Warrior In A Winepress
Frustrated, discouraged, lacking authority, and full of excuses. Gideon is not someone you’d choose if you were on the lookout for a mighty warrior in the traditional sense. However, this anti-hero is hand-picked by the Angel of the Lord for a specific mission, and his lack of heroic qualities proves he was the one God needed for the job. So, why do we care if this warrior in a winepress rose to the challenge God set for him? Well, Gideon’s ability to see himself the way God sees Him resonates with every hiding warrior who finds themselves in a winepress.
Our anti-hero, Gideon, is threshing wheat in a winepress because of meanies called the Midianites. His method for his madness was because the Midianites were the ones whose power prevailed over Israel, causing the Israelites to build hiding places deep within the mountains and hide out in the darkest caves for their safety. Normally, threshing was done in an open space so the breeze could easily blow away the chaff from the wheat, however, Gideon knew the Midianites would seize his food if they saw him out in the open with his bundle of wheat.
Gideon knew that all the hard work he’d done in planting, watering, and watching the wheat grow, would be a harvest he’d be giving to the enemy and he wasn’t about to do that. So, this would-be warrior needed to be stealthy, he needed to stay quiet and become invisible so the meanie Midianite bullies didn’t find out he was in the winepress.
I think this is the part in Gideon’s story we warriors can identify with because I don’t know about you, but I can rehearse conversations over in my mind about something feeling fine when it’s not. Still, I can imagine the conversation Gideon has with himself in that winepress before the Angel of the Lord shows up.
“Come on, things aren’t all that bad. I’ve got to stop being so negative, I’ve got to try and look on the bright side. I mean, sure the Midianites are taking our livestock, destroying our farms, wreaking the fields where we are planting our crops, leaving us nothing to eat so we end up starving, but hey, at least there is this winepress I get to hide in to thresh my wheat. At least in my confined, limited, impoverished state, I’m okay. If I just stay quiet, stay silent, and stay invisible then I don’t need to change.
I know we’ll never know what Gideon was thinking or saying in the winepress, but when you read the text, it’s little wonder the Angel of the Lord appeared while this warrior was hiding from his oppressors. As Lisa Cron suggests, ‘Change is hard…[and] there are times when pretending things are fine when they’re not is the very thing that does us in…we get so used to things not being fine, that we forget what fine is.’ Things were not fine. Midian was oppressing the people of God.
‘Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help. When the Israelites cried out to the Lord because of Midian, he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. I snatched you from the power of Egypt and from the hand of all your oppressors. I drove them from before you and gave you their land. I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.”’ 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. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” [Judges 6:6-12]
Note, that God sent a prophet before he approached the warrior in a winepress. He didn’t pretend everything was fine and dandy. No, God acknowledged the external problem first before He drew out the internal struggles and doubts Gideon was dealing with.
‘The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” [Judges 6:14]
God knew Gideon’s potential was never going to grow in that winepress. His internal struggle had to be dealt with before he could step out from that winepress and allow his courage, strength, and some much-needed fresh air to grow and mature him into a warrior. For Gideon to start believing that he could do what God had asked him to do he needed to deal with a few internal struggles. However, like the warrior, Moses, before him, Gideon found every excuse and fault in his character he could think of to disqualify himself from his calling.
‘But Lord, “Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” [Judges 6:15] See, like Gideon, the trouble with our internal struggles of not feeling like we measure up, or we don’t quite qualify for warrior status comes from telling everyone, and ourselves, things are fine in the winepress.
Trouble is, you’re so used to hiding in winepresses when the bullies show up that keeping out of sight, staying small, and trying not to be seen has become the new normal. And yet, dear threshing wheat warrior, God cannot teach you how to become all you need to be and help you rise into the warrior you were born to be if you keep hiding in the winepress. As Beth Moore states, “If you learn to fight, you can be a soldier, but you can’t be a warrior.”
God never seeks out the ones who believe they have it all together. He never goes looking in winepresses for the would-be warriors who feel they can do it all on their own. No, God looks for the one who is willing. The one who chooses to rely on Him for the outcome, and work with Him to become the solution.
The key to Gideon becoming a qualified, legit warrior? It’s found in Judges 6:34. ‘Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon.’ That’s it. That’s the jet fuel you need to get you from threshing wheat in a winepress to becoming a mighty warrior who fights battles.
God invests in your growth because He loves you. He won’t allow you to shrink back, stay small, or become invisible just because others don’t like the warrior forming within you, or they cannot see the value of the calling on your life. Today, you may be a warrior in a winepress but when God says, “The Lord is with you. Go in the strength that you have. I will be with you.” That’s all the qualifications you need to become a warrior!
Are you currently a warrior in a winepress?
My latest book can help you to rise.
A Song Is Rising: Reigniting The Warrior Within. Available at DOLL Ministries and Barnes and Noble.