Threshing wheat in the winepress

1. You can’t help but smile when you read an irony. One day Gideon was threshing wheat in the winepress (Judges 6.11). Why was he doing it in the winepress? Because he wanted to hide it from the Mideanites, who ruled over the Israelites at that time (6.1-2). Then the angel of YHWH came to him and said: “YHWH is with you, O mighty man of valor.” (6.12)

2. Gideon was in the same club with Moses and Jeremiah. They politely rejected (or at least questioned) their prophetic call by highlighting their weaknesses: “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” (6.15) And now I am thinking on whether Paul deliberately used the counter rhetorical approach in his short auto-biography in Phil 3.4-6: circumcised on the eighth day, of the tribe of Benjamin (a royal tribe of King Saul), a Hebrew of Hebrews, etc.

3. I like the way Joas, the father of Gideon, responded when Gideon broke down his altar of Baal and the people were mad about it. They demanded Joas to bring out Gideon so that he may die. Joas responded: “If Baal is a god, let him contend for himself.” (6.31) It is perhaps similar with what Gamaliel said to the council of Jewish elders after they arrested Peter and John: “Keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God.” (Acts 5.38-39) And anyway if I remembered correctly I think it was C. S. Lewis who said that actually we don’t need to defend the Bible; it is a lion and it will roar for itself.

4. Finally, regarding Gideon and the fleece (6.36-40), I do think if someone applies that today we might think of him as testing God as he keeps asking for extraordinary signs from God to be really sure that what he would do is really God’s will (and that God will be with him). The good thing is it indicates our intention to seek and do God’s will. The bad thing is it can hinder us from using other ordinary faculties that God has given to us as well. I guess we can possibly justify Gideon’s act as the upcoming war against the Mideanites was pretty major and he was clearly still afraid about it and not up to the task ahead. If anything, it really highlights our all too common little faith. And that somehow God will keep re-assuring us as well. The petition of the father whose child was healed by Jesus pretty much summed this up: “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mrk 9.24)

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