WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT? As the cycle of rebellion, oppression, and deliverance continues, a new deliverer is introduced: Gideon, the farmer. The Midianites and Amalekites raids of Israelite farmlands caused Gideon to hide in a winepress to beat out his wheat, which certainly makes him look like a coward. However, when the angel of the LORD speaks to Gideon, he calls him a “mighty man of valor” (6:12). This declaration was prophetic because Gideon led the people against their oppressors and was credited by the people as being their deliverer. After his victory, the people want to make Gideon their king. He rejects their offer but begins to live like royalty.
SO WHAT? This episode reveals several enduring truths. First, any victory that God’s people enjoy is because of His grace. Second, when God is fighting the battle no enemy is invincible. Third, God will use the most unlikely people to accomplish His will so that He alone receives the glory. Finally, leaders that are flawed and without accountability may fall into sin. We praise God for the unlikely people and unexpected ways he delivers us, but we must never exalt the human instrument over God.
TEACHING OUTLINE – Gideon: From Coward to Conqueror to Charlatan (Judges 6:1-8:35)
1. Not again! The people rebel against the LORD.
2. The grace of God made known through preaching.
3. The grace of God revealed through an unlikely deliverer.
4. The grace of God demonstrated in an unlikely victory.
5. The rise and fall of Gideon.
NOW WHAT? The rise and fall of Gideon affect both his progeny as well as the people of Israel. His faith in God’s power and providence gave him the courage to lead the people, yet, his arrogance caused him to live like a king who alone had delivered them. Worse, he set up a cultic image and allowed the people to adopt a compromised theology and participate in contaminated worship. Unlike Gideon, Christians must seek accountability to safeguard against temptations that would distract or disqualify us from the mission of God. We must never forget that our decisions now will either positively or negatively affect the next generation. (See Gideon’s son Abimelech).
Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. 12And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” 13And Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” 14And the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” 15And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” 16And the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man” (Judges 6:11-16).
Study Questions (Judges 6:1-8:35)
1. Describe the living conditions of Israel under the oppression of Midian (6:1-6).
2. What is the significance of the prophet’s message to Israel (6:7-10)?
3. List the reasons why Gideon is an unlikely choice to be a deliverer (6:11-16).
4. Describe the paradox of faith and fear as described when Gideon tears down the altar in his father’s house (6:25-32).
5. Why does God reduce the size of Gideon’s army (7:8)?
6. Describe the downfall of Gideon after he is asked to rule over Israel (8:22-28).
And the Lord said to Gideon, “The people are still too many. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ shall go with you, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ shall not go.” 5 So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “Every one who laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set by himself. Likewise, every one who kneels down to drink.”6 And the number of those who lapped, putting their hands to their mouths, was 300 men, but all the rest of the people knelt down to drink water. 7 And the Lord said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand, and let all the others go every man to his home.” 8 So the people took provisions in their hands, and their trumpets. And he sent all the rest of Israel every man to his tent, but retained the 300 men. And the camp of Midian was below him in the valley. Judges 7:4-8 ESV
22Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, you and your son and your grandson also, for you have saved us from the hand of Midian.” 23Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you.” 24And Gideon said to them, “Let me make a request of you: every one of you give me the earrings from his spoil.” (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) 25And they answered, “We will willingly give them.” And they spread a cloak, and every man threw in it the earrings of his spoil. 26And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was 1,700 shekels of gold, besides the crescent ornaments and the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian, and besides the collars that were around the necks of their camels. 27And Gideon made an ephod of it and put it in his city, in Ophrah. And all Israel whored after it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and to his family. 28So Midian was subdued before the people of Israel, and they raised their heads no more. And the land had rest forty years in the days of Gideon (Judges 8:22-28).