11The 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. 12When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”

13“But sir,” Gideon replied, “if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian.”

14The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

15“But Lord,” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

16The LORD answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.”

17Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me.
Judges 6:11-17

2 Lessons of Hope

Did you catch Gideon’s perspective and attitude?

He is living his life in the midst of a terrorist state. Verses 3 through 5 of the chapter paint the picture for us:

3Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. 4They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. 5They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count the men and their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it.
Judges 6:3-5

Imagine living in a place where every time you are ready to receive your paycheck, terrorists invade your business and steal your check, then ruin all the equipment and set the building on fire. OK, so the first time that happens you’re pretty devastated, but you pick yourself up and you build again and you work and work until you’ve earned enough money to actually take some money out of the business. Or maybe you find someone else who has built again and you work for them and you are about to get your first paycheck in quite a long time. In either scenario, just as you’re about to receive your paycheck, terrorists strike again. They steal your paycheck and all money in the building, again demolish the property and set fire to the building. What do you do? How do you feel?

That’s where Gideon lived. He was doing the best he could for his family, but he was clearly not at the top of his game spiritually. He was secretly threshing wheat in a wine press to feed his family. I imagine as he sat there alone that he struggled to hold onto the faith of his fathers. I imagine that the voices in his head were leading him to despair instead of hope.

You can hardly blame him for his responses to the angel –

“If the Lord…why? Where are all His wonders…?” (v. 13)
“How can I…” (v. 15)
“If…give me a sign…” (v.17)

Yep! Gideon is at a very low point spiritually. I’ve been there. I’m guessing you have as well.

It’s fascinating that this is the person God chooses to use to save the Israelites.
Lesson #1: God can use us in the midst of our own personal crisis of faith!

Did you catch how the angel addressed Gideon?

Gideon – who is at an emotional and spiritual low point and who is hiding from the enemy in terror – is addressed by the angel of the Lord as “mighty warrior.” The word that is translated “warrior” is chayil and means “strength, might, efficiency, wealth and army.” It is often translated valor. (Tomorrow I’ll blog about more about this word – it’s pretty exciting.) The angel makes his point even stronger by adding an adjective (gibbor) that means “strong, mighty.”

I repeat – the angel of the Lord called Gideon “mighty warrior.” I imagine Gideon looked around to see who the angel was talking to. Given his current mindset and experience, I wouldn’t be surprised if a moment of terror seized his heart as he imagined that the angel was talking to someone about to steal his family’s food again.

Lesson #2: God sees us as the finished product, not as we are in the midst of our failures.
Yes, He sees our sins and our failures. But He sees BEYOND our sins and our failures to the person we truly are. Our sin and failure does not need to define us for all our life.

Perhaps my real-life example helps illustrate this:
Yesterday, I was experiencing a moment of weak faith, wandering about mentally and emotionally and fighting against despair about my future (I’ll blog about this in a few days). But even in that moment, God knew that I would skirt the brink of despair and settle on the Rock of Hope. He would have been totally correct to address me as “Rock of Hope settler” had He spoken to me as I was resting at “Despair Place” because that is where I ended the day.

“Mighty warrior” is the person God saw in Gideon. “Rock of Hope settler” is the person He sees in me.

Where are you, friend? Are you hiding from the world, having been terrorized by the enemy? God can still use you. He sees beyond your weaknesses and failures and even beyond your sin. Be encouraged. Gideon went on, after a bit of coaxing by the Lord, to be that “mighty warrior” the angel found hiding in the wine press. You can too.

28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? …

37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Romans 8:28-37

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