The Israelites had a habit of disobeying the Lord, we can know that because in verse one it says: "Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord..." That word "again" denotes a pattern and for them that pattern was disobedience. Due to their disobedience God gave them over to the Midianites, a powerful but also very opressive people. The Israelites so feared the Midianites that they went and hid in caves, clefts, and strongholds. Do you know what a cave is? It is a dark, cold place that really doesn't allow much growth. Strongholds are things that bind us and clefts keep us seperated from what we need.
The Israelites were always under the thumb of the Midianites, every year they took their livestock and crops. They could never get ahead and come out of the bondage.
Finally, the Israelites became desperate and called to the Lord for help. How many times do we have to get desperate before we call on the Lord? How long do we have to be held up in a cave, before we will come forward?
Now get this, when they called upon the Lord he answered them. He heard their desperate cries and sent a prophet who reminded them what God has done. How many times do we need to be reminded about all that God has done? When we are in caves we often forget all that He has done and we become blinded to the light.
Then the Lord appeared to Gideon, who according to him was the lowest of the low. The Lord called him a Mighty Warrior. He called Gideon out of the cave to save Israel. Gideon tested God several times to make sure that what he was hearing him right. He could not believe that God wanted to use him, the least of these.
God used Gideon to tear down his fathers alters to Baal. The Israelites, while in this land started to worship their god. God will not share his glory with another.
Gideon did as God said and the next morning the men wanted Gideon to get punished. His father told them that if Baal was in fact a god he could handle it himself. How could they argue with that?
Gideon, this little nothing was a rebel for God.
Many times we see a rebel as being something bad, but in fact the definition of a rebel is:
Someone who defies the current condition of order.
Gideon defied the current condition of order, he listened to God and came out of the cave. He did what God asked and because of that, the people were set free.