Our lesson this week takes another look at one of the judges of Israel. The judge of Israel that we will take a look at this week is Gideon. Gideon was called on by the Lord to save Israel after they had once again done evil in the sight of God; they had been delivered into the hands of the Midianites who had rule over them for 7 years (Judg. 6:1, 11-14). Our lesson this week is a lesson that is similar to the ones we have gone over in this first unit of lesson for the fall quarter as we will see that obedience to God’s words leads to guaranteed success.

History of Gideon

Before we jump into the scripture of our lesson, I need to set it up with some more history about Gideon. Gideon was a man who, when he was called, was hiding near a winepress threshing wheat – removing seed heads from the stems (Judg. 6:11). When the Lord came to him, Gideon questioned God as to why Israel had fallen into oppression and was left in it by Him (Judg. 6:13).

Gideon asked God, where were the miracles that he had been told of by his parents. Gideon was not happy to be living under oppression and he even asked the Lord if He had forsaken Israel. Tell you what, Gideon had a lot of gall to ask that of God, didn’t He? But no, God had not forsaken Israel but Israel had certainly forsook Him, again.

When God made it clear to Gideon that He was going to use him, the audacity of Gideon evaporated; he came up with excuse after excuse as to why God shouldn’t use him! Gideon wanted to be delivered from oppression but didn’t want to put in the effort to be delivered from oppression! There are many who find themselves in great suffering, spiritually speaking, that feel like God is doing nothing for them but when God gives them the power to move, they’re reluctant to do so. Reluctant faith will get you absolutely nowhere!

Gideon asked God, “How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house (Judg. 6:15).” Do you see this excuse? Let me tell you, when God is on your side, it does not matter how big or how small you are, nor how big and tall the task might be, you will be successful! So, as God had done with many He had called, He encouraged the man by telling him that He would be with him and He promised have victory over the Midianites (Judg. 6:16).

Before defeating the Midianites, Gideon obeyed God’s instruction of tearing down an altar of Baal which actually drew the ire of the men of the city as they desired to kill him (Judg. 6:28-30). This also drew out both the Midianites and the Amalekites into the Valley of Jezreel (Judg. 6:33).

Standing Against Midian

The time had arrived for Gideon to lead Israel to stand against and overcome their oppressors. So, Gideon, being led by the Spirit of God, led Israel’s army to encamp just south of the Midianites and the Amalekites (Judg. 6:34-25; 7:1).

The three hundred man army

In the opening verse of our lesson, we will see that the Lord said to Gideon that he had gathered too many men to face the Midianites (v.2). How many men had Gideon gathered together? Well, the next verse tells us that after sending away 22,000 men, there were still 10,000 remaining (v.3). This means that Gideon had initially gathered together over 32,000 men.

Considering that Israel had not amassed an army that size during the seven years, I would say this was pretty impressive. Now, the question that some of us may ask is why did God say 32,000 was too many men for the army of Israel? Well, we will see that God said to Gideon that He did not want Israel to “claim glory for itself”.

You see, victory over the Midianites had already been assured by the Lord, so, with such a large number, the people would have taken credit for what they did rather than what God did. One of the struggles that many nonbelievers have, and even some who are of little faith as well, is giving God the glory. I have been asked, and maybe you have to, as to why do we, genuine believers, give God glory when we are the ones doing the work. One must come to understand that the blessings we reap are all put into motion by the Lord!

Now, when the number was trimmed down to 10,000, we will see that God, once again, said to Gideon that he had too many with him and that He need to make more cuts (v.4). To do this, God had Gideon bring the men down to some water for the Lord to test to see who would go with Gideon. This is a test that you can nickname as the “dog test”.

In scripture outside of our lesson, we’ll see that those who lapped from the water as a dog would be the ones set apart for this mission (Judg. 7:5). You may be wondering, why were those that would drink water like a dog be chosen? Well, when dogs drink water, you will notice that they often drink water while looking upwards; they do a really good job of being on guard and aware of their surroundings.

This was a selection process that many liken to the divine election of God. You see, there are many hwo live in this world fully comfortable as if tomorrow is promised and that the fate of their soul has been sealed. Whereas, Jesus often told those that followed Him to be on watch – watch and wait because His return will be like that of a thief in the night (Matt. 22:42-44).

The confidence to face Midian

So, at the end of the last cut, those that remained were only 300 (Judg. 6:6). How do you think it would make Gideon feel to now face the Midianites and the Amalekites with just 300 men? Would you have been confident? I don’t think many of us would have been so confident to face an army with just 300 men. That said, we have to remember that victory over Midian had already been assured by God.

Again, in scripture outside of our lesson, we will read where the Lord said to Gideon that night to go against the camp of the Midiaintes as it will be delivered into his hands (Judg. 7:9). However, God also said to Gideon that if he was afraid, to go to the camp with Purah, his servant, to hear what was said as it would give him strength and confidence (Judg. 7:10-11).

So, Gideon was afraid and did not move to take Midian. He and his servant went to the camp, likely the perimeter so that they did not get caught, where we are told that there was one soldier telling another about a dream he had (v.13). The dreamer said to his companion, “I have had a dream: To my surprise, a loaf of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian; it came to a tent and struck it so that it fell and overturned, and the tent collapsed.”

What did this mean? Well the companion interpreted the dream and told the man that the dream represented the sword of Gideon, a man of Israel, defeating the whole camp of Midian (v.14). Now, how could those two men have been discussing that dream the exact moment that Gideon and his servant arrived at the camp? Better yet, how could one even come up with that interpretation because I certainly wouldn’t have interpreted that from that dream.

In scripture, people like Joseph and Daniel who were able to decipher dreams were only able to do so because of God. So, to me, I believe the answer is clear; God gave the man the dream and He also gave the other ability to understand and interpret the dream. The dream and the interpretation wasn’t meant for these men, it was meant for Gideon who needed this encouragement!

Honestly, I find it more interesting what we will see happen next with Gideon. You will wonder why did Gideon have to hear this dream and its interpretation to move in the manner that he does. Why was God’s word not enough for him? Even with those questions, I think we can also see why God put us into each other life because there are certainly times where we have to lift up each other.

Giving God the glory

So, with that latest reassurance, Gideon made his way back to the camp of Israel fully confident as he encouraged the three hundred men to move to take the camp of Midian because it had been delivered into their hands (v.15). In scripture outside of our lesson, we will see that three hundred men surrounded the Midianites and the Amalekites which caused those armies to flee. The army of the Midianites and the Amalekites fell to Israel (Judg. 7:19-25).

Our lesson skips to Judges 8 where we will see the men of Israel desiring for Gideon and his future generations to rule over them (v.22). What made them say this? Well, they were given Gideon the credit for delivering them from Midian. Israel looked at what had happened with the three hundred driving out and defeating Midian as a work of Gideon rather than God!

The people were doing exactly what God did not want them to do!  Gideon, however, put to rest what they were going swiftly.  Gideon quickly said that he nor his future generations would rule over them.  Gideon gave the credit to the Lord and said that it would be God that would have rule over them (v.23).

Sadly, our lesson ends on a bitter note.  After giving God the glory, Gideon turns around and asks for the gold of the plunder.  This could have actually been a moment for Gideon to throw away what could have possibly been accursed but he did not do so.  There was a garment spread out with the gold earrings thrown on it.

On an even sadder note in scripture outside of our lesson, Gideon made an ephod and it was set up in the city which Israel worshiped; it became a snare for Gideon and his house (Judg. 8:27). On this sad note, when God has given you great success, be sure you truly give God the glory. Gideon started out with the thought of giving God the glory but he shrank down to the desires of the world – don’t you do this when God blesses you.


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