Look around you. Consider the circumstances in which you have been placed. Do you know why God has allowed them to come to pass? What is He doing in your life? Is He correcting you and chastening you through some difficult situation? Or is that situation brought about because He is going to use you as a player in a mighty victory He is about to unfold? God does not always let us know in advance the reasons for our condition. In this chapter of Judges, we see Gideon struggling with these same issues.
As a reader of scripture we are often given the benefit of God's purposes and plans and we see people either align themselves or stand against God. In our own life we don't always have a map to interpret our circumstances and at the time, neither did the Israelites unless God spoke directly to them. We have the benefit of the written word in full. They had just the foundations of the law to rely upon.
After the defeat of Sisera by Deborah we are told that the Israelites enjoyed peace for 40 years. During that time the Israelites went back to living their own way and sinning against God. As a result God allowed them to have a taste of His hand of protection being removed from them. God allowed Midian to overtake his people and oppress them. [Sidenote: notice that God allowed the nation to have victory. These difficult circumstances were the natural end of their sinful choices, but prior to this point (for 40 years) God protected the people from their enemies.]
The circumstances were so overwhelming that Israelites abandoned ther homes and farms and fled to caves for protection. Their crops were ruined by the enemy. The Midianites even destroyed the livestock. They had become completely impoverished because of them. While they lived in peace they did not cry out to the Lord, but now in their time of trouble they cry out.
God sent a prophet to remind them of the ways God has intervened for his people in the past and explained that their condition is not because of the Midianites or due to God's failure, but because of the faithlessness of God's people. (Judges 6:10). This must have been a word of hope and conviction all in one. God had not changed, it was the people who had failed God.
The angel of the Lord (preincarnate Jesus) came to Gideon who was threshing in a wine press to hide the grain from the enemy. He gets a word directly from the lips of God, "the Lord is with you, mighty warrior". This is odd to Gideon because it doesn't seem like that. he isn't mighty and the Lord doesn't seem to be with anyone right now.
Gideon asks the age old question that so many have asked. "If God is good and loving and stands with His people, why would He allow these circumstances to befall us?" (Judges 6:13). He sees that God is Sovereign, but wrongly attributes his condition to God rather than the failure of the people.
Our view of ourselves is usually higher than God's view. If we truly saw the reality and full measure of our sin, I don't know that we could bear it. God does send his Holy Spirit to convict us of our sin, but I believe the Holy Spirit only gives us a glimpse - we just couldn't handle the full view. In the case of Gideon, He was viewing the circumstances as God acting on the people rather than seeing that the people had brought destruction on themselves. It didn't seem that the Lord was with them; he felt God's blessing had been removed from the people. Sometimes God brings chastisement to us to correct our view of our sin. Sin should never be minimized and God says it deserves death. Thank God that we are seen not for the merit we bring, but we have the grace of God because of the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf. We were condemned, but through Jesus finished work we have been redeemed.
Notice that God never allowed His people to suffer for as long as they had rebelled. In the midst of the suffering, God is gracious. God never allows his people the full measure of their punishment because that would result in eternal separation. God is gracious even in suffering.
Finally, though Gideon is doubtful, God has come to redeem His people from the enemy and end the oppression of Midian. They are about to see a mighty victory of God delivered by one of the weakest men in the nation. Even though we may not have wisdom, strength, or leadership skills, in the hands of God, we can be a part of the victory God provides. The question is will we trust and obey.
This chapter is full of so much rich treasure we need to continue this until next time.
May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him.