In this blog I should like to do an expository study on Judges 6 & 7. It’s the story of Gideon, God’s mighty man of valor. It’s believed that the book of Judges was written by Samuel or one of his contemporaries between 1043 BC (the beginning of Saul’s reign) and 1004 BC (when David captured Jerusalem); give or take. The correlation of the story we will study has more to do with how we are to be as true Christian believers who are hidden in Christ Jesus in these last of the last days. We’re living in tough times, Gideon was also living in tough times; but God was with him and God is with us. Let’s take a closer look at this story and glean as much truth as we can in our reading. May God bless you as you read and study His Word.
The setting is Israel, who at this time, was being judged by God in a seven-year judgment under the hands of the Midianites who were oppressing Israel. God has allowed them to persecute Israel because the Israelites did evil in God’s sight and God was judging Israel; but that time was about to end.
“Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years, 2 and the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of the Midianites, the children of Israel made for themselves the dens, the caves, and the strongholds which are in the mountains. 3 So it was, whenever Israel had sown, Midianites would come up; also Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. 4 Then they would encamp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep nor ox nor donkey. 5 For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, coming in as numerous as locusts; both they and their camels were without number (innumerable); and they would enter the land to destroy it. 6 So Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord.” – Judges 6:1-6
- The Israelites were God’s chosen people. God will not allow them to break their covenant with Him without being punished. The Midianites had oppressed Israel, taken their resources, and caused them to become ‘greatly impoverished’ as a result. Israel, in turn, cried out to God for help.
In life, when people hit rock bottom, this is when they have to make a decision; either cry out to God for help or die. In this case, the Israelites wanted to live. They had reached the end of their proverbial rope. Just like with the Israelites in Egypt, they cried out to God and the Lord sent His man Moses to deliver them.
“And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried out to the Lord because of the Midianites, 8 that the Lord sent a prophet to the children of Israel, who said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I brought you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of bondage (slavery); 9 and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 Also I said to you, “I am the Lord your God; do not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.” But you have not obeyed My voice.’” – (vs.7-10)
- What we see here in this passage is a pattern of how God delivers. The Israelites disobey God, as a result He punishes them and in their chastening they repent. God then sends a prophet to deliver them and get them back on track with their right covenant living with the Lord; until the next time.
“Now the Angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites. 12 And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!” – (vs.11,12)
- The phrase, ‘the Angel of the Lord’ is most likely a preincarnate Christ. This becomes more obvious as we read further in the text and sacrifices are being made to this ‘Angel.’ The place where Gideon is threshing wheat is inside of a winepress as he is hiding from the Midianites. As the Lord appears to him, he calls Gideon a ‘mighty man of valor.’
This is just like the Lord who calls things that are not as though they were, or will be (Romans 4:17b). The Lord sees what we will become, not so much what we are at the time that He visits us. Such was the case with Gideon, such may be the case with you now man of God.
“Gideon said to Him, “O my lord (Hebrew: adoni = ‘master’ – used of man), if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.” – (vs.13)
- No doubt in the worst of times people, even believers, may feel that God has abandoned (forsaken) them; however, it may also be that what we are dealing with has more to do with what God is doing in our lives and situation. Whatever the calamity, God is still greater than our circumstance and He is still mighty to save and just may choose you to do the saving. Such was the case with Gideon.
“Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?” -(vs.14)
- Here we see the calling of Gideon. The strength that he had was minimal; but his orders were clear, ‘you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites.’ The question, ‘Have I not sent you?’ is actually rhetorical. God is telling Gideon, ‘I have sent you.’
“So he (Gideon) said to Him, “O my Lord (Hebrew: Adonai = ‘Master’ – used of God), how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” – (vs.15)
- God does His best work in our weakness. He uses the simple to confound the wise (1 Corinthians 1:27) and He chooses the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty. So it was with Gideon and so it may be with you man of God. Don’t look at your muscles, rather, embrace your faith.
The Prophet Jeremiah said it this way, “Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength (arm), whose heart departs from the Lord. 6 For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited.” – Jeremiah 17:5,6
- Its not that we can’t lift weights and love Jesus; rather, our strength must be in the Lord and not in ourselves. We have to rely on the Lord and His leading, even in our weakness or lack of funds.
“And the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat (strike) the Midianites as one man.”
- This is a leadership statement where one man can really make a difference; not so much in who they are, but rather in what they allow God to do through them and the men under their command. One man can make a difference if they are obedient to God’s leading, His prompting, and His commands.
I often say to the Lord, can’t someone else do what I am doing? I often hear the Master’s voice reply, ‘If not you, than who?’ My response is usually, ‘I don’t know, someone else, just not me, this is too hard.’ God’s response is usually, ‘What ever happened to ‘Here am I Lord, send me?’
NOTE: The bottom line is clear, God has called us and we must go. God called Gideon and he went, I’ll be it reluctantly at first, but he went in his weakness and God used him mightily. You may not have enough funds to balance your checkbook, but God is able and He will provide and guide you as you place your faith and trust in Him. The first step of obedience usually begins with ‘Here am I Lord, send me.’
Question: Are you that man (or lady) that God can use for such a time and a place as this?
“Then he (Gideon) said to Him, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who talk with me. 18 Do not depart from here, I pray, until I come to You and bring out my offering and set it before You.” And He said, “I will wait until you come back.” 19 So Gideon went in and prepared a young goat, and unleavened bread from an ephah of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot; and he brought them out to Him under the terebinth tree and presented them. 20 The Angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And he did so. 21 Then the Angel of the Lord put out the end of the staff that was in His hand, and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire rose out of the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. And the Angel of the Lord departed out of his sight.” – (vs.17-21)
- This passage depicts Gideon making a sacrifice, at great expence as there was a famine in the land. He presents the offering to the Lord, not an angel, who accepts it and then departs out of Gideon’s sight. This offering is contractual in that Gideon is accepting the calling from the Lord; but as we will see, Gideon was still a bit unsure of himself.
“Now Gideon perceived that He was the Angel of the Lord. So Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For I have seen the Angel of the Lord face to face.”
- Gideon concludes that He was standing face to face with God Almighty as the Angel of the Lord. In the OT this was a big deal if you could do this and still live. Alas, Gideon lived and now needed to ready himself to go to work defeating the Midianites and freeing Israel from their bondage.
“Then the Lord said to him, “Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die.” 24 So Gideon built an altar there to the Lord, and called it The-Lord-Is-Peace (YHWH – Shalom). To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.” – (vs.23,24)
- Gideon builds an altar to the Lord right there in Ophrah. He didn’t build it for an angel, but for the Lord, because he recognized that it was God who was talking to him; and calling him into the ministry.
NOTE: No matter what God has called us to, we must have His peace abiding within us. We must not be anxious, fearful, worrisome, or even doubtful when it comes to our calling or God’s ability to provide for us in His way and time. He has gifted (equipped) us and He wants us to use our gifts for His glory.
Too many men have said ‘no’ to God’s calling on their life because they were unsure if they would be able to provide for their families if they entered the ministry. Truth be told, each one of us must come to the conclusion that God provides for us no matter where we work or what we do; God is faithful!
“Now it came to pass the same night that the Lord said to him, “Take your father’s young bull, the second bull of seven years old, and tear down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the wooden image (Hebrew: Asherah – a Canaanite goddess) that is beside it; 26 and build an altar to the Lord your God on top of this rock (stronghold) in the proper arrangement, and take the second bull and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the image which you shall cut down.” 27 So Gideon took ten men from among his servants and did as the Lord had said to him. But because he feared his father’s household and the men of the city too much to do it by day, he did it by night.” – (vs.25-27)
- It didn’t take long for Gideon to get his first order from the Lord. It was that very same night that God told him to take out his father’s altar of Baal and the idol of Asherah that was beside it. In essence, Gideon was destroying the gods of his father in favor of the living God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
How many fathers have led their children astray with bad theo and false idols. Of course they are modern versions of these OT idols, but the damage they do is just as bad; separating their children from the Lord.
Gideon’s tactic was to do a night raid on his dad’s idol stronghold so as not to be detected by the men of the city.
He obeyed God that night…
“…And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, there was the altar of Baal, torn down; and the wooden image that was beside it was cut down, and the second bull was being offered on the altar which had been built. 29 So they said to one another, “Who has done this thing?” And when they had inquired and asked, they said, “Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing.” 30 Then the men of the city said to Joash, “Bring out your son, that he may die, because he has torn down the altar of Baal, and because he has cut down the wooden image that was beside it.” – (vs.28-30)
- The men of the city were enraged and after some brief investigation, they ascertained that Gideon was the culprit. They approached Gideon’s father, and demanded that Gideon be turned over to them so they could kill Gideon.
“But Joash said to all who stood against him, “Would you plead (contend) for Baal? Would you save him? Let the one who would plead for him be put to death by morning! If he is a god, let him plead for himself, because his altar has been torn down!” 32 Therefore on that day he called him Jerubbaal (Baal Plead), saying, “Let Baal plead against him, because he has torn down his altar.” – (vs.31,32)
- What we see happening here is a wake up call for Joash, who is coming to understand that his false gods are not so tough. If the weakest of his clan could take them out in one night without recompense, how tough could they really be? The father loves the son and defends him in this instance.
“Then all the Midianites and Amalekites, the people of the East, gathered together; and they crossed over and encamped in the Valley of Jezreel. 34 But the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon; then he blew the trumpet, and the Abiezrites gathered behind him. 35 And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh, who also gathered behind him. He also sent messengers to Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali; and they came up to meet them.” – (vs.33-35)
- The false idol incident sparked a fire in the Midianites and Amalekites who mustered themselves in the Valley of Jezreel (aka Plain of Megiddo – Armageddon) to attack Israel for their insolence. However, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon and he also gathered (blew the trumpet) the Abiezrites and other men from the various tribes listed in this passage to muster for battle against the Midianites.
“So Gideon said to God, “If You will save Israel by my hand as You have said— 37 look, I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that You will save Israel by my hand, as You have said.” 38 And it was so. When he rose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece together, he wrung the dew out of the fleece, a bowlful of water. 39 Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me, but let me speak just once more: Let me test, I pray, just once more with the fleece; let it now be dry only on the fleece, but on all the ground let there be dew.” 40 And God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only, but there was dew on all the ground.” – (vs.36-40)
- Now Gideon, in all of his glory, and seeing the armies muster against him, began to have second thoughts so he ‘puts a fleece before the Lord.’ God in his graciousness grants Gideon his little fleece test which builds Gideon’s faith in God to go ahead with the battle.
While many of commentator has criticized Gideon for his fleece, it’s true that even the man of God needs a little encouragement as they step out in faith in their obedience to the Lord. Whether you fleece or not, God is faithful and will do what He says He will do. If God said it, He will do it – fleece or no fleece.
“Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the people who were with him rose early and encamped beside the well of Harod, so that the camp of the Midianites was on the north side of them by the hill of Moreh in the valley. 2 And the Lord said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ 3 Now therefore, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him turn and depart at once from Mount Gilead.’ ” And twenty-two thousand of the people returned, and ten thousand remained.” – Judges 7:1-3
- What we see here is that Jerubbaal (aka Gideon) has amassed an army of 32,000 men. God is concerned that when the battle is over, the Israelites are going to think that they won by their own hand and God didn’t want that. The Lord wants the glory and He will get the glory.
As a result, God tells Gideon to allow any man who is fearful and afraid to be released from their post and return home and 22,000 men left. What this tells you is that not everyone who is called into battle has their heart in the battle. This is probably true for certain employees and other volunteers in the local church.
“But the Lord said to Gideon, “The people are still too many; bring them down to the water, and I will test them for you there. Then it will be, that of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ the same shall go with you; and of whomever I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ the same shall not go.” 5 So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “Everyone who laps from the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set apart by himself; likewise everyone who gets down on his knees to drink.” 6 And the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was three hundred men; but all the rest of the people got down on their knees to drink water. 7 Then the Lord said to Gideon, “By the three hundred men who lapped I will save you, and deliver the Midianites into your hand. Let all the other people go, every man to his place (home).” 8 So the people took provisions and their trumpets in their hands. And he sent away all the rest of Israel, every man to his tent, and retained those three hundred men. Now the camp of Midian was below him in the valley.” – (vs.4-8)
- God was still not satisfied with the number of men who remained as 10,000 men was still to many for God to get the glory. As a result God instructed Gideon to thin out the troops with a little ‘drink test’ at the local watering hole.
Whoever laps like a dog goes home, but who ever brings the water to his mouth, stays. The working theory here is that a man who brings the water to his mouth without making himself vulnerable to attack as he drank would make for a better soldier. As a result, God thinned the troops down to just 300 men. From these men God would get the glory as they battled with the Midianites and Amalekites.
To put this in practical terms, if you assigned a dollar for every man you would have $32,000. That’s a lot of money. However, what God is saying is that He can do more with $300. with His economy. If you’re having trust issues with the Lord and your finances; remember, God does more with less when we give Him our first.
“It happened on the same night that the Lord said to him, “Arise, go down against the camp, for I have delivered it into your hand. 10 But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant, 11 and you shall hear what they say; and afterward your hands shall be strengthened (you shall be encouraged) to go down against the camp.” Then he went down with Purah his servant to the outpost of the armed men who were in the camp. 12 Now the Midianites and Amalekites, all the people of the East, were lying in the valley as numerous as locusts; and their camels were without number (innumerable), as the sand by the seashore in multitude.” – (vs.10-12)
- After the drink test, that same night God tells Gideon and his servant Purah to stealthy enter into the Midianite camp and walk among the sleeping troops. This was a massive army of men camped out all over the plain of Megiddo. Here come Gideon and Purah, disguised, walking all around the enemy’s camp like they owned the place. They came upon a tent…
“…And when Gideon had come, there was a man telling a dream to his companion. He said, “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.” 14 Then his companion answered and said, “This is nothing else but the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel! Into his hand God has delivered Midian and the whole camp.” – (vs.13,14)
- Can you imagine this, Gideon and Purah come upon a tent with enemy soldiers inside and one soldier is telling another soldier about a dream he just had. The other soldier interprets the dream, naming Gideon as the victor. That little exchange truly built up Gideon’s faith.
Sometimes God allows our faith to be built up too. He gives us a glimpse of His glory being revealed in certain situations, like this one. My advice to you man of God is to watch for God’s glimpses when He gives them. There everywhere if you’re looking for them, and sometimes when your not.
“And so it was, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, that he worshiped. He returned to the camp of Israel, and said, “Arise, for the Lord has delivered the camp of Midian into your hand.” 16 Then he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet into every man’s hand, with empty pitchers, and torches inside the pitchers. 17 And he said to them, “Look at me and do likewise; watch, and when I come to the edge of the camp you shall do as I do: 18 When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then you also blow the trumpets on every side of the whole camp, and say, ‘The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!’ ” – (vs.15-18)
- Gideon was fully encouraged in the Lord when he heard the dream and he returned to the camp and instructed his men to muster into three companies with torches, pitchers, and trumpets. The plan was set and the men moved into position.
We too can be (will be) fully encouraged in our faith as we spend time with the Lord, worshipping Him, reading (hearing) His Word, and praying for His hand of intervention and intercession. All of this and more will be our portion if we step out in faith and embrace the Lord for His sovereign hand of guidance and provision.
“So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outpost of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just as they had posted the watch; and they blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers that were in their hands. 20 Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers—they held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands for blowing—and they cried, “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!” 21 And every man stood in his place all around the camp; and the whole army ran and cried out and fled. 22 When the three hundred blew the trumpets, the Lord set every man’s sword against his companion throughout the whole camp; and the army fled to Beth Acacia, toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel Meholah, by Tabbath. 23 And the men of Israel gathered together from Naphtali, Asher, and all Manasseh, and pursued the Midianites. 24 Then Gideon sent messengers throughout all the mountains of Ephraim, saying, “Come down against the Midianites, and seize from them the watering places as far as Beth Barah and the Jordan.” Then all the men of Ephraim gathered together and seized the watering places as far as Beth Barah and the Jordan. 25 And they captured two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb. They killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and Zeeb they killed at the winepress of Zeeb. They pursued Midian and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side of the Jordan.” – (vs.19-25)
- While the story goes on into the next chapter, this blog does not. The point here is that God got the glory with only 300 men and a leader who needed more encouragement than most.
If you are reading this and in need of some serious encouragement, I strongly beseech you my brother (or sister) to set aside some serious time with the Lord, reading His Word and seeking His face with regard to the matters of your heart, and His heart. When the Lord approached Gideon, he was in a dire straight, but God saw what would become of Gideon when His Holy Spirit came upon him.
How like today, we have that same Holy Spirit working in and through us, moving us to new places of faith and grace and strength as the Lord wills. We have been gifted by the Lord and have received individual callings that fit God’s plan for our lives; some more than others. Each of us may have our own Midianite oppression, but we also have the Lord and His eternal resources in our stead. We need to remind ourselves of what and who we once were and all that God has done in our lives since then. We need to know that God is faithful and will be faithful to complete the work that He has begun in us. We must be reminded that everything that we touch and every word we speak is to be a blessing from the Father to those He has called us to minister to.
You have what it takes man of God. You have been trained by the best. You have the tactics that you need. You must chose wisely how you will act and react to any and all given situations in your life, beginning with your marriage and/or family. You are called to a life of obedience, a life of sacrifice, and a life that brings glory to the Lord. He is with in and in you man of God, go with the confidence, the God-fidence of the Lord and do what He has called (ordained) you to do. This is our finest hour, our final hour and we must make the most with what we have in the time that we have left to do it. Since we know that we’re close to the Lord’s return, we must make every day count; each opportunity matters for God’s kingdom.
How like Gideon, we may need a fleece or two, a thinning of our troops, or an inspiration dream of victory to get us moving; nonetheless, God is with us and He is in us, working and doing for His good pleasure. Stand strong and stand fast man of God; this is our finest hour. Set your face like flint toward the storm, don’t back down, and watch the deliverance of the Lord manifest in your life. God is faithful!
Encouragemen is a blog written by Pastor Rob Lee, recently relocated to Northern Missouri. He lives with his wife of 33-years, near their three adult children, their spouses, and children (their grandchildren). Pastor Rob is an Ordained Assemblies of God minister, a former Lead Pastor (25 years), police chaplain, and community advocate. He continues to serve, consult, and disciple men of God, including those who are in the ministry.
One thought on “Gideon – Man of God”
Amen. Good stuff!