Judges 6: Enter Gideon

The Lord Jehovah’s  messenger appeared to Gideon. and tells him  that  ” The Eternal One is with you, mighty warrior.” (The Voice 6:12).  This does not impress Gideon and instead of being thankful, Gideon complains to the angel and tells him that is surprising that because they are suffering so.  He scoffs at being delivered from Egypt, too long ago to count.  Exactly what has Jehovah done for us lately?

The angel tells him that is why is here and that Gideon will be the deliverer.  Gideon doesn’t buy that either, but that’s in a long tradition of reluctant warriors for Jehovah.  All of them at some time ask him to choose another:  they tell him  no not me fellow, I am not the one.  This shirking of one’s duty is prevalent in the Bible.  There is Moses, I am too humble;  Jonah unwilling; Peter too scared.. Thomas  doubting.  Few are like John the Baptist or Mary and ready to go forward. And while they do exist Noah, Abraham Samuel, Jeremiah,  we tend to dwell on those who are like us, reluctant, questioning; like  Gideon, ready to let  the next guy to do the dirty work.

I guess that’s a parable that’s too hard to ignore : we have a billion ways not to follow God’s will but in the end they all do it in spite of  their laziness, their fear, their irresponsibility  because that’s less than their belief.  While they may doubt and wrestle with the call, in the end they do their duty because they believe.

And so it is with Gideon, he doubts the angel heavily and asks for a “sign”  Oh everyone wants a sign.  Usually though when the sign occurs we say, “That was easy: and find another, and another until we realize that there is no sign that will let us believe because we are lost.   It is a sad moment to realize that there is “no sign” because either our faith is either weak or just nonexistent and the Lord becomes  just another figure in the pantheon of endless gods and chimeras. How do we come back from there?  Prayer.  We must “want  it” more than anything else and then be patient for its return.  I know, I was there.

Gideon though is not lost.  He is not sure what his sign is, what it is he is expecting,  but he feels that making an offering of young goat with matzos (unleavened bread from a lot of flour) will be enough.  It is the angel that suggests putting it under a rock and putting all the broth on top of it for a libation.

And then the  Lord, called the Eternal One in the Voice, gives him a sign,

 the Eternal’s messenger touched the meat and bread with the tip of the staff he carried. Fire raged out of the rock and consumed the food, and the Eternal’s messenger vanished from sight (The Voice, 6:21)

Gideon is scared andd expects sure death after conversing him.   When he does not get it, he builds an altar to the Lord as is required by ancient Israeli law (see Exod. 20:24)

Eternal One (to Moses): 22 This is what I want you to tell the people of Israel: “You yourselves witnessed that I have spoken to you from heaven.

23 It is essential that you not make any idols to rival Me. Do not make any idols out of silver or gold for yourselves!

24 Take earth and build an altar to Me and sacrifice all of your burnt offerings and peace offerings there. Offer Me the best of your sheep and oxen. Wherever I choose for My name to be remembered, I will come to you and shower blessings upon you.

25 But if you decide to build an altar out of stones for Me, use only natural stones, not hand-cut stones, because any attempt to shape them with your tools will desecrate the altar.

26 Also, do not approach My altar by walking up steps, for you might profane the altar by exposing your nakedness.”

Gideon calls it “The Lord is at peace” or  “Adonaishalom” because the Lord told him , “Peace be to you, do not fear; you shall not die” (6:23).  Shalom means peace as well as safety, tranquility, rest and completeness.

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