It is interesting to note that many times in Scripture when a person, chosen by God, to accomplish an often-times daunting task asks the question, “Why?” God simply answers the what. We can see this illustrated in Judges 6-8 in the life of Gideon.
When the angel of the Lord visits Gideon on the threshing room floor and begins to explain the mission that God has for him, Gideon immediately questions the angel, “But why have we not seen God’s deliverance, [here we have been enslaved and oppressed for 40 years], why have we not seen God’s mighty works that our forefathers spoke of?” The angel doesn’t skip a beat, he’s on a mission and doesn’t hesitate to let Gideon know the plan. Gideon was going to be the one to lead the Israelites into battle to defeat the Midianites, to further the job of driving the enemy out of Israel’s promised land, a territory that belonged to them but had been seized by an enemy tribe.
It should be noted that the oppression of the Midianites had become so severe that the Israelites made shelters for themselves in mountain clefts and caves–they were scared. The oppression abolished not just their rights and freedoms, but the Bible says that wherever Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. They camped on their land, ruined their crops and didn’t even spare their lifestock, they “came up…like swarms of locusts.” So much so it was impossible to count. They were defeated, surrounded and weary. And, the Lord appears to Gideon while he is threshing wheat in the winepress in order to protect his hard-earned commodity, away from the greedy enemy.
It is no coincidence that when God called Gideon to deliver Israel, He asked him first to tear down the altar built to Baal and the Asherah pole next to it and sacrifice his father’s 7-year-old bull on a new altar built to the Lord. Gideon did as he was told, but he was afraid–afraid of the men of his town and of what his family would do, while accomplishing this task. How do we know this? He did at night. Yet, that first step, that act of obedience was critical to proving that His God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was stronger than Baal. Gideon was willing to take this first, basic step in faith.
Just as expected, the next morning, when the people of the town discovered that their altar had been destroyed, they “carefully investigated” (Judges 6:29). They wanted to be sure that they had the right guy. They demanded his life for the altar. Yet, here is where it get heart-wrenchingly real: when these townspeople come to his father’s door, his father defends him. Remember, Gideon had no idea how this would go down and expected to see a strong reaction even out of the members of his own family. But his father becomes his defender in this and says, “If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.” I can only imagine the palpable gasp from these accusers. Test of Faith #1: Pass.