Israel was in trouble! The Midianites were oppressing the nation, regularly invading the country at springtime, ruining newly planted fields, destroying hopes of harvest, and plundering the flocks. They set up their tents ‘like swarms of locusts’ and so impoverished Israel that, after seven years, they cried out to Yahweh for help [Judges 6:1-7].
Gideon was skulking in the family winepress not, as you might expect, treading grapes, but secretly threshing wheat, anxious to hide from the enemy. He certainly wasn’t expecting an angel to drop by [v11]! “Yahweh is with you, mighty warrior,” said this extraordinary visitor, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel…” [v12-14]. Gideon was thunderstruck. “Who?” he asked, effectively, “Me? But I’m nobody, my family is nothing special, how can I do anything?” [see v15]. Yahweh is not really moved by credentials, or the lack of them, His choices are always His business.
The unfolding story of Gideon is amazing. The ‘mighty warrior’ got into a regular dither over this assignment and asked for a sign [v17]. Even when he received more than he had asked for, he still went tremblingly away and completed the task in the middle of the night [v27]! By the end of chapter six, Gideon is all aquiver once more, but Yahweh knows His child so well, and constantly meets his requests, gently encouraging him forward. However, by chapter seven, Yahweh is starting to move in heavily, showing us just how He works with those He chooses. He ruthlessly strips back Gideons’ 32,000 strong army to a mere 300. He is unimpressed by numbers. “He does whatever He pleases” [Job23:13].
Paul, reflecting on Yahweh’s divine choices, states that not many mighty are called, but that Yahweh, “…chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise…the weak things of the world to shame the strong” [1 Corinthians 1:26-27]. Do you ever feel that what you’re doing is not very impressive, or that you haven’t much to offer? Yahweh can do amazing things with unimpressive people, and with unimpressive credentials. The key is in listening out for His voice and being obedient. Remember, Yahweh’s plans have all the benefits of hindsight-vision; He never makes mistakes!