and he sent them a prophet who brought them this message from the Lord, the God of Israel: "I brought you out of slavery in Egypt.
I rescued you from the Egyptians and from the people who fought you here in this land. I drove them out as you advanced, and I gave you their land.
I told you that I am the Lord your God and that you should not worship the gods of the Amorites, whose land you are now living in. But you have not listened to me."
Then the Lord's angel came to the village of Ophrah and sat under the oak tree that belonged to Joash, a man of the clan of Abiezer. His son Gideon was threshing some wheat secretly in a wine press, so that the Midianites would not see him.
The Lord's angel appeared to him there and said, "The Lord is with you, brave and mighty man!"
Gideon said to him, "If I may ask, sir, why has all this happened to us if the Lord is with us? What happened to all the wonderful things that our fathers told us the Lord used to do - how he brought them out of Egypt? The Lord has abandoned us and left us to the mercy of the Midianites."
Then the Lord ordered him, "Go with all your great strength and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I myself am sending you."
Gideon replied, "But Lord, how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least important member of my family."
The Lord answered, "You can do it because I will help you. You will crush the Midianites as easily as if they were only one man."
Gideon replied, "If you are pleased with me, give me some proof that you are really the Lord.
Please do not leave until I bring you an offering of food." He said, "I will stay until you come back."