This week’s Bible story, “Gideon,” starts out the same way the previous stories have started: The Israelites once again turned away from God. This time, God handed the Israelites over to the Midianites. The Bible says the Midianites would swarm the Israelites like locusts, devouring all of their livestock and crops. The Israelites hid in caves and were reduced to poverty.
The Angel of the LORD personally delivered a message to Gideon as he was threshing grain in a wine vat to hide it from the Midianites. God called Gideon to deliver His people from the Midianites. Gideon told the Angel that he was the youngest son of the weakest house in the tribe of Manasseh. God had a solution, though: “I will be with you,” He said. (Judg. 6:16)
Not only did God choose an unlikely hero for today’s Bible story, but God also reduced Gideon’s army to only 300 soldiers. People would know God defeated the Midianites, not the might of the Israelite army. In battle, God turned the Midianites’ swords against each other. Gideon and his army pursued the enemy troops. Gideon alone could not defeat the Midianites. In the same way, we aren’t able to save ourselves from sin. Jesus came to save us from our sin because He is enough. Only God, through Jesus Christ, can save us.
The Israelites did what is evil in the sight of the Lord, so God allowed them to be ruled by Midian for seven years. The Israelites tried to hide from the Midianites in mountains and caves. Anytime the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites attacked them. They took their food and left nothing for them to eat. The Midianites took away their sheep, oxen, and donkeys. Israel became poor. They remembered how good life was when they loved and obeyed God. They cried out to God, “Save us!”
God sent a prophet to them. A prophet is someone who speaks for God. The prophet said to them: “God wants me to remind you of all the things He has done for you. He brought you out of Egypt and saved you from slavery! He told you not to worship the gods of the land you were living in, but you disobeyed God!”
The Angel of the Lord came and sat under an oak tree. The Angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior!”
Gideon was afraid. His family was the weakest family in his tribe, and he was the youngest son in the family. But the Lord chose Gideon to deliver the Israelites from the power of Midian. He assured Gideon, “I will be with you.”
That night, God told Gideon to tear down the altar to Baal, a false god. Gideon was then to build an altar and sacrifice a bull on it. So Gideon obeyed God, but Gideon did it at night because he was afraid of the men in the city.
The next day, the men in the city saw that the altar to Baal was torn down. “Who did this?” they asked. When they found out Gideon had torn down the altar, they wanted to kill him. Gideon’s father stopped them. “Let Baal defend himself,” he said.
Some time later, God’s Spirit was with Gideon, and Gideon blew the ram’s horn. All of the men in Gideon’s tribe and in the northern tribes gathered behind him, ready to fight. Gideon still wanted a sign from God. “If You will deliver Israel by my hand, as You say, I will put fleece on the ground. If the fleece is wet with dew, but the ground is dry, I will believe You.” That is exactly what happened—the fleece was so wet Gideon squeezed enough water out of it to fill a bowl! Again, Gideon asked for a sign. This time, the fleece was dry and the ground was wet.
God told Gideon that he had too many people with him. They let anyone who was afraid to go to battle go home. Many of the people left. There were 10,000 remaining. “That’s still too many,” God said. God made a
test for the people. All of them were to go to the river to drink the water. Anyone who lapped the water with his tongue was sent home, but whoever knelt and used his hand to bring up the water could stay. Three hundred men remained.
The next day, they carried torches, blew their trumpets, and shattered the pitchers that were in their hands. The men ran down toward the Midianite camp. God turned the swords of the Midianites against each other. Everyone in the Midianite army ran away.
Gideon invited the people of Ephraim to join in the battle. They pursued the Midianites and killed some of them. Gideon and the 300 men continued across the Jordan. They were very tired. Gideon pursued the kings of Midian and killed them.
The Israelites said to Gideon, “Rule over us, for you delivered us from the Midianites.”
“I will not rule over you,” Gideon said. “God will rule over you.” Gideon told the people to bring him the golden earrings they had taken from the spoil. He used the gold to make an ephod. Gideon sinned by making the ephod, and after Gideon died, the Israelites bowed down to it. They did not remember the Lord their God who had delivered them from the power of their enemies.
Christ Connection: The Israelites cried out to God because they knew they could not save themselves. Even Gideon was not enough to save them; God used Gideon to save His people but God fought the battle for them. The people needed someone who was mighty to save. Jesus Christ came
to save us from sin because we cannot save ourselves. Only God, through Christ, can save us.