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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Judges

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FRAMEWORKS: Judges 6: Introducing Gideon

 

v.1-6 The Cycle begins yet again

v.7-10 A Prophet comes confronting their failure

v.11-16 Gideon has a conversation with an angel

v.17-21 Gideon asks for a sign but provides an ‘offering'

v.22-24 The Lord reassures Gideon who builds an altar

v.25-27 The Lord instructs Gideon who destroys his family's altar

v.28-32 Gideon confronts the townspeople

v.33-35 When the enemy comes, Gideon calls out Israel

v.36-40 Twice Gideon seeks guidance via a fleece

 

v.1-6 The Cycle begins yet again

 

v.1 The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord , and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites.

v.2 Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds.

v.3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country.

v.4 They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys.

v.5 They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it.

v.6 Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.

 

[Notes: It's the same cycle – turning from God, God lifting off His hands of protection so, this time, it's the Midianites from the north who pillage all the way south through the land as far as the area of the Philistines in the south west. Eventually, stage 3, Israel cry to the Lord for help.]

 

 

v.7-10 A Prophet comes confronting their failure

 

v.7 When the Israelites cried out to the Lord because of Midian,

v.8 he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the Lord , the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

v.9 I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of all your oppressors; I drove them out before you and gave you their land.

v.10 I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.' But you have not listened to me.”

 

[Notes: The Lord's first response this time is to send a prophet to make very clear what is going on – they have refused to listen to (and obey) their lord who had delivered them out of Egypt.]

 

 

v.11-16 Gideon has a conversation with an angel

 

v.11 The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites.

v.12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”

v.13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?' But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

v.14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?”

v.15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

v.16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”

 

[Notes: The Lord's second response is to send an angel to a man of potential. The conversation is fascinating. In his greeting he calls him a mighty warrior [v.12]. This is a man hiding away from the Midianites – but God works on what He sees can happen, not what is. He also says the Lord is with them. Gideon has a problem with this, because their present circumstances don't seem to line up with what history tells them of God – God who has clearly abandoned them [v.13]. The angel tells him that he is sending Gideon to deliver his people [v.14]. Gideon can't see this; he is a nobody [v.15]. God's answer is [as always] “I will be with you” so you can do it. [v.16] What lessons!]

 

 

v.17-21 Gideon asks for a sign but provides ‘an offering'

 

v.17 Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me.

v.18 Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.”

And the Lord said, “I will wait until you return.”

v.19 Gideon went inside, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak.

v.20 The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And Gideon did so.

v.21 Then the angel of the Lord touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the Lord disappeared.

 

[Notes: Gideon starts to have an inkling who he is dealing with and asks for a sign [v.17] but says he will bring an offering [?just in case]. When he presents it, fire consumes it.]

 

 

v.22-24 The Lord reassures Gideon who builds an altar

 

v.22 When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord , he exclaimed, “Alas, Sovereign Lord ! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!”

v.23 But the Lord said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.”

v.24 So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

 

[Notes: Gideon now does realize he's dealing with God and is scared, but the Lord reassures him, it is all right. So [rather like the Patriarchs of old] he builds an altar dedicated to the Lord, a monument to the Lord.]

 

 

v.25-27 The Lord instructs Gideon who destroys his family's altar

 

v.25  hat same night the Lord said to him, “Take the second bull from your father's herd, the one seven years old. Tear down your father's altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.

v.26 Then build a proper kind of altar to the Lord your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering.”

v.27 So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.

 

[Notes: That night the Lord instructs Gideon to tear down the altar that his father has built, that is dedicated to Baal, the god the Canaanites worshiped, the god of rain, thunder, and fertility. What an indication of the state of Israel at that time, this nation that Moses had warned so many times not to go after the local gods!]

 

 

v.28-32 Gideon confronts the townspeople

 

v.28 In the morning when the people of the town got up, there was Baal's altar, demolished, with the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar!

v.29 They asked each other, “Who did this?”

When they carefully investigated, they were told, “Gideon son of Joash did it.”

v.30 The people of the town demanded of Joash, “Bring out your son. He must die, because he has broken down Baal's altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.”

v.31 But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, “Are you going to plead Baal's cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.”

v.32 So because Gideon broke down Baal's altar, they gave him the name Jerub-Baal [probably meaning ‘opposer of Baal'] that day, saying, “Let Baal contend with him.”

 

[Notes: Next morning, after Gideon has destroyed his father's altar, the locals seeing what has happened start asking questions. They find out that Gideon did it and demand he dies, but his father stands up for him declaring [as the Message version puts it] ‘ If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.” So Gideon gets a reputation for one opposing Baal.]

 

 

v.33-35 When the enemy comes, Gideon calls out Israel

 

v.33 Now all the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples joined forces and crossed over the Jordan and camped in the Valley of Jezreel.

v.34 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him.

v.35 He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, calling them to arms, and also into Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, so that they too went up to meet them.

 

[Notes: The wandering tribes come against Israel and so the Lord sends His Spirit on Gideon who calls his people to arms.]

 

 

v.36-40 Twice Gideon seeks guidance via a fleece

 

v.36 Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised—

v.37 look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.”

v.38 And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.

v.39 Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.”

v.40 That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.

 

[Notes: Gideon is a new ‘believer' and so asks the Lord for a sign – twice – which the Lord graciously gives to encourage him.]

   

CONTINUE TO CHAPTER 7