The Call of Gideon
11 Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the oak at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. 12 The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty warrior.” 13 Gideon answered him, “But sir, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our ancestors recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has cast us off and given us into the hand of Midian.” 14 Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian; I hereby commission you.” 15 He responded, “But sir, how can I deliver Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” 16 The Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike down the Midianites, every one of them.” 17 Then he said to him, “If now I have found favor with you, then show me a sign that it is you who speak with me. 18 Do not depart from here until I come to you and bring out my present and set it before you.” And he said, “I will stay until you return.”
19 So Gideon went into his house and prepared a kid and unleavened cakes from an ephah of flour; the meat he put in a basket, and the broth he put in a pot and brought them to him under the oak and presented them. 20 The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened cakes and put them on this rock and pour out the broth.” And he did so. 21 Then the angel of the Lord reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes, and fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes, and the angel of the Lord vanished from his sight. 22 Then Gideon perceived that it was the angel of the Lord, and Gideon said, “Help me, Lord God! For I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face.” 23 But the Lord said to him, “Peace be to you; do not fear; you shall not die.” 24 Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and called it, “The Lord is peace.” To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites.
In the Bible, God encounters people in a variety of ways. Often, in the Old Testament, angels (God’s messengers) will visit with some word from the Lord. In this account, there’s a lot packed into the conversation between Gideon and a divine ambassador. And often, our human ancestors would treat God’s spokespeople with some savory food. It might just have been ancient hospitality. It might have been a part of the give and take between people and God. It isn’t a bad way to meet, greet, and spend time listening to what may be a hint at where God is sending us.
Let us be better at offering hospitality to those we encounter along the way. And let us listen for how you might be whispering to us about your presence in our lives. Amen.