Winners and Losers: Part 29 - Gideon
A Man who was Courageous in God
Kathy's Sunday School Lessons - Written for Young Boys and Girls by Kathryn Capoccia
© Copyright Kathryn Capoccia 2002. This file may be freely copied, printed out, and distributed as long as copyright and source statements remain intact, and that it is not sold.
Gideon is one of the heroes of faith listed in the book of Hebrews, but his story makes it clear that he was not naturally courageous. He was not born great, but he became great through his faith in God and through his obedience to God. At the time when his account began Israel had been oppressed by Midian for a period of seven years. Their oppression was so great that Israel was completely ravaged whenever the vast hordes of Midianite and Amalekite men and animals descended upon her harvests. Israelites left their homes and lived in caves and dens or retreated to fortified locations for fear of the invaders. At that time the Israelites called out to God for mercy and He sent a prophet to lead them to repentance. Then He commissioned Gideon to be Israel’s leader to free them from their oppressors.
I. Who Was He ? JUD 6:1-8:32; HEB 11:32.
A. What was his name? Gideon means “a cutting down” or “a hewer”; Jerubaal (JUD 6:32) means “let Baal contend” or “let shame strive”).
B. Where and when did he live? He lived in the period of the judges, sometime during the approximately 480 years from the time of Moses to Saul’s kingship (1KI 6:1).
C. Who were his people?
1. He was the son of Joash the Ebiezrite (6:11). Ebiezrites were from the tribe of Manasseh (JOS 17:2).
2. He was of the tribe of Manasseh (JUD 6:15).
3. He had brothers who were killed at Tabor (JUD 8:19).
4. He had sons: Jether (JUD 8:20) and 69 others from his wives (JUD 8:30), plus one son, Abimelech, from a concubine (JUD 8:30).
D. Where did he live? He lived in Ophrah (location unknown but probably in the Valley of Jezreel).
E. What were conditions like when he lived?
1. Israel was engaged in idolatry
a. False gods, such as the Baals, were worshipped in conjunction with or in place of God (JUD 2:11-13).
b. God brought oppressors, such as the Midianites and the Amalekites, to discipline the Israelites (JUD 2:14-23).
1) Midianites: The Midianites were nomadic descendants of Abraham through his wife, Keturah, but were not included in Abraham’s covenant blessings. They dwelled east of Israel (GEN 25:1, 6) in rugged desert country. They tried to corrupt Israel in the time of the Exodus through intermarriage (upon the advice of Balaam), but the five Midianite kings were defeated in war and their people killed, to the point where only unmarried women remained (GEN 31:7f). Midian once more harassed Israel in the time of the judges.
2) Amalekites: The Amalekites were nomadic desert dwellers who were descended from Esau; like the Midianites they were part of Abraham’s family but not included in the covenant promises. Amalek was the first nation to attack Israel when she left Egypt (EXO 17:8-16), and she harassed the weak Israelites at the rear of the exodus party (DEU 25:17,18). Later the Israelites attacked Amalek and were defeated and chased to Hormah (NUM 14:39; JOS 12:14; 15:30). They were good fighters in both the hill country and in the valleys of S Canaan and the Negev (NUM 14:25, 44, 45).
2. Israel was disunited
a. “there was no king in Israel” (JUD 21:25)
1) God was not recognized as sovereign over Israel.
2) No man had leadership over the people, uniting them as a people and leading them as a shepherd under God.
b. “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (JUD 21:25).
1) God’s standards were disregarded.
2) Men were a law unto themselves, splintered into family and tribal groups without a national vision or uniformity.
II. What Did He Do?
A. He was called to service (6: 11-21).
1. He was commissioned.
a. God called him.
1) The angel of the Lord appeared to him at the terebinth tree (6:11-21).
a) He prophesied that Gideon would be a man of valor.
b) He accepted worship from him.
2) The LORD spoke to him (6:22-26).
b. Gideon was called to lead Israel (6:14-16).
c. Gideon asked for proof of God’s call (JUD 6:17-21):
1) A sign was given in that the offering was burned up.
2) The angel of the LORD disappeared before his eyes.
2. He was committed (6: 25-27).
a. He began to purify his family from idolatry by pulling down the altar of Baal.
b. He offered sacrifices to God.
B. He was commander-in-chief (6:34,35; 7:1-8:21).
1. He summoned the troops (JUD 6:33-40).
a. The invaders set up camp at the Valley of Jezreel
b. The Spirit of God came upon Gideon and he:
1) sent the Abiezrites to gather the troops.
2) asked for a sign of confirmation:
a) A fleece that was wet.
b) A fleece that was dry.
c. Gideon set up camp at beside the spring of Harod on Mt. Gilboa
2. He culled them (JUD 7:1-8).
“The battle is the LORD’S” (1SA 17:47).
a. He sent the fearful home: 10,000 remained.
b. He tested the rest by appraising them at drinking: 300 remained.
WHY DID GOD WANT SUCH A SMALL FORCE TO OPPOSE THE INVADERS?
“NOT BY MIGHT, NOR BY POWER, BUT BY THE SPIRIT SAYS THE LORD ALMIGHTY” (ZEC 4:6)- GOD WANTED THE GLORY FOR HIMSELF THAT MEN MIGHT KNOW THAT GOD IS REAL.
3. He led them in their battles (JUD 7:9-8:21).
a. They attacked the Midianite camp at night (JUD 7:7-22).
1) God dictated the tactics.
a) He encouraged Gideon.
b) He led Gideon in commanding his troops.
2) God delivered Israel.
a) He sent panic into the hearts of the Midianites.
b) He caused the Midianites to slay each other while Israel merely watched.
b. Gideon drafted Manasseh, Asher and Naphtali to cut off the Midianite escape (by sealing off the fords of the Jordan at Beth Barah, south of Succoth near Adam: JUD 7:24).
c. The Ephraimites caught and killed the two princes of Midian (JUD 7:24-8:3).
1) The Ephraimites complained of being excluded.
2) Gideon diplomatically answered them and averted civil war.
d. Gideon pursued the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna (JUD 8:10-21).
1) Gideon asked for provisions at Succoth and Penuel and was refused.
2) Gideon routed the remaining Midianites (15,000 troops).
3) Gideon punished offenders Succoth, Penuel and Midian.
a) Succoth’s elders were disciplined with thorns and briars (they were probably pulled across these, possibly until death).
b) Penuel’s tower was pulled down and its men killed.
c. Zeba and Zalmunna were killed for slaying Gideon’s brothers.
C. He was culpable (8:22-28).
1. He was a Judge under God
a. He acknowledged God as Sovereign of Israel and refused to become king in His place (8:22,23).
b. He led Israel for forty years (8:28).
2. He caused stumbling
a. He made an ephod (8:24-27).
WHAT IS AN EPHOD?
AN EPHOD IS SOMETIMES “A HOLY GARMENT ASSOCIATED WITH THE PRIESTHOOD (EXO 28:6-30; 39:2-26; LEV 8:7), AT OTHER TIMES A PAGAN OBJECT ASSOCIATED WITH IDOLS (JUD 17:5; 18:14,17)”, THE NIV STUDY BIBLE NOTES, PG. 343.
1) It was made of gold (JUD 8:24-27).
2) It was placed in Ophrah (JUD 8:27).
b. His descendants and all Israel worshipped it (8:27).
c. All Israel turned from God after Gideon’s death (JUD 8:33-35).
III. What Can We Learn From Him?
A. God can do great things with a willing person, even if that individual is frightened to do God’s will.
B. God does not need man to win His fights; and when God is on our side it does not matter how many oppose us.
C. We need to be careful not to
make any provision for idolatry in our lives or we (or someone else) may
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