The days of Judges could be summed up by the final verse of the book – “everyone did what was right in their own eyes”. Jealous/zealous God (“qana” in Hebrew meaning both zealous and jealous) doesn’t do well when folks who’ve made a covenant with Him do what is right in their own eyes, His standards always being higher that ours. Example below:
1 Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years,
2 and the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of the Midianites, the children of Israel made for themselves the dens, the caves, and the strongholds which are in the mountains.
3 So it was, whenever Israel had sown, Midianites would come up; also Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them.
Israel was literally getting its lunch eaten by the Midianites.
4 Then they would encamp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep nor ox nor donkey.
5 For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, coming in as numerous as locusts; both they and their camels were without number; and they would enter the land to destroy it.
6 So Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites, and the children of Israel cried out to the LORD.
7 And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried out to the LORD because of the Midianites,
Already this is good. The people finally (in crying out to God) do what they should have been doing before the trouble started. Trouble now becomes the great motivator. That’s a classic theme. And precious, merciful God responds when they finally cry out, first sending an unnamed prophet to remind them of the reason for trouble:
8 that the LORD sent a prophet to the children of Israel, who said to them, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘I brought you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of bondage;
9 ‘and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land.
10 ‘Also I said to you, “I am the LORD your God; do not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.” But you have not obeyed My voice.'”
Now the Lord sends an angel, and Gideon asks the angel a WHY question that should not have been a question at all, had he read verse 1 (seriously – Deut 28:49-51 had already warned Israel of disobedience, and judgment by foreign nations – but when people do not know the word of God they are destined to relive the same errors, suffering the same consequences). The angel, knowing heaven’s purposes for Gideon, speaks out his future calling for boldness, while Gideon, treading wheat in a winepress, represents people trying to function in fear.
11 Now the Angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites.
12 And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him, and said to him, “The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor!”
13 Gideon said to Him, “O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.”
14 Then the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?”
Skipping over the classic and most favorite famous-fleece verses, let’s go on to see some housecleaning that was required of Gideon, by God, prior to Gideon walking in his deliverer anointing.
25 Now it came to pass the same night that the LORD said to him, “Take your father’s young bull, the second bull of seven years old, and tear down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the wooden image that is beside it;
26 “and build an altar to the LORD your God on top of this rock in the proper arrangement, and take the second bull and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the image which you shall cut down.”
27 So Gideon took ten men from among his servants and did as the LORD had said to him. But because he feared his father’s household and the men of the city too much to do it by day, he did it by night.
Amazing account. Gideon had been living in a nationally self-inflicted, and truly fearful situation. Israel was living out correction-by-God days because of their disobedience. Eventually it gets terrible enough for them to cry out, and their cries are heard, prophets and angels give forth directives, a chosen man (who didn’t look the part) is called into service, and instructed to tear down some familiar, family altars. And then the good stuff happens.
Gideon didn’t finish all that well – getting a little hung up on Gideon-worship (he refused to be named king and then named his son “my dad is king” – Abi-melech. Go figure) and idolatry after his great triumph over the Philistines, but the point to be made in this writing is that when a nation is living in sin, it will find itself corrected by God.
Correction-by-nations was spoken of earlier in Deuteronomy 28 and also later again, in 1 Samuel.
2 Sam 7:14
14 “I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men.
You’d think Israel would learn by now. You’d think America would learn by now.
Our nation made a covenant with God when we were founded. God holds people to their promises, and holds nations to theirs. Here’s a verse out of Isaiah that discloses Assyria as a judgment tool for the purposes of God. At this time we won’t even get off on speculations about Assyria extending beyond Isaiah’s own days:
17 “The LORD will bring the king of Assyria upon you and your people and your father’s house– days that have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah.”
18 And it shall come to pass in that day that the LORD will whistle for the fly that is in the farthest part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.
One would hope that as nations begin treading wheat in winepresses, watching their own economies fail, taking their shoes off and x-ray-searching eighty year old grandmas at airports, that perhaps we might hasten some anointing-for-deliverance by looking into our own backyards and proactively tearing down our own idols, to clear the ground for a work of the Lord.
It’s convenient to even point to the sins of others, and recognize those offenses and causes for self-inflicted personal or even national trouble. But what about some potential Gideons getting their backyards cleared in advance of their angelic visitation, in preparation and hope of their deliverer callings. That would be you and me, my friend.