What does Judges 6:21 mean?
ESV: 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.
NIV: Then the angel of the LORD touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the LORD disappeared.
NASB: Then the angel of the Lord put out the end of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire came up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. Then the angel of the Lord vanished from his sight.
CSB: The angel of the Lord extended the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened bread. Fire came up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. Then the angel of the Lord vanished from his sight.
NLT: Then the angel of the Lord touched the meat and bread with the tip of the staff in his hand, and fire flamed up from the rock and consumed all he had brought. And the angel of the Lord disappeared.
KJV: Then the angel of the LORD put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the LORD departed out of his sight.
NKJV: Then the Angel of the Lord put out the end of the staff that was in His hand, and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire rose out of the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. And the Angel of the Lord departed out of his sight.
Verse Commentary:
Given all that has happened to Israel (Judges 6:1–6), and Gideon's own fear (Judges 6:11), he never would have expected to spend his day as he has (Judges 6:12–20). He had no warning that God would appear to him and command the rescue of Israel from the Midianites. In keeping with his deeply-rooted skepticism and insecurity (Judges 6:27, 36–40), Gideon has asked for a sign that this is really the Lord (Judges 6:17). To set up this sign, Gideon prepared a generous meal for the stranger, who asked Gideon to put the meat and the cakes on a rock and to pour the broth over them (Judges 6:18–20).

Now the Angel of the Lord touches the meal with the tip of His staff. Fire leaps up from the rock and burns everything up, even though it was wet from the broth. As soon as this happens, the Man "vanishes:" leaving in a clearly supernatural fashion. This response to Gideon's request for a sign implies several important things. These combined effects are more relevant than a random act of power.

First, Gideon prepared a meal that was the equivalent of an offering, spread it on a rock, and it was consumed by fire. The consumption of the sacrifice was clearly understood as a sign of a deity's acceptance (Leviticus 9:24; 1 Kings 18:38; 2 Chronicles 7:1). Second, the angel of the Lord disappears before Gideon's eyes: there one moment and then gone. This clarifies that what Gideon saw was a manifestation, not a mortal human body.

Gideon now has his evidence that this was really the Lord. Rather than reacting with joy, or courage, he responds with more fear and despair. Now that he knows his Guest was the Lord God, he's overcome with worry that he'll be struck dead for seeing God's face (Exodus 33:18–23).
Verse Context:
Judges 6:11–27 begins in a town called Ophrah. There, the Angel of the Lord appears to a man named Gideon. The Lord calls Gideon mighty, despite his apparent lack of influence or power, and commands him to save Israel from Midian. After a display of power, God commands Gideon to tear down the town's altars to false idols, replacing them with an altar to Yahweh complete with a sacrifice of his father's bull. Gideon does so under the cover of darkness out of fear of his family and the townspeople.
Chapter Summary:
Israel follows the sad pattern of the book of Judges, and once again turns to evil and idols. God turns them over to the Midianites. These foreign raiders spend the next seven years invading and consuming Israel's crops and livestock. Israel cries for help to the Lord. His first step is to send a prophet to remind them of God's goodness and their disobedience. The Lord then appears to Gideon, commanding him to save Israel because God will be with him. Gideon obeys God's command to tear down a Baal altar and build one to Yahweh in its place. He calls his countrymen to follow him and asks for signs from God.
Chapter Context:
The book of Judges contains a series of stories with a common theme: Israel falls into sin, suffers, and is rescued by God, only to fall once again (Judges 1—2). The next phase in Israel's downward spiral comes after 40 years of peace, won by Deborah and Barak (Judges 4—5). Israel is punished for sin through the Midianites. After seven years, the Israelites cry out for help. The Lord appears to Gideon, challenging the timid man to lead the battle against Israel's oppressors. Empowered by the Spirit, Gideon calls for his people to follow him, but still asks the Lord for signs. Gideon's successful campaigns are depicted in chapters 7 and 8.
Book Summary:
The Book of Judges describes Israel's history from the death of Joshua to shortly before Israel's first king, Saul. Israel fails to complete God's command to purge the wicked Canaanites from the land (Deuteronomy 7:1–5; 9:4). This results in a centuries-long cycle where Israel falls into sin and is oppressed by local enemies. After each oppression, God sends a civil-military leader, labeled using a Hebrew word loosely translated into English as "judge." These appointed rescuers would free Israel from enemy control and govern for a certain time. After each judge's death, the cycle of sin and oppression begins again. This continues until the people of Israel choose a king, during the ministry of the prophet-and-judge Samuel (1 Samuel 1—7).
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