Secret place hidings
The Israelites were down and out and they had no one to blame but themselves. After deliberately disobeying the Lord, He allowed them to be overtaken by their enemy, the Midianites. The oppression was so great God’s people struggled to survive. Each time harvest would begin to peak it’s way through and a glimmer of hope would break in, the Midianites would overpower the Israelites and take all the crop for themselves. God’s people were left with nothing. Many of them seemed to hide out in caves and shelters on the outskirts of town in an attempt to stay hidden from their great oppressor.
This is where we find Gideon. Gideon was in hiding. He was threshing wheat in a winepress when an angel of the Lord showed up. Camp here with me for a minute. Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress. Threshing wheat was done out in the middle of a field. The wheat thresher would take the crop into a large circle. Much like the picture on the left below. He would throw the wheat up into the air and the particles of dirt and foreign elements would be blown out by the wind. The remaining wheat was used for food.
A winepress is an inclosed area meant for close containment. This winepress was probably hidden in a crevice of the mountain on the outskirts of town, like the picture below on the right. For obvious reasons the two areas were very different.
Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress. He was hidden in a secret place. Protected and undercover from the enemy trying to make food for his family. He was doing the right thing (trying to survive) in a secret place when God found Him and called him up.
“You are a brave man, Gideon, and the Lord is with you. Go out boldly, and save your people from the power of the Midianites.”
Gideon might not have looked very brave threshing wheat crammed into a hidden wine press. But, brave or not, he was doing the right thing. Sometimes trust is hard when you feel hidden. But the reality is, we have a Father in heaven who sees everything. He doesn’t hide you to reject you, He hides you to protect you.He doesn’t forget where you are. He doesn’t forget what you’re doing. When the time is right, He will find you.
God found Gideon, called him up and partnered with Him to lead His people our captivity.
The angel shows up and calls Gideon brave. Gideon is in hiding. I promise he did not feel brave in the moment. But God doesn’t see what we see. He doesn’t measure what we measure. He saw inside Gideon. He saw what he possessed. He called Gideon up into who he really was. Anyone who will continue to do the right thing even if it takes them away from everything, even if it hide them in a secret place, even if it seems unending, never relenting and sometimes hopeless, is definitely brave in the eyes of God. Gideon didn’t allow the oppression around him, to stop the work within him. He may not have been able to do his work out in the open, but he would continue to do it in secret.
Gideon’s clan was the weakest of all the tribes. He was probably wondering why the Lord chose them for such a great task. “Lord, there is no way we can do this. If you are really calling me to lead my people in battle of the Midianites then will you please show me? Tonight I am going to put out a fleece. If this is really you, when I wake up in the morning I am asking for the fleece to be wet and the ground around it to be dry. Then I will know you have called me,” (Judges 6:36-38 paraphrase).
Gideon was weak. His time in the secret place left him totally dependent on God. He knew He wasn’t capable of this victory and he just wanted to be sure he was hearing right. I so do this! “God are you sure? Is that you? Am I hearing right? I’m totally going to step into this, but please reassure me that I’m stepping with you because I am not interested in what I can do on my own.”
We have such a gracious Father. Gideon woke up the next morning and the fleece was dripping wet, but the ground completely dry and still he goes back to God, “Okay, please don’t be angry with me, but I am going to ask you again, just one more time. If you are really saying this, then tomorrow when I wake up, I’m asking for the fleece to be dry as a bone and the ground to be wet,” (Judges 6:39-40, paraphrased).
Once again God did not mind Gideon’s honest struggle. Trust in the middle is hard. Gideon knew God was with Him. He also knew God could overpower the enemy. He just knew, not knowing the how, meant he needed to be sure it was God and He was going to be his how.
When we know the one leading our path is the creator of the path, we don’t have to worry about the twists and turns. We are free to simply follow and let Him deal with the details. Gideon was just double checking!
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.”
It’s a good thing Gideon was sure because by the time they reached the enemies camp, God had dwindled his army down to a mere 300 men. Gideon was about the defeat approximately 135,000 enemy soldiers with only 300. The odds were not in their favor!
God, full of compassion and always ready to encourage us in our journey forward, woke Gideon up and told him to go down to the the river next to the enemies territory. While Gideon was there he overheard one of the Midian soldiers describing a dream he had.
“A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.”
14 His friend responded, “This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.”
Judges 7:13-14, NIV
When Gideon heard this he bowed down and worshipped for he knew God was about to do the impossible.
Today, I am personally thankful for Gideon’s neediness. I’m thankful he didn’t have what it took and he wasn’t afraid to ask for what he needed. It wasn’t even because he didn’t trust God. More so, he didn’t trust himself. Gideon took his insecurity and lack of confidence and went straight to the only one who could empower him to overcome. There are days I take my neediness to the wrong places. Moments where I look around to see who or what might fill my cup. When I know the reality is, the only one I am satisfied with is also the only one who leads me forward to victory. And so I seek Him. I head to the hills, to the hidden places, I detach myself from sight of the world around and wait for Him to come. And He always does. And He never disappoints.
I don’t have to know the way when I’m attached to the one who created the way. I simply get to follow and let Him deal with the twists and turns of life. And for this I am eternally grateful.