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.