Do I Not Send You?
“And Gideon said to him, "Please, sir, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, 'Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?' But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” (Judges 6:13)
People today get themselves into this mindset constantly. We encounter difficulty and hard times during our lives and must find something or someone to blame. As our pride will not allow us to place the blame where it truly belongs, we turn to God as the source of our problems. This forms a convenient scapegoat for us, since God speaks to us today through His word, which sadly is easily ignored by many people. Therein lies the problem, for God tells us through His word that it is people that abandon God, it is people that ignore God’s commands for their lives, and it is people that do not realize the things they can do if God is on their side. Gideon was one of these people.
How many of us today live our lives in the winepress? In verse 11 of the same chapter, Gideon is threshing wheat in the winepress “to hide it from the Midianites.” Threshing wheat is a task that takes plenty of room and flat space in which to allow wind to separate the wheat kernels from the chaff. Doing so in an enclosed container like a winepress would be frustratingly difficult and slow work. The people of Israel, Gideon included, were doing everything they could do just to survive in the face of the persecution, which they had brought upon themselves! “The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD gave them into the hand of Midian seven years.” (Judg. 6:1) Why do people in our world today do the very same thing! They continue to live their lives in the winepress, trying to succeed or just survive in circumstances that are within their capability to control yet fearful of what will happen if they try to change! However, we cannot conclude that all Christians live their lives outside of the winepress either! Many Christians want to practice their true beliefs in secrecy, for fear of the outside world sweeping in like the Midianites and wiping us out! It is terribly hard to claim to “go into all the world” (Mark 16:15) when we never leave the winepress!
Gideon was called to come out of the winepress in v. 14, and lead Israel to victory. “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” Earlier in the passage, notice how the angel of the LORD addresses Gideon in v. 12: “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.” This seems an unusual way to address one who is threshing wheat in a winepress! The LORD looked at Gideon as the person that he could be with God, not the person Gideon saw himself as! Moreover, Gideon volunteers more reasons why he shouldn’t be referred to in this way: “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house.” (Judg. 6:15) Note Gideon’s flaw in his thinking: he still believes it is about what Gideon can do, what strength Gideon has, what resources Gideon has access to. We do this today! We look at our lives as the sum total of our bank accounts, our relationships, our educations, and our skillsets, rather than our complete and utter subjection to God’s will! Gideon forgot that it was God who brought the victory, which he is reminded of in v.16: “And the LORD said to him, "But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man."
We likewise have been sent. (Mark 16:15) We likewise have God with us. (1 John 3:24) We likewise look at our own insecurities and weaknesses and sell God short on His ability to empower the powerless! (Matt. 14:30) And we likewise are hated by the occupying forces that encamp around us. (1 John 3:13) There is nothing new here. The question is, will we GO as Gideon did? Has God Not Sent Us? Or will we sit in our winepresses, threshing wheat?