Gideon Judges 6-8
There is a pattern in the book of Judges. It began with Israel forgetting God. They then did their own thing and worshiped false gods. God judged them for their sins by allowing some foreign power to dominate them. The people repented and God raised up a judge who led them back to God and to independence. This was the setting of Gideon’s story. Israel sinned and God allowed, among others, the Midianites to dominate them.
Read Judges 6:1-6: The Midianites and others would wait until the harvest was ready and then swoop down and steal it all, thus leaving the Israelites with no food. Judges 6:11 tells us that Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. One did not normally thresh in a winepress but Gideon was hoping to escape detection and hold onto some of his harvest. This makes the greeting of the angel a little humorous as he calls Gideon a “mighty warrior.”
Read Judges 6:13, 14: Question 1: “If God is with us why is this happening?” Gideon had many of the same reactions that all of us have, especially in times of difficulty. He knew the theology and he knew the accounts of how God had worked in the past but he found it difficult to see where God was today in the midst of so much suffering. How many times did we hear people ask “Where was God on 9/11?” When things are not going the way we think they should we often ask, “Where is God now when I need Him?”
God said, “I am still here and it is time to move and I am going to move through you.” Verse 14 is a powerful verse if we stop to think of it. The writer has told us how powerful the enemies are but God said to Gideon that He would use him to set His people free. Read verse 14. That tells us two very important things about doing the work that God has set before us, whether it is teaching Sunday school, witnessing to a neighbor, raising children etc. 1. Gideon was to go in the strength he had. We must never minimize the gifts and abilities that God has given us nor can we ever be satisfied with the way we develop and perfect those gifts. 2. And God said, “Am I not sending you?” Our gifts, talents, abilities, strengths etc are of little value if He is not in it. When He is in it we don’t need anything more.
Read Joshua 6: 15-24 Question 2: “What makes you think I can do what you are asking? I am a nobody in a small tribe and insignificant even as far as my family is concerned.”
And to this the Lord again reminded him (v. 16), “I will be with you.” I am not sure how seriously most of us take the promise of Jesus that He will never leave or forsake us. In the Old Testament it was the exception but in the New Testament it is the rule. Every believer has God with him 24/7/365 because of the presence of the Holy Spirit
Those doubts were followed by a literal “prove it” as far as Gideon was concerned. He said (v. 17), “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me.” God said OK. God never puts us off for honest doubts and questions. He is more than able and willing to prove himself. At every step God met Gideon where he was and helped him move forward in his faith. God is always willing to do that if we are honest and really want to move forward.
Gideon got a sacrifice (v. 19), placed it on the rock and the angel of the Lord touches it and it is consumed. Gideon believed but had a new problem (v. 22, 23). One cannot see God and live so he fears for his life. God said “You will live.”
Gideon’s first assignment was to destroy an altar set up to Baal. Read Judges 6:25-32: God asked Gideon to destroy this altar and in its place put up an altar to the true God. Gideon did that at night with the help of 10 servants. The next morning the people of the town discovered what had happened and soon learned who did it. They wanted to kill Gideon for this act of vandalism against the god they were worshipping and depending on so asked that he be brought to them for judgment. Gideon’s father asked why they needed to judge him. “Was not that the job of Baal whom Gideon supposedly offended?” In the end they saw that a false God couldn’t defend himself and, by way of implication, couldn’t defend those who follow him. Satan and the world promise so much but in the end they cannot produce what they say they can. There is a hopelessness about false gods that ultimately shows up in their inability to produce.
Read Judges 6:34: Literally God “clothed himself in Gideon”
Gideon was still in doubt and asked God for 2 more signs or proof that He would do what He said. (v. 36-40). Gideon placed a fleece on the ground. The first night he asked God to make it wet when all else around it is dry. The next night he reversed it. “Putting out the fleece” is fine on some occasions but needs to be used carefully. God does not generally work this way but on occasion it seems to be acceptable to lay out a test to confirm what otherwise seems right. No fleece can ever confirm what is wrong morally nor can we use a fleece if we are not willing to follow His leading should He give us a sign.
Read Judges 7:2: God told Gideon that if he went to battle with that many some would think they accomplished it themselves and would fail to give Him the glory. Remember, God will share anything with His children except His glory. That is His and His alone.
Read Judges 7:3-6: First God released all who were afraid. Only those who truly believed God could do it were permitted to go. Then God selected the men who lapped the water, not because it was the right way to do it but because the number was so small that any victory would have to have come from God. And Gideon goes into battle with 300 men.
Read Judges 7:15: Gideon first of all worshiped God, something we too seldom take the time to do, and then went back and told his men to get ready and they move out. He stationed the men on the hilltop and at a signal the 300 sounded trumpets and broke jars and shouted, “For the Lord and for Gideon.”
Read Judges 7:19-21. The Israelites did those things that left the impression there were many more of them than there actually were but at the same time they did nothing that would legitimately cause the Midianites to panic. The only explanation for that is God. The Midianites killed each other.
Read Judges 7:22-25: God gave Gideon and his small army complete victory over the Midianites.
Judges 8 is largely a discussion of the victories that they won because God was with them.
Read Judges 8:22-28. The Israelites ask Gideon to rule over them. Gideon refused but instead made for himself a replica of the garment worn by the priests. Soon they forgot that only God should be worshiped and only as He instructs us to worship Him. Read Judges 8:33, 34. The people returned to their old ways.
Lessons: God understands and accepts our honest doubts and questions and if we are willing to seek answers He will give us all of the answers we need. He may not tell us all we want to know but will give us all we need to know to trust Him more fully.
Little is much when God is in it. If He asks us to do anything He provides for it as He equips us to serve.
Faith needs encouragement. Gideon needed to be encouraged several times but God was more than patient and more than willing to assist him. God encourages us through one another, asking us to be His instruments of that encouragement.