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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, May 20 2021

Gideon

The book of Hebrews lists Gideon, who lived more than 3,000 years ago, among the heroes of faith (Hebrews 11:32). God delivered him when he faced seemingly insurmountable odds in a confrontation with the Midianite army.

Gideon
Illustration of Gideon speaking to his army. Credit: Moody Publishers / FreeBibleimages.org
by Jerold Aust

In the book of Judges we see God preparing Gideon for battle, but also teaching him an important lesson in faith: "You have 32,000 soldiers, Gideon, and that's far too many to do battle with the Midianites. I don't want anyone to think you'll win the coming battle by your own might. Tell your army, if any among them are fearful, they are free to go" (Judges 7:2-3, paraphrased).

Gideon did as God instructed and 22,000 men left, leaving Gideon with only 10,000 to face the Midianite army of at least 135,000 (Judges 8:10). But God then told him: "Gideon, you still have too many men to fight the Midianites. Take your remaining men down to the water and let them drink. I will select those who will do battle." (Judges 7:4, paraphrased).

Of the 10,000 remaining soldiers only 300 crouched and scooped water with their hands. God then informed Gideon these 300 men would comprise the small band of soldiers to face the experienced Midianite army outnumbering them 450 to one (Judges 7:5-8).

Gideon, who had already protested to God: "... my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house." (Judges 6:11-15), requested proof God would be with him. God obliged by sending fire from heaven to consume food Gideon had prepared.

Encouraged by this, Gideon sent messengers to the Israelite tribes to raise an army, but his resolve soon weakened and he asked God for more reassurance, requesting that overnight God would cause dew to moisten only the sheep’s wool on the threshing floor, leaving the surrounding ground dry. But even after God did as Gideon wanted, he still wanted more assurance, and asked God to reverse the miracle, allowing the dew to moisten only the surrounding ground, leaving the wool dry (Judges 6:37-38). Once again God did as Gideon requested (Judges 6:39-40).

To reassure Gideon even further, God told him to go to the enemy camp at night to "hear what they say; and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp" (Judges 7:9-11). Gideon and Purah, his servant, then made their way to the enemy encampment and overheard an amazing exchange between two soldiers. "I have had a dream," said one. "To my surprise, a loaf of barley bread tumbled into the Midian camp; it came to a tent and struck it ... and the tent collapsed." His companion responded, "This is ...the sword of Gideon...Into his hand God has delivered Midian and the whole camp" (Judges 7:13-14).

Gideon was greatly encouraged by this and told his soldiers: "... 'Arise, for the Lord has delivered the camp of Midian into your hand'" (Judges 7:15). God then inspired Gideon and his small army with a plan which caused terror and confusion in the Midianite camp and, in the darkness, the Midianites mistakenly killed each other. Gideon’s army was victorious (Judges 7:18-22).

Despite his victory over the Midianites Gideon remained a humble man, and when the Israelites wanted him to make him king he refused: "I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you" (Judges 8:23). Gideon knew all human rulership will eventually fail, and God's rulership is the only lasting answer to mankind's problems. Gideon's example also proves to us that, with God the outcome doesn't depend on human might and strength (Zechariah 4:6).

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