Surely when God’s prophet voiced His indictment of the Israelites, punctuating it with the damning statement “But you have not listened to me” (Judges 6:10), the people of Israel must have been in shock. Had they finally pushed the Lord too far? The unforgiving rebuke indicated the possibility. We are given no indication of the Israelites response but feelings of abandonment would not have been out of the question.
The answer is not long in coming. Gideon, the son of Joash the Abiezrite, is furtively threshing wheat to keep its existence a secret from his oppressors when the answer arrives in the form of the Lord himself. He greets his soon-to-be judge by calling him a “Mighty Warrior.” We should read and reread this short collection of sentences. In response to their fear of being finally abandoned by Yahweh, the Lord responds by personally interceding in the lives of His people. This intercession brings with it a promise for the future as God identifies with “what can and will be” in Gideon rather than what is. Gideon is hiding from the Midianites and will soon demonstrate his hesitance and fearfulness but God knows him better as His Mighty Warrior.
Where the Lord announces his immediacy and support, Gideon responds in light of his current humiliating position by questioning Him. “If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?”
Haven’t we all been here, maybe more than once?
But then, as Gideon continues his diatribe directed at the Angel of the Lord, we discover either an ignorance of the true spiritual condition of Israel on Gideon’s part or a more troublesome denial that Israel was [doing] “evil in the eyes of the Lord.” Gideon selectively remembers the long picture of history as his people were redeemed out of Egypt but neglects more recent history in the great things that God had done through the preceding Judges.
One of the most highly developed human skills that we possess is our ability to deny our own contribution to our condition. We insist that God live up to his assurances that He will hear our prayers and respond when we are in need, but we often overlook how our own behaviors may have led us right to this very spot. God is not deceived by our hearts but we can count on the same first lesson that Gideon learns; God knows what we can be.
And He will not stop working in us until we have achieved that purpose.