Is the God of the Old Testament…?
In the last post in this series, Gideon asked the divine messenger why are the Midianites oppressing them and where are YHWH’s wonderful acts of deliverance (Judg. 6:13). (Gideon apparently has no problems confronting a superior being–I tend to be a bit more conflict avoidant in those contexts.)
At this point the story becomes even more bizarre. The angel that Gideon has been interacting with seems to disappear, or at least moves into the background. According to the text, it’s not the messenger who responds to Gideon’s question, but YHWH himself. (Perhaps it’s still the angel of YHWH, but the text is just saying “YHWH” as shorthand? See Gen. 32:22-32; Hos. 12:4 for a similar God-man-angel ambiguity scenario.)
While we can’t be sure what is happening, it is dramatic. YHWH speaks directly to Gideon, and instead of providing the why and the where that Gideon asked for, he provides Gideon a who–“you”–telling Gideon to “Go in this might of yours and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian; I hereby commission you” (Judg. 6:14). Notice, they are calling Gideon “mighty” again (sounds prophetic to me).
How is this “Go” an answer to Gideon’s questions? Does God not hear well? (Although, he wasn’t very old at this point in the Bible.) While God’s response doesn’t address the why, the prophetic messenger sent by YHWH earlier hits that one head one (Judg. 6:10-“You have not given heed to my voice”). And Gideon’s question about where are the wonderful deeds seems to receive an indirect answer in that God tells Gideon that he’s the one to perform those deeds.
I guess the lesson is, be careful what you ask God for. Gideon wondered where Israel’s deliverance was and God said, “You’re the man.” God apparently knew that Gideon was bothered by Israel’s oppression and that Gideon was bold enough to ask about it. Those two characteristics were the prerequistites that God required for the person he’d choose as judge. (Gideon’s not convinced yet that he’s the one, but we’ll discuss that next time.)
Why doesn’t YHWH address Gideon’s question more directly?
Image: “Gideon and the angel” by Jacob de Wet.