Once again the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. So for seven years he handed them over to the people of Midian.
... The Midianites treated the people of Israel very badly.
... They cried out to the Lord because of what Midian had done.
... The angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon. He said, "Mighty warrior, the Lord is with you."
"But sir," Gideon replied, "you say the Lord is with us. Then why has all of this happened to us? Where are all of the wonderful things he has done? Our parents told us about them. They said, 'Didn't the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?' But now the Lord has deserted us. He has handed us over to Midian."
The Lord turned to Gideon. He said to him, "You are strong. Go and save Israel from the power of Midian. I am sending you."
"But Lord," Gideon asked, "how can I possibly save Israel? My family group is the weakest in the tribe of Manasseh. And I'm the least important member of my family."
The Lord answered, "I will be with you. So you will strike down the men of Midian all at one time."
Gideon replied, "If you are pleased with me, give me a special sign. Then I'll know that it's really you talking to me.
...He did just as the Lord had told him. But he was afraid of his family. He was also afraid of the men in the town. So he did everything at night instead of during the day. (New International Reader's Version)
We start this chapter out with "again." The viscous circle continues.
The Lord selects Gideon to rescue his people from the Midianites. Gideon was an interesting choice. Notice that his family and village worshiped Baal, not God. Gideon listens to God but is very cautious and even reluctant to proceed without proof it is God. He does what God asked him to but under the cover of night because he is afraid of his family and neighbors. Fear seams to overcome him again on the eve of a battle that the Lord has already assured him victory. God provides him with the sign he needs to have the confidence that God will give him the victory. God works with him step by step despite Gideon's lack of faith. Once again God is patient and does not give up on Gideon. Philip Yancey writes "... this pattern appears throughout the Bible. God does not seek the people most outwardly capable, nor the most naturally "good." He works with the most unlikely material so that everyone can see the glory is his and his alone." The Apostle Paul writes about this also.