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“The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years He gave them into the hands of the Midianites.  Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.

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.” Judges 6:1,6

Mighty Warrior.

If that were the name of a superhero in an epic comic book story brought to life on the big screen you’d expect he’d be a 6 foot 6, muscle-bound behemoth of a man who shook the earth when he walked.  He’d carry himself with confidence, a stern face and eyes set while everyone was sure to stay out of his way.

But this was Gideon.

winepress

Ancient winepress discovered in Israel

When Gideon heard someone say mighty warrior he may very well have flinched and looked around to see who the person was talking to as he hid from the Midianites in a winepress threshing wheat.

But the Lord was speaking to Gideon, calling him to deliver the Israelites from the hand of the Midianites.

But Gideon didn’t jump up from the winepress, grab a sword, don his armor and shout “Yes, this is my chance!  I am ready!”

Instead he questioned, “But, Lord, how can I save Israel?  My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” Judges 6:15

Gideon was a young man who came from a small, poor, weakened, and seemingly insignificant family.  He was a nobody. At least that’s how he saw it.

gold nugget 2Nugget: Gideon’s clan – the Abiezrites – together with five other clans all form the tribe of Manasseh.  And Manasseh, together with the tribe of Ephraim form the tribe of Joseph, one of the twelve tribes of Israel.  The tribe of Manasseh descends from Manasseh who was one of the sons of Joseph, the boy who was sold into slavery by his brothers (to guess who?  The Midianites), and through the continual hand of God, rose to eventually become 2nd in command over Egypt, exceeded only by Pharaoh himself.

Do you know that God loves to call the insignificant, the weak, the poor, the underdog, the nobody, fill that person with His Spirit, and lead him or her to do great and mighty things?

Gideon might have seen himself as young, weak and ill-equipped, but God saw him differently.  God saw him not just as he was, but as He would make him to be – a mighty warrior.  

And just as God had a great plan for his ancestor Joseph even while he sat in a pit, served Pharaoh’s official, and languished in prison, He had a great plan for Gideon and all the people of Israel.

Throughout the process of overcoming the Midianites, Gideon is unsure and shaky in his next steps, and continually asks God for signs that He is with him, and God continually reassures Gideon that He is.

As the plan begins to succeed, Gideon begins to fulfill the name given to him by the angel of the Lord.  He transforms from the young man hiding in the winepress, full of questions and requests for fleeces, into a mighty warrior who is confident in God’s presence, provision, and desire to do a mighty work through him.

Gideon chose to believe in and obey God, and God gave victory to the Israelites through Gideon and his whittled-down army of 300 men to 135,000 Midianite and neighboring peoples, 120,000 of whom were killed.

Gideon’s confidence and boldness had grown, and he himself killed two kings of Midian, while the men of Ephraim killed two leaders of the Midianites, one of them, ironically, at a winepress.

 

I can relate to Gideon.  Can you?

When God told me twelve years ago to be strong and courageous just before my own battle began with my health, I felt anything but strong and courageous.  At the time I tried to understand it as best I could. But just like Gideon, I’ve grown in my understanding of God along the way.  I know God sees us not only as we are, but as He is making us to be. God was calling me to be something He was going to fulfill in the journey.  I have been becoming strong and courageous in Him, for He is with me wherever I go.

What does God call you?  What has He called you to do?  Do you feel too weak and insignificant?  Like a nobody?  Well, you’re in good company. David was only a boy; Jonah was filled with fear; Joseph was thrown into a pit; and Mary was just a simple, unassuming young girl who would give birth to the Savior of the world.

In a world where everyone wants to be famous, “…the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (2 Chron. 16:9) regardless of our fame, standing, finances, intelligence, or anything else the world says is important.  

God loves to do His work through a humble spirit, the ones in whom the world takes no notice. They have no agenda, and know they have nothing sufficient in themselves.  They must rely wholly on God – where true and lasting success always lies, and He always gets the glory.

No matter what you’re going through, God sees you through the eyes of His Risen Son.  He may very well be using that struggle in your life to prepare you for something great. Whatever He’s doing, He knows the plans He has for you, and what He is making you to be.

In Him we already have the victory.
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