Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Studies in Judges - "Designer Religion"|
Chapter: Jud 6
Passage: Jud 6:1-24
A. Find Out:
1. Who did what to Israel , and why? v.1-6
2. Who did the Lord send to say what to Israel ? v.7-10
3. Who came to who, where, and what greeting did he give? v.8-12
4. Why did Gideon have trouble with that? v.13
5. What was he told to do and what assurance did he receive? v.14-16
6. What confirmation then followed? v.17-24
1. How was Gideon's activity a sign of their oppression?
2. How was his mind-set fixed in oppression?
3. How did he show he was in unbelief?
We embark on the story of a judge that takes 3 chapters. The cycle has started again. Israel have fallen away, and are now oppressed by the Midianites. This time we're given more detail of the nature of the oppression. They came in number, camped on the land, ruined the crops and stole all the cattle and treated the land as theirs. Israel cry out to the Lord and He sends a prophet to remind them of their guilt and of the changes that need to be made. Merely crying out is not enough! It needs life change. The same is true today.
Now we're introduced to Gideon. He's threshing wheat in a wine press – in a hole in the ground, not on a high open spot as was usual. That's a sign of his fear of the enemy. An angel comes and calls him a ‘mighty man of valour' or a ‘mighty warrior'. He's not this and he knows it. God sees the future and He knows this is what he will become. Often the Lord speaks of what we will be. The Lord says He's with him. Gideon says how can this be? Look at the state we're in. The point is that the Lord is with him IN IT. He's come to use him to bring change to it, but Gideon hasn't grasped that yet. He's not even sure this is an angel yet – until the supernatural happens (v.22)! Suddenly he fears. Now he realises the truth. Now things can happen. He had to be brought out of oppression into belief. Now he's ready for action!
1. Have we accepted the oppression of the world's values?
2. Do we believe God wants US to change the world?
Chapter: Jud 6
Passage: Jud 6:25-40
A. Find Out:
1. What was Gideon to do, when did he do it and why? v.25-28
2. What was the reaction in the morning? v.28-30
3. Who stood up for Gideon? v.31,32
4. What then followed and why? v.33-35
5. How did Gideon first get confirmation of his orders? v.36-38
6. How did he get it a second time? v.39,40
1. Why do you think removing the wrong altar was necessary?
2. What fruit did that bear?
3. What provoked Gideon into further action?
Things start happening in Gideon life. He has just built an altar to the Lord (v.24), a sign of his new-found relationship with God – worship is a sign of bowing before the Lord. Now he's called by the Lord to replace his father's altar to Baal with an altar to the Lord, which he does at night. The fact that he has ten servants is an indication that he comes from a family of some wealth. When, next morning, the men of the town come to worship Baal, they see what has happened and demand Gideon's death (the servants no doubt told). His father at this point stands up for the Lord. This is a major turning point. An important man in the town has turned back to the Lord. The tide is about to turn.
Then we find the Midianites and others come into the land again. The Spirit of the Lord comes upon Gideon – a sovereign act of God coming in power on this man – energising his to rise up against the enemy and call the people to gather to fight them.
Then we find something strange happening: Gideon seeks the Lord for confirmation of his instructions by the use of a fleece on two nights running. He's had an angelic visit, he's been empowered by the Spirit, but still he doubts – such is the power of oppression of a number of years. The Lord graciously grants him the guidance he's looking for. It may be a sign of half-heartedness or immaturity, but He gives it.
1. We're called to stand out and put our lives in line with God's law.
2. Being filled with the Spirit is great – but we're still who we were!
Chapter: Jud 7
Passage: Jud 7:1-25
A. Find Out:
1. How did the Lord first cut back Gideon's army? v.1-3
2. How did He then reduce it further? v.4-8
3. How did the Lord then encourage Gideon? v.9-15
4. How did Gideon approach the Midianite army? v.16-20
5. So what then happened? v.21,22
6. How did they clean up the Midianites? v.23-25
1. What was the Lord's purpose in reducing Gideon's army?
2. Why was Gideon emboldened to fight the much bigger army?
3. Why was it necessary to enlist the help of other tribes?
We now come to one of the outstanding victories of the Old Testament period. The reason it was so amazing was that it was such a small band of soldiers dealing with such a large army.
Until now Midian had been in a totally oppressing position (6:2) and their army even included Amalakites and other peoples, so it was a very large gathering. Gideon's army, on the other hand, had been reduced by the Lord, down to a mere three hundred. It seemed a crazy thing to do, to take such a small force against such a huge force, but the Lord knew this and so sent Gideon at night to spy on the Midianite camp. When he got there he ‘happened' to overhear a man telling his friend of a dream he had just ‘happened' to have had. The friend just ‘happened' to interpret it as Gideon coming to destroy them. Who gave the dream and the interpretation? It had to be God. Gideon understand this and worshipped the Lord for the incredible way He had been able to bring encouragement.
Gideon suddenly has an idea (we assume from the Lord) how to throw the enemy into disarray, and so he and his men follow this strategy and the enemy is thrown into total confusion and start turning on one another in their panic. Gideon's men join in and the great army scatter wildly. It is then left to Israel to mop up the stragglers who have been scattered all over the place. Easy really!
1. When God fights, you know it's Him!
2. God uses us, so provides encouragement and strategy.
Chapter: Jud 8
Passage: Jud 8:1-35
A. Find Out:
1. Who had Gideon to appease and why? v.1-3
2. What refusals did Gideon encounter along the way? v.4-9
3. What victory did he then have? v.10-12
4. Who did Gideon then deal with? v.13-21
5. What snare was created, and how? v.22-27
6. What happened following Gideon's death? v.28-35
1. What various signs of Israel 's sinful attitudes are seen here?
2. What positive characteristics are observed in Gideon?
3. Yet how was he unwise on one occasion?
Gideon is still in pursuit across the land of the fleeing Midianite peoples. There were clearly still quite a lot left (v.10). Along the way he suffers various discouragements. First the people of the tribe of Ephraim complain that they had not be called out to be part of the war effort, and so he has to use diplomatic words to sooth their ruffled pride. When you are still in pursuit of the enemy you could do without that!
But then as they continue the pursuit across the country, they are weary and tired and in need of food and so it is natural to request provisions from their fellow countrymen, but twice they are refused. How miserable and self-concerned can people be! Here is Gideon clearing the country of a marauding army that has plagued them for twenty years and now he's being refused help from those who will benefit from his work. Yet he continues the chase. There is perseverance built into this man! Eventually he catches and destroys the enemy, and on the way back he chastises those who had refused help.
Then follows a silly little incident. He refuses to rule over Israel but takes gold from them which he turns into an ephod – which Israel then worship! What??? This tendency to false worship really comes out into the open as soon as Gideon dies, as they turn to Baal. If we ever doubted the sinfulness of mankind, this story reveals the truth!
1. We are called to persevere to root out sin in our lives (Heb 12:1).
2. We need to reject the temptations to fall away from the Lord.
RECAP - "Gideon" - Judges 6-8
In this third group of 4 studies we have seen :
Gideon's call & preparation 6:1-32
- Israel 's fall away and oppression (6:1-5)
- Israel call on the Lord (6:6)
- The Lord sends a prophet to chastise them (6:7-10)
- God's angel comes to call Gideon (6:11-24)
- Gideon told to deal with the family idol worship (6:25-26)
- Gideon obeys & receives his father's support (6:27-32)
Gideon's Battle Preparations & Victory 6:33-7:25
- Gideon is Spirit-empowered to call Israel out (6:33-35)
- Gideon seeks a sign by the fleece (6:36-40)
- The Lord reduces the army to 300 (7:1-8)
- The Lord tells Gideon to spy out the enemy camp (7:9-11)
- Gideon is encouraged by what he hears (7:12-15)
- Gideon's strategy and victory (7:16-25)
- Ephraim complains & Gideon's response (8:1-3)
- Gideon refused help (8:4-9)
- Gideon finishes off the enemy (8:10-12)
- Gideon deals with those who refused help (8:13-17)
- Gideon executes the enemy leaders (8:18-21)
Gideon's Stumbling Block & Death 8:22-35
- Gideon refuses rulership (8:22,23)
- Gideon makes an ephod which is worshipped (8:24-27)
- Peace for 40 years (8:28)
- Gideon's family & death (8:29-32)
- Israel turn away from the Lord (8:33-35)
No doubt the recorder included so much detail about Gideon because the story is so remarkable. The Lord's presence in it is great. He disciplines Israel (6:1), sends a prophetic word (6:8), sent an angel to call Gideon (6:11), instructed Gideon directly (6:25), sent His Spirit on Gideon (6:34), complied with Gideon's request for guidance (6:36-), instructed him about the army (7:2,4,7), guided him to the enemy camp (7:9), gave the soldier a dream (7:13-14).
Gideon's part is equally remarkable in both its glory and downfall. He first of all appears as fearful ( 6:11 ) and doubtful ( 6:13 ) but is persuaded into action which, step by step, leads to victory. The tragedy comes at the end when he makes a stumbling block to he, his family and the people. He also has a son through a concubine who, we will see, starts an even greater decline in Israel 's life. There is a sense that Gideon is a downward turning point in the already roller-coaster life of Israel . The phrase, “ the land enjoyed peace ” is never again used in the book after Gideon. Yes, judges continue to rule but never with the same measure of blessing. The blessing and guidance of the Lord in the case of Gideon should have acted as a torch for Israel – but it didn't – and it was almost as if the Lord never blessed them in the same way until Samuel's life – but perhaps that was simply because there was not a man who would respond in the same way. There will be judges He will Spirit-empower, but their lives left much to be desired!
1. God sees our potential, even when we feel small.
2. Our call is first to put our home life right.
3. After that the call is to deal with the enemy.
4. The Lord's methods bring glory to the Lord.
5. The Lord is willing to meet our immaturity with guidance.
Thank the Lord for who you are and ask Him to use you. Ask for help to ensure your home life is godly and righteous. Ask for wisdom to know how to war against enemy strategies.
PART 4 : "Downturn"
In the next four chapters the life of Israel declines even more – but there are still lessons to be learnt!