Judges 6 has a very familiar start to it. The people have once again forgot God. This time it is the Midianites that take them captive for seven years. So the “people of Israel made for themselves the dens that are in the mountains” so they could survive. The enemy would come and “devour the produce….laid waste the land” They would come with their animals and just take all that the Israelites had grown. “And Israel was brought very low…..the people of Israel cried out for help….the Lord sent a prophet” Such a familiar story. They forget. They get captured. They are slaves. They cry out. God hears and sends help. You would think they would soon learn. You’d think we would learn too!
The prophet reviews history once again. God’s faithfulness to them in Egypt. Their release and the trip to the Promised Land. How they have been blessed beyond what they deserve over and over. And then a new leader comes into the picture. ”Gideon was beating out wheat”. Not exactly the military leader type. He was just doing some farm work. He was a very unlikely man to take leadership. But an angel tells him “the Lord is with you”. Gideon pushes back. He says it doesn’t really feel like it – if God is so with us then “why then has all this happened to us”? The angel tells Gideon to “go in this might of yours and save Israel”. God has called him out to lead his people to freedom. Another unlikely candidate that God will use to set His people free.
Gideon isn’t buying this assignment. Sounds a lot like how Moses responded when called to lead. “My clan is the weakest…..I am the least in my father’s house”. C’mon God – is this a joke. Gideon isn’t buying this at all. But God says “I will be with you” to which Gideon replies “show me a sign”. He is not taking anyone’s word for it. He has to see it to believe. So God leads Gideon through a series of steps and finally “fire sprang up from the rock” and it is pretty obvious that God is in this. Gideon destroys the idol of Baal and sets up a confrontation with those around him. “But the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon…..he sounded the trumpet” and Gideon is ready to take charge. But wait, not quite yet.
Gideon feels this is still a little unreal. He asks for another sign. “I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said”. Seems pretty straightforward. So “when he rose early next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water”. That should prove that God is in this shouldn’t it. Not quite enough for Gideon. He says “let me speak just once more”. He wants God to do it again. This time he reverses things and says “Please let it be dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground let there be dew”. So the first time he wanted dew on the fleece and not the ground – this time dew on the ground and not the fleece. Is anything too hard for God? “God did so that night; and it was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew”. Gideon asks for and receives three signs from God – fire and dew on the fleece and dew only on the ground. He has been called to lead!