“Gideon, Get’Em!” Part IX: Good Will Hunting (Judges 7:23-8:9)

Updated: 11/11/2018

We’re nine installments into this commentary series and are now approaching the final few parts of this blog series. So far we have journeyed with our protagonist, Gideon (also known as Jerubbaal), as he went from zero to hero. This week will focus on the afterward, post-war ramifications of Gideon fighting for God. As Billy Graham once famously said, “Courage is courageous. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.” And that type of stiff-necked, opposition will be observed today in Judges chapter 7, picking up in verse 23:

The men of Israel were summoned from Naphtali and Asher and all Manasseh, and they pursued Midian. Gideon sent messengers throughout all the hill country of Ephraim, saying, “Come down against Midian and take the waters before them, as far as Beth-barah and the Jordan.” So all the men of Ephraim were summoned and they took the waters as far as Beth-barah and the Jordan. They captured the two leaders of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb, and they killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and they killed Zeeb at the wine press of Zeeb, while they pursued Midian; and they brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon from across the Jordan. Then the men of Ephraim said to him, “What is this thing you have done to us, not calling us when you went to fight against Midian?” And they contended with him vigorously. But he said to them, “What have I done now in comparison with you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer? God has given the leaders of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb into your hands; and what was I able to do in comparison with you?” Then their anger toward him subsided when he said that. Then Gideon and the 300 men who were with him came to the Jordan and crossed over, weary yet pursuing. He said to the men of  Succoth, “Please give loaves of bread to the people who are following me, for they are weary, and I am pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.”The leaders of Succoth said, “Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna already in your hands, that we should give bread to your army?” Gideon said, “All right, when the Lord has given Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, then I will thrash your bodies with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers.”He went up from there to Penuel and spoke similarly to them; and the men of Penuel answered him just as the men of Succoth had answered. So he spoke also to the men of Penuel, saying, “When I return safely, I will tear down this tower.” (NASB Judges 7:23-8:9)

Within the first three verses (7:23-25) we see Gideon strategically split his forces into two groups, in order to annihilate the enemies of Israel.  At first he summons Israelites from all sorts of places. Then they all go after the Midianites. Knowing he cannot do it alone, Gideon asks the men of Ephraim to aid in stopping Oreb and Zeeb by hunting them in Beth-barah and the Jordan river. So two groups of soldiers are pursuing two different armies for one ultimate aim: decimation of the enemies of God.

So why were the men of Ephraim so mad after having killed their enemies? The short answer is that they were not called upon sooner to help. You see, Gideon went first with his men before calling for help after having already started chasing the Midianites down. It was a matter of wanting a part of Gideon’s glory given to him by God on the men of Ephraim’s part. They wanted to be apart of the action.

Gideon basically compares what each party has done and shows how the men of Ephraim did far more in the grand scheme of the war versus a single victory Gideon and his kosher 300 did against the Midianites. So all of the men of Ephraim take a chill-pill and calm down, instead of fuming with rage against Gideon.

Once this debacle is settled, Gideon and the kosher 300 get back to their unexpected journey in hunting down the kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna. As they journey, they eventually come to a point of pure exhaustion, but they endure through their weariness. Eventually, they come to the men of Succoth and ask for resources to fuel the soldiers for war. This was not an uncommon practice either.

Over the centuries, it was very common during times of war that armies would ask the locales for supplies in exchange for protection like building a wall around the city or fighting off bands of thieves. Back in these days everything revolved around trade. In fact, the majority of the world still lives with that bargaining mentality.

What happens here is a bit alarming as the people of Succoth do not cooperate with Gideon and his army. They say no because Gideon and his army have come empty handed. Gideon has not taken care of Zebah and Zalmunna, thus the men of Succoth will not help Gideon or his forces during their time of need. So Gideon responds with,

“All right, when the LORD has given Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, then I will thrash your bodies with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers.” (v7)

In other words, Gideon’s a savage with no chill. That sounds awful. Again, showing how much of a character arc he has had throughout his hero’s journey so far. From being a weakling afraid to fight to now being a warlord who is relentless in his God-driven pursuit of the Midianites. What is of note here is that Gideon answers with the assumption that God will deliver the Midianite kings into his hands and was promised beforehand by God. It’s a sign of Gideon’s faithfulness to the promises of God and how he acts accordingly throughout his campaign.

Interesting enough, the name Zebah means victim or sacrifice, while Zalmunna’s meaning is split into two parts. “The first part is probably the noun צל (sel) meaning shade or shadow, from the verb צלל (salal III), meaning to be or grow dark” (http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Zalmunna.html#.VzvOrxMrLnB). What’s interesting is that names of individuals usually reflect a major aspect to those mentioned in the Bible. Gideon means to hew down or cut off, Jesus is a combination of the Tetragrammaton (YHWH) and the root verb yashu which means to deliver, and the list goes on. In the instances just mentioned, this seems to be the case here as well since the Midianites are like a shadow that grows constantly as Gideon continues to cut them off.

Next, Gideon moves onward to his next pit-stop which was Penuel (Peniel in Genesis 32:30-31) and sought the same supply of resources. Like last time, they say the same thing and Gideon has a similar response:

“When I return safely, I will tear down this tower.” (v9)

What strikes me with this response is two-fold:  (1) how Gideon mentioned that when he returns “safely” and (2) that he will tear down “this tower.” Statements worthy of further examination. Let’s break these down. The first statement that he will return safely goes back to what was mentioned a bit earlier when he assumes God will bring about victory. It once more is a testament to the faithfulness Gideon has had with God thus far. One that continues on this second encounter.

The second statement about tearing down this tower is significant because in these days towers represented power or dominance, so to threaten to take out their tower was to basically say that Gideon was going to end them. Actually, this idea of man-made symbols of power (castles, high places, pyramids, towers, etc.) versus God-made symbols of power (mountains, etc.) has always fascinated me. Next week we’ll examine the expansion of Gideon’s campaign and how power corrupts. Until next time, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

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“Gideon, Get’Em!” Part VIII: It’s Clobbering Time (Judges 7:19-22)

Updated: 11/11/2018

The moment we have all been waiting for has finally arrived! The moment Gideon’s name is forever cemented as a warrior of the one, true God! It’s a pretty enthralling moment to see the hero finally come to form. It’s the peak of his origin story and a moment that will have a rippling effect throughout history.  Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s check out the text for this week starting in verse 19 of Chapter 7:

“So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outskirts of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, when they had just posted the watch; and they blew the trumpets and smashed the pitchers that were in their hands. When 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 cried, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” Each stood in his place around the camp; and all the army ran, crying out as they fled. When they blew 300 trumpets, the LORD set the sword of one against another even throughout the whole army; and the army fled as far as Beth-shittah toward Zererah, as far as the edge of Abel-meholah, by Tabbath.” (NASB Judges 7:19-22)

After reading the text for today, there is such a uniqueness to how God does things versus how we do things. For starters, it speaks volumes as to how powerful God truly is and what He is capable of doing. It shows how God can use anything to accomplish His ultimate will in life, whether with or without our participation. Even if that participation is so small like doing what Gideon’s army did.

Secondly, God’s plan kills pride. Think about it. How could Gideon or anyone of his soldiers take pride in the way this battle played out? They had two options: if they lost, then they were humbled by the might of men. If they won, they were humbled by the grace of God. Which of course they did win and were praising God in humility. God’s ways are always higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). Hence, we are always humbled by His great works in our lives.

Lastly, this plan made it loud and clear who defeated the Midianites: the God of Israel. The Kosher 300 literally shouted “For the LORD and for Gideon” before the Midianite soldiers unintentionally killed each other in the confusion of it all. It was their anthem of triumph over their enemies as God made them His footstool. It was a declaration on both Gideon and God’s part: let my people go and let go the Midianites did. As a matter of fact, they fled in fear. Talk about a reversal!

The battle took place during “the beginning of the middle watch” and middle watch is from 12am to 4am. So around that time frame, Gideon’s men attacked the enemy camp and awoke them in their sleep as they bellowed downward from the hills with those deafening noises as they were instructed. The enemy army fleeing to “Beth-shittah toward Zererah” with some going even farther to “the edge of Abel-meholah, by Tabbath.” This was not a good day for the Midianites or anyone opposing Israel for that matter. Things will never be the same from this pivotal point onward.

This moment in history is what has made Gideon such a popular figure of reverence in military history. In the 12th-century, a poet in his poem Prefatio de Almeria describes a Count Ponce de Cabrera as

“the leader of the troops of Extremadura, is said to have possessed the strength of Samson and the sword of Gideon and he is compared to Jonathan.  He was a leader of the stature of Hector, strong and truthful like the invincible Ajax, fearless in battle and as wise as Solomon, but nevertheless humble enough to serve his knights at table. [78]” (1) PA, vv. 176-98.

Quite the description of a military leader campaigning against 12th-century Islamic expansion. Although, this is just one occasion where Gideon’s name is associated with something war-related. There are others like the 16th-century Swiss poet Benedikt Gletting wrote that the Swedish need the “Sword of Gideon” in his work, Song of Warning for the Confederacy, in wake of the Swedish Reformation and is the 1934 edition created by Hanns In der Gand (Ladislaus Krupski).

Then there is the British-led special forces group nicknamed “the Gideon Force” who were primarily stationed in East Africa and the surrounding area during World War II. Nowadays, the name evokes a sense of victory in the hearts of soldiers familiar with the legend-like status of Gideon. Next week, we will see the ramifications of Gideon’s bold act of faith in God that resulted in the fleeing of the so-called great Midianites. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

“Gideon, Get’Em!” Part VII: A Matter of Loaf and Death (Judges 7:9-18)

So far we have read about the whittling down of Gideon’s army to the Kosher 300 and with them proceeding to take out the Midianites. Where we pick up today we will find an interesting encounter before the great battle with the Midianites. Gideon is about to go to war, but first must see what odds he is up against with my dude Purah and hear a word from God through a stranger. Let’s read the text of Scripture for today’s study starting in verse 9 of Chapter 7:

“Now the same night it came about that the LORD said to him, “Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hands. But if you are afraid to go down, go with Purah your servant down to the camp, and you will hear what they say; and afterward your hands will be strengthened that you may go down against the camp.” So he went with Purah his servant down to the outposts of the army that was in the camp. Now the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the sons of the east were lying in the valley as numerous as locusts; and their camels were without number, as numerous as the sand on the seashore. When Gideon came, behold, a man was relating a dream to his friend. And he said, “Behold, I had a dream; a loaf of barley bread was tumbling into the camp of Midian, and it came to the tent and struck it so that it fell, and turned it upside down so that the tent lay flat.” His friend replied, “This is nothing less than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given Midian and all the camp into his hand.” When Gideon heard the account of the dream and its interpretation, he bowed in worship. He returned to the camp of Israel and said, “Arise, for the LORD has given the camp of Midian into your hands.” He divided the 300 men into three companies, and he put trumpets and empty pitchers into the hands of all of them, with torches inside the pitchers. He said to them, “Look at me and do likewise. And behold, when I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do. “When I and all who are with me blow the trumpet, then you also blow the trumpets all around the camp and say, ‘For the LORD and for Gideon.’”” (NASB Judges 7:9-18)

Starting off, we find Gideon at night after the day when Gideon’s forces were divided into a mere 300 soldiers. God then reveals how powerful He is by showing His knowledge of Gideon’s heart, specifically the fear that encroaches it. The LORD tells Gideon that he is to go and take out the camp of the Midianites, yet at the same time offers an alternative way of approaching the Midianite camp down in the valley (v9-11a). One way to understand the two options is that Gideon could either a) immediately go down against the camp with his army of 300 soldiers or b) go with Purah his servant to the border of the camp to hear a word of confirmation, then gather his troops to go against the camp. Basically, God offers an alternative to someone and yet approves of both actions.

The only time I can think of a situation playing out like this is when God told my Mom that she could either marry my Dad or not marry him, but either way God would approve of her decision. As my Mom recalls, God did not favor either option, but instead allowed my Mom the freedom to choose. Whatever she chose, God was going to bless her decision.

Like my Mom’s situation, we know from reading the text which option Gideon chose because he was afraid. It’s Gideon’s most common trait since we started reading about him. He’s a man of great fear, but will one day be known as a man of great faith. He’s about to go to war for the first time and has never fought a day in his life. To even begin to describe what Gideon must have been feeling or thinking in this moment is too hard to articulate as someone who has never faced the fires of war.

The dawn of battle is a very scary thought even to the toughest of soldiers. It’s hard for me, a civilian, to describe to you what those moments feel like on the battlefield, so here is a quote from a former soldier on his experiences in combat:

“Several hours of pure terror, your heart pounding so hard you think it might leap out of your chest, your best friend on fire, running as fast as humanly possible, pure luck, sleeping with one eye open and your hand on your weapon, laser focused on the task before you, the world melting away as the only thing you observe is a heart beating and breath being taken in, then silence. You walk along with the rest of the group. Everyone celebrating that we’re going home, but you just give a fake smile. All you can think about is not having been there 5 minutes earlier, or why didn’t he duck, or why him… And the sound still stays muted even through the great yell being given by everyone as the plane lifts off the ground and heading home, the high fives given are half hearted and unenthusiastic as we stop at several airports on the way to the states. Everything quiet and just as dead as your best friend.”–mherick, Reddit

With this in mind, not only is going to battle a jarring experience of courage conflicting with fear, going to your first battle even more so than most people can describe. From the testimonies of soldiers I have heard from online and in the past face-to-face, it’s an odd combination of a love/hate relationship with war. Love because there is no adrenaline surge on Earth that can match the testosterone high that combat can give to someone, especially men. Hate because of the atrocities and effects that result from combat afterwards: death, destruction, purple hearts, body bags, remorse, regrets, and the like. Again, I can’t do justice to what that moment is like before going to your first battle, but it’s something that every soldier that has gone to combat can understand. Gideon is going through this swell of emotions and thoughts, along with 300 soldiers ready to die for their country.

Choosing the alternative option, Gideon goes down to the border of the Midianite camp with his servant Purah and finds two men discussing a dream that one of them had. Just a side note, the name Purah is very similar to the English word “purity” and means “bough” like the central branch of a tree. Some biblical scholars say that Purah was most likely Gideon’s armor-bearer as he is referred to as a servant, which an armor-bearer was a type of servant during battle. When the two arrive at the edge of the battlefield, they stumble upon an army innumerable in size and appeared like a blanket of “locusts” in the valley below (v12).

It must have been humbling to see such a site of human power. Numbers are always impressive, no matter what it is that the numbers signify: a yearly-salary, a sports car’s horsepower, Big Z’s world record log press. It doesn’t matter. To us, numbers are impressive because they always represent power, which leads to pride.

As this immense enemy camp looms over Gideon, he and Purah find two other men by the edge of the enemy camp as one of them is “relating a dream to his friend.” The dream is told as the following:

“Behold, I had a dream; a loaf of barley bread was tumbling into the camp of Midian, and it came to the tent and struck it so that it fell, and turned it upside down so that the tent lay flat.” (NASB Judges 7:13b)

Then once the dream had been proclaimed in the presence of Gideon, Purah, and the interpreter, the latter man responds with an interpretation that reveals some very important truths. Let’s see the interpretation before dissecting it:

“This is nothing less than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given Midian and all the camp into his hand.” (NASB Judges 7:14b)

In the dream of the first man there is a loaf of barley bread representing Gideon and his army. The loaf of bread may also signify how the Midianites were known for taking the Israelites resources, only to have it literally come back on their heads. Boy, this is a matter of loaf and death. The tumbling into the Midianite tent and turning it upside down symbolizes the victory that God has promised to Gideon. Thus, Gideon’s fears were finally squashed as he hears the final confirmation that God will deliver the Amalekites and the Midianites into Israel’s hands.

It’s always fascinating to me how God uses dreams in the Bible to confirm or reveal information. Jeffrey Kranz of www.overviewbible.com has found that there are 21 dreams in the Bible, including this one in Judges Chapter 7. He summarizes the dream in Judges Chapter 7 as “a piece of bread rolls* into Midianites’ camp and turns over the tents, foreshadowing Gideon’s victory. *bun intended?” Yes Kranz, the bun is most certainly intended and the victory is now going to happen with this divine word from God through these two men conversing.

After hearing the interpretation, Gideon worships God and then heads back with Purah to gather the kosher 300 to annihilate the enemy. He divides the 300 into groups of 100 and places trumpets in every man’s hands, along with empty pitchers for their torches. Lastly, Gideon gives instruction to his army by telling them to do as he does. He ends with giving his men the battle cry of the night, which will cement his name as one of the greatest warlords in Israel’s history:  “For the LORD and for Gideon” (v18b).

Not only does this battle cry ring loudly as to how God will deliver Israel, but to whom God has appointed to unleash His will on those who oppose it: Gideon. A name that will send shudders down the spines of those who stand in opposition against God once His wrath is let loose upon the enemy. Our next study will show how Gideon’s life will become a legend that will forever define his legacy as a man of faith. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

“Gideon, Get’Em!” Part VI: Kosher 300 (Judges 7:1-8)

Updated: 11/11/2018

Quick recap: we just finished Chapter 6 where God has appointed Gideon (Jerubbaal) to lead Israel to destroy the Amalekites and the Midianites. Gideon starts out as a dweeb and is still a dweeb, but he’s getting there. It’s in this chapter of Judges that we meet the Gideon everyone is most familiar with: the warlord. They’re about to start their campaign against the Amalekites and Midianites starting with selecting the best men fit for the job. Let’s first examine the passage for this week and then dive into the deeper themes within the text:

“Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the people who were with him, rose early and camped beside the spring of Harod; and the camp of Midian was on the north side of them by the hill of Moreh in the valley. The LORD said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me.’ “Now therefore come, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is afraid and trembling, let him return and depart from Mount Gilead.’” So 22,000 people returned, but 10,000 remained. Then 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. Therefore it shall be that he of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go with you; but everyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.” So he brought the people down to the water. And the LORD said to Gideon, “You shall separate everyone who laps the water with his tongue as a dog laps, as well as everyone who kneels to drink.” Now the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was 300 men; but all the rest of the people kneeled to drink water. The LORD said to Gideon, “I will deliver you with the 300 men who lapped and will give the Midianites into your hands; so let all the other people go, each man to his home.” So the 300 men took the people’s provisions and their trumpets into their hands. And Gideon sent all the other men of Israel, each to his tent, but retained the 300 men; and the camp of Midian was below him in the valley.” (NASB Judges 7:1-8)

So Gideon and his mighty men are gathered together beside the spring of Harod near the camp of the Midianites who are by the hill of Moreh in the valley. They’re about to vanquish their enemies, but then God gives one final command to Gideon: you have too many men and need to send some home. What the what?! Why would God demand such a strange act of obedience from Gideon before going to battle? Doesn’t that seem counter-productive?

Pride. That’s the reason for God’s command. Pride is one of the deadliest sins one could ever commit. A spiritual blindside to all who allow it to take root in their life. God wants the Israelites to understand who is delivering their enemies into their hands. Not the number of men, but the God who created mankind. What’s so wrong with pride? Let’s take a look at a couple passages from the Bible:

“Why do You stand afar off, O LORD?

Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?

In pride the wicked hotly pursue the afflicted;

Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised.

For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire,

And the greedy man curses and spurns the LORD.

The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him.

All his thoughts are, “There is no God.” (NASB Psalm 10:1-4)

 

“Pride goes before destruction,

And a haughty spirit before stumbling.” (NASB Proverbs 16:18)

 

“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (NASB 1 John 2:16)

Instead, I believe God was desiring this response from Gideon and a heart like that of David who once sang in Psalm 20:7 about the subject of boasting:

“Some boast in chariots and some in horses,

But we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God.”

Notice the difference? Rather than boast in themselves, God desired that they boast in Him. Paul the Apostle has a response very similar to David’s as well:

“But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”” (NASB 1 Corinthians 1:30-31)

What’s even more interesting is what Paul quotes because it’s a paraphrase of Jeremiah 9:23-24. That’s really all that God wants from the Israelites: properly fixed worship. Instead of worshiping themselves, they were meant to worship God.

So first, Gideon is accompanied by 32,000 soldiers, but the fearful are sent home which results in 10,000 being left to go to war against the Midianites (v3). Not bad, but not ideal either. I mean, it’s a third of the army, so they could win. Yet that’s not the last cut of the Israelite army either. No, God makes another crucial cut to their forces by dividing them into two camps of ways to drink from a body of water, most likely the spring of Harod. I know it sounds silly, but God does what He wants even if we don’t quite understand why. The passage sounds a little confusing in this translation, so let’s look at it in the NLT:

“When Gideon took his warriors down to the water, the LORD told him, “Divide the men into two groups. In one group put all those who cup water in their hands and lap it up with their tongues like dogs. In the other group put all those who kneel down and drink with their mouths in the stream.” Only 300 of the men drank from their hands. All the others got down on their knees and drank with their mouths in the stream.” (NLT Judges 7:5-6)

There are those who lapped (made their hand a cup) to drink the water with their tongues, like a dog might (300 men) and then those who knelt down to drink the water with their mouths (9,700 men). So the 9,700 were sent away and Gideon was left with 300 men. Well, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that there were probably some within those 300 that were having some serious doubts about their victory against the Midianites. I mean, they went from 32,000 to 300. Not exactly great odds, yet that is the point. God wants Israel to know who is delivering them: God, not men. He wants moldable vessels of honor, not dried-up vessels of dishonor.

Now God, after narrowing down the army to 300 men, gives Gideon an affirmative and comforting promise (v7). He tells Gideon that two things will happen: 1) He will deliver them and 2) He will give them victory over the Midianites. It’s incredible how actively involved God is in the proceedings of bringing redemption to Israel through the use of a judge like Gideon. It reminds me of Proverbs 16:9 where it says,

“A man’s mind plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.” (RSV)

Gideon may be doing all of the planning, but God is doing all of the directing of those plans. Like in film, an actor may have an idea on how to portray a character in a script, but the director will guide and direct them to ensure that their portrayal is what the director has in mind. According to the director’s will, the actor will behave and inhabit their specific character in alignment with that vision. In the same manner, God will guide us as our plans align with His will for what to aspire or do for in our lives. In John 15:1-11, Jesus speaks on this idea and explains how the Father finds joy in those who bear much fruit according to living lives aligned with His will for them.

“Getting up and living in God’s great story.” Trip Lee, a pastor in Atlanta, wrote those words in his book Rise and I think it sums up this passage quite well. Although God could do everything He wills without us, He desires us to participate because it gives Him great joy to see us rise up to the occasion and bear much fruit for His name’s sake. It’s similar to how a parent knows they can carry their toddler across the room, but instead waits for the toddler to eventually walk towards them. Desiring that they learn and grow, which always brings joy to a loving parent’s heart. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

 

“Gideon, Get’Em!” Part V: Jerubbaal, the Amalekites, and the Fleece (Judges 6:33-40)

Updated: 10/12/2018

Last week, we went over Jerubbaal’s first stance against the Amalekites and the repercussions from his own people who wanted to end this godly revolution. This week, we’ll dive into the last few verses of Chapter 6 of Judges and see what happened after Gideon received his new name Jerubbaal. But first, let’s read the text.

“Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the sons of the east assembled themselves; and they crossed over and camped in the valley of Jezreel. So the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon; and he blew a trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called together to follow him. He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, and they also were called together to follow him; and he sent messengers to Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and they came up to meet them. Then Gideon said to God, “If You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken, behold, I will 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 will know that You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken.” And it was so. When he arose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece, he drained the dew from the fleece, a bowl full of water. Then Gideon said to God, “Do not let Your anger burn against me that I may speak once more; please let me make a test once more with the fleece, let it now be dry only on the fleece, and let there be dew on all the ground.” God did so that night; for it was dry only on the fleece, and dew was on all the ground.” (NASB Judges 6:33-40)

Right away, there’s evil brewing in the Hebrew lands. The bad guys are closing in and making their presence known (v33). In response to this oncoming onslaught, the Holy Spirit comes upon Jerubbaal in order to counter this imminent threat by rallying up the troops. First the Abiezrites come (v34), then Jerubbaal sends out messengers to Manasseh (v35), next to Asher (v35), Zebulun (v35), and lastly Naphtali (v35).

Since Joash and Jerubbaal were Abiezrites, the Abiezrites mentioned in this text are most likely the family of Jerubbaal because all Abiezrites were descendants of Abiezer (Judges 6:11). The lands of Manasseh were northern Israel, while Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali were neighboring tribes of Israel in the northwestern region right near the Mediterranean Sea. The Amalekites were south of the Hebrew nation near Egypt, whereas the Midianites were southeast of Israel, but were apart of the land that is modern day Saudi Arabia. With all of this geographical context established, let’s get to the deeper thematic elements in this passage of Scripture.

So now Gideon has a massive army because he sent out messengers to gather all of the neighboring tribes to defend Israel. In a way, this is sort of symbolic of when tragedy strikes our own lives and we cry out to God for aid, so God sends everything that we need to us. It reminds me of John 15:7 (NASB) where Jesus says “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Because we rely on the Lord, we are taken care of since we understand our place in His grand plan to redeem us.

We can’t live life without the constant help of God. He’s literally our life support. Without God, there is no you or me. Nothing would exist. There would be nothing without God. “Surely He scorns the scornful, But gives grace to the humble” (NKJV Proverbs 3:34). And that is what is happening here. God is giving grace to the humble-hearted Hebrews by aiding them in their time of desperate need.

Another thing of note now that we’re at the end of chapter 6 is that the whole Trinity is present within the chapter. In the beginning of the chapter, we are introduced to God the Father authoritatively addressing Israel (v8-10), then God the Son otherwise known as the angel of the Lord (v11-24), and lastly God the Spirit (v34). It’s just another evidence as to why God has to be Trinitarian, rather than Unitarian like Allah in Islam. I write more on this subject in my blog-posts The Lovely Trinity Argument and The Greater Than Argument.

Back to the text, Gideon then does the unthinkable: asking God to prove Himself again. As if Gideon needed anymore proof that God was going to help. Let’s briefly recap what exactly God has graciously done to aid Gideon just in Chapter 6 of Judges: He sent a prophet to communicate with them (v8), spared Israel from utter annihilation (v9-10), gave Gideon a sign that He is indeed God (v21-22), then filled Gideon with His Holy Spirit to bring together an army to stand against the Amalekites and the Midianites (v33). What else do you need to know that God is with you? Anyways, Gideon asks God to give Him another sign which involves a fleece, but this sign is not meant to prove that this indeed was God who He was speaking. Rather, it was to see if God would deliver the Amalekites and Midianites into the hands of Israel.

Specifically in verses 36-37, Gideon asks not just for any sign, but a very distinct way of God answering with a sign that Gideon proposes. Gideon asks that if God will bring victory to the Israelites, then let the fleece he lays out on the threshing floor over night be covered in dew, while the rest of the floor is dry. The threshing floor is an outside area where certain types of grains like barley or wheat were threshed with a flail over a smooth stone surface.

Dew is tiny drops of water that appear on a surface from condensing atmospheric vapor. This happens a lot when you go outside early in the morning and see little water droplets on your front lawn. That’s exactly what Gideon is talking about in this passage. If this dew is on both the fleece and the rest of the threshing floor, then Gideon knows that God will allow the Amalekites and the Midianites to win against the Israelites.

Once he wakes up in the morning, Gideon finds that it happened exactly as he said it would, if God was to bring victory to the Israelites. In fact, the fleece was so wet with dew that Gideon filled a whole bowl with water (v38)! How crazy is that?

But then Gideon asks God once again for the same sign, but reversed. That the fleece would be completely dry and the rest of the threshing floor would be covered in dew. Likewise, God does exactly as Gideon proposed and only further confirms in Gideon’s mind that the Lord is with him.

I find it interesting that Gideon asks for so many signs from God to reveal Himself, yet I do the exact same thing. God will sometimes allow things to happen exactly as we ask Him to have it happen. It’s odd because I have doubts that God would answer those types of requests, yet He does. God meets us where we are at, so that we can hear Him clearly through signs and wonders.

If only we all would be more trusting in God when these signs do come because they are few and far between. Powerful stuff when the Creator interacts with Creation. Yet in retrospect, Gideon’s A-story is only just beginning and we will find out next week as we start Chapter 7 how his story continues to unfold. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

“Gideon, Get’ Em!” Part IV: And He Threw It On The Ground (Judges 6:25-32)

Updated: 6/5/2018 | Photo Cred: (1)

Like the hero’s journey, we have arrived at the point in every classic story when our hero enters the new world. For all the film nerds out there, this usually happens a third of the way through a film. In literature, it would be a third of the way through a book or novel.

This is when Gideon steps out in faith and does something he would never have done, if not running into his mentor, God, sitting in a tree. He is about to go out and take his first stand of opposition towards the establishment of wickedness. It’s a pivotal moment that changes Gideon permanently for the duration of his life because there is no turning back for him. He must keep going from this point onward, but before we get to that let’s dive into the text first for some well-rounded context:

“Now on the same night the LORD said to him, “Take your father’s bull and a second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal which belongs to your father, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it; and build an altar to the LORD your God on the top of this stronghold in an orderly manner, and take a second bull and offer a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah which you shall cut down.” Then Gideon took ten men of his servants and did as the LORD had spoken to him; and because he was too afraid of his father’s household and the men of the city to do it by day, he did it by night. When the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was torn down, and the Asherah which was beside it was cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar which had been built. They said to one another, “Who did this thing?” And when they searched about and inquired, they said, “Gideon the son of Joash did this thing.” Then the men of the city said to Joash, “Bring out your son, that he may die, for he has torn down the altar of Baal, and indeed, he has cut down the Asherah which was beside it.” But Joash said to all who stood against him, “Will you contend for Baal, or will you deliver him? Whoever will plead for him shall be put to death by morning. If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because someone has torn down his altar.” Therefore on that day he named him Jerubbaal, that is to say, “Let Baal contend against him,” because he had torn down his altar (NASB Judges 6:25-32).”

So the LORD comes back and gives Gideon further instruction to further His plan of redemption for the Hebrews by tearing down the altar to Baal. Without getting deep into paganism, Baal is one bad, lil’ god. Very, very, vile things were done and are done in worship to this demonic god. Such as self-mutilation, firstborn sacrifice, sacred sexual orgies, copulation with animals, and so on. There is a great, detailed article that thoroughly explains Baal worship, which you can read here. Most likely, this was Baal-berith because of the name drop later on in Chapter 8 of Judges, but it could have been any variation of Baal.

First thing that we notice is the way God instructs Gideon to tear down the altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah beside the altar. He commands Gideon to do a number of things in sequential order: 1) take your father’s bull and a 7-yr. old bull, 2) pull down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah beside it, 3) build an altar to the LORD on the stronghold previously holding Baal’s altar, 4) and then finally take the second bull and make an offering to the LORD using the wood from the Asherah. Let’s breakdown this 4-part command from the LORD. Notice how God tells Gideon to bring 2 bulls, his father’s and a 7-yr. old bull. Now the 7-yr. old bull was used for the sacrifice, but what was his father’s bull used for?

I am going to infer based on the Scripture at hand that God’s intention for bringing Gideon’s dad’s (Joash) bull was so that Gideon could pull down the altar set up for Baal by Joash, along with his ten male servants. Think about it: why else would God command Gideon to bring his father’s bull, if not to use it to tear down an altar made of extremely heavy stones that weighed thousands of tons? He couldn’t have done it by himself.He couldn’t have done it with just ten male servants either.

Of course he used the bull to pull down the altar. In fact, he probably used both bulls before sacrificing the second bull. Even with his ten male servants they couldn’t possibly have done this task without the strength of the two bulls. Logically, Gideon tore down the altar and the Asherah with the help of his ten male servants and the usage of the two bulls. Based on the text provided, this is the best explanation.

So we now know why two bulls, but what about the Asherah? Well, the Asherah in ancient times is believed to have been made almost always out of terebinth trees because they were considered sacred and the etymology of the word Asherah, elat, is almost exactly the same for terebinth tree, ela., in Hebrew. For more on that, go here. Since the Asherah was made of wood, Gideon could easily cut it down with an axe of some sort and probably wouldn’t need help from the bull to do that either.

With all of that in mind, God then commands Gideon to build an altar for the LORD and then offer the 7-yr. old bull as a sacrifice using the wood of the Asherah, which is significant to say the least. God’s basically putting His foot down and saying “I’m Gideon’s God. Whoever messes with Gideon, is messing with the great I Am” by having Gideon do all of this stuff for God’s glory. Gideon likewise was making a statement as well by affirming who not only is his God, but who is the only God, which we will see in a little bit.

Yet Gideon’s bold stance is suddenly made so much bold-less when we realize that he was afraid of his father’s household and the men of the city, so he did all of this in the middle of the night. How sad is that? That Gideon compromised out of fear of others?

Sad indeed that such an awesome proclamation of faith was undermined by an abundance of fear. Oh, how often I see this in my life. Where God wants me to do something or go somewhere and how I undermine the “God-moments” with compromise over something not worth compromising over. I think we can all relate to that fear that Gideon was experiencing during this time. It’s an understandable fear in the sense that anyone can relate to it, but also an irrational fear because God is with us who believe in Him. With Him, we should not fear anyone. Not even those who desire to stop us.

But then opposition comes Gideon’s way when the men of the city find out that the altar has been destroyed. So they go to the household of Joash and demand for Gideon’s head. Like, they seriously wanted to kill Gideon. They were a lil’ on edge.

Keep in mind, that Joash is not aware of what Gideon has done and is hearing these accusations against Gideon for the first time. His reaction is unparalleled when considering this prospect. He should have allowed the men of the city to take Gideon and kill him out of anger towards Gideon tearing down Joash’s own altar, but nonetheless that’s not what happens. In fact, what we do see Joash do is protect his son Gideon by putting the responsibility of exacting judgment onto their own god, Baal, and making it his responsibility, not their responsibility. In other words, Joash told them that if your god is so powerful, let him take care of Gideon.

Then again, maybe Joash did know about Gideon tearing down the altar before the men of the city told him or Gideon confessed to his father that night because of the fear that he felt of his father’s wrath. Either way, it’s hard to understand why his father, Joash, responded in the way that he did, but there are a few options.

Either Joash had a change of heart before the men of the city came for Gideon or he had a change of heart when the men of the city came to him and told him all that happened. Bottom line: something or someone changed Joash’s heart because he let Gideon live and stood up for him. Now this is what every father should be doing. Supporting their children when they make the right decision and protecting them from opposition.

Once the men of the city hear this bold proclamation from Joash and leave, Joash then renames Gideon Jerubbaal, which means “Let Baal contend against him.” As if to say, Gideon will struggle with Baal. We will see what this foreshadowing means, but for now let’s stick to the text at hand. I like the insight that Jon Ericson adds. He writes that

“the name Gideon seems to be associated with the man’s struggles and victories over foreign nations and the name Jerubbaal is associated with his struggles against idolatry (2).”

This makes sense then because the first mention of his name as Jerubbaal is in this chapter and is given to him as he struggled, both physically and mentally, to tear down the altar to Baal. Then in the spiritual sense, Gideon had to choose between the one, true God’s will or the will of other men’s gods. A tough decision and a life defining struggle indeed that as we proceed through the life of Jerubbaal (Gideon) will be ever more apparent. Until next time, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAYL5H46QnQ
  2. https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/2384/what-is-the-significance-of-switching-from-gideon-to-jerubbaal

“Gideon, Get’ Em!” Part II: The Hero’s Journey Begins (Judges 6:11-18)

 

Updated: 11/4/2017 | Photo Cred: (1)

The first installment of “Gideon, Get’ Em!” focused on the general background of the book of Judges and set the stage for God to raise up the next judge of Israel: Gideon. This time, we meet the hero of our series. The chosen one if you will that God appoints to do His will in saving the Israelites from certain death. Without jumping too far ahead, let’s read the text for this portion of the series.

“Then the angel of the LORD came and sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press in order to save it from the Midianites. The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior.” Then Gideon said to him, “O my lord, 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 abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” The LORD looked at him and said, “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?” He said to Him, “O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.” But the LORD said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.” So Gideon said to Him, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who speak with me (NASB Judges 6:11-18).””

There is a lot to go over in this passage. Let’s start with the simple stuff, then progress from there. References to “the angel of the LORD” are Christophany moments. A Christophany is an Old Testament appearance of Jesus the Christ and this is when Jesus is physically present in history. This occurs a few times in the Old Testament (2). These are also a foreshadowing of later on in history when the Word became flesh (3) and paid the debt of humanity by atoning for all the sins of mankind.

It’s always awesome to see God interact with His creation in such interesting ways, yet at the same time in ways that the people of that time could relate too. For Joshua, a soldier, God appeared as a soldier. For Jacob (4), He appeared as a man busting Jacob’s hip in a wrestling match. Living under the New Covenant, we too interact with God in ways that on a person-to-person basis, makes sense to us.

When I got saved and came to Christ, I was compelled by the way the Bible was written as a storyteller reading the ultimate story. I was so enthralled by God’s Word when I became a believer that I read the entire book of Genesis the night of my conversion. It was so enthralling! To see the greatest storyteller unveil just a snippet of His master plan was exciting to say the least reading it for the first time.

Although no one living today is apart of the A-Story found in the Bible, we all are apart of the B-Story in history, otherwise known as history or His-Story. The A-Story is a film term referring to the journey the protagonist takes during the duration of a film. The B-Story is the side story that at first, seems unrelated to the A-Story, until it’s tied together at the end of the film with the A-Story. That’s what we are right now. Chugging along through our own B-Stories waiting to enter Heaven and see where our story fits alongside God’s A-Story.

It’s a very interesting time to be in because we look back at the A-Story revealed so far (the Bible, excluding Revelation & the prophecies to be fulfilled, history/the past, etc.) and then look at our own B-Stories, feeling useless in the grand scheme of things. It honestly is really hard sometimes because it’s like we’re on the sidelines learning about “real Christians” like King David and John the Baptist who did incredible things in God’s A-Story. But rest assured, God promises in His Word that all things will be worked together for those that follow Christ (5). Just remain faithful in living out your B-story and one day God will reveal your essential role in His A-Story when we enter His Kingdom.

Something else of note in this passage is how we are introduced to our hero of our story. It’s the perfect example of the humble-beginnings type of hero. Gideon is found serving his household diligently beating his wine-press, in order to hide wheat from the clutches of the Midianites. I like how bible-history.com describes this moment as the following: “Gideon, in order to avoid being seen by the Midianites, beat out his wheat in a wine-press instead of threshing it on the threshing-floor,” which is not usual because in those times someone would thresh the floor, not beat the winepress. In other words, Gideon was scared out of his mind and arguably should be with the life he has being so insignificant in the grand scheme of things from his perspective. The Midianites were going to take all that they could consume, so he tried to hide it from them.

Gideon is the Luke Skywalker of this story: a nobody going nowhere in life. Or so he thought. He was the youngest son in his family (v15), of a family of little to no name in society or Israel for that matter (v15), is most likely tired of living out his B-Story compared to past mighty people of God who had great triumphs (v13), and has doubts when it comes to miracles (v13). It’s understandable that Gideon would complain to the LORD about his B-Story when the A-story looks so awesome.

Little did he know that his B-Story was about to become an essential part of the A-Story. You see in the kingdom of God, the bench-warmers are the starters and the starters are the bench-warmers. God loves to use the foolish in the world’s eyes to shame the wise of this world (6). It’s kind of God’s favorite method: using the broken to fix a broken world. So too, Gideon is our broken protagonist who God has chosen as the centerpiece vessel for His plan of redemption for Israel. What happens next in this encounter is the first few steps in the master plan from the master.

The LORD comes to Gideon in verse 12 and starts the conversation with “The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior.” As if Gideon was some valiant warrior to begin with, which he was not, and the following conversation between the two seems to imply this truth. Just on a side note, it’s always interesting when God will call someone by what they will be one day as if they already are this position or title. Since our timelines are linear and God is outside of time, he can look at our entire timeline, instead of us who only see the pieces of the past or present. So from God’s point of view, Gideon is a valiant warrior. He just does not know it yet.

Back to the text, Gideon responds with basically “God, you left us and now we’re doomed. What happened to all of those promises you said you would keep and the things you did for us in the past” (v13)? At this point in time, Gideon seems quite frustrated and afraid of the future believing the worst is to come for Israel. But God has other plans, so He presses with His proposed plan: “Gideon, you’re the chosen one. I picked you to save Israel. Go as you are to do My will” (v14). Then Gideon wines like a Skywalker about how unprepared he is to do God’s will (v15), so the LORD replies with “Dude, I’m God. They will lose” (v16). Next, Gideon is like “Alright God, if it’s really you, then show me somehow. Please stay, so that I can build you something cool and then show you my cool thing” (v17). The LORD ends the conversation with “Yeah, sure thing Gideon.”

Now that’s my own paraphrase of their conversation, but you get the idea. God wants to use Gideon. Gideon wants to water his dirt farm. God tells him to stop being a dweeb. Gideon listens to God and goes to get some power-converters. You get the jist of it. So Gideon heads out to go and prepare this offering for God, while God stays around for the offering. Come back next time as we observe what happens next in the life of Gideon as his B-Story ends and his A-Story begins. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

  1. https://glitchup.com/2017/08/30/luke-skywalker-looking-like-true-jedi-knight-newly-released-image/
  2. Genesis 18:1-33, Joshua 5:13-6:5
  3. John 1:1
  4. Genesis 32:22-30
  5. Romans 8:28
  6. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
  7. Disclaimer

“Gideon, Get’ Em!” Part I: Setting the Stage for the Savior (Judges 6:1-10)

Updated: 11/4/2017

When I say “Bible Heroes,” who comes to mind? Daniel? Esther? Samson? You know, those historical figures that did mighty things for the LORD and are praised for their amazing courage in Scripture. Well for now, forget about those peeps because today we are going to look at one of the more underrated figures of the Bible: Gideon. This 12-part blog series will be a study on the life, death, and legacy of Gideon. A man whose impact was so far reaching in the Bible that he is praised by the author of the book of Hebrews as a man of faith who served God diligently, but we’ll get to that later. For now, let’s look at some historical details to set the stage for this first installment in this series.

Author

The majority of Gideon’s story is written in the book of Judges in the Bible. The author of Judges is most likely the Prophet Samuel, but that’s not for certain and is only attributed to Samuel because of the oral Jewish tradition. Although the case can be made that it was a collaborative effort (1). The author would have to be someone who lived just after this period in history, about 1045-1000 B.C. and Samuel the Prophet fits this bill the best. Also of note, “the Book of Ruth was originally a part of the Book of Judges, but in A.D. 450 it was removed to become a book of its own” (2). So the author of Judges may have also been the author of the Book of Ruth.

Background & Culture

The book of Judges is the Mad Max of the Bible and the time of the Judges was kind of insane. There was outright anarchy, rebellion, violence, and all other things of that nasty sort happening everywhere you went. Then every once in awhile, God would handpick someone to be a judge and do His will in drawing His chosen people back to Him. Whether that be Deborah or Samson, God would pick out some nobody to do something absolutely magnificent, in order to bring God’s people back to Himself. Israel at this time was a wreck and broken from the inside by sin, as well as on the verge of war by opposing nations seeking to annihilate them permanently.

As the book of Judges says itself, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes (3).” Rightly so, because the people of Israel rejected God and went their own way towards sin. This time period could be compared to an emergency room where one goes to die, yet lives. Where death and life clash. Where eternity and time cross paths. Often the times of Judges was a continual back and forth of resuscitation. Where Israel would spiritually die, God would resuscitate them, and then they would experience spiritual revival. This is where we start our study in the life of Gideon. Israel is dead and needs God, so God decides to use Gideon to get’em back to being alive in Him.

“Then the sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD gave them into the hands of Midian seven years. The power of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of Midian the sons of Israel made for themselves the dens which were in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds. For it was when Israel had sown, that the Midianites would come up with the Amalekites and the sons of the east and go against them. So they would camp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel as well as no sheep, ox, or donkey. For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, they would come in like locusts for number, both they and their camels were innumerable; and they came into the land to devastate it. So Israel was brought very low because of Midian, and the sons of Israel cried to the LORD.” (NASB Judges 6:1-6)

Notice how Israel is always in this continuous cycle of dependency for God and in-dependency from God. How in the previous chapter, “the land was undisturbed for forty years” (4), completely dependent on God’s mercies and now after merely a generation are back to their evil ways. In chapter 6 we come to the second half of this vicious cycle of humanity’s relationship to God and His mercies: the independent stage. It’s a very dangerous stage. Full of volatile lifestyles and chaotic consequences on humanity’s part as God eagerly awaits to save His precious nation.  

So because of this rebellion, God allows the Midianites to completely wreck the lands of Israel. The Midianites and Amalekites were Arabian nomad races: groups of people that wandered for resources with no homeland. They were from the east (modern day Middle East) and would continuously raid Israel of all its resources until they were full and then leave, while the Israelites would take shelter in caves, mountains, or strongholds to avoid conflict. Since their numbers were too many and the Israelites were no match for such mighty people groups like the Midianites and Amalekites, this series of raids went on for seven long years.

It’s usually during times of war when one finds out what they are made of in the face of extreme circumstances. Whether that be physical, mental, or spiritual, warfare is the ultimate way of revealing one’s true character. Or in this case, the character of the nation of Israel: afraid and resistant to conflict. They showed their true colors. They let their enemies take anything they desired as they sat back in fear. It was probably embarrassing for those who lived during the days of deliverance when Deborah and Barak faithfully did God’s will, which led to ending the tyranny of Jabin the king of Canaan just forty years ago (5). But Israel in their time of trouble finally cried out to God and God, in the following verses of Chapter 6, replies with some scathing words of correction and comfort.

“Now it came about when the sons of Israel cried to the LORD on account of Midian, that the LORD sent a prophet to the sons of Israel, and he said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘It was I who brought you up from Egypt and brought you out from the house of slavery. I delivered you from the hands of all your oppressors, and dispossessed them before you and gave you their land, and I said to you, “I am the LORD your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live.” But you have not obeyed Me.”’”” (NASB Judges 6:7-10)

The sons of Israel were guilty for committing sin against God by disobeying His laws and doing their own thing. Now they are rightfully repenting of their sins and believing in the saving grace of God. In response to their turning away from sin, God sends a prophet to speak on His behalf and speaks to the people of Israel. In His response as spoken through the prophet, God essentially says “Did you forget who I am? What I’ve done for you? How I saved you from back in the day?” Even when Israel was again in rebellion towards God, He still spares them and keeps His promises. A key theme in the book of Judges is God’s ability keep His promises and the inability of mankind to listen to Him.

Although they have rightly repented and turned back to God, sin has long-lasting consequences that are harder to get rid of than the actual sin. In this case, the Amorites and the Midianites are back in the picture. The next step is for Israel to remove the their enemies who are destroying God’s chosen people. But how? They’re no match! The Israelites have nothing compared to the massive forces of the Amorites and the Midianites. Well, God has a plan of redemption and it begins with the heroes journey of one specific man: Gideon. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

  1. 1 Chronicles 29:29
  2. http://www.gotquestions.org/Book-of-Judges.html
  3. Judges 21:25
  4. Judges 5:31b
  5. Judges 4:4-6, 23-24
  6. Disclaimer