BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
Judges 6 tells us the story of when the LORD put the Israelites under the captivity of the Midianites because they did evil in His sight. They rebelled against the LORD. Consequently, the Midianites, who were the descendants of Abraham’s second wife, Keturah (Genesis 25:1-2) oppressed them severely for seven years. The Israelites had to be hiding in the mountains, caves, and strongholds.
Any time the Israelites planted crops, raiders from Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east would attack Israel, camp in the land and destroy crops as far away as Gaza. They would leave the Israelites with nothing to eat, taking away all their livestock. Their enemies would arrive on multitude of camels and stayed until the land was completely ravaged. The Israelites were greatly impoverished and they cried out to the LORD. He responded to their cry and raised Gideon as a judge to deliver them.
Verse 11 of Judges 6 tells us the condition of Gideon at that time, as one of the victims of the Midianites’ oppression, before the angel of the LORD appeared to him with the call of the LORD to lead the deliverance of the people. “Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites” (New Living Translation). I want you to take note of that statement. Look at that word, “winepress.” The Bible says Gideon was threshing his wheat in a winepress.
What is a winepress?
A winepress is a pit or large vat where grapes were collected and the juice is pressed or squeezed from them and channelled into a large container. Winepresses were usually dug in vineyards (Isaiah 5:2; Matthew 21:33; Mark 12:1).
But Gideon was not pressing grapes in a winepress, which was the normal thing; he was threshing his wheat in a winepress, not at a threshing floor. A winepress is also symbolically used in the Bible to express the wrath and judgment of the LORD against sin as we see in Isaiah 63:3-6, Lamentation 1:15 and Joel 3:12-13.
What is a Threshing Floor?
Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary describes a threshing floor as, “A flat surface prepared for the threshing of grain. The threshing floor was usually located at the edge of a village, frequently on a large flat rock outcropping. When no flat rock was available, the threshing floor would be prepared by leveling the ground and pounding the earth to create a hard surface.”
Threshing, which was the removal of the kernel grain from the its stalk, was done by different methods, including the beating of the grain by the farmers in the case of small quantity of grain, using the animals to tread over the grain again and again and using animal-drawn machines for large quantity of grain such as the threshing sledge mentioned in Isaiah 41:15.
After the wheat stalks had been threshed, the grain was separated from the chaff with the aid of winds. As the threshed wheat was winnowed, i.e. thrown up against the wind, the chaff was blown away. The farmer would burn the unwanted things – the straw and chaff.
Why thresh wheat in a winepress?
Why was Gideon threshing his wheat in a winepress and not at a threshing floor meant for wheat? It was because of the Midianites who attacked Israel, destroyed their crops, took away all their livestock and left them with nothing to eat.
The time Gideon was threshing his wheat was not the best of time, and the place he was threshing wasn’t the right place, but he discovered he had to do something. Though the circumstances were not perfect, he knew he must use what he had to achieve something. He mustn’t resign to fate or fold his arms if he and his family would not die of hunger! He, therefore, turned the winepress into a threshing floor since he couldn’t go to the normal threshing floor, which would have exposed him to the attack of the enemy.
Numbers18:27 brings out the difference between a threshing floor and a winepress. “The Lord will consider this offering to be your harvest offering, as though it were the first grain from your own threshing floor or wine from your own winepress” (New Living Translation).
Grains (wheat) were threshed in a threshing floor and grapes were pressed in a winepress to produce wine. But Gideon refused to be a slave to the convention that wheat was threshed at a threshing floor – he didn’t allow the circumstances he found himself to limit him. He thought out of the box! Ecclesiastes 11:4 says, “He who observes the wind [and waits for all condition to be favourable] will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap” (The Amplified Bible).
The problem with many people today is that they’re using the unfavourable condition as an excuse for their inaction. They’re not doing anything yet, because they’re waiting for a perfect condition to start a particular course, a prayer programme, a book, a project, etc. But the truth is that there is hardly such a perfect time. Thus, such people may wait forever.
Gideon didn’t wait for the perfect condition to thresh his wheat at a threshing floor, which was made from rock or soil and located outside the village, usually on an elevated site where the winds would blow away the chaff when the threshed wheat was thrown up against the wind.
Considering the fact that the Israelites, under punishment of the LORD, were hiding in caves from the Midianites, there was no way for Gideon to get access to a threshing floor. But he had access to a winepress, which was usually in a pit where the Midianites would not see him and be able to attack him.
He kept hope alive. He used what he had – a winepress. That was where he considered hidden and safe for him at the time. And that was where the angel of the LORD appeared to him and spoke to him. Verses 11-12 say, “…Gideon was threshing wheat in the winepress, out of sight of the Midianites. The angel of God appeared to him and said, ‘God is with you, O mighty warrior!’” (The Message). So you could see that he chose a winepress, because it was hidden from the Midianites. That was wisdom.
I don’t think that Gideon was a coward, but the oppression of the Israelites the Midianites was a punishment from the LORD. It was so overwhelming that it resulted in self-doubt when the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon and spoke to him. Because the oppression was of the LORD, there was nothing Gideon could have done until the LORD had heard Israelites’ cry and visited them to terminate their oppression. Moses could do nothing about the oppression of the Israelites in Egypt until the LORD had heard their cry and sent him to deliver them (Exodus 3:7-10).
However, the LORD saw something in Gideon that made Him choose him to deliver the Israelites. He saw a man who didn’t give up; He saw a man who hoped against hope. He saw a man who was suffering under the burden of His punishment like the other Israelites, but still had not forgotten His miracle power. Gideon told the angel, “O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites” (Judges 6:13 New King James Version).
He must have been hoping for the restoration of the season of the LORD’s miracles among His people, hence he continued to thresh his wheat temporarily in a winepress.
The LORD doesn’t wait for a perfect condition by human standards to do what He wants to do. He appears in the most unexpected places at the most unexpected times, using the most unexpected persons to do the most unexpected things! Stop making excuses; stop procrastinating. Do what you can do, as you’re led by the LORD and He will meet you on the way. The angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon in the winepress! The LORD will meet you in your winepress – in the most unexpected place, at the most unexpected hour. Hallelujah!
In Genesis 28:10-19, Jacobs’s sleep was not a comfortable one – he used a stone as his pillow! Yet, God encountered him with a powerful revelation of a stairway that reached from the earth to heaven, the angels of the LORD going up and down the stairway and at the top of the stairway speaking to him.
It is not how comfortable the bed you sleep on is that guarantees you a revelation from heaven! It is not how soft your pillow is that guarantees you a heavenly dream! You don’t have to lodge in a five-star hotel before the LORD gives you a five-star revelation!
The four lepers’ faith
In 2 Kings 7, those four lepers, sitting at the entrance of the gates of Samaria, did what they could do. Though the circumstance was unpleasant, The LORD honoured their faith. He magnified the steps of the four lepers such that the Syrians ran away, having heard their steps. Their steps sounded like the clatter of speeding chariots and the galloping of horses and the sounds of a great army invading their camp. I call what the Syrians experienced auditory hallucination! Hallucination is defined as “false perception in any of the five sensory modalities when no external stimulus exists.” If the four lepers had not taken the steps towards the camp of the Syrians, they would never have known that the LORD could use their little effort to achieve so much (2 Kings 7:3-11).
What happened was beyond the lepers; it was all about the LORD, using the natural steps of the four lepers to accomplish supernatural deliverance for His people. Imagine the LORD using four lepers that had been cast out of the city – they were not permitted to enter the city until they were cleansed! The LORD used unclean people to perform a clean miracle! The rods of Moses became the rod of God! (Exodus 4:20, 17:9). Hallelujah! The LORD did awesome miracles through the common shepherds’ rods of Moses and Aaron (Exodus 4:1-4, 17, 20; 7:10-12, 20-21; 8:5-6, 16-17; 9:23-26, 10:13-15; 14:16, 21-31).
Abraham obeyed the LORD’s instruction to go to sacrifice Isaac. It wasn’t a perfect time; it was also a strange request. But, as he obeyed the LORD, He substituted Isaac with a ram whose horn was tied to the thicket (Genesis 22:12-19).
On this occasion when the LORD spoke to Abraham again, He enlarged the covenant He had cut with him (verses 15-18). The condition in which he obeyed the LORD was not a perfect one; he had only one Isaac, one child of promise, which he got after twenty-five years of waiting, from the time the LORD called him at Haran; yet, he was ready to sacrifice him. The LORD’s instruction to sacrifice Isaac appeared contrary to His promise to make Abraham a father of many nations. How would that be possible if he had to kill the only child of promise he had? But he chose to believe the LORD, even if He didn’t understand Him.
Don’t let your present condition kill your dream. Don’t let your present challenges make you abandon the vision the LORD has given you. Do whatever you can do in the present circumstances, as you’re led by the LORD. It may not be the best; but, you can always improve on your performance. You’ll never do anything if you wait for a perfect condition.
Half a loaf is better than no bread! Wheat threshed in a winepress may not be as good as wheat threshed at a threshing floor! But, at least, Gideon and his family would have some food to eat and not die of hunger! After Gideon had delivered the people from the Midianites, Gideon and the rest could go back to their threshing floor and do all the threshing they wanted to do without the fear of the enemy. They could do the best threshing possible after the condition had changed. But Gideon must not wait till that time before he would thresh his wheat. What would he eat before then? Stop giving excuses about why you’re doing nothing. Why wait till you die with your destiny unfulfilled!
Start fulfilling God’s purpose now in your ‘winepress’
Learn from the life of Gideon. Be wise. Start fulfilling the purpose of God for your life in your ‘winepress’ that is available now while you’re trusting God to give you a ‘threshing floor.’ Use your present platform well until God calls you up to a higher ground. It’s useless day-dreaming about global platforms while you allow opportunities to use available local platforms pass you by! It’s not wrong to think globally, but don’t be ashamed to start small. Rome was not built in a day. Most house owners will tell you that they started small and continued little by little until they completed their building projects. They didn’t have all the money required to complete it before they started. The same thing goes for most big businesses. They started as small businesses.
Don’t insist on having a perfect time before you start doing what the LORD has laid on your heart to do and has told you to start doing. If you insist, you’ll never achieve anything! Your destiny will never speak. It will remain a piece of paper, and your life will never bless anyone.
Don’t let the desire for perfection stop you from making good attempts. Use the resources you have now to do what the LORD has ordained for you, even if the resources are not the best. In future, you can always improve on whatever you do today.
Conclusion: Mary brought forth her firstborn Son, Jesus, wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn (Luke 2:7). However, the circumstances of Jesus’ birth didn’t stop Him from fulfilling His destiny. If the place available to start your destiny is a ‘manger’, don’t despise it; use it!
Don’t despise your small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10). Start from where you are and be on your way to your throne. One day, you’ll reach those you’ve been sent to. You’ll fulfill your destiny! You’ll achieve your goal! Don’t keep waiting forever those whose blessings have been attached to your destiny. They’re waiting for your manifestation (Romans 8:19).
If you’re not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start to attend a Bible-believing, Bible -teaching church. There you will be taught how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent and confess my sins. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church in your area where you will be taught how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I’ll be glad to hear from you. May the Lord be with you.
T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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