The Period Of The Judges, An Angel Sends Gideon To Deliver Them,

   
Chapter 19: An Angel Sends Gideon to Deliver Them
Judges 6:11-16

 

11 And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon (Gr. Gedeon) threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites.
12 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.
13 And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.
14 And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?
15 And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family (Heb. my thousand is the meanest) is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.
16 And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.

 

Introduction

The introduction to the story of Gideon and his deliverance is vital in understanding the true significance of this incident. The irony that is often so obvious in the book of Judges again plays a significant part in the story.

When Israel cried out to the Lord for help, a prophet was sent first to remind them of their idolatry. Then the Angel of the Lord, whom we believe to be the reincarnate Christ (see essay below), appeared to a man of Manasseh named Gideon as he was secretly threshing wheat in a winepress ... to hide it from the Midianites.

It is not said what effect the prophet’s sermon had upon the people, but we may hope it had a good effect, and that some of them at least repented and reformed because of it; for here, immediately after, we have the dawning of the day of their deliverance, by the effectual calling of Gideon to take upon him the command of their forces against the Midianites.

Commentary--GIDEON, THE SIXTH JUDGE
 

Now at this juncture, God appeared to Gideon in a most embarrassing situation. We are told:

11 And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon (Gr. Gedeon) threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. (KJV)

 

11The Messenger of the LORD came and sat under the oak tree in Ophrah that belonged to Joash from Abiezer's family. Joash's son Gideon was beating out wheat in a winepress to hide it from the Midianites. --Judges 6:11 (GW)

And there came an angel of the Lord. This was not the prophet mentioned before (vv 1-10), but an angel of God, as expressed here, and not a created one, but the Angel of Jehovah's presence, the Word and Son of God, and who is expressly called Jehovah himself, (see Judges 6:14[1], Judges 6:23[2], Judges 6:24[3]). Virtually all commentators agree that this was a “theophany,” that is, an appearance of God in human form as the angel of Yahweh. The angel of the LORD is none other than Christ Himself, who appeared upon some great occasions in human shape, as a prelude to what he intended to happen in the fullness of time; when he would take our sinful nature upon him, as we say, once and  for all. This angel is here called Jehovah, the incommunicable name of God (v. 14[1], 16), and he said, I will be with thee.

Now, the angel of the Lord had a mission to perform; to commission Gideon, the son of Joash, to be a judge and deliverer of Israel. His father (He was of the half tribe of Manasseh that lay in Canaan, and of the family of Abiezer; the eldest house of that tribe, Jos. 17:24[4]) was still living, but he was passed over, and this honor was put upon his son, because this father kept up the worship of Baal (v. 25[5]) in his own family. Gideon, we may suppose, spoke against his father’s idolatry which was an offence to God. Previously, the judges were raised up out of that particular tribe which suffered most by the oppression, and probably it was so here.

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Article 6.1: The Angel of the Lord

The Angel of the Lord (Jehovah) is the Lord Jesus Christ in a reincarnate appearance. A study of the passages in which He is mentioned makes it clear that He is God, and that He is the Second Person of the Trinity.
First, the Scriptures show that He is God. When He appeared to Hagar, she recognized that she was in the presence of God; she referred to Him as “the-God-Who-Sees” (Gen. 16:13). Speaking to Abraham on Mount Moriah, the Angel identified Himself as “the LORD,” Gen. 22:16). Jacob heard the Angel introduce Himself as the God of Bethel (Gen. 31:11–13). When blessing Joseph, Israel used the names “God” and “the Angel” interchangeably (Gen. 48:15, 16). At the burning bush, it was the “Angel of the LORD” who appeared (Ex. 3:2), but Moses “hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God” (Ex. 3:6). The Lord who went before Israel in a pillar of cloud (Ex. 13:21) was none other than “the Angel of God” (Ex. 14:19). Gideon feared that he would die because, in seeing the Angel of the LORD, he had seen God (Judg. 6:22, 23). The Angel of the LORD told Manoah that His name was Wonderful (Judg. 13:18), one of the names of God (Isa. 9:6). When Jacob struggled with the Angel, he struggled with God (Hos. 12:3, 4). These are convincing proofs that when the Angel of the LORD is referred to in the OT, the reference is to deity.

John F. Walvoord (as quoted by Chafer) gives four arguments to support this:
1. The Second Person is the Visible God of the New Testament.
2. The Angel of Jehovah of the Old Testament No Longer Appears after the Incarnation of Christ.
3. Both the Angel of Jehovah and Christ Are Sent by the Father.
4.  The Angel of Jehovah Could Not Be Either the Father Or the Holy Spirit. “As for the fourth evidence, Walvoord goes on to explain that the Father and the Spirit are invisible to man and both have the attribute of immateriality. He concludes, “There is not a single valid reason to deny that the Angel of Jehovah is the Second Person, every known fact pointing to His identification as the Christ of the New Testament.”
As the Angel of Jehovah, Christ is distinguished from other angels in that He is uncreated. The words translated Angel in both Testaments mean “messenger”; He is the Messenger of Jehovah. Thus, as Chafer says, He is an “angel” only by office.

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and sat under an oak (or terebinth tree [see Table 6.2])—also called a turpentine tree); While the Israelites awaited for an answer from God, the angel of the LORD sat under a shade tree to enjoy a little refreshment (Judges 6:21[6]) and relaxation while watching Gideon threshing wheat! Kimchi has a different slant on this scene; he interprets this clause as “and stayed under an oak for a while”, seeing that, according to his observation, angels are not said to sit, but stand.

which was in Ophrah, that pertaineth to Joash the Abiezrite; This Ophrah (means “Father of help")  is different from a city with the same name in the tribe of Benjamin, ( Joshua 18:21-23[7]) for the oak that was in it, under which the angel sat, belonged to Joash an Abiezrite, a descendant of Abiezer, son of the sister of Gilead, who was the son of Machir the son of Manasseh, (Joshua 17:2[8]) (1 Chronicles 7: 14, 17, 18[9]); it is called Ephra by Josephus, and Jerom by Ephrata.

"Ophrah of the Abi-ezrites," or Ephra, a city of Manasseh, 6 miles (10km) south-west of Shechem and about 16 miles north of Jericho, in the district belonging to the family of Abiezer (Jos 17:2[10]), was the residence of Gideon (Judges 6:11;[11]). After his great victory over the Midianites, he slew the captive kings at this place (Jg. 8.18-21[12]). He then assumed the function of high priest, and sought to make Ophrah what Shiloh should have been. This thing "became a snare" to Gideon and his house. After Gideon's death his family resided here until they were put to death by Abimelech (Judges 9:5[13]).

There is a city with the same name in the territory belonging to the tribe of  Benjamin (Joshua 18:23[7]) between Parah and Chephar-ammoni (Josh 18:23[7]); probably identical with Ephron (2 Chron 13:19[14] and Ephraim (John 11:54[15]), and the modern Palestinian city of Taybeh. The Israeli settlement of Ofra is close to the site as well. It is identified with Ferata.

Abiezer is the oldest son of Gilead, a descendant of Manasseh; head of a leading family, which included Joash and Gideon (Judges 6:11-24; Judges 6:34[16]; Judges 8:2[17]).

Jo'-ash (yo'ash) (means "Yahweh is strong" or "Yahweh has bestowed"): Father of Gideon, of the clan of Abiezer and the tribe Manasseh (Jdg 6:11, 29-31[18]; 7:14[19]; 8:13, 19, 32[20]).

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Article 6.2: Terebinth Tree

Scientific classification

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Sapindales
Family: Anacardiaceae
Genus: Pistacia
Species: P. terebinthus
Binomial name: Pistacia terebinthus

Terebinth (Pistacia terebinthus) also called turpentine tree is a species of Pistacia, native to the Mediterranean region from the western regions of Morocco, Portugal and the Canary Islands, to the eastern regions of Turkey and Syria.

It is a small deciduous tree or large shrub growing to 10 m tall. The leaves are compound, 10-20 cm long, odd pinnate with five to eleven opposite glossy oval leaflets, the leaflets 2-6 cm long and 1-3 cm broad. The flowers are reddish-purple, appearing with the new leaves in early spring. The fruit consists of small, globular drupes 5-7 mm long, red to black when ripe. All parts of the plant have a strong resinous smell.

HISTORY
John Chadwick believes that the terebinth is the plant called ki-ta-no in some of the Linear B tablets. He cites the work of a Spanish scholar, J.L. Melena, who had found "an ancient lexicon which showed that kritanos was another name for the turpentine tree, and that the Mycenaean spelling could represent a variant form of this word."

Terebinth is mentioned in the Bible (primarily the Hebrew Scriptures/Tanakh or Old Testament), for example in Isaiah 1:29, where the Hebrew word "el" or "elim" is often translated as oak or terebinth: "For you will be ashamed of the terebinths that you have taken pleasure in."
Terebinths are also mentioned in three successive chapters of Genesis (12:6, 13:18, 14:13) in reference to the places where Abram (later Abraham) camped.

There are at least a few references in Judges; Ch 4 (in reference to Heber, the Kenite, of the children of Hobab), Ch 6 (in reference to an angel of the Lord who came to visit Gideon. Most versions use 'oak'), and Ch 9 (in reference to the crowning of Abimelech, by the terebinth of the pillar that was in Shechem. Most versions use 'oak').

Terebinth is also referred to in Virgil's Aeneid, Book 10, line 136 where Ascanius in battle is compared to "ivory skilfully inlaid in [...] Orician terebinth" ("inclusum[...] Oricia terebintho [...] ebur")

USES
It is used as a source for turpentine, possibly the earliest known source. The turpentine of the terebinth is now called Chian, Scio, or Cyprian turpentine.

The fruits are used in Cyprus for baking of specialty village bread. In Crete, where the plant is called tsikoudia, it is used to flavor the local variety of pomace brandy, also called tsikoudia. The plant is rich in tannin and resinous substances and was used for its aromatic and medicinal properties in classical Greece. A mild sweet scented gum can be produced from the bark, and galls often found on the plant are used for tanning leather. Recently an anti-inflammatory triterpene has been extracted from these galls.

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And his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. Gideon is not introduced to us as a hero or an outstanding man. Do you know what he is doing? He is threshing wheat by the winepress (better translated “in the winepress,” RV, RSV, NASB, NIV). In other words, he was literally beating out the grain inside a winepress in order to hide it from the Midianites, fearing they would steal it and take it away, and deprive his father's family of their food, and that is what they wanted to do, wherever they could find it. Thus, in this opening scene we find Gideon afraid and hiding from the enemy.

Now the winepress is the key to this entire situation. You see, in that day the winepress was always put at the foot of the hill because they brought the grapes down from the vineyard. Naturally, they would carry the heavy grapes downhill; they carried them to the lowest place. In contrast, the threshing floor was always put up on the top of the hill, the highest hill that was available, in order to catch the wind which would drive the chaff away. Here we find Gideon, down at the bottom of the hill, threshing. Now that would be the place to take the grapes, but that is no place to take your crop in order to do your threshing. Can you see the frustration of this man? Why doesn’t he go to the hilltop? Well, he is afraid of the Midianites. He does not want them to see that he is threshing wheat. And you can imagine his frustration. There is no air getting to him down there, certainly no wind. So he pitches the grain up into the air. And what happens? Does the chaff blow away? No. It comes down around his neck and gets into his clothes making him very uncomfortable. There he is, trying his best to thresh in a place like that, and all the time rebuking himself for being a coward, afraid to go to the hilltop. I think he looked up there rather longingly and thought, “Do I dare go to the hilltop?” Gideon was having a very frustrating experience, but God was going to use this man. We will see why God used this kind of a man.
It was at that time that the angel of the Lord, which many of us believe was none other than the pre–incarnate Christ, appeared to him. We are told:
1. This divine person appeared here to Gideon, and it is significant how he found him:
      a. All alone.
God often reveals himself to his people when they are out of the noise and hustle of this world. Silence and solitude help our     communion with God.
      b. Employed in threshing wheat, with a staff or rod (so the word signifies), such as they used in beating out fitches (dill) and cumin (used as a spice in cooking) (Isa. 28:27)21, but now used by Gideon for wheat; probably because he got just a few sheaves from the field, and brought them home to thrash them secretly for the support of the family, he did not need the oxen to tread it out and besides that, he feared that the bellowing of the oxen might lead to his discovery. He did not look upon doing the work of a husbandman as something beneath him, though he was a person of some importance and a mighty man of valour. He had many servants (6.27[22]), and yet would not himself live in idleness. We are more likely to receive divine visits when we employ ourselves in honest business. Tidings of Christ’s birth were brought to the shepherds when they were keeping their flocks. The work he was about was an emblem of that greater work to which he was now to be called, as the disciples’ fishing was. From threshing corn he is fetched to thresh the Midianites, Isa. 41:15[23]. This is not the only instance in which a man taken from agricultural employments was made general of an army, and the deliverer of his country. Shamgar was evidently a ploughman, and with his ox-goad he slew many Philistines, and became one of the deliverers of Israel. Cincinnatus was taken from the plough, and was made dictator and commander-in-chief of the Roman armies. There is a great similarity between his case and that of Gideon.
      c. Distressed; he was threshing his wheat, not in the threshing-floor, the proper place, but by the wine-press, in some private unsuspected corner, for fear of the Midianites. He himself shared in the common calamity of his people, and now the angel came to animate him against Midian when he himself could speak so feelingly of the heaviness of their yoke. The day of the greatest distress is God’s time to appear for his people’s relief.
2. Let us now see what passed between the angel and Gideon, who did not know with certainty, till after he was gone, that he was an angel, but supposed he was a prophet.

12 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. (KJV)

12The Messenger of the LORD appeared to Gideon and said, “The LORD is with you, brave man.”
Judges 6:12 (GW)

And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him. He stayed awhile under the oak, and since Gideon was busy threshing wheat he took no notice of him until he came and stood before him. Then the angel entered into conversation on the engrossing topic of the times, the grievous oppression by the Midianites; he began urging Gideon to exert his well-known prowess on behalf of his country. Gideon, in replying, addresses him at first in a style equivalent (in Hebrew) to "sir," but afterwards gives to him the name usually applied to God. The Lord is with thee (That is, will assist you with your enemies)—"The WORD of the Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valor."—[24]Targum. It appears that Gideon had proved himself, on former occasions, to be a man of courage and personal prowess; and this would naturally excite the confidence of his countrymen. God chooses for his work those instruments which, in the course of his operations in nature and providence, he has qualified for his purpose. The instruments thus chosen are generally unlikely, but they will be ever found the best qualified for the Divine employment.

And said unto him, the Lord is with thee. The gracious presence of God was with Gideon while he was threshing, and He was very probably giving consideration to the distressed state of Israel, and was deep in meditation about the affairs of the people of God, and conuplating how to deliver them. Now, when the angel said, “the Lord is with thee,” He might mean himself, who was none other than Jehovah, the eternal Word of God, who was present with him, and spake unto him; and so the Targum[24], “my Word is thy help.”

Thou mighty man of valour. Gideon probably had a stout body, and a naturally courageous mind, and might at this instant have an increase both of bodily strength and greatness of soul, since the angel said this to animate and encourage him to do what he was about to be sent to do.

The angel treated him with respect, and assured him of the presence of God with him. He calls him a mighty man of valour, perhaps because he observed how he threshed his corn with all his might; a man diligent in his business? Whatever his business is shall stand before kings. He that is faithful in a few things shall be ruler over many. Gideon was a man with a brave active spirit, and yet he was buried alive in obscurity, through the great injustice and extreme immorality of the times; but here he is enlivened by those five words “The Lord is with thee” to undertake something great, or, as the Chaldee reads it, the Word of the Lord is thy help. It was very sure that the Lord was with him when this angel was with him. By His words:
1. He gives him his commission. If we have God’s presence with us, this will justify us and bear us out in our undertakings.
2. He inspires him with all necessary qualifications for the execution of his commission. "The Lord is with thee to guide and strengthen thee, to animate and support thee.”
3. He assures him of success; for, if God be for us, who can prevail against us? If he is with us, nothing can be wanting to us. The presence of God with us is all in all to our prosperity, whatever we do. Gideon was a mighty man of valor, and yet he could bring nothing to pass without the presence of God, and that presence is enough to make any man mighty in valor and to give man courage at any time.

While it cannot be denied that Gideon became a man of great faith who led his people to victory, it should also be noted that the idea of fear runs like a red thread throughout the story of Gideon’s life (cf. vss. 11, 22, 27; 7:3, 10; 8:20). Gideon started out being afraid of the Midianites; he doubted the promise of the angel of the Lord; he constantly asked for signs and fleeces; he was afraid to throw down the altar of Baal, so he did it by night; he sent home the fearful in his army but, nevertheless, ended up with an army of cowards and ultimately discovered that the enemy was more afraid of him than he was of them; and, finally, he scared the Midianites into a fear so great that they destroyed themselves! A careful reading of the text will reveal that this is not at all a far-fetched explanation. Even the words that the angel spoke to Gideon calling him “thou mighty man of valor” are received by Gideon as if they were a joke. He reminded the angel that if the Lord was with them why then is all this befallen us? It must be remembered that this was a new generation who had not seen the miracles of the past. Unfortunately, it is very easy to question the genuineness of a miracle when one has not seen it for himself.

The Angel told this “mighty man of valor” that God would use him to deliver Israel from Midian. Despite Gideon’s protests, the Angel repeated his call to this important task.

Don’t tell me, that there is no humor in the Bible. Don’t you think it sounds humorous to call Gideon a mighty man of valor? God has a wonderful sense of humor. The Bible is a serious book, of course. It deals with a race that is in sin, and it concerns God’s salvation for that race. It reveals God as high and holy and lifted up. But God has a sense of humor and, if you miss that in the Bible, you will not find it nearly as interesting.
Jesus Christ also has a great sense of humor. One day He said to the Pharisees, “Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel” (Matt. 23:24). If you don’t think that is funny, the next time you see a camel, look at it. A camel has more projections on it than some of our space vehicles. I rode a camel at the zoo and found out they even have horns. They also have the biggest Adam’s apple in the world. They have pads on their knees, great big hoofs, and some have one hump, and some have two humps. Everywhere you look at them there is a projection. Can’t you see these religious rulers trying to swallow camels? God indeed has a sense of humor.

One of the funniest things the Lord could have called Gideon was a mighty man of valour because he was actually a coward. I think that when Gideon looked up and saw Him and heard Him say, “Thou mighty man of valour,” he looked behind him to see if there wasn’t somebody else there, because that term did not apply to him. And then he turned to the angel and said, “Who? Me? Do you mean to call me a mighty man of valor when I am down here at the winepress pitching grain up into the air when I ought to be up yonder on top of the hill? If I were a mighty man of valor, that is where I would be, not down here. I am nothing in the world but a coward.” The Lord does want to encourage him, of course, but the point is that it was a rather humorous title that the Lord gave to this man.
Well, God has called him now to this office to deliver his people, and He has called a most unusual man. This man is suffering from an inferiority complex.

13 And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites. (KJV)

13Gideon responded, “Excuse me, sir! But if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all the miracles our ancestors have told us about? Didn't they say, ‘The LORD brought us out of Egypt?' But now the LORD has abandoned us and has handed us over to Midian.” Judges 6:13 (GW)

And Gideon said to him, oh my Lord. At this point he does not believe he is talking to an angel, but some illustrious and eminent person.

Gideon gave a very downhearted answer to this joyful salutation: "O my Lord! if the Lord be with us why then has all this befallen us?" all this trouble and distress from the Midianites’ incursions, which force me to thresh wheat here by the wine-press—all this loss, and grief, and fear; and where are all the miracles which our fathers told us of?” This speech is remarkable for its energy and simplicity; it shows a measure of despondency, but not more than the circumstances of the case justified.

This man is in a bad state mentally and a bad state spiritually. Actually, he not only had an inferiority complex, he was skeptical, he was cynical, he was weak, and he was cowardly. That is this man Gideon. What a wrong impression is given of him today when he is described as a knight in shining armor, a Sir Lancelot, or a Sir Galahad. Why, he was nothing in the world but a Don Quixote charging a windmill. He was the biggest coward that you have ever seen. But this was the man that God called to service, and the angel called him a mighty man of valour, but at this point he is weak in faith, which makes it hard for him to reconcile in his mind the assurances now given him of the presence of God,
If the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? Gideon's language betrays a lack of careful thought, for the very chastisements God had brought on His people showed His presence with, and His interest in, them. His question is referring to all these troubles and calamities that have come through the oppression of the Midianites; for he understood what was said to him in the salutation, respecting not himself personally and privately, but the people of Israel; and he did not know how to reconcile the Lord's being with them, with suffering such sad things from the hand of the Midianites.

Where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt. When God was with his people, and brought them out of Egypt, and He did certain miracles for them, whereby they were delivered out of their bondage; their fathers had assured them of this, but nothing of this kind was done for them now, and therefore there was no appearance of the Lord being with them, but to the contrary, everything seemed to go wrong for them. This was not due to distrust, but grew out of their weakness of faith, which is in the most perfect people: for no man in this life can have a perfect faith: yet the children of God have a true faith, by which they are justified.

But now the Lord has forsaken us, and delivered us into the hand of the Midianites. And there was good reason for it, because they had forsaken the Lord, and worshipped the gods of the Amorites.

14 And the LORD looked⃰ upon him, and said, ⃰Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: ⃰have not I sent thee? (KJV)

14The LORD turned to him and said, “You will rescue Israel from Midian with the strength you have. I am sending you.”  Judges 6:14 (GW)

the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might . . . have not I sent thee? -- The command and the promise made Gideon aware of the real character of his visitor; and yet like Moses, from a sense of humility, or a shrinking at the magnitude of the undertaking, he excused himself from entering on the enterprise. And even though assured that, with the divine aid, he would overcome the Midianites as easily as if they were but one man, he still hesitates and wishes to be better assured that the mission was really from God. He resembles Moses also in the desire for a sign; and in both cases it was the rarity of revelations in such periods of general corruption that made them so desirous of having the fullest conviction of being addressed by a heavenly messenger. The request was reasonable, and it was graciously granted

The angel gave him a very effectual answer to his objections, by giving him a commission to deliver Israel out of the hands of the Midianites, and assuring him of success in that matter. Now the angel is called Jehovah, for he speaks as one having authority, and not as a messenger.
1. There was something extraordinary in the look he now gave to Gideon; it was a gracious, approving look, which revived his spirits, and silenced his fears; it is with such a look that God’s countenance beholds the upright, Ps. 11:7. He looked upon him, and smiled at the objections he made, to which he gave him no direct answer, but girded and clothed him with such power that would shortly enable him to answer them himself, and make him ashamed that he ever had made them. It was a speaking look, like Christ’s upon Peter (Lu. 22:61[25]), a powerful look, a look that strangely darted new light and life into Gideon’s breast, and inspired him with a generous heat, far above what he felt before.
2. But there was much more in what he said to him.

First, He commissioned him to appear and act as Israel’s deliverer. As one of the few thinking people in the nation, Gideon along with a few others, who were also selected by God, were now expecting to be raised up, according to God’s former method, in answer to the cries of oppressed Israel; and now Gideon is told, "Thou art the man: Go in this thy might, this might wherewith thou art now threshing wheat; go and employ it to a nobler purpose; I will make thee a thresher of men.’’ God gave him his commission by giving him all the qualifications that were necessary for the execution of it, which is more than the mightiest prince and potentate on earth can do for those to whom he gives commissions. God’s fitting men for work is a sure and constant evidence of his calling them to it. "Go, not in thy might, that which is natural, and of thyself, depend not on thy own valour; but go in this thy might, this which thou hast now received, go in the strength of the Lord God, that is, the strength with which thou must strengthen thyself.’’

Secondly, He assured him of success. This was enough to put courage into him; he now might be confident he would not fail in the attempt; he would neither disgrace himself or damage his people, but to his honor and their happiness: Thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites, and so you shall not only be an eye-witness, but a glorious instrument, of such wonders as thy fathers told thee of. Gideon, we may suppose, looked astonished at this strange and surprising power conferred upon him, and questions whether he may depend upon what he hears: the angel ratifies his commission with a teste meipso—an appeal to his own authority. "Have not I commanded thee—I that have all power in heaven and earth, and particular authority here as Israel’s King, giving commissions immediately—I who am that I am, the same that sent Moses?’’ Ex. 3:14[26].

Now let us take a closer look at this very significant statement: “the LORD looked upon him;” the same One who was before called the angel of the Lord, and who was none other than Jehovah himself who looked upon him with great earnestness, and with great delight and pleasure smiled upon him, and thereby showing he had a kindness for him, and meant well to him: and said unto him, go in this thy might; both of body and mind, which had been before given unto him, and was now increased, and which no doubt Gideon was aware of: indicating that the angel of the LORD who spoke to him was the LORD Himself! He reminded Gideon that thou shalt save Israel, that is, he would be the next judge-deliverer, and he would be successful, because have not I sent thee? to do this great work of saving the people of Israel, and having a command and commission from God, he had authority enough to go about this service.

⃰Looked — With a calm and pleasant countenance, as a testimony of his favor, and readiness to help him.
⃰Go — Or, go now, in thy might: in the strength which thou hast already received, and dost now farther receive from me.
⃰Have not I sent thee — I do hereby give thee command and commission for this work. God's fitting men for his work is a sure evidence of his calling them to it.

This is the call and commission of Gideon. It is a commission of courage. It is interesting to note, however, that even at this point Gideon did not believe God. Note what Gideon says:

15 And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family (Heb. my thousand is the meanest) is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house. (KJV)

15Gideon said to him, “Excuse me, sir! How can I rescue Israel? Look at my whole family. It's the weakest one in Manasseh. And me? I'm the least important member of my family.”
Judges 6:15 (GW)

Now consider for a moment the position Gideon occupies in his own thinking. He said in effect, “You certainly are not asking me to do this. To begin with, I belong to the nation Israel. We are now under the heel of the Midianites.” It was bad enough to be under Egypt, but imagine being under these nomads of the desert, the Midianites! “We are in slavery. Here we are hiding, and here I am threshing at the foot of the hill. And you come and call me? Well, to begin with, the tribe of Manasseh (one of the sons of Joseph) is not noted for anything; we have had no conspicuous men. In the tribe of Manasseh, my family is not very well known. We are sort of ne’er–do–wells. We are not prominent folk. In my family I happen to be the very least one. You made a big mistake in calling me because you happen to have called the smallest pebble that is on the beach.” Honestly, this man felt that he was the last man in Israel to be used by God. And do you know that he was right? He was the last man in Israel that God should have called.

Our problem today, friend, is that most of us are too strong for God to use. Most of us are too capable for God to use. You notice that God uses only weak men, don’t you? First Corinthians 1:26–27 tells us that this is so: “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” God used all of these judges but not because they were capable or outstanding. Does that encourage you, friend? Do you know why God does not use most of us? We are too strong. Most of us have too much talent for God to use us. Most of us today are doing our own will and going our own way. There are multitudes of people, talented people, and people with ability, whom God is not using. Do you know why? They are too strong for God to use. Paul mentions this: “And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence” (1 Cor. 1:28–29). There is something wrong with any Christian worker who is proud. God does not use the flesh. Anything that this poor Bible scholar does in the weakness of the flesh and boasts about is despised by God. God hates it and cannot use it. God wants weak vessels, and that is the only kind he will use. God follows this policy so that no flesh will glory in His presence. When God gets ready to do anything, He chooses the weakest thing He can get in order to make it clear that He is doing it, not the weak arm of the flesh. That is God’s method.

Remember Moses down in the bulrushes was only a little baby. Then look at Pharaoh Ramses II, the strongest of the pharaohs, who sat on the throne. He is the one who built the great cities of Egypt. Put the one down by the side of the other—the little weak, helpless baby and the powerful Pharaoh on the throne—and who will you take? Of course you would take the Pharaoh because he is the strong one. But God took the little fellow in the bulrushes to demonstrate that He uses the weak things of the world to confound the wise.

Also God chose a man by the name of Elijah. Elijah was not a weak man, but he had to become weak. God had to put that man through a series of tests. He schooled him in the desert and finally forced him to listen to the still, small voice of God. And Elijah did not much care for still, small voices. This is the man who liked the three–ring circus, the fireworks, the noise and the fanfare, but God had to train him and let him know that He chooses the weak things of the world. After Elijah walked into the court of Ahab and Jezebel, he told them it would not rain for several years. Then God put him out by the brook Cherith. There as he saw the brook dry up, he found out that his life was no more than a dried–up brook. Later he looked down into an empty flour barrel, but he could sing the doxology. When he did, God fed him and the widow’s family out of that empty flour barrel. Why? Because God chooses and uses weak things.

Then consider Simon Peter. Whoever would have chosen him? Why, everybody knew he was as weak as water, and our Lord said, “You are going to be a rock–man. I will make you as stable as a rock.” I imagine everybody laughed when He said that. Even Simon Peter gave up on one occasion and said, “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man” (Luke 5:8). What he is really saying is this, “Why don’t you give me up and go get somebody else? I am such a failure.” But the Lord Jesus said, “Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men” (Luke 5:10). In effect He said, “You are the very one I want. You are going to preach the first sermon on the day of Pentecost which will bring three thousand people to Me. I am going to demonstrate that I can use the weakest thing in the world.” God always does that, my beloved. The interesting thing is, someone has said, that Nero was on the throne while Paul was being beheaded. At first glance, it looked like Paul had lost and Nero had won. But history had already handed down its decision. Men name their sons Paul and call their dogs Nero. This is quite interesting, is it not? God is choosing the weak things of this world.

Did you notice that Gideon immediately began to make excuses for himself. He raised the objection that his family in Manasseh was poor, and that he was the least in my father’s house (i.e., he was the youngest son of his family, and they were an insignificant family from a militarily impoverished tribe). In essence, he was saying that he was not qualified for this task, neither was his family, and neither was his tribe.
And I am the least in my father's house; perhaps the youngest son; though some claim he is, and others his father, the Chiliarch, or head of the thousand; but by these words of his it does not seem as if either was true; but he may have been a man with wealth and substance, power and authority. I believe he was such a person, because Judges 6.27[27] says that he took ten servants with him, however, it is clear from his description of himself that he has great humility and modesty, having no high thoughts of himself and family, nor any dependence on his own strength, and on an arm of flesh. He is The least — Either for age, or fitness for so great a work.

And he said unto him, oh my Lord. Whether he had yet suspected who he was, or took him still for some eminent person, is not certain; it is very probable he began to think he was some extraordinary person sent of God, and speaking in his name, and therefore expostulates with him about the work he put upon him :

wherewith shall I save Israel? In what way is it possible for me to do it, who had neither men nor money sufficient for such an undertaking? Wherewith shall I save Israel?—I have neither men nor money. Gideon made a very modest objection against this commission: O my Lord! wherewith shall I save Israel? This question shows that he is either,

[1.] Distrustful of God and his power, as if, though God should be with him, yet it was impossible for him to save Israel. True faith is often weak, yet it shall not be rejected, but encouraged and strengthened. Or,

[2.] Inquisitive concerning the methods he must take: "Lord, I labour under all imaginable disadvantages for it; if I must do it, thou must put me in the way.’’ Note, Those who receive commissions from God must expect and seek for instructions from him. Or rather,

[3.] Humble, lacking self-confidence, and self-denying. The angel had honored him, but see how poorly he speaks of himself: "My family is comparatively poor in Manasseh’’ (impoverished, it may be, more than other families by the Midianites), "and I am the least, that have the least honor and interest, in my father’s house; what can I pretend to do? I am utterly unfit for the service, and unworthy of the honor.” Note, God often chooses to do great things by those that are little, especially that are so in their own eyes. God delights to advance the humble.

behold, my family is poor in Manasseh. Tribes were anciently divided into tens, and fifties, and hundreds, and thousands; the thousands therefore marked the largest divisions, and consequently had numerous families; his tribe, and the "thousand" in it, was the poorest of all the thousands in that tribe; some render it, "my father": My family — Heb. my thousand: for the tribes were distributed into several thousands, with each thousand having its particular governor. His thousand is poor — That is, weak and contemptible. Gideon here intimates that the families of which he wasmade a part of were very much diminished, that is, this tribe is greatly reduced, and can do little against their enemies.

Have you ever compared that little Baby in Bethlehem with Caesar Augustus who could sign a tax bill and the whole civilized world was taxed? Which would you pick? I would take the tax–gatherer every time because he seems to have a lot of power, but God took that little Baby in Bethlehem, for He was His Son. God always chooses that way.

Although Gideon was a very weak individual, God told him that he was the one who was going to deliver Israel. Yes, God is going to use Gideon, but first He must train him. Gideon had to overcome his fear and develop courage. He needed faith to help strengthen his feeble knees and make him patient. I want you to notice some of the training that he went through. He immediately, you see, was afraid; so God gave him his first lesson.

16 And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man. (KJV) 

16 The LORD replied, “I will be with you. You will defeat Midian as if it were {only} one man.”
Judges 6:16 (GW)

And the Lord said unto him, surely I will be with thee. The Targum is, “my Word shall be thy help,” which was sufficient to answer all objections taken from his humble condition, unworthiness, and weakness; such things have indeed often hindered men in great enterprises, but what are they to a man that has the presence of God with him, which will make up all the deficiencies of honor and estate.

Surely I will be with thee, to direct and strengthen thee, and make your reputation such that you will have soldiers enough to follow thee.

and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man; all together, and as easily as if thou hadst but one man to deal with, and the destruction will be so complete and general that no one will be left. All the thousands of Midian shall be as if they had but one neck, and thou shalt have the cutting of it off.

In spite of this promise, Gideon still asked for a sign to confirm the angel’s message. He was requesting a supernatural event to confirm the fact that this was no mere angelic being, but an appearance of God Himself! That is the next lesson.

 

______________________________________General Notes________________________________________________

[1](Judges 6:14) “And Jehovah looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and save Israel from the hand of Midian: have not I sent thee?” (ASV)
[2](Judges 6:23) “And Jehovah said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.” (ASV)
[3](Judges 6:24) “Then Gideon built an altar there unto Jehovah, and called it Jehovah-shalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.” (ASV)
[4](Jos. 17.2) “So the lot was for the rest of the children of Manasseh according to their families: for the children of Abiezer, and for the children of Helek, and for the children of Asriel, and for the children of Shechem, and for the children of Hepher, and for the children of Shemida: these were the male children of Manasseh the son of Joseph according to their families.” (ASV)
[5](Jg. 6.25) “And it came to pass the same night, that Jehovah said unto him, Take thy father's bullock, even the second bullock seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the Asherah that is by it;” (ASV)
[6](Judges 6:21) “Then the angel of the Lord put out the stick which was in his hand, touching the meat and the cakes with the end of it; and a flame came up out of the rock, burning up the meat and the cakes: and the angel of the Lord was seen no longer.” (BBE) He appeared like a traveler with a staff in his hand; this he put forth, and having touched the flesh, fire rose out of the rock and consumed it. Here was the most evident proof of supernatural agency.—Adam Clarke's Commentary
[7]( Joshua 18: 21-23 ) “These were the towns given to the clans of the tribe of Benjamin…Avvim, Parah, Ophrah,” (NLT) 
[8](Joshua 17:2) “So the allotment on the west side of the Jordan was for the remaining families within the clans of the tribe of Manasseh: Abiezer, Helek, Asriel, Shechem, Hepher, and Shemida. These clans represent the male descendants of Manasseh son of Joseph.” (NLT)
[9](1 Chronicles 7: 14, 17, 18) “14 The descendants of Manasseh through his Aramean concubine included Asriel. She also bore Makir, the father of Gilead… 17 The son of Ulam was Bedan. All these were considered Gileadites, descendants of Makir son of Manasseh.18 Makir’s sister Hammoleketh gave birth to Ishhod, Abiezer, and Mahlah. (NLT)
[10](Jos. 17:2) “So the allotment on the west side of the Jordan was for the remaining families within the clans of the tribe of Manasseh: Abiezer, Helek, Asriel, Shechem, Hepher, and Shemida. These clans represent the male descendants of Manasseh son of Joseph.” (NLT)
[11](Jg. 6.11) “Gideon made a sacred ephod from the gold and put it in Ophrah, his hometown. But soon all the Israelites prostituted themselves by worshiping it, and it became a trap for Gideon and his family’...32 Gideon died when he was very old, and he was buried in the grave of his father, Joash, at Ophrah in the land of the clan of Abiezer.” (NLT)
[12](Jg. 8.18-21 ) “18 Then Gideon asked Zebah and Zalmunna, “The men you killed at Tabor—what were they like?” “Like you,” they replied. “They all had the look of a king’s son.”19 “They were my brothers, the sons of my own mother!” Gideon exclaimed. “As surely as the LORD lives, I wouldn’t kill you if you hadn’t killed them.”20 Turning to Jether, his oldest son, he said, “Kill them!” But Jether did not draw his sword, for he was only a boy and was afraid.21 Then Zebah and Zalmunna said to Gideon, “Be a man! Kill us yourself!” So Gideon killed them both and took the royal ornaments from the necks of their camels.” (NLT)
[13(Judges 9:5) “He went to his father’s home at Ophrah, and there, on one stone, they killed all seventy of his half brothers, the sons of Gideon. But the youngest brother, Jotham, escaped and hid.” (NLT)
[14](2 Chron 13:19) “Abijah and his army pursued Jeroboam’s troops and captured some of his towns, including Bethel, Jeshanah, and Ephron, along with their surrounding villages.” (NLT)
[15](John 11:54) “As a result, Jesus stopped his public ministry among the people and left Jerusalem. He went to a place near the wilderness, to the village of Ephraim, and stayed there with his disciples.” (NLT)
[16](Judges 6:34) “Then the Spirit of the LORD took possession of Gideon. He blew a ram’s horn as a call to arms, and the men of the clan of Abiezer came to him.” (NLT)
[17](Judges 8:2) “But Gideon replied, “What have I accomplished compared to you? Aren’t even the leftover grapes of Ephraim’s harvest better than the entire crop of my little clan of Abiezer?” (NLT)
[18](Jdg 6:29-31) “29 The people said to each other, “Who did this?” And after asking around and making a careful search, they learned that it was Gideon, the son of Joash.30 “Bring out your son,” the men of the town demanded of Joash. “He must die for destroying the altar of Baal and for cutting down the Asherah pole.”31 But Joash shouted to the mob that confronted him, “Why are you defending Baal? Will you argue his case? Whoever pleads his case will be put to death by morning! If Baal truly is a god, let him defend himself and destroy the one who broke down his altar!” (NLT)
[19](Jg. 7:14) “His companion answered, “Your dream can mean only one thing—God has given Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite, victory over Midian and all its allies!” (NLT)
[20](8:13, 19,32) “13 After this, Gideon returned from the battle by way of Heres Pass… 19 “They were my brothers, the sons of my own mother!” Gideon exclaimed. “As surely as the LORD lives, I wouldn’t kill you if you hadn’t killed them.”…32 Gideon died when he was very old, and he was buried in the grave of his father, Joash, at Ophrah in the land of the clan of Abiezer.” (NLT)
[21](Isa. 28:27) “For the fitches are not threshed with a sharp threshing instrument, neither is a cart wheel turned about upon the cummin; but the fitches are beaten out with a staff, and the cummin with a rod.” (ASV) The dill ("fitches") and cummin, leguminous and tender grains, are beaten out, not as wheat, with the heavy corn-drag ("threshing instrument"), but with "a staff"; heavy instruments would crush and injure the seed. cart wheel -- two iron wheels armed with iron teeth, like a saw, joined together by a wooden axle. The "corn-drag" was made of three or four wooden cylinders, armed with iron teeth or flint stones fixed underneath, and joined like a sledge. Both instruments cut the straw for fodder as well as separated the corn. 
[22](Jg. 6.27) “Gideon took ten of his servants and did what the LORD had told him to do. However, he didn't do anything during the day. He was too afraid of his father's family and the men of the city, so he did it at night.” (GW)
[23](Isa 41.15) “I am going to make you into a new threshing sledge with sharp, double-edged teeth. You will thresh the mountains and crush them to dust. You will turn the hills into straw.” (GW)
[24]Targum (Christian Religious Writings / Bible) an Aramaic translation, usually in the form of an expanded paraphrase, of various books or sections of the Old Testament.
[25](Lu. 22:61) “And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.” And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. This was one of Peter’s lowest points. He had publicly denied Christ three times. Later, Christ made Peter publicly confess three times that he loved his Lord (Jn 21:15–19).
[26](Ex. 3:14) “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” Moses had several questions for God. What name should be given when the people asked him what God’s name was. God replied, I AM THAT I AM. It means “I am the One who is” and is preferred over “He who causes to be.” God expressed the unchanging, eternal, self-existence of His being. He is able to act at will, to keep promises, to redeem Israel. Yet, He is unsearchable (Isa 55:9; 57:15). There is mystery to His existence that none can fathom.
[27](Judges 6.27) “Then Gideon took ten men of his servants, and did as the LORD had said unto him: and so it was, because he feared his father’s household, and the men of the city, that he could not do it by day, that he did it by night.”

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