Gideon and the Midianites

Judges 6-8    Review Activities for this Lesson

After Deborah died, the people gradually turned from the Lord again to worship idols. This time God brought the Midianites against them. The mean, greedy Midianites soon reduced the Israelites to poor slaves. Just when they were ready to harvest their crops to feed their families and animals, a horde of Midianites would swarm over their fields, leaving only bare grain stalks behind. Things got so bad that the people of Israel had to hide in hillside caves. Finally after seven years of suffering they realized how much they needed God and cried out to him for help. God heard their cry and sent His Angel to the hiding place of a young man named Gideon, greeting him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!”

Gideon thought the Lord had forgotten them. At that very moment he was secretly threshing grain down in the winepress instead of out in the open air where the Midianites could see him.

Gideon asked the Angel why they were having so much trouble if the Lord were really with them, saying, “Why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his miracles which our fathers told us about, saying ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.” God told Gideon, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?”

Gideon did not think he could do such an important job. He felt young and weak. But he would not be alone. God promised, “Surely I will be with you and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.”

Gideon still was not sure. So he put out an offering of meat, broth and bread on a rock - - then God gave him a sign by bringing fire out of the rock to burn it.

That night God told Gideon to take two bulls out to the altar of the idol god Baal. He was to use the one of the bulls to tear down the altar, then cut down the wooden statue of Baal there, build a proper altar to God and, last of all, sacrifice the other bull to Him. So Gideon took ten men with him in the dark and carried out God’s Word.

The people of the city were ready to kill Gideon when they found Baal’s altar destroyed and his image cut down. They went to his house to get him, but his father Joash told them to let Baal take care of his own problems. “If he is a god, let him please for himself, because his altar has been torn down,” Joash said.

The Midianites got the Amalekites to join them in the Valley of Jezreel to fight Gideon - - near the place where Deborah and Barak had defeated Sisera. Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon. He blew his trumpet to call his people and sent messengers to tell other tribes to come help in the battle.

Thirty-two thousand Israelites answered Gideon’s call. But God said that was too many - - instead of giving the credit to God they might say their large army had won the victory. So He told Gideon to let all who were afraid to go home. Although twenty-two thousand turned back, there were still too many.

God told Gideon watch the men drink, then keep only the men who lapped the water from their hands like a dog - - those who got down on their knees beside the water would have to leave.

With only three hundred men now, God gave his final instructions. Everyone was to carry a trumpet and a pitcher with a torch inside, sneak up on the camp, and stand in a certain place. Then they would blow their trumpets, breaking the pitchers and shouting, “The sword of the Lord and Gideon!”

That night about midnight, the enemy soldiers were startled awake by trumpet blasts and the rousing shout, “The sword of the Lord and Gideon!” The bright torches confused them so that they killed each other, then tried to run away - - but Gideon’s men chased them down.

God gave Gideon a great victory that day and freed his people from the Midianites.

Talking it Over:

1. Back in Moses’ time, Balaam the soothsayer did not curse God’s people, but he told the people of Moab and Midian to tempt Israel to do wrong. What happened? How can we learn from others?
2. Hearing Gideon talk about God shows us a few people still worshipped Him. Talk about what “remnant” means. How could there always be a remnant of God’s people?
3. Gideon knew he was a young man and weak in many ways. Read about the strange sign God gave him in Judges 6:36-40. Does God need famous, important people to do His work? Why or why not?

Memory Verse:

“And every man stood in his place all around the camp.” Judges 7:21
Talk about how we can all “stand in our place” for God.

Text by Betty Belue Haynes, originally published in Bible Talk Times. Used here with the kind permission of the author. Users are free to reproduce for use, but not for publication.