October 7, 2021
Judges 6:11-12 (NIV)
11 The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
Previously, in the Promised Land, the people of God found themselves in severe oppression. They were hiding in caves and clefts in rocks. The newest war machine ala the latest military technology had been unleashed on them: Camels. They had been turned into the modern day equivalent of Sherman Tanks. Israel was defenseless. The people were desperate. Their desperation brought them to God and God sent them Words of Encouragement through a Prophet.
Today an Angel of the Lord steps onto the stage of human history. I love how the Bible tells the story as history rather than mythology. No “once upon a time here.”
The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite,
We know that the angel “sat down” and where—under the oak in Ophrah; and not only that but who the oak belonged to: Joash the Abiezrite. So we have just been GPS’d into the scene where we can begin to see the details of desperation. Did you pick this up?
where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites.
Threshing wheat in a winepress. Wait! Don’t we thresh wheat on a threshing floor? And don’t we find threshing floors on top of hills where the wind can blow away the chaff when the grain is winnowed? Of course. It makes perfect sense now. A winepress is a small place where they put grapes so they could press them down and get the grape juice out. Threshing wheat in a winepress! What a phrase. It is an idiom of fear and intimidation. This is what human nature does in response to being bullied by oppressors. This is how oppression works. It’s not so much what’s happening “out there” in the fields or the culture or wherever. It’s the way we let the bullying into our hearts and slowly begin to accommodate the bully oppressor. You start threshing wheat in a winepress. You begin to take a different route home from school, or sit in a different seat on the bus, or making alliances with other bigger, meaner bullies, or . . . you can take it from here (and if you go Covid-19 on me here I will sit you out of the pool.) lol
Until the angel of the Lord comes and sits down under the oak in Ophrah and begins to inject temerity into your timidity. (O.K., I had to look it up too, but it’s the right word).
Our God is on a mission to encourage us, not so much because we are needy of encouragement but because we have a MASSIVE MISSION in front of us. And he will encourage us in any way possible and by any means conceivable. He prefers to use human beings but if necessary he will use Angels.
It’s interesting how the book of Hebrews begins with a discussion of Angels, and how Jesus is superior to the Angels. He has made us a little lower than the Angels, and yet crowned us with glory and honor. Go read Hebrews 1 and 2. He has hidden us in his Son, Jesus Christ, and filled us with his Spirit. Because of this, we are in a sense greater than the Angels. We are his army of encouragement. We all desperately need to receive encouragement and give encouragement– every single day. We are going to learn something about encouragement tomorrow from Gideon. For now, I want you to do some self-assessment.
12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
Father, thank you for the way the hard seasons press us into more desperation for you. Thank you for the way you intersect our lives through Angels—especially when they come in the form of our friends and even strangers. Help me to become such a person in the lives of others—sitting down under the oak tree with them and sharing the courage of your Kingdom. In Jesus name, Amen.
Where do you find yourself on the spectrum between Timidity and Temerity? How might you find yourself threshing wheat in a winepress these days?
For the Awakening,