THE BOOK OF
CHAPTER 6 - 8
Before we begin our story about Gideon, let's review what happened at the
end of the previous chapter in the Book of Judges. The king of Canaan
was defeated by Deborah and Barak and the land of Israel had rest for forty
years being judged by Deborah.
Forty years ... You guessed it
... Probably another new generation aging ... People with their own ideas
and wanting to do things their way instead of the Lord's way, and before you
know it, they've done evil in the eyes of the Lord once again.
Unwilling to learn from the
mistakes of the generations before them, the Lord delivered Israel into the
hands of the Midianites, who oppressed them sorely for seven years.
And once again, Israel cried out
to God for help. So the Lord sent an Angel to talk to Gideon, of the tribe
of Manasseh, who was threshing wheat by the winepress instead of in the
threshing floor in order to hide it from the Midianites (because they would
either steal it or destroy it). The Angel, sitting under an oak tree, said
to Gideon; The Lord is with you, brave man.
Gideon answered, Oh my Lord, If
the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all His
miracles that our fathers told us about? The Lord has forsaken us and
delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.
Notice in your Bible, that Gideon addresses this Angel of the
Lord as "Lord". I point this out because the
next verse says:
And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou
shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent
LORD is all in
capitals, so you know it is really the Lord, and not just a title, as many
servants in Biblical times referred to authority figures as lord. So
this "Angel" is really the Lord, just like the Lord appeared to Abraham with
the two Angels in
Genesis, Chapter 18.
Now, back to
the story. Gideon expresses to the Lord that he's doubtful that he can do
much of anything for Israel because he was very young and from one of the
smaller tribes of Israel. But the Lord assured him that He would be with him
and he would defeat the Midianites as if they all were just one man.
Now, just so
Gideon would know for sure that he wasn't imagining all this he asked the
Lord to oblige him with a sign to show that He really talked with him. So
Gideon went and prepared food and brought it out to the Lord under the oak.
The "Angel of
God" told Gideon to take the food and lay it on a rock, so Gideon did, and
then the Angel touched the food with the end of the staff in His hand and a
fire came up out of the rock and consumed it all, then the Angel left
believed that it was truly an Angel of the Lord, he was afraid and said,
Alas, O Lord God! Because I have seen an Angel of the Lord face to face. (It
was a mutually shared belief among the Hebrews that if a man saw God, he
would die.) But the Lord told Gideon, Peace to you, and don't fear: you will
many people together to fight against the Midianites, but God knew that with
such a large army, the people (Israel) in their vanity, would believe their
victory was gained by their own strength instead of providence from God, so
He told Gideon to tell all the people who were afraid, they could go home.
Twenty two thousand excused themselves and ten thousand remained, so God
told Gideon to bring them down to the water, and all those who lap the water
like a dog (which would indicate fervor of character and therefore, bravery)
will NOT go with you, but those who drink the water from their hands
(indicating more docile character and therefore tending to be more fearful
souls), these WILL go and fight.
Only 300 men
drank from their hands and the Lord said to Gideon, By these 300 men, I will
save you and deliver the Midianites into your hand. Let all the others go
night, the army of Midian was camped in the valley near Gideon and his 300
meek soldiers, and the Lord told Gideon it was time to go to battle, but if
he was afraid, to take his servant down to the camp with him and he would
then be convinced that he would be victorious.
After all, can
you imagine, in the morning, you're thinking that you're going to lead an
army of 32,000 into battle, and then by evening, your army has been reduced
to 300 less than courageous troops? Who's bravery wouldn't be wilted just a
tiny little bit?
Nearing one of
the tents, Gideon heard a man (of Midian) telling his comrade about a dream
he had of a barley cake that rolled into the Midianite camp and struck a
tent so that it collapsed. Then he heard the comrade interpret that it was a
sign that God had delivered Midian into Gideon's hand.
confidence now restored, he divided his 300 man army into 3 parts and in the
dark of night, holding torches inside of pitchers so their enemies wouldn't
see the light, and trumpets in their other hand, they surrounded the enemy
camp. Then, at Gideon's order, they blew the trumpets all at once, then
broke their pitchers, holding the torches that were underneath, and shouted,
The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!
This of course
caused such a fright and commotion among the enemy that in their groggy,
confused, half awake state, the Lord caused the enemies to turn their swords
upon each other as they tried to flee.
Now, that was
just the meat and potatoes version of the story of Gideon, if you'd like all
the tiny details, I urge you to enjoy it straight out of your Bible, too. No
question about it, the victory of this battle was ascribed to the Lord, by
those who fought it, but Gideon soon found out that dissention isn't only
reserved for enemies, but those of your own country can be mighty
It seems that
when Gideon sent word to the tribe of Ephraim to join in the post-battle
pursuit of the enemies, they were miffed that they weren't included in the
big battle, but Gideon intelligently pacified them by explaining that it was
God's will, and by paying them compliments of their undeniable achievements
which Gideon couldn't possibly attempt to outdo. We'll be talking a little
more about the tribe of Manasseh (which Gideon was from) and the tribe of
Ephraim, later in our study of the book of Judges.
But this wasn't
the last of Gideon's troubles. As he was pursuing the kings of the
Midianites, he asked the men of Succoth and Penuel (both of the tribe of
Gad) if they would provide food for the fighting men because they were
faint, but they didn't feel like those soldiers were worthy of their charity
because they hadn't ALREADY defeated the kings of Midian.
and his men defeated the Midian army and captured the kings, then taking
them back to the men of Succoth and Penuel, he taught them a good lesson.
years, Israel had peace under the judgment of Gideon, but as soon as he died
... Can you guess what the children of Israel did? Join us again next time
and see, at