Jesus said, “For men [by themselves, salvation] is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” Evidence of this truth is seen in Gideon, whom the Lord this morning asks to save Israel.
Like Mary at the Annunciation, a messenger assures him, “The Lord is with you.” But Gideon asks, “Please, my lord, how can I save Israel?” “I shall be with you,” the Lord says to him.
Gideon presents his strange visitor with a meal of unleavened bread and of young goat’s meat. He is directed to pour the broth of meat juices upon it. The juice flows over the bread and the meat and onto the ground, like Christ’s blood flowing over His flesh and down to the foot of the cross. Gideon sees the wondrous sacrifice and realizes that the presence and the power of God are in his midst.
After overcoming his hesitancies, Gideon listens to the Lord God as his military advisor, and using just 300 men, armed with lanterns in one hand and trumpet horns in the other, routs a hoard of Israel’s enemies.
God works no overwhelming miracles for Gideon. He never causes Gideon’s enemies to be swallowed up by earthquakes, or by balls of fire from heaven, or by tidal waves. Instead, God only uses little signs to reassure Gideon, to teach him to trust, and to listen to the still small voice of the Lord. In this way, Gideon becomes an effective instrument in fulfilling God’s plans. We can learn from Gideon, because the Lord prefers to work in the same way with us and through us: little signs, strengthen our trust, teach us to listen, and to fulfill God’s plans.
Gideon’s story is one of my favorites in the Old Testament. Unfortunately, you’re not going to hear any more of it after today because our lectionary skips beyond it. But the rest of Gideon’s fascinating story waits for you in the book of Judges, chapters 6 and 7.