (NCV)

Gideon acts like he has no idea why everything is falling apart around him, but he does. In verse 7 -9, God sent a prophet to tell them exactly why they were being opressed and the Angel of the Lord (Pre-Incarnate Jesus Christ) knows it! It’s why he ignores the whining question. Did you see that? Gideon whines in verse 13, and Jesus says in verse 14, “Go…I am sending you.”

Jesus doesn’t dance around our attempts to distract him. Not by our countdowns of all the reasons why we shoudn’t do something or the droning questions that imply unfairness in our circumstances. He gets to the point. Period.

My favorite line is verse 18 when Gideon goes to make an offering to him and he says, “I will wait until you return.” I love that Jesus is always waiting on us. He doesn’t disappear or leave us. Ever.

Gideon comes back, offers the meat on the rock and the Angel sends a fire to consume it and disappears. How awesome is that! Gideon goes after he writes the song, Calling All Angels “I need a sign, to let me know you’re here…” Oh wait, that was Train. Nevermind. But Gideon does ask for about half a dozen of them. And God is faithful.

What’s the point of this story I’m telling you today?

When you’re scared of uncertainty, when the enemy is shoving you in a winepress when you should be at the threshing floor, there is Peace. He’s sitting under a tree wondering why you’re spinning your wheels, when He has an answer.

Even if the answer makes you nervous–scares you, even. Or when what He asks you seems greater than what you’re able to do.

He sees you very differently than you see yourself.

When you say, “I can’t.” He says, “You can.”

When you insist, “I’m nobody.” He reassures, “I’m somebody.”

When you cry, “I’ll never make it.” He croons, “I’ll carry you.”

When you sob, “I won’t finish.” He shouts in victory, “I already have.”

When you scream, “I’m a afraid!” He lulls, “I am Peace.”

You have nothing to fear. In fact, go and sit with Him. Under the shade tree. In Peace.

Lovin you guys!! Happy Wednesday.

Question: Have you ever climbed a tree? I never have.