By the days of Gideon, Israel had not only become comfortable with idolatry, they had forgotten true worship altogether. The presence of idols is obvious because Gideon has to destroy the idols belonging to his city and family. Perhaps more distressing, Gideon’s interaction with the angel of the Lord and God indicates that he knows little about God’s ways at all. Gideon, unsure what to do, brings a food offering to the angel of the Lord, suspecting that this figure is supernatural. When Gideon brings the type of food offering Canaanites give to their idols, the angel of the Lord destroys it. God then helps Gideon understand that worship of YHWH does not work like worshipping Canaanite deities. God will save Israel and provide for them, and Gideon will certainly not feed God.
God continually condescends to Gideon’s lack of understanding, as demonstrated by the fleece incident and Gideon’s directives to declare, “For the Lord and for Gideon” while entering battle. In the first instance, God is patient with Gideon’s lack of faith and constant testing. In the second instance of battle, God never commands Gideon to call the people to shout in this way. God uses Gideon, but we are starting to see that the judges are more ignorant of God’s ways and thus are less effective in leading Israel the way God intends. The downward spiral of Israel continues even as God does great works in their midst through Gideon.