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Series: Thru the Bible
Message – Gideon, Mighty Warrior
Ok, as I promised you – the stories of the judges we are about to examine and learn from could be subtitles “Rinse and Repeat” since nearly all the accounts are the same, in many ways.
- It always begins with Israel doing evil.
- God does what He said He would and turns them over into the hands of their enemies.
Israel does evil & is set brought under bondage:
“(1) The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD handed them over to Midian seven years,”
- After oppression gets bad enough, they cry out to the Lord and Israel finds that God had already answered before they cried. They do not have to wait for God to have a child born and come of age, He simply calls them to their work of deliverance.
- Often this lasts until a new generation is born who did not witness the deliverance of the Lord. These do evil in God’s sight…rinse repeat!
Israel cries out to the Lord:
“(2) and they oppressed Israel. Because of Midian, the Israelites made hiding places for themselves in the mountains, caves, and strongholds. (3) Whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites, Amalekites, and the eastern peoples came and attacked them. (4) They encamped against them and destroyed the produce of the land, even as far as Gaza. They left nothing for Israel to eat, as well as no sheep, ox or donkey. (5) For the Midianites came with their cattle and their tents like a great swarm of locusts. They and their camels were without number, and they entered the land to waste it. (6) So Israel became poverty stricken because of Midian, and the Israelites cried out to the LORD.”
God speaks to Israel through a Prophet:
“(7) When the Israelites cried out to Him because of Midian, (8) the LORD sent a prophet to them. He said to them, “This is what the LORD God of Israel says: ‘I brought you out of Egypt and out of the place of slavery. (9) I delivered you from the power of Egypt and the power of all who oppressed you. I drove them out before you and gave you their land. (10) I said to you: I am the LORD your God. Do not fear the gods of the Amorites whose land you live in. But you did not obey Me.'”
As is so often the truth, God’s people tend to cry out only when things get bad for them. It is amazing how oppression and affliction jog the memory of Who their real God is!
The Call of Gideon & the Glory of God
“(11) The Angel of the LORD came, and He sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash, the Abiezrite. His son Gideon was threshing wheat in the wine vat in order to hide it from the Midianites. (12) Then the Angel of the LORD appeared to him and said: “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.” (13) Gideon said to Him, “Please Sir, if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened? And where are all His wonders that our fathers told us about? They said, ‘Hasn’t the LORD brought us out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and handed us over to Midian.” (14) The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and deliver Israel from the power of Midian. Am I not sending you?” (15) He said to Him, “Please, Lord, how can I deliver Israel? Look, my family is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.” (16) “But I will be with you,” the LORD said to him. “You will strike Midian down as if it were one man.” (17) Then he said to Him, “If I have found favor in Your sight, give me a sign that You are speaking with me. (18) Please do not leave this place until I return to You. Let me bring my gift and set it before You.” And He said, “I will stay until you return.” (19) So Gideon went and prepared a young goat and unleavened bread from a half bushel of flour. He placed the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot. He brought them out and offered them to Him under the oak. (20) The Angel of God said to him, “Take the meat with the unleavened bread, put it on this stone, and pour the broth on it.” And he did so. (21) The Angel of the LORD extended the tip of the staff that was in His hand and touched the meat and the unleavened bread. Fire came up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. Then the Angel of the LORD vanished from his sight.”
Their name will show up again so it is best to deal with it now. The Abiezrites were the descendants of Abiezer, the son of Gilead. Joash and Gideon were members of this family within the tribe of Manasseh.
Gideon declares that his family is the weakest in Manasseh and that he is the runt of the litter so to speak. God seems to love to do this doesn’t He?
We have it on the authority of Paul that He does, and in a little while we will read what he said in 1 Cor. 1:26-29.
The Angel of the Lord allows Gideon to keep with tradition and cook him a meal. The Angel consumed it in a less than traditional way and left him – but it left its impression upon Gideon.
God is known by a new Name
“(22) When Gideon realized that He was the Angel of the LORD, he said, “Oh no, Lord GOD! I have seen the Angel of the LORD face to face!” (23) But the LORD said to him, “Peace to you. Don’t be afraid, for you will not die.” (24) So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it Yahweh Shalom. It is in Ophrah of the Abiezrites until today.”
As often as it is used it is interesting that this is the only location where the name Jehovah-Shalom is used in the entire Bible. Now to be fair, there are other ways this is said, like “Prince of Peace” or “the God of peace”, but even though Peace is used in these places regarding God, they are slightly different that this reference. You see Jehovah is word with several shades of meaning based upon how it is used. Jehovah Means “The Existing One”. The chief meaning of Jehovah is derived from the Hebrew word Havah meaning “to be” or “to exist.” Though it also suggests “to become” or specifically “to become known”…this denotes a God Who progressively reveals Himself to Israel. The use of the word Shalom denotes the manner in which God came and left – He did not appeared to Gideon and Gideon did not die. So to him, God revealed Himself as the God Who reveals Himself as a God of Peace.
The Hard working farmer must be first (2Tim, 2:6) Don’t enforce what you don’t live:
“(25) On that very night the LORD said to him, “Take your father’s young bull and a second bull seven years old. Then tear down the altar of Baal that belongs to your father and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. (26) Build a well-constructed altar to the LORD your God on the top of this rock. Take the second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah pole you cut down.” (27) So Gideon took 10 of his male servants and did as the LORD had told him. But because he was too afraid of his father’s household and the men of the city to do it in the daytime, he did it at night. (28) When the men of the city got up in the morning, they found Baal’s altar torn down, the Asherah pole beside it cut down, and the second bull offered up on the altar that had been built. (29) They said to each other, “Who did this?” After they made a thorough investigation, they said, “Gideon son of Joash did it.”
A wise and partially protective father:
“(30) Then the men of the city said to Joash, “Bring out your son. He must die, because he tore down Baal’s altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.” (31) But Joash said to all who stood against him, “Would you plead Baal’s case for him? Would you save him? Whoever pleads his case will be put to death by morning! If he is a god, let him plead his own case, because someone tore down his altar.” (32) That day, Gideon’s father called him Jerubbaal, saying, “Let Baal plead his case with him,” because he tore down his altar.”
Jerubbaal = Let Baal contend
The Spirit of the Lord enveloped Gideon
“(33) All the Midianites, Amalekites, and Qedemites gathered together, crossed over the Jordan, and camped in the Valley of Jezreel. (34) The Spirit of the LORD enveloped Gideon, and he blew the ram’s horn and the Abiezrites rallied behind him. (35) He sent messengers throughout all of Manasseh, who rallied behind him. He also sent messengers throughout Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, who also came to meet him.”
Gideon requests a sign…or two
“(36) Then Gideon said to God, “If You will deliver Israel by my hand, as You said, (37) I will put a fleece of wool here on the threshing floor. If dew is only on the fleece, and all the ground is dry, I will know that You will deliver Israel by my strength, as You said.” (38) And that is what happened. When he got up early in the morning, he squeezed the fleece and wrung dew out of it, filling a bowl with water. (39) Gideon then said to God, “Don’t be angry with me; let me speak one more time. Please allow me to make one more test with the fleece. Let it remain dry, and the dew be all over the ground.” (40) That night God did as Gideon requested: only the fleece was dry, and dew was all over the ground.”
God will have the Glory
“(1) Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and everyone who was with him, got up early and camped beside the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them, below the hill of Moreh, in the valley. (2) The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many people for Me to hand the Midianites over to you, or else Israel might brag: ‘I did it myself.‘”
1 Cor. 1:26-29, “(26) For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. (27) But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; (28) and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, (29) that no flesh should glory in His presence.”
“(3) Now announce in the presence of the people: ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.'” So 22,000 of the people turned back, but 10,000 remained. (4) Then the LORD said to Gideon, “There are still too many people. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there. If I say to you, ‘This one can go with you,’ he can go. But if I say about anyone, ‘This one cannot go with you,’ he cannot go.” (5) So he brought the people down to the water, and the LORD said to Gideon, “Separate everyone who laps water with his tongue like a dog. Do the same with everyone who kneels to drink.” (6) The number of those who lapped with their hands to their mouths was 300 men, and all the rest of the people knelt to drink water. (7) The LORD said to Gideon, “I will deliver you with the 300 men who lapped and hand the Midianites over to you. But everyone else is to go home.”
God protects, encourages and develops Gideon’s faith
“(8) So Gideon sent all the Israelites to their tents, but kept the 300 who took the people’s provisions and their trumpets. The camp of Midian was below him in the valley. (9) That night the LORD said to him, “Get up and go into the camp, for I have given it into your hand. (10) But if you are afraid to go to the camp, go with Purah your servant. (11) Listen to what they say, and then you will be strengthened to go to the camp.” So he went with Purah his servant to the outpost of the troops who were in the camp. (12) Now the Midianites, Amalekites, and all the Qedemites had settled down in the valley like a swarm of locusts, and their camels were as innumerable as the sand on the seashore. (13) When Gideon arrived, there was a man telling his friend about a dream. He said, “Listen, I had a dream: a loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp, struck a tent, and it fell. The loaf turned the tent upside down so that it collapsed.” (14) His friend answered: “This is nothing less than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has handed the entire Midianite camp over to him.” (15) When Gideon heard the account of the dream and its interpretation, he bowed in worship. He returned to Israel’s camp and said, “Get up, for the LORD has handed the Midianite camp over to you.”
Jesus is the author and the developer of our Trust in God. Here He was protecting and developing Gideons faith. I want you to notice a few things.
- Faith does not JUST come by means of a direct revelation from God. Sometimes it comes or is at least strengthened by external things. We have this example, Thomas the disciple & the fact that God has said in Romans 1 that everyone should believe simply by being exposed to creation itself! I am NOT suggesting any real faith in God coan sidestep intimacy and a direct revelation of His person to our hearts – what I am saying is that God is willing to use whatever is necessary to romance out hearts towards knowing Him so that we might truly trust Him.
- Notice that the result of genuine faith was rest and worship. I have no doubt that upon hearing these Midianites say these words that Gideon sighed in relief and may have even chastised his heart just a little for not fully trusting before now.
- I want you to notice that God in interested in developing Gideon’s trust. Evidently this additional proof was not necessary. God left that to Gideon to decide. But God made provision for Gideon’s wavering soul that in the end he might believe, worship and deliver.
- THIS should tell you A LOT! As both the author and developer of our faith – God plays more than simply a peripheral role in our faith. He is NOT the only One responsible for it but without Him it is IMPOSSIBLE – this is koinonia a shared experience – a walking in the garden in the cool of the day with Him. God wants to be known and if He is truly known, then He will be trusted! We know that we do not approach righteousness through self-effort and works of the flesh, but I want you to know that faith is NO different. This is NOT something YOU develop IN God FOR His Glory. It is something HE creates, sustains and develops IN YOU – but, He does it in cooperation WITH your heart choices.
- Notice lastly that first came God’s words to Gideon, then signs, then a command, then further proof, then faith. FAITH produced true heart worship and ACTION.
“(16) Then he divided the 300 men into three companies and gave each of the men a trumpet in one hand and an empty pitcher with a torch inside it in the other. (17) “Watch me,” he said, “and do the same. When I come to the outpost of the camp, do as I do.”
THIS is the difference between a ruler and a leader. A ruler says, “Do as I say.” A leader says, “Do as I do”. By the way, BOTH are necessary, but there is a reason why those who “rule” in the body of Christ are also commissioned to be leaders. Pastors (Elders) not only are Overseers and Bishops, but they are also Elders and shepherds. The former rule the later lead – all the same person. Jesus was like this, Paul was like this and any true minister of Christ is like this!
“(18) When I and everyone with me blow our trumpets, you are also to blow your trumpets all around the camp. Then you will say, ‘The sword of the LORD and of Gideon!'” (19) Gideon and the 100 men who were with him went to the outpost of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch after the sentries had been stationed. They blew their trumpets and broke the pitchers that were in their hands. (20) The three companies blew their trumpets and shattered their pitchers. They held their torches in their left hands, their trumpets in their right hands, and shouted, “The sword of the LORD and of Gideon!” (21) Each Israelite took his position around the camp, and the entire Midianite army fled, and cried out as they ran. (22) When Gideon’s men blew their 300 trumpets, the LORD set the swords of each man in the army against each other. They fled to Beth-shittah in the direction of Zererah as far as the border of Abel-meholah near Tabbath. (23) Then the men of Israel were called from Naphtali, Asher, and Manasseh, and they pursued the Midianites. (24) Gideon sent messengers throughout the hill country of Ephraim with this message: “Come down to intercept the Midianites and take control of the watercourses ahead of them as far as Beth-barah and the Jordan.” So all the men of Ephraim were called out, and they took control of the watercourses as far as Beth-barah and the Jordan. (25) They captured Oreb and Zeeb, the two princes of Midian; they killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb and Zeeb at the winepress of Zeeb, while they were pursuing the Midianites. They brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon across the Jordan.”
Gideon is a wise, considerate and humble leader
“(1) The men of Ephraim said to him, “Why have you done this to us, not calling us when you went to fight against the Midianites?” And they argued with him violently. (2) So he said to them, “What have I done now compared to you? Is not the gleaning of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer? (3) God handed over to you Oreb and Zeeb, the two princes of Midian. What was I able to do compared to you?”
Remember that Abiezer was the family from which Gideon came within the tribe of Manasseh.
“When he said this, their anger against him subsided. (4) Gideon and the 300 men came to the Jordan and crossed it. They were exhausted, but still in pursuit. (5) He said to the men of Succoth, “Please give some loaves of bread to the people who are following me, because they are exhausted, for I am pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.” (6) But the princes of Succoth asked, “Are Zebah and Zalmunna now in your hands that we should give bread to your army?” (7) Gideon replied, “Very well, when the LORD has handed Zebah and Zalmunna over to me, I will trample your flesh on thorns and briers from the wilderness! (8) He went from there to Penuel and asked the same thing from them. The men of Penuel answered just as the men of Succoth had answered. (9) He also told the men of Penuel, “When I return in peace, I will tear down this tower!”
It is hard to say if this was presumptuous since we’ve have to know what was in Gideon’s heart and if he knew the promise of God that those who cursed Israel would be cursed.
“(10) Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor, and with them was their army of about 15,000 men, who were all those left of the entire army of the Qedemites. Those who had been killed were 120,000 warriors. (11) Gideon traveled on the caravan route, east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and attacked their army while the army was unsuspecting. (12) Zebah and Zalmunna fled, and he pursued them. He captured these two kings of Midian and routed the entire army. (13) Gideon son of Joash returned from the battle by the ascent of Heres. (14) He captured a youth from the men of Succoth and interrogated him. The youth wrote down for him the names of the 77 princes and elders of Succoth. (15) Then he went to the men of Succoth and said, “Here are Zebah and Zalmunna. You taunted me about them, saying, ‘Are Zebah and Zalmunna now in your power that we should give bread to your exhausted men?'” (16) So he took the elders of the city, as well as some thorns and briers from the wilderness, and he disciplined the men of Succoth with them. (17) He also tore down the tower of Penuel and killed the men of the city. (18) He asked Zebah and Zalmunna, “What kind of men did you kill at Tabor?” “They were like you,” they said. “Each resembled the son of a king.” (19) So he said, “They were my brothers, the sons of my mother! As the LORD lives, if you had let them live, I would not kill you.” (20) Then he said to Jether, his firstborn, “Get up and kill them.” The youth did not draw his sword, because he was afraid, for he was still a youth. (21) Zebah and Zalmunna said, “Get up and kill us yourself, for a man is judged by his strength.” So Gideon got up, killed Zebah and Zalmunna, and took the crescent ornaments that were on the necks of their camels.”
Israel is a Theocracy
“(22) Then the Israelites said to Gideon, “Rule over us, you as well as your sons and your grandsons, for you delivered us from the power of Midian.” (23) But Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the LORD will rule over you.”
Gideon acts unwisely
“(24) Then he said to them, “Let me make a request of you: Everyone give me an earring from his plunder.” Now the enemy had gold earrings because they were Ishmaelites. (25) They said, “We agree to give them.” So they spread out a mantle, and everyone threw an earring from his plunder on it. (26) The weight of the gold earrings he requested was about 43 pounds of gold, in addition to the crescent ornaments and ear pendants, the purple garments on the kings of Midian, and the chains on the necks of their camels. (27) Gideon made an ephod from all this and put it in Ophrah, his hometown. Then all Israel prostituted themselves with it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his household.”
“(28) So Midian was subdued before the Israelites, and they were no longer a threat. The land was peaceful 40 years during the days of Gideon. (29) Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) son of Joash went back to live at his house. (30) Gideon had 70 sons, his own offspring, since he had many wives. (31) His concubine who was in Shechem also bore him a son, and he named him Abimelech. (32) Then Gideon son of Joash died at a ripe old age and was buried in the tomb of his father Joash in Ophrah of the Abiezrites. (33) When Gideon died, the Israelites turned and prostituted themselves with the Baals and made Baal-berith their god. (34) The Israelites did not remember the LORD their God Who had delivered them from the power of the enemies around them. (35) They did not show kindness to the house of Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) for all the good he had done for Israel.”
I hope this message will bless you richly…not because I taught it, but because it reveals Christ. He alone is our blessing and if in any way – whether big or small, 100% accurate or even just partially so – I have revealed our great God and Savior to you in a relationally knowable way, then this was time well spent on both our parts.
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