The times in which Gideon lived were not promising for the work of God. Defeat and servitude had been experienced more than once and it seemed that the Midianites grip on Israel was total. From the nations standpoint it looked inconceivable that liberty would again be enjoyed. Against this background Gideon worked away quietly grinding wheat by the winepress and hiding it from the oppressor so that it could be used to provide sustenance for Gods people. He did what could be done under the circumstances to feed Israelites. He could not be accused of idleness or lack of courage. But, as he worked, the angel of the Lord came to him and stated clearly, "The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour". This caused Gideon to ask, "If the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us?".
How often do we ask that question? If the Lord is with us, why do we see around us so many examples of the work of God apparently faltering and then failing? Why do we see assemblies troubled and even closing? Why do we see so little of the power of God at work with us? And so the questions could go on and on. Conversation over the supper table is often dominated by that theme. Reasons are given, blame is sometimes apportioned, and saints leave, feeling that something has been accomplished by airing the issue (again).
It is remarkable to note what Gideon did not realise. He, who was asking the question, was the answer to the problem. "Go...and thou shalt save Israel", was the command which he received. Gideon could look around and search for an answer, but that answer lay with him and would require effort, sacrifice, and obedience on his part. The angel did not visit an idle individual. That has already been noted. He visited one doing what he could in the service of the Lord, but greater things lay before him.
If the reader is little engaged in the Lords work, perhaps even discouraging others by their own lack of interest (for indifferent, idle saints are a discouragement to others, and will be required to answer for that), what follows is not for you. You need to waken up to your responsibilities and see that there is work to be done in the assembly and start at it. Perhaps you are one of those souls who are always promising to be more active, but whose strength seems to decay very quickly after a short "spurt". Perhaps there are things in your life that must be corrected before you are fit to serve. Perhaps you just do not care, but if that were the case it is unlikely that you would read this column.
But for others who do work the question has to be faced. As you look around today, sometimes in despair at what you see and hear, might it just be that you are part of the answer to the problem? Be encouraged if you feel that you are doing so little. The Lord, for that was who appeared to Gideon (see v.14), took heed to the work in which he was engaged and appreciated it.
This is a call to further service. Is there more that you could do? Is what you are doing but preparation for a greater work? Gideon was reluctant. He was fearful. He felt his weakness. But the Lord said, "Go in this thy might" (v.14). The strength would be given. The victory would be gained. Israel would be free.
The challenge found in the words of Gideon give us cause to pause and consider. He was looking to the Lord to perform a miracle (v.13), but this was not the day for miracles. It was the day for action on the part of concerned souls. The talking, discussing and blame-laying was to be a thing of the past. So it may be that the reader is being called to go out and on in some greater work for God that will display clearly that He still is able. "If the Lord be with us, why ?" You may be the answer! The call from this column some months ago was - "Dare to be a Daniel". This month it rings out just as clearly - "Dare to be a Gideon".