Daily reading assignment: Judges 6-7
Judges 6 – Gideon: An Unlikely Champion
Judges 6 opens with Israel in a distressed state. Having turned from the LORD, they have suffered seven years of oppression under the Midianites and Amalekites (6:1-2). Abandoning their homes and towns, the children of Israel retreated to caves and dens in the mountains.
Seven years Israel had sown their crops, only to have their enemies gather and pillage the land at the time of harvest (6:3-6). Impoverished and distressed, Israel cried out to the LORD, and He sent a prophet to remind the people that He had delivered the nation out of Israel and given them the land, but they had broken covenant and failed to obey His law and commandments (6:7-10).
Having heard the cry of His people, the LORD dispatched “the angel of the LORD” (in my opinion, a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ – 6:11) to raise up a savior, deliverer, and judge over Israel, a man named Gideon (6:11). The angel found Gideon hiding in a winepress threshing wheat (6:11).
The angel greeted Gideon as a “mighty man of valour” (6:12); however, the salutation itself seemed to ridicule the man’s present state. Notice it was the angel’s observation concerning Gideon that set him apart from the rest of Israel: “The Lord is with thee” (6:12).
Promised the LORD’S presence, Gideon protested, “If the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all His miracles?” (6:13).
When the angel exhorted he had been chosen to “save Israel from the hand of the Midianites,” Gideon objected saying, “My family is poor…and I am the least in my father’s house” (6:15). The LORD encouraged Gideon saying, “Surely I will be with thee” (6:16).
Judges 6:17-40 is a rich passage of events too lengthy for this brief devotional commentary. Study the verses and notice how the LORD transformed Gideon from a timid farmer to Jerubbaal, “the Baal fighter” and a man bold in his faith (6:27-32).
When the Midianites and Amalekites gathered their armies to raid Israel, the LORD moved Gideon to blow a trumpet and gather men to go to war (6:33-35). When doubt took hold on his heart (6:36), Gideon requested the LORD assure him with signs to which God patiently complied (6:36-40).
Judges 7 – Fear and Fervency
Gideon sent out a call for men of Israel to gather and 32,000 men responded to his appeal (Judges 7:1). Looking across the plain, Israel’s army could see in the day the hordes of Midian gathering and at night a multitude of campfires burning on Mount Moreh (three miles to the north).
Incredibly, though facing a great enemy, the LORD came to Gideon and said, “The people that are with thee are too many” (7:2). Why? Fear and restlessness were gripping the hearts of Gideon’s soldiers, but now the LORD says, “Gideon, you have too many!”
God gave Gideon two tests for reducing his troops (7:3-7).
1) Test of Fear: God commanded Gideon to send home any who were afraid (7:3). The number of soldiers was reduced by 22,000 men, leaving 10,000 in the camp.
2) Test of Fervency: His army reduced by more than two-thirds, the LORD again said to Gideon, “The people are yet too many” (7:4). Commanding he reduce his army to those who drank water at a stream, bringing water up to their mouth by cupping their hands while allowing their eyes to be vigilant for the ambush of an enemy (7:5-7), Gideon was left with only 300 men to face an army so vast it was described as a “multitude…without number” (7:12). Three hundred men would face an army of skilled, veteran warriors!
The odds were impossible that Gideon and Israel would be successful, and that is exactly where God wanted His people! God fortified Gideon’s spirit with the dream and interpretation of his enemies (7:9-15). God was going to give Israel the victory; however, He was not going to share His glory with anyone!
Israel’s triumph was so astonishing that the people knew God alone had given them the victory! (7:18-25)
Where is the Gideon of this generation? (I invite you to click on that question and enjoy this recording by my dear friends in ministry, Matt Herbster and his twin brothers, Mike and Mark Herbster).
Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith