LESSON 51 – Gideon – Judges 6-8

Discussion

  • Judges 6:1-24: Gideon’s Call.
    • How were the Midianites are oppressing Israel? (6:2-6). {FYI – The Midianites were descendants of Abraham and Keturah, Abraham’s wife after Sarah died.}
    • What unusual thing was Gideon doing when approached by the Angel of the Lord (a pre-birth appearance of Christ)? Why? (6:11. Threshing wheat in a winepress secretly to keep it from being taken by the enemy.)
    • After the Angel greets Gideon with a surprising title (“warrior of the Lord”), what questions does Gideon ask him? Does he answer all of them? (Why have all these things happened to us? Where are Your miracles of which our fathers spoke? Have You forsaken us and delivered us to the enemy? How can I be called to save Israel when my clan is the weakest, and I’m the least in my father’s house? The Lord doesn’t answer all the questions, but He assured him of victory.) Gideon needs a sign that this is really God talking, so he brings food and places it before the Angel (the Lord). This really was a sacrifice in the real sense, as there was a famine in the land at that time. The Lord caused the offering to burn and then disappeared. Gideon in great fright realizes that he has seen God and believes he is about to die. The Lord tenderly reassures him in 6:23 and Gideon builds a permanent altar at the place where he first learned that the Lord is Peace. Unfortunately, Gideon will continue to need reassurance.
  • Judges 6:25-40.
    • What does God ask Gideon to do? (vs. 25-26. Gideon is told to take down his father’s altar to Baal and sacrifice one of their bulls with the wood from it.)
    • How does Gideon perform this request? (vs. 27. He does it, but at night because he is afraid of his family.) What was the outcome? (vs. 28-32.  The people are furious with Gideon and demand his death. Joash, Gideon’s father, suggests that Baal should be the one to fight against Gideon if he really was a god.) The Midianites evidently get wind of Gideon’s rebellion and show up in the Valley of Jezreel, ready for a fight. What does Gideon do? (vs. 34,35. the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon and he put out a call for the neighboring tribes of Israel to come help him fight.) Once again, though, Gideon is afraid and needs God’s reassurance.
    • What tests does he make to see if God is “really” with him? (vs. 36-40. He throws out a fleece (sheep skin) and asks God to make the fleece wet and the ground dry – if that happened he’d know that God was with him. However, when that happened, Gideon asked again for another sign. This time he asked God to make the fleece dry and the ground wet. The Lord graciously did so.)
  • Judges 7: The Battle.
    • How does the Lord tell Gideon to prepare for battle and why? (vs. 1-7. 32,000 men show up for battle. However, the Lord says this is too many because He wants the glory for the battle to be His. He knows the pride of the Israelites and He wants to make it clear that God is the one at work. So Gideon tells all that are afraid to go home – 22,000 go home. Still too many. The Lord told Gideon to take the men to water and watch them drink. If they picked up the water into their hands and drank {denoting they were watchful of possible attack}, Gideon would keep them.  Only 300 did so because all the rest got on their knees to drink)
    • How many people were with the Midianites? (vs. 12. They were as thick as locusts and you couldn’t count the number of camels they had.) Three hundred men with God on their side against an innumerable foe. Who do you think will win?
    • How does God win the battle? (vs. God tells Gideon to break up the group into a hundred each. That night each man receives a trumpet, a jar and a torch – which they put inside the jar.  The men circled the camp and waited for Gideon’s signal.  They blew their trumpets and smashed the jars on the rocks and yelled, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon”. (an interesting call since not one of them had a sword!) The Midianites went crazy.  They ran out of their tents and the Lord caused them to start fighting each other. They began to retreat in fear and then Gideon called on the other tribes to come and help destroy them. Two of the kings were killed and the Midianites left the land.) Gideon judged Israel for 40 years. (There’s more to the story of Gideon in chapter 8, but we are stopping here. If you have older students, you could go on if you wanted.)

Application

  • What are some of Gideon’s strengths? (though slow to convince, does execute God’s commands; not self-sufficient) His weaknesses? (fear of his own limitations rather than looking to God, always wanting “proofs”)
  • What do we learn about God’s character from his dealings with Gideon? (He is patient and kind. He keeps His promises. He doesn’t get angry with Gideon.) Gideon constantly needed reassurance of God’s presence in his life and asked for special tests. Many people today call this “throwing out a fleece” when they want a specific answer to some problem they are having.
  • Do you think it was right for Gideon to test God with the fleece? Why or why not? (There are examples of this in other passages. For instance the servant of Abraham asked for a specific sign when he was looking for Isaac’s bride. We need to see in the case of Gideon, though, that God Himself had personally told Him He would be with him and God had miraculously burned up the sacrifice earlier. It seems in this case that Gideon’s fears were unfounded.) Gideon did, however, go up against an incredible foe with only 300 hundred men. He was faithful to the task that God had asked of him, even if it did take some convincing!
  • Why do you think the first step of obedience is sometimes the hardest? (possible answers: We can’t see the outcome, we fear the future, unsure of the consequences of our act, fear of failure) I once heard that fear means Faith Extinguished by Avoiding Risks.  Gideon overcame the fear and led the Israelites to an unheard of victory – 300 men against an entire army!
  • What is something that God is asking you to do right now? How can you conquer fear and be obedient to God? In what ways do you need to trust God more? What one thing should you remember the next time you feel inadequate to do what is right? Pray for courage to step out in faith, knowing the God of Gideon will guide your steps and keep you safe.

Digging Deeper

  1. In 6:19-20 Gideon prepared and presented an offering to the Lord. It was an act of worship, and it cost him something. In this time of famine, Gideon gave a very substantial offering, not from surplus, but of survival supplies. It involved real sacrifice. Have you sacrificially worshiped God in your life? If so, tell about it. If not, how can you sacrificially worship? What things might others see as a waste that wouldn’t be seen by God in that light? (For example: spending time in prayer) What do you believe God is asking of you right now and how could you honor Him in your life?
  2. The story of Gideon would make a great movie.  Write a brief description (1-2 paragraphs longs) of how you would make the story of Gideon into a screen play as if you were trying to sell your idea to a producer.  List who would play the major characters, and what your sets would be like. But most importantly include what the purpose or theme(s) of your movie would be (in other words, what does the story of Gideon teach us today). What do you want the viewer to take away with him when he leaves the theater? How could you get this message across to your audience?