History of the Period of the Judges Judges 3:7-16:31, cont’d.
Judges 6:1-8:35 Oppressor: Midianites and Amalekites…Deliverer: Gideon
Judges 6:1-6-The Midianites and Amalekites fought against Israel.
Judges 6:7-10-God sent a prophet to Israel and told them that they have not obeyed Him.
Judges 6:11-24-The LORD raises up Gideon to be a judge. Gideon was beating out wheat in a winepress (not the place you would normally thresh wheat) in hopes that the Midianites would not find him and take even the small amount that he would get by threshing it that way. An “angel of the LORD” appears to Gideon. This is a “theophany”…the appearance of God in the form of an angelic being. It is almost a comical scene…as Gideon is threshing wheat in fear of the enemy catching him and the angel calls him, “O valiant warrior.” Initially, Gideon is not certain that this stranger is an angel (:22). So, Gideon isn’t so sure about doing what He is telling him to do. It sounds dangerous. He questions whether, or not, God is still with Israel. After all, if He is…then why is all this bad stuff happening to them (:13)? Then he expresses doubt in his own ability (:15). Finally, Gideon requests that the stranger give him a sign to prove Who He is (:17). Gideon presents an offering to the angel. The angel touched the offering with His staff and it burst into flames (:18-21). At that moment the angel disappeared right in front of his eyes (:21). That was enough evidence for Gideon…he now knew for sure that the LORD had appeared to him (:22). The LORD confirmed this fact by speaking to his heart and reassuring him of His peace (:23). Gideon built an altar to the LORD and named it, “The LORD is Peace”.
Judges 6:25-32-The LORD then instructs Gideon to destroy the altar of Baal that belonged to his father. That night (he was still afraid so he didn’t do it in the daytime), Gideon destroys the altar of Baal in the local place of worship and replaces it with an altar to the LORD. The townspeople want to kill him, but his father protects him. He tells them that if Baal really is a god then he can take care of himself. If he can’t take care of himself, then he can’t take care of them…so he’s not worth worshipping. So, they leave Gideon alone. Then he nicknames Gideon “Jerubbaal,” which means, “let Baal contend.”
Judges 6:33-35-The Midianites and Amalekites gather for war. The "Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon". The wording here literally means that the Spirit clothed Gideon…came upon him like clothing. Gideon blew a trumpet. That was the call to the army to gather for war.
Judges 6:36-40-Now, perhaps having second thoughts, Gideon request again that God give him a sign. Just to make sure before he goes off leading the army to war. Gideon puts a wool fleece on the threshing floor and ask God to send the dew during the night in such a way that the next morning the fleece will be wet, but the ground will be dry. God does exactly what he requested. But then Gideon thinks that maybe the ground would just naturally dry quicker. So, he makes another request…just the opposite. This time he asks God to send the dew so that the fleece is dry and the ground is wet. Again, God does just as he requests. That is proof enough for Gideon.
Judges 7:1-7-God tells Gideon that he has too many warriors. If Israel wins the battle with this many warriors then they may claim the credit for themselves. So, God narrowed the number from 32,000 to 300 so that He, and not Israel would get the credit for the victory (cf. 1 Samuel 14:6). The first way that they were to narrow the ranks was by allowing anyone who was “afraid and trembling” to go home. They had been oppressed for so long by their enemies that most of the army was terrified at the thought of going to battle. Over two-thirds of the men left. The second way that God told Gideon to narrow down the number of warriors was by watching how they drank water. He was to choose the men who drank “as a dog laps”. This probably refers to a man scooping the water up in his hand (like a dog scoops it up with his tongue) and brings it to his mouth. In this manner, the man still has his head and eyes up and is being alert to his surroundings. 300 men drank water in this manner. These are the men chosen to go into battle.
Judges 7:8-15-God knew that Gideon was still a reluctant hero. Perhaps even more so now that almost his entire army had been sent home. So, God gives him another opportunity for his confidence in Him to be restored. He tells Gideon to sneak into the enemy camp after dark and listen to what they are talking about. Gideon sneaks into the enemy camp and hears them talking about a dream that one of them had in which Gideon won the battle. He is encouraged…and bows in worship before God.
Judges 7:16-25-Gideon has his men put their burning torches under water pots so that they are not seen from the enemy camp. When he blows his trumpet (about 10 p.m.), they are to blow their trumpets, remove the pots and shout, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!”. The enemy sees the torches all around them, hear the trumpets, and shouting. They think that they are surrounded and that Israel is already in their camp. They are so terrified that they start fighting against each other…and run away. Warriors from the other tribes of Israel are then summoned so that they can be included in the battle.
Prayer: Lord, I pray that You would use me in a similar manner. Do something with and through me that leaves no room for anyone to receive credit, but You.