A Weakling in a Winepress

by Lauren Mullen
(coming later this week)


Why God sends those who'd rather stay behind

Gideon is a second guesser.

If he were alive today, he may challenge that statement and say, “Nah, I’m just humble,” or “I’m naturally cautious.” Throughout Gideon’s story it is proven that left to his own devices, he would rather hide away and do his work quietly in fear. He didn’t want to risk being used by God.

So why did God even bother with him? Why did he go out of his way to call him out of hiding?

The narrator in Judges leads us to believe that Gideon didn’t want to be challenged or pushed—not because he’s lazy or stubborn, but because he really struggles with fear and insignificance.We read earlier in the scriptures that God has rescued the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt.God took care of them in the wilderness for 40 years (with daily bread, manna, and water). He then brought them to the land of Canaan, the promised land He prophesied about to Abraham.

God equipped the Israelites to conquer all the other tribes residing in their new land, but they began to get comfortable and disobedience kicked in. Judges 6:1 tells us this, “The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord handed them over to Midian for seven years, and they oppressed Israel.”

When the Israelites called out to the Lord for mercy, Gideon was the guy who God decided should get the message. And what message did he deliver? “When the angel of the Lord appeared toGideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior” (Judges 6:11-12, NIV).

There, Gideon was minding his own business, and in actuality hiding wheat from the Midianites deep in a winepress. Gideon “a mighty warrior”? He was a second guesser, a winepress hider, and a bit of a coward. What an unlikely guy for God to call on for battle! But that’s where the good news begins for you and I.

When God finds us afraid, he doesn’t leave us there. Instead, our Father chooses to speak identity and courage over us. He sees our needs and instead of moving onto the next person who looks a bit more like the person you’d expect, we get a new identity—one of warrior and not weakling.God reminded Gideon that he was equipped, not because he was naturally gifted, but because hisDad was with him (Judges 6:16).

He does the same for us.

Breaking Down the Bible

Have you had a season where God has found you hiding in fear?

My personal “Gideon season” (and I have had many) is when God calls me out to speak. I love to hide in my own personal “winepress” of encouraging others in their giftedness of the spoken word, but not stepping out with my own. I love to share wisdom with my clients and friends, andI can preach on a Marco Polo, but every single time someone asks me to share in a large group setting I want to shrink back.

“Go in the strength that you have” (Judges 6:14). This phrase has been my personal verse for a couple years now because they are the same words God speaks over Gideon when he calls him out of the winepress and into battle. God doesn’t only call Gideon out, he also says, “I will be with you, you will strike Midian down as if one man” (Judges 6:16). God knows Gideon needed to be reminded that he doesn’t go alone. However, Gideon still desires a sign from God to prove that theLord really is speaking to him.

Gideon doesn’t ask for a sign just once, he asks for one, three times. Gideon knew what he was supposed to do, God had already told him, but each time he asks God to be patient with him, andHe shows up.The first thing Gideon wanted to know, “Is the angel talking to me? Really, God?” So he brought out an offering to the Lord, of meat and bread (6:17-20). The angel of the Lord touched the food that was sitting on a rock with his staff. Immediately fire arose from the rock, and “the angel of the Lord departed from His sight.” That was his sign that he had indeed been conversing with theLord (Judges 6:21).

The second time Gideon wanted to confirm that he really was the one to save Israel in battle (6:36).So he sets out a fleece of wool, and asks God for dew on the fleece and a dry ground (6:37). He is confident then he will know. He awoke the next morning to just that, but it was not enough for him.

Thirdly, he boldly says “Let me make one more request” (7:39). This final time Gideon wants a reversal of his request the night before: dry fleece, wet ground. And God does it. Can we pause here? It’s so easy to judge Gideon for coming across so needy. Was he disbelieving God? Why did he keep asking when God had already confirmed twice that Gideon was the man for the job?

Well, because he was human.

How often do we second guess what God says to us? Even though we may not “ask” God for tangible signs, we can still remain uncertain inside even if we sense God’s calling us out. When I am afraid to do what God is calling me to do, I also need multiple affirmations that God is with me.And if I look at this story, I can see that God answered what Gideon requested. In God’s stories he gives to those who ask (Matthew 7:7).

The Master Storyteller

So what was Gideon called to? Battle. What’s interesting about that is that God actually told Gideon to minimize his troops (Judges 7:2-7), and He gave him a dream for his battle plan that required interpretation (Judges 7:13-15) and equipped his army not with weapons, but with a ram’s horn, an empty pitcher, and a torch. The army yelled out by Gideon’s request, “For the Lord and forGideon!” (Judges 7:16-18). Against all odds, they defeated the Midianites. God was proven faithful and Gideon was proven stronger than he thought he was.

God uses Gideon’s life to reveal that he takes great delight in using the most “unlikely’’ people for big things. His power is made perfect in our weakness. God is reminding us that we are not the hero of our story but He is. I believe God loves to use the underdogs, the doubters, and the skeptics. We see it all throughout scripture. How fortunate are we that He would use us in our brokenness to shine His glory throughout the Earth.

In closing, I invite you to read this poem of mine inspired by Judges 6-8:32. Scripture is God breathed and Holy Spirit animated, and I believe that time and time again I can trust God when he is calling me out, because the battle is already mine (1 John 4:4).

When God’s presence invades your hiding place,
The tree you’re under is sacred ground.
He calls you out to bring you up,
He speaks identity and purpose over your life.

He asks the hard questions,
That challenge our doubting minds
He tells us he is with us,
“Have I not sent you?”

He listens to the excuses and the fears,
And pierces through with more love,
“Surely I am with you.”
He confirms that we are victorious through Him,
“You shall defeat the Mindianites.”

Then He commissions us with the mantle he places on our lives,
“Go in the strength that you have.”
Allowing us to ask for signs and wonders,
The kind we believe we need to convince our futile minds,

God show up again,
He speaks life to erase all confusion.
He never gives up on us,
“Peace be with you, do not fear, you shall not die.”

God empowers us to take down the idols in our life,
And when we ask for signs and wonders
He makes himself known through fleece.
He equips us for the battle with instruments,
Gideon worshipped and trusted,
God strengthened and the battle was won.

Study the Story

    Read Judges 6:14-16. What fears does God speak to in Gideon’s circumstance?
    What stands out to you about the way God addresses Gideon’s concerns?
    Why do you think God wanted Gideon to experience victory over Midian “as if one man”?

Consider the Story

  1. Read Judges 7:2-7. Why do you think God wanted to minimize his troops?
  2. Why does our lack of strength actually increase God’s strength?
  3. Do you struggle to do things in your own strength?

Recount the Story

  1. Where has God found you hiding in fear? What are you doing? How are you responding?
  2. What has God minimized in your life, so that He can show His strength in your weakness?
  3. Where is God saying to “go in the strength that you have?”

Practice the Story

What has God said to you that you are doubting?
Pray about where you need confirmation. He wants to show you.