The following study is based on Hebrews 11:30-33, “And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:”
We will be studying about Gideon today. There are 5 sections that we will look at in regards to his story. Let’s begin with the first. The call of Gideon.
11 And there came an angel of the Lord, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. 12 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.
- An angel actually appears to Gideon. He calls him a mighty man of valour! Gideon actually has a conversation with an angel!
- Judges 6:13-16
13 And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt? but now the Lord hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites. 14 And the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee? 15 And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house. 16 And the Lord said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.
- We can see from the conversation that Gideon has with the angel that he doesn’t have much faith at all in God’s word and in God. He asks, Are you sure you’re calling me? And if you are with us, why has all this happened to us? But the angel tells him why he is there. He is calling Gideon to fight for God, to be the deliverer for Israel from the Midianites. And he gives a sign that this messenger is really a heavenly messenger.
- Judges 6:21-23
21 Then the angel of the Lord put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the Lord departed out of his sight. 22 And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the Lord, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord God! for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face. 23 And the Lord said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.
- It’s a miracle that happens, evidence that one that is speaking to him is a divine being. Gideon didn’t know that he was speaking to a divine being before that. This miracle is given to stir up faith in the heart of Gideon.
But God is not done yet. He can’t be the leader for the people yet because there is sin in the camp. Here is the next section.
- Judges 6:25-26
25 And it came to pass the same night, that the Lord said unto him, Take thy father’s young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it: 26 And build an altar unto the Lord thy God upon the top of this rock, in the ordered place, and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove which thou shalt cut down.
- God wanted Gideon to destroy the altar that his father had set up for Baal! Talking about a family affair! It might have been easier for him to destroy someone else’s altar, but this was set up by his dad! Maybe God was testing him to see if he would really trust him and so he started with this. To see if Gideon would really trust God’s word, even if it meant going against the grain of his family and even the whole town!
- What was the reaction when the altar was destroyed?
- Judges 6:30-31
30 Then the men of the city said unto Joash, Bring out thy son, that he may die: because he hath cast down the altar of Baal, and because he hath cut down the grove that was by it. 31 And Joash said unto all that stood against him, Will ye plead for Baal? will ye save him? he that will plead for him, let him be put to death whilst it is yet morning: if he be a god, let him plead for himself, because one hath cast down his altar.
- The whole town was angry and ready to come out and kill Gideon. But Joash, who was the father of Gideon, stood up to stand on the side of his son. Joash was the one who initially set up the altar for Baal but now he sees his wrong and stands up on the Lord’s side.
- You never know what the course of one action can do to influence a whole town or a whole family. Sometimes we are afraid to be faithful because we are afraid of the consequences. But here we see the far reaching results.
God was testing Gideon though. Seeing if He could trust Gideon to follow every specification of His word. As a result, what happened?
- Judges 6:34
But the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him.
- God poured out His Spirit on Gideon and empowered him and exalted him in Israel so that people came and rallied behind his leadership.
But Gideon has to be sure, and that he wasn’t being presumptuous. And here is the third section. This is probably the story that is the most famous about Gideon.
- Judges 6:37-40
37 Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said. 38 And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water. 39 And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew. 40 And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.
- Gideon asked for the wool to be wet anda round it dry and so God answered. But that was more normal, for wool to attract the moisture and even the little area around it. So Gideon has to be sure and he asks for it to be opposite this time – for the ground to be wet around it and the wool to be dry. God answers again!
- God really did make it clear that He was going to work through him and save Israel by his hand. There was no doubting now. God had answered Gideon on both occasions.
So far, here are the first three steps:
- The calling right from God and confirmation from the angel.
- The casting down of the altar of Baal in his town.
- The test of the fleece.
- Having gone through all this already, the faith of Gideon really is at full strength! There was no more reason to doubt God isn’t it? I mean, at this point, we should have considered the battle won already.
But there is still one more “test” that Gideon has to go through before we come to the battle itself.
- Judges 7:1-3
1 Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley. 2 And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me. 3 Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.
- People had come to the rallying cry from Gideon. 32,000 men came! But Gideon told them that if any were afraid that they were to return and go home. God needed men who were full of faith and courage. 22,000 left! Only 10,000 remained after that proclamation from Gideon.
- Notice the reason why God is doing this is not because that Gideon is weak in faith anymore. He probably could have gone out there by himself and fought this battle and God would have fought for him and would have prevailed. But it was for the children of Israel. They had been caught up in idolatry. They had left God! It was only when they went into captivity that they are now crying out to God. So God had to build their faith as well. God had to be careful that the children of Israel did not claim the victory themselves and not give God the glory because there was such a large number of them who came.
Yet God is still not done with Gideon’s army.
- Judges 7:4-7
4 And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go. 5 So he brought down the people unto the water: and the Lord said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink. 6 And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water. 7 And the Lord said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place.
- God would test them and separate them out based on how they drank the water. The group that put down their weapons and got on their knees to drink were not accepted. But those that just used one hand to bring the water up to their mouths were accepted.
- What is the important lesson behind this?
- It is by these little things that God tests us in life. Character is shown through little things. Just drinking of water!
- Daniel and his friends were tested to see whether God could trust them or not simply by the food they ate and what they drank.
- Samson was tested to see whether he would stay away from wine and keep his hair uncut.
- John the Baptist as well, his simple diet and simple dress.
- Moses was asked to speak to the rock and not hit it and was kept out of earthly Canaan because he struck it.
- Little things matter! But was it still a test for Gideon as well. I mean, he was human after all. To see his army whittled down to 300 people. That would have been a great test of faith for anyone. But God would reassure him that with these 300 men He would save Israel and deliver the Midianites into his hand. It was left with Gideon to trust God!
- You know sometimes God just works in mysterious ways. How was He going to use 300 men to defeat a whole army, an army so big that the Bible said it couldn’t be counted?!
Now we come to the battle itself.
- Judges 7:19-22
19 So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers that were in their hands. 20 And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon. 21 And they stood every man in his place round about the camp: and all the host ran, and cried, and fled. 22 And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the Lord set every man’s sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host: and the host fled to Bethshittah in Zererath, and to the border of Abelmeholah, unto Tabbath.
- God would fight for them. He turned the Midianites swords against themselves. But Gideon’s little army had to do one last thing before God would give that victory.
- They had to light the lamps in their left hands, and then run down and blow the trumpets in their right hands.
What does the lamp represent?
- Psalms 119:105
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
- The Word of God must be our guide, and that is what must fight for us.
- Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
- That sword is also the word of God.
How about the trumpet?
- Hebrews 12:19
And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:
- Revelation 1:10
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,
- The trumpet is always compared to God’s voice. But this time it is Gideon’s army that is blowing the trumpet. What does that mean? Declaring the voice of God.
- If we want to have victory over the devil and his hosts, we must share the word of God! It’s not enough just to have and hold on to the word of God to benefit ourselves. We must share it to bless others if we wish to experience victory in our own lives.
Wherein is found faith in the life of Gideon? He could have doubted at every step.
- His calling – God are you sure you are calling me?
- The casting down of the altar of Baal – scared of his dad and everyone in the town!
- The fleece – are you sure that’s You God?
- The sifting of the army – Are you sure 300 men?
- Lighting the lamps and running down the hill announcing your coming with a trumpet.
But what happened?
- Calling of Gideon – having faith that God really called him.
- Casting down of the altar of Baal – living out his faith.
- The Fleece – ensuring his faith in God.
- Sifting of the army – Having faith in God that He knows what He is doing.
- The actual battle – the final result of Gideon’s faith.
Today, God is trying to build your faith. He’s testing your faith. He’s seeing how much He can trust you. He wants to work through you mightily just like He worked through Gideon, and even Moses and Joseph and Abraham. He wants to bless you and make you great in the earth! But He needs to make sure that He can trust you, that you are willing to trust HIM at every step of your life.
What will it be? Are you willing to trust God? Are you struggling to apply His instruction? Do you have fear? Is it just your appetite? Or you just can’t see beyond what God said because it sounds so impossible. May this story encourage you to just test Him then and walk out in faith believing that God will be faithful to His word and to you if you are faithful to Him.