Posted by: arieliondotcom | March 10, 2013

Holy Hide and Seek (Judges 6-8)

In our passage today we see that the people of Israel continue their deadly game of “peekaboo” or “hide and seek” with GOD. He has given them the Promised Land but they’ve broken their part of the bargain. They betray Him by following foreign gods until foreign nations overpower them. They hide their eyes from GOD like babies who think it makes them invisible while they continue sinning all the while. But in His mercy, when they cry out to Him He sends someone to show them back to Himself. In this passage, they’re literally hiding in the hills from the enemies they were supposed to be conquering. They’d run and hide and when they did the enemies would come and wipe out everything they had. As the LORD had prophesied through Moses, they planted and grew crops but just when they were ripe the enemy scared them away. They hid and the enemy ate everything: crops, cattle and all. When they found themselves starving they cry and GOD sends a prophet to remind them that all they need do is stop hiding from Him and He will give them victory again to stop hiding from their enemies.

Today’s passage is controversial for two reasons. First, if you hear most Christians preach on it they will tell you that Gideon is hiding in a winepress threshing wheat. He’s hiding because he’s afraid of being seen by the enemies and robbed. The Angel of the LORD sees him hiding and calls him a mighty man of valor (and the sermon goes on to say GOD is calling out the courage Gideon doesn’t know he has.) But that’s not what the Hebrew says. Hebrew scholars say Gideon is threshing the wheat with the beam from a winepress. It’s still a type of disguise because he’s not using equipment used to prepare wheat. He doesn’t want the enemy to know they have any. (It’s as if you didn’t want anyone to know you had food so you’re using a hairdryer to pop corn).

Gideon uses the beam from a winepress to show there are no grapes to make wine. The enemy has taken them all and those days of prosperity are long gone. And he doesn’t use normal threshing equipment to keep the enemy from using it. When the Angel calls him a mighty man the remark is saying for Gideon to be strong enough to thresh wheat with a beam, GOD must be looking out for him.

And here’s where the other point of controversy comes in. This may be no ordinary angel. This may be the Angel of the LORD, a Theophany, GOD appearing as a human being. We know from JESUS that He is the only representation of GOD in flesh and He hasn’t been born as a man yet. So, as with several other passages in Scripture this may be an appearance of JESUS before He was born (or to really bend your mind in a Quantum Physics, Doctor Who way, appearing in history after His birth…but that would be too controversial to even think about). But (though Jewish and Moslem folks would say it’s blasphemy) the Angel of the LORD seems to represent Himself to be walking, talking, walking-stick carrying GOD. And Gideon seems to recognize Him as such. In fact, when the Divine Visitor leaves Gideon must receive another miracle of being reassured that he won’t die. Others have seen angels without this fear. This terror would only come from seeing GOD face to face. GOD never denies it was Him. That’s why The angel of the LORD disappeared in the sacrifice, to prove it was GOD speaking to, reassuring and commissioning Gideon. Then JESUS, the Sacrificial Lamb of GOD, disappears from Gideon’s presence in a sacrifice to GOD. But not before telling Gideon that He (GOD) will be with Gideon and Gideon will lead Israel to victory. So it is that as Gideon complains that GOD has abandoned Israel, it’s GOD he’s complaining to, who explains GOD hasn’t hidden from Israel but vice-versa. And it’s time to seek GOD and show the people what faith in Him can do.

GOD further told Gideon to destroy his father’s own idols. Gideon does this at night but is found out anyway. Another episode of hide and seek. And as he hides at night, spying on the enemy it’s revealed that the LORD has put the fear of him into the enemy camps through a dream.

GOD gives Israel the victory through Gideon though they will forget all the good he did for them. when he dies. Instead the gold he won in victory and intended as a symbol to point them to GOD will divert them back to hiding in idolatry.

GOD always reveals enough of His Nature to draw us to Himself and as much more about Himself as we are willing to seek. And, if we seek GOD in Christ, we find Life.

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