Gideon’s Story, Part Two

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Changes Are Coming

The armies of Midian, Amalek, and the peoples of the East are camped in the central part of Israel. From there they can quickly spread north, south, and west and take Israel’s harvest as they have done for seven previous years.
These foreign armies expected another successful year of harvesting Israel’s crop, demonstrating their dominance over the those intruders - those people who claim God had given this land to their forefather, Abraham.
This year would be different.
Judges 6:34 HCSB
The Spirit of the Lord took control of Gideon, and he blew the ram’s horn and the Abiezrites rallied behind him.
God had spoken - see Judges 6:11-24, Gideon obeyed. Now it was time for Gideon to fulfill the promise God spoke over Him in Judges 6:12
Judges 6:12 HCSB
Then the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said: “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
The tribes of Manesseh - here represented by Gideon’s own tribe of the Abiezrites; Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali rallied around Gideon.

A Wavering Faith

God could not have been clearer:

“the LORD is with you…” Judges 6:11;

“Go…I [the LORD] am sending you…” Judges 6:14;

“I will be with you…” Judges 6:16.

“The Spirit of the LORD enveloped Gideon… Judges 6:34

Even with these assurance Gideon continues to doubt, he continues to question of God is really capable to deliver Israel from these marauding bandits.
In vs 36-40 Gideon challenges God with two tests.
These two ‘tests’ are not really Gideon’s way of discovering God’s will. He knew what God had called him to do.
Rather these two tests are Gideon’s effort to delay obedience. He has already gathered an army (see Judges 6:34-35).
That God honors Gideon’s request reminds us that God is committed to delivering His people and that Gideon is more interested in delaying his own obedience.
Judges 7:2 (HCSB)
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.’
30,000 soldiers had rallied to Gideon’s call. The armies of the Midianites, Amalekites, and people from the East are ‘innumerable’ (Judges 7:12).
The LiORD gives Gideon a strategy by which he can reduce his army.
First, 22,000 men returned home from fear (Judges 7:3).
Asking Gideon to take them to the water source, God ‘tested’ the remaining 10,000.
The Hebrew word translated ‘test’ in this verse is not the same word used by Gideon in Judges 6:39.
Here, according to one scholar
The verb refers to smelting and refining of precious metal by heating it and skimming off the slurry of waste material that comes to the surface. It is also used of sifting the character of persons, often by traumatic experiences of judgment such as the Babylonian exile.
Lawson G. Stone, “Judges,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, ed. Philip W. Comfort, Cornerstone Biblical Commentary (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2012), 283.
Judges 7:9–11 (HCSB)
That night the Lord said to him, “Get up and go into the camp, for I have given it into your hand. But if you are afraid to go to the camp, go with Purah your servant. 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.
While sneaking near the camp,
Judges 7:13–14 (HCSB)
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.” 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.”
Gideon’s response: worship! At the edge of the camp of the enemy Gideon bows in worship.
(BTW this is the last time in his account we will read of him at worship).

For the LORD and Gideon

Gideon divides his 300 men into 3 companies of 100 each. HE equips them with a trumpet/horn and a torch - but no sword!
Judges 7:20 (HCSB)
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, “A sword for Yahweh and for Gideon!”
The result:
Judges 7:22 (HCSB)
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.
As the defeated armies flee, Gideon calls on the tribe of Ephraim it assist. They take action and two of the Midianite princes are killed (Judges 7:25).

Out of the jaws of victory defeat!

Ephraim quarrels with Gideon - even though they are the ones who defeated the princes of Midian.
As Gideon and his army of 300 pursue the fleeing remnant of the enemy, two cities, Succoth and Peneul. These two villages, not far from one another, refuse assistance to Gideon until he has completely eliminated the threat.
Gideon does finally capture the remaining kings/leaders of the enemy.
On his way back to his home, Gideon disciplines the men of Succoth and kills the men of Penuel for their rejection. That these two towns would refuse aid to an army of their fellow Israelites indicates that there are some deep divisions beginning to divide the fledging nation.

The victory assured?

Gideon asks his son to kill the two kings. The young man hesitates. The two kings mock Gideon, challenging his manhood!
He responds by killing them, ending this threat to Israel.


There is more to Gideon’s story, which we will examine next Sunday.

Why a wavering faith?

Several times in this account (and last week’s) God promised His presence. More than once God demonstrated His presence by unmistakable signs.
Yet Gideon still wavers.
There are a couple of reasons that Gideon may have struggled - just as we often do.

No Intergenerational Testimony of God’s faithfulness.

Our author underlines the lack of a generation failing to pass on God’s truth to the next generation starting in Judges 2.
Hundreds of years later, Gideon is raised in a home that features an altar - not to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The altar was one to Baal and his consort, Ashera.
It is safe to conclude that Gideon’s family were not effectively communicating the truth of all God had done!

Tendency to blame God for their own failure

At the very beginning of this account we hear Gideon ask the question:
Gideon replied, “With me, my master? If God is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all the miracle-wonders our parents and grandparents told us about, telling us, ‘Didn’t God deliver us from Egypt?’ The fact is, God has nothing to do with us—he has turned us over to Midian.”” (Judges 6:13, MSG)
It must be because God is no longer able or no longer present.

Divisions that Weaken

Since the account of Deborah, Barak, and Jael we learn that some of the tribes simply refuse to get involved.
Prior to Joshua’s death he gathered Israel together for a covenant renewal.
After reciting the ways and works of God, Joshua issues a challenge:
Joshua 24:14–16 (HCSB)
“Therefore, fear the Lord and worship Him in sincerity and truth. Get rid of the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and worship Yahweh. But if it doesn’t please you to worship Yahweh, choose for yourselves today the one you will worship: the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. As for me and my family, we will worship Yahweh.” The people replied, “We will certainly not abandon the Lord to worship other gods!
The opening chapter of Judges tells a different story:
The people of Judah could not drive out the people living in the valley…
…the Benjamites did not drive out the Jebusites…
…Manasseh failed to take possession…
…Ephraim failed to drive out the Canaanites…
Zebulun, Asher, Naphtali, Danites…were unable to drive out the peoples God had promised to give them.
Most of the tribes found themselves trapped - just as Gideon’s family - in a cycle of idolatry that proved very hard to break.
These divisions set the stage for significant problems for Israel in their future.

Pride leads to destructive behavior

It is subtle, but listen again to Gideon’s call as the soldiers enter the camp of the enemy:
Judges 7:18 (HCSB)
When I and everyone with me blow our trumpets, you are also to blow your trumpets all around the camp. Then you will say, ‘For Yahweh and for Gideon!’ ”
Contrast that with what God had shared as He pared the army down:
Judges 7:2 (HCSB)
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.’
God doesn’t share credit!
God’s army was armed only with a trumpet and a jar with a light inside. The enemy armies killed each other…and fled!
This was not Gideon’s victory - but specifically one the LORD Himself brings about.


Guard your faith.
Nourish your faith by daily connecting with God and the people of God.
Rehearse the ways and works of God in your life. Find a way - through a journal, through letters, through social media to communicate with your family.
Guard the unity of the body of Christ
From the time of the judges Israel struggled constantly with internal divisions.
A church divided cannot stand agains the enemy.
Guard against pride
We are in a precarious situation as a people of God.
We are surrounded by an enemy - many times enemies of our own making.
-the army God is raising is one that will fully trust Him - not focusing on the size of the enemy, but focusing of the power and presence of God;
-the army God is raising calls for a daily commitment to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus.
If you have never followed Jesus - let me invite you to begin today! Talk with me after the service, or better yet - right where you are believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead and confess that Jesus is LORD and you will be saved.
-the army God is raising is fully focused on His kingdom, participating in His victories, celebrating His work and always calling attention to Him!
I invite you today:
Experience the ways of God by -
choosing today (maybe for the first time) to follow Jesus;
Obey Him fully - if you have confessed Jesus as Lord then follow in baptism,
become part of our church by your statement of faith, or your participation in a baptist church;
Allow God to use you - wavering faith and all!
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