Judges 6:11-16 “Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, ‘The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.’ And Gideon said to him, ‘Please, my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.’ And the Lord turned to him and said, ‘Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” And he said to him, ‘Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.’”
Immanuel, “God with us”: it was the name given to Jesus many years before He was born as God spoke thorough the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 7:14. God is with us: it’s true of the Son of God, and it’s true of the Father and the Holy Spirit as well. Didn’t God tell Joshua, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9)? And regarding the Holy Spirit, didn’t Jesus tell us, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever” (John 14:15-16)?
But in what form is God with us? Do we have eyes to see Him? Where is He if He’s so present with us all the time? It’s to that question that we are given an answer in the story of Gideon, one of the Old Testament judges through which God brought salvation to the nation of Israel after they had wandered far from God and received His judgment as a result. We are told in the verses above that “the angel of the Lord,” which is most likely a description of the preincarnate Son of God, appeared to Gideon. He then tells him “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” Obviously, the Lord was with Gideon at that moment by the fact that Gideon could see Him with his own eyes. However, God was about to teach Gideon that He was with him in a much more wonderful sense.
Notice that He calls Gideon “a mighty man of valor.” What an interesting term to describe a person who was hiding in fear from the invading Midianites and threshing out a little wheat. Why would he say such a thing? Why would God call Gideon by this name and tell him that He was with him when by all appearances this was anything but the truth? Notice how Gideon, in so many words, replies, “If the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? The Lord isn’t with us. In fact, if anything God has forsaken us!” But God presses in and simply says, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” Incredulous, Gideon replies, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” In other words, “How am I fit to do anything? I’m nothing, and my family is nothing.” Yet the Lord continues “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.”
You see, the Lord is trying to get Gideon to see that He was indeed with the nation of Israel, because He was with Gideon himself. In fact, it was the very power of God that would be at work in Gideon to bring salvation to the nation. Yes, weak Gideon, hiding and fearful Gideon. He is the one through whom God would work. He is the one through whom God would be present with the nation of Israel. And the same is exactly true for us. Jesus has told us clearly that He, in the form of the Holy Spirit “dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:17). Do you realize that this is true both of you, personally, if you are a believer, and of every other believer in your life? Do you realize that when you gather as a body of believers to worship that it is not just a group of people that you are gathering with, but with the very Body of Christ Who dwells within each and every person who knows Him? Do you realize that the King has told us “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40)?
Incredible as it may seem, as it seemed incredible to Gideon, God is present in your life and through you in the lives of others. This is true when you are all alone, and it’s true every time you or I meet with someone else. As you serve and bless others, Christ is serving and blessing others through you, and as others serve and bless you, it is Jesus, Who is with us, serving and blessing us through their very lives.
God with us: what an incredible truth this is. It was true for Gideon in such a personal and intimate way, no matter how he viewed himself, and it’s just as true, just as intimate, and just as real for every one of us, no matter how we view ourselves. As Gideon, despite his weakness, was empowered by God Himself to bring salvation to Israel, Jesus, incredibly, has called us to be soldiers, in spite of our weakness, to take territory from the enemy by carrying the message of salvation to those whom Satan has held captive all their lives. That’s Jesus’ great commission to us, as He has called us with these words: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).
Do you see this? Do you realize it? May God open our eyes to “God with us” for it’s one of the most incredible things that God would have those who know Him to understand.
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