Sacred Visit

Judges 6:11-35

 “The angel of the Lord came and sat under an oak tree that was in Ophrah as Gideon was beating out the wheat.” It can be concluded from biblical texts the angel of the Lord is the manifest presence of God in the flesh , we call him Jesus. in the opening scene of Gideon’s visit there is an incredible prophetic foreshadow of Jesus. In one of the darkest hours of Israel history, the Lord comes and sits beneath a tree in order to connect with Gideon, who represents those who are burdened, discouraged and weighted down with hopelessness. This is How Messiah comes to mankind, in ordinary places. He comes to those who are lost, sinful, dying oppressed, fraught with emotion. and there he begins to speak. Gideon didn’t recognize him at first and that’s ok, we don’t have to, because God’s presence, his status and his power do not rely on us, on man recognizing him. He is who He is. We are somewhat irrelevant, which makes his love all the more amazing.

When the Lord first appears beneath the oak, he says Gideon, “the Lord is with you, o valiant warrior.” Gideon is blind and dull of hearing from despair and oppression. the Lord sees Gideon needs hope and confidence. Gideon saw a man, not God, he saw a lord not the Lord. the Lord God saw a warrior not a sinner.

Gideon vented his frustration his fatigue, his doubt, his outlook and his pending doubts in God’s deliverance. His was a vastly different response than Mary’s humble submission.

I can see Gideon beating the wheat in a wine press , a large opening in the ground, hidden from the site of enemies. A gruff, learned man, sweating angrily. O valiant warrior, God is with you. So hardened with despair was his heart that Gideon’s response was not praise and thankfulness at the voice of the Lord, but rather with a hint of bitter frustration in his voice, “then where are his miracles that we have heard about, why has this happened to us, the Lord is not with us – the Lord has abandoned us.” Gideon is hopeless. But isn’t that the very souls Christ seeks out most earnestly.

Gideon confessed quickly his family was the least in Manasseh and he is the youngest however the account gives every indication that his father is influential, wealthy leader and possibly a type of priest in Israel, Gideon is found beating wheat and serving meat and broth in a time when animals and produce were being destroyed and eliminated from the land, his father owns the oak, bulls and the altars and asherim which are worshipped by the men of the city and Gideon had servants at least ten whom he called upon. But God doesn’t call him to rely on his family’s status, position or power. The Lord says, “you go deliver Israel” and Gideon says, but my family…and the Lord returns his complaints with Go in your strength I will be with YOU and you shall defeat Midian as ONE man.” This is not about your family Gideon, its about you, weather they are rich or poor, strong or weak, many of few. This is between you and I.

Gideon represents every walk of life and each one of us. the rich, powerful, influential, leader, the young, naïve, the laborer, stubborn , shy, bold, timid, frustrated angry, blind, faithless, faithful, obedient, the enslaved, the skeptical…he covers all the bases and yet God appears to him. Who Gideon is or is not disappears beneath the torrent of who God says he is, above and beyond every status, label and brand of person we could think of or relate to;  Gideon is a valiant warrior because God calls him that.

it would be so much easier if God just delivered Israel from Midian like he did in Egypt, as Gideon pointed out, please God, Rain some frogs on the land, send a plague of death and grant us freedom from our troubles, but perhaps Israel is at a place in their collective relationship with God, like young adults the father is saying, you go, you want to see your people free, then you deliver them, but he doesn’t send us alone. The lord Gives Gideon hope and confidence to go out, the Lord assures him of his presence, I will be with you Gideon and you shall defeat Midian, have I not sent you? God wants Gideon to step into the role of man, a valiant warrior. And that is what God wants from us today, I think. We want God to wave his magic scepter and make all our wishes come true, its just not how he works if he is looking to raise up valiant warriors for his kingdom, he is planning on training them with battles, not with bubble baths.

God doesn’t tell Gideon HOW or give him details he just says go. Will Gideon trust as Abraham? It seems he is looking for that kind of faith. The faith that trusts the God who sends rather than the plan which transcends. God is simply looking for faith from humanity in his divine nature and agreement with his word. He doesn’t chastise Gideon’s humanity, neither does he indulge it.

Gideon wants a sign of God’s presence and commitment. What sign does he get, what is the sign which reveals the character of God, at what moment does Gideon says, holy smokes that was God! This sign is this: the lord vanishes! Do you need to go cry a little? I do! because this so resonates with me, often times I feel like God answers in the opposite way I have asked him too. Often it is in his absence he is the most real to me. But I want to see him, touch him, feel him taste his favor and then he departs. Is that how the disciples felt when Jesus went up to heaven? They were hoping for him to take his seat on the throne of Israel, and suddenly he’s gone. They just stood there staring probably suspended in disbelief. Here too Gideon meets God, and here God is saying, I am with you, I will go with you, God is with you, and then poof he’s gone. Talk about a faith test.

But it was in this vanishing that Gideon confesses the truth and pledges his devotion to Yahweh Shalom. So my guess is he left Gideon with peace. God knows what he is doing. So often its not in the evidence of God we are convinced of his realness but in the want and desire.

Gideon makes an altar and there the Lord speaks to him the first instructions on how to defeat Midian and it begins in his own house. Yikes!

Who is Gideons god? that is the question that Gideon must answer when he is faced with tearing down altars and asherim in his father’s household?

Pull down the altar of baal which belongs to your father and cut down asherim and burn the wood on the altar. Then build over it an altar to the God of Israel the one true God.

How do we characterize God in the context of Gideon? He is present, he is Aware, he is Patient. He is Peace. He shows mercy and favor Regardless of Gideon doubt and anger, and fear as he hid in the press regardless, the Lord calls him valiant; he pledges his presence, he instills confidence and hope in Gideon, he entertains Gideon’s questions, fears, frustrations and endless appeals for evidence. He speaks, he instructs and eventually he delivers.

God meets us with hope and confidence before ever revealing himself, his instructions or his rebuke and he looks for faith first.

Gideons question but how? and the answer is simple, God will be with you. It is God’s presence that matters the most in conquering our enemies. God is patient with Gideon and Gideon’s endless requests for signs. God meets Gideon and he will meet us too, where we are at the wine press sweating in our fear, in the field alone, full of sorrow, discouraged, angry, hard and hopeless. God has a face and he brings it to the place where our face is and he presses it to ours permitting us to see him there in our darkness. But the Lord doesn’t have to be seen in order to be heard. It is when he departs that he speaks to Gideon instructions and details in regards to winning. and when he departs he leaves behind peace.

When the Lord shared a plan with Gideon it was tear down the altars. The gods we serve within the walls of our own home and in the midst of our families are an obstacle to our victory and they place a blindness on us in regards to the God who is. Gideon didn’t recognize the Lord at first. God didn’t chastise him for it rather he talked him through it, his word and presence proved his character and holiness. often, we have false Gods and they prevent our deliverance we must deal with the false gods in our own lives and homes before we go into battle and expect to deal with them there.

when I return will I find faith on earth. Faith proceeds obedience. Abram believed God then set the wood on his sons back and marched him up a mountain to sacrifice him. Faith proceeds obedience. The lord sat beneath the tree, appearing in Gideon’s doubt and faithlessness. from the tree he calls, from the tree he gives hope, from the tree he gives confidence and builds faith first. He entertains our doubts and insecurities until they melt away into awe and confession and faithful obedience. Who we are doesn’t matter, what we do doesn’t matter every man struggles in the ways of the earth and flesh, but praise God, nothing depends on the flesh? Nothing depends on our sinfulness or our righteousness. what matters is this:

  • Where God is
  • What God says
  • What God does
  • And who he is

We change but God is consistent. We are limited in our knowledge; God is unlimited in his power. We fade out and die and blow away like the dust we are, he is eternal, his decisions and knowledge prevail. We are faithless, he is faithful. That is why only He matters. We come and go but he remains.

When he searched for Adam…Adam where are you? What didn’t matter is where Adam actually was, Adam’s whereabouts was irrelevant because of God’s whereabouts. If God is searching for you, he intends to find you. God was was In the garden looking for his son. What God said and what God did, and ultimately who God was to Adam and to mankind in that moment –that was what truly mattered.  His presence is our hope.

God engages us. he interacts- relates -seeks –speaks- appears- and calls us. I am overwhelmed by the angel of the Lord beneath the tree while I am laboring with my sorrow and doubt. I am overwhelmed that I recognize him best in his departure not his visits. What I am overwhelmed by is that God doesn’t merely appear to the rich, or the poor, the strong or the weak, the oppressed or the oppressor, the laborer or the master. Gideon in many ways is all of these things. God appears on earth and he connects with us in the most mundane ordinary unholy places and he loves us where we are, because ultimately eternal life begins there with love, heaven begins on earth in the form of a man beneath a tree.

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