There are some sure signs that God is involved in an endeavor with us:
- Our doubt turns to belief and fear to courage.
- Things we depend on, or things that take the place of Him in our lives start getting removed. God doesn't let us do great things in his Name while we are giving time and honor to other gods, whatever they may be. They don’t get second place. They get no place.
Ancient Winepress. Photo from Biblewalks.com, used by permission.
We find Gideon in a wine press, not sure of who he is speaking with. Whoever this is turns toward him from where he sits under the oak tree, and instructs him to go in the strength he has and save Israel from Midian. Gideon then rightly asks, “How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the Least in my family.” (Judges 6: 15, NIV).
The LORD tells him that He will be with him, and that Gideon will strike down all the Midianites together. But Gideon, still skeptical, asks God for a sign that it is really Him speaking with him. Gideon asks the Angel of God to wait while he prepares an offering. Once he brings the offering back, the Angel of God instructs him to put the unleavened bread and the meat on a rock and pour out the broth. When the angel of the LORD touched the meat and the bread with the tip of his staff, fire came up from the rock and totally consumed the meat and bread. NOW Gideon is convinced: “ ‘Ah, Sovereign LORD! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!’ But the LORD said to him, ‘Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.’ So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The LORD is Peace…”(v. 22-24).
FearSo, now Gideon was ready to go off and defeat the Midianites, right? Not quite. There was the matter of the family idols, the false gods, still standing in an honored place there. God instructed Gideon to tear down his father’s alter to Baal and to cut down the Asherah pole that was standing beside it, and to build a proper alter to God in their place.
Gideon did so, but at night because he was afraid of the men of his family and the men of the town. He had reason to be fearful. In the morning when the men of the town got up, they found Baal’s alter demolished and the Asherah Pole cut down, and there in its place was a newly constructed altar with a sacrificed bull lying on it!
CourageThe night operation was successful, but the stealth operation failed. Apparently there were a few witnesses, because when the men of the city investigated, someone told them that Gideon was the culprit. They then demanded of Gideon’s father that he hand him over to be killed for this sacrilege. But Joash, Gideon’s father, perhaps taking courage from Gideon’s almost-brave act, answered:
“ ‘Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.’ ” (v.31).After this courageous and obedient act, Gideon is now ready to go deliver Israel from the Midianites!….right? Well…not quite…
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.