Advent 2022: Sat 10 Dec

Judges 6:11-20

The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, ‘The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.’

‘Pardon me, my lord,’ Gideon replied, ‘but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, “Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?” But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.’ The Lord turned to him and said, ‘Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?’

‘Pardon me, my lord,’ Gideon replied, ‘but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.’ The Lord answered, ‘I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.’

Gideon replied, ‘If now I have found favour in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me.

..When Gideon realised that it was the angel of the Lord, he exclaimed, ‘Alas, Sovereign Lord! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!’

Gideon is living in a land under attack from the Midianites. It was his nation’s own fault for disobeying God. Whatever the people planted, the Midianites destroyed. Gideon is a nobody, at least as far as he’s concerned. He’s threshing his wheat in secret when an angel appears to him, a messenger sent by God for a specific purpose. The angel sits down, presumably on the ground, in the shade of an oak tree. That’s a modest entrance!

The angel does not beat around the bush, and hails Gideon with a prophetic greeting. There was no place for polite introductions. He’d been sent by God to announce to Gideon that he was far more than the wimp he thought he was, for he is a warrior, a fighter for God. A mighty warrior in fact, destined to lead an army. In human terms Gideon was nothing like this, but God had chosen him to be part of his plan. When the angel hails Gideon the mighty warrior it is because in God’s eyes and in his power Gideon already is, not will become when the time comes.

Gideon is not shocked or frightened at seeing this angel, and he treats the messenger with respect, though he questions his words. He didn’t really believe what the angel was saying. As in other instances of angels appearing to people, there is some confusion as to who is speaking. The angel starts a conversation, but sometimes it seems to be the Lord who is conversing.

Gideon can see no further than his situation. His people are under attack because God has abandoned Israel. But Gideon fails to see that God is not one who will turn his back forever on his people. God will sort out the issue of the Midianites by getting rid of them – he sent them, and he will remove them.

I really want Gideon to stop at this point and not to keep on asking questions or seeking some sort of proof that the angel there in front of him is speaking God’s words. It’s an angel, for goodness’ sake! The talk goes back and forth before Gideon is convinced and obeys. He suffers death threats from his own people before they follow him into the eventual victory over Midian. Read Judges 6, and further if you have time.

Why does God choose the nobody?

When had God made up his mind to choose Gideon?

How do you imagine the appearance of this angel?

Father God, there are times when in my heart I sense your prompting, and I may not always want to heed it. Perhaps I consider myself, like Gideon, the least among my church family. Would you forgive my fears or excuses? Amen.

The Lord is with you, mighty warrior

Longer version with moving video