Judges 6-8 Gideon: Learning How To Trust - Brian Bell
Judges 6:24 God Our Peace (Jehovah Shalom) - Brian Bell
Judges 6:14-16,36-40 Do You Require Signs? - Explore the Bible
Judges 6 Commentary - Net Bible Notes
Judges 6:1-40 Fleece or Faith: Discerning the Will of God - Don Robinson
Judges 6 & 7 - Rob Salvato
|Judges 6:1 Then the sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD gave them into the hands of Midian seven years.|
THEN THE SONS OF ISRAEL DID WHAT WAS EVIL OF THE LORD: (did evil - Jdg 2:13,14,19,20; Leviticus 26:14-46; Deuteronomy 28:15-68; Nehemiah 9:26, 27, 28, 29; Psalms 106:34-42 )
Note the time phrase "then" which marks sequence. When is then? Stated another way, what did we just observe regarding time? (Jdg 5:31-note)
The phrase did evil is common in is also common in 1 and 2 Kings (24 times) (See all 41 uses - Judg 2:11; 3:12; 4:1; 10:6; 13:1; 1 Kgs 14:22; 15:26, 34; 16:25, 30; 22:52; 2 Kgs 3:2; 8:18, 27; 13:2, 11; 14:24; 15:9, 18, 24, 28; 17:2, 11; 21:2, 20; 23:32, 37; 24:9, 19; 2 Chr 12:14; 21:6; 22:4; 33:2, 22; 36:5, 9, 12; Neh 9:28; Isa 65:12; 66:4; Jer 52:2), increasing in frequency in second Kings. It is as if the closer they got to judgment, the more evil they became or the more certain the judgment had to be. Just a thought to ponder. Note it is also interesting that this phrase did evil is not found in 1 & 2 Samuel. Could it be that the reason is that the leaders were godly men like Samuel and David? Note also that the evil began with Baalim (plural) but progressed to the point documented in Judges 10:6 (note)!
This same phrase is used to describe King Solomon's evil 1 Kings 11:6
In Judges 6 we see that 40 years of rest led to dimming of their memories regarding the greatness of God's deliverance over Sisera's 900 iron chariots. And so the next generation fell right back into the syncretism that again threatened to obliterate Israel's distinction as God's treasured possession. What is the principle for believer's of all ages? Remember, remember, remember. Remember the times God has delivered you in the past out of or through a difficult time. Time has a way of eroding our memory and dimming our vision of the greatness of our God. Just another reason to be in the Word daily reading verses like Judges 6:1. If it happened to them, it can happen to us. Periods of "rest" in our spiritual lives can lull us into the delusion that we are self sufficient and don't really need God all that much.
AND THE LORD GAVE THEM INTO THE HANDS OF MIDIAN 7 YEARS (Ge 37:28; Ex 2:15; Nu 10:29; 24:21; 25:1-3; 25:17; 31:2) (Midian - Genesis 25:2; Numbers 25:17,18; Habakkuk 3:7):
TSK - When God judges, he will overcome; and sinners shall be made either to bend or break before him. See the ensuing history.
Midian was located just south of Edom and at the north extremity of the Gulf of Aqaba. Midianites were semi-nomadic sons of Abraham. Midian was a son of Abraham by his concubine Keturah. (Genesis 25:2). Moses must have learned about surviving in the desert during these years.
Gideon's judgeship receives the most extensive narration in the Judges (100 verses comprising 3 chapters).
Samson is comparable, with 96 verses in 4 chapter.
|Judges 6:2 And the power of Midian prevailed (Literally = the hand of Midian is strong against) against Israel. Because of Midian the sons of Israel made for themselves the dens which were in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds.|
AND THE POWER (hand ~ strength) OF MIDIAN PREVAILED AGAINST ISRAEL: (Leviticus 26:17; Deuteronomy 28:47,48) (1Samuel 13:6; 14:11; Hebrews 11:38; Revelation 6:15)
Charles Spurgeon declared a principle we would all do well to hear and heed...
God is not a “permissive parent” who allows His children to do as they please, for His ultimate purpose is that they might be “conformed to the image of His Son” (Ro 8:29-note). The Father wants to be able to look at each member of His spiritual family and say, “This is My beloved child, in whom I am well pleased” (Mt 3:17; 12:18; 17:5).
Chastening is evidence of God’s hatred for sin and His love for His people. We can’t conceive of a holy God wanting anything less than His very best for His children, and the best He can give us is a holy character like that of Jesus Christ. Obedience to the Lord builds character, but sin destroys character; and God cannot sit idly by and watch His children destroy themselves.
Israel had already experienced forty-three years of suffering under the harsh rule of the neighboring nations, but they hadn’t yet learned their lesson and turned away from the heathen idols. Unless our suffering leads to repentance, it accomplishes no lasting good; and unless our repentance is evidence of a holy desire to turn from sin, not just escape from pain, repentance is only remorse.
BECAUSE OF MIDIAN THE SONS OF ISRAEL MADE FOR THEMSELVES THE DENS WHICH WERE IN THE MOUNTAINS AND THE CAVES AND THE STRONGHOLDS:
Hiding in dens and caves...what a contrast for the chosen people who God said would "ride on the high places of the earth" (Deut 32:13)! Beloved, have you disobeyed God and as a result are hiding in a "den" or "cave" because you are experiencing the attacks of the "Midianites"? Then you need to study the life of Gideon, a most unlikely Biblical hero. God's Spirit transformed Gideon's fearful faith and He do the same for you beloved.
Note the repetition of places of refuge which emphasizes their fearful state. They ran to hide in the rocks instead of hiding in the the Everlasting Rock of ages, the Rock of their salvation.
Harper's Bible dictionary writes that...
Wiersbe quips that...
|Judges 6:3 For it was when Israel had sown, that the Midianites would come up with the Amalekites and the sons of the east and go against them.|
FOR IT WAS WHEN ISRAEL HAD SOWN: (when Israel - Leviticus 26:16; Deuteronomy 28:30, 31, 32, 33,51; Job 31:8; Isaiah 65:21,22; Micah 6:15)
You have a garden, and you work hard all spring and summer to make that garden produce abundantly. But every year, just about the time you’re ready to gather in the harvest, your neighbors swoop down and take your produce away from you by force. This goes on year after year, and there’s nothing you can do about it. If you can imagine that scenario, then you’ll have some idea of the suffering the Jews experienced every harvest when the Midianites made their annual raids. For seven years, God allowed the Midianites and their allies to ravage “the land of milk and honey,” leaving the people in the deepest poverty.
THAT THE MIDIANITES WOULD COME UP WITH THE AMALEKITES:
Midianites were descended from MIDIAN & were "half-brothers" with the Hebrews as MIDIAN was one of the several children born to Abraham and Keturah, who had been sent away to the east so that Isaac might be Abraham’s uncontested heir (Ge 25:1-6). Joseph was later sold into Egypt by Midianite merchants (Ge 37:23-28). Moses fled to the land of Midian where he lived for 40 yr & where he married Zipporah, a Kenite princess, daughter of Jethro, priest of Midian (Ex 2:15-22). The Midianites provided opposition 9aided by Balaam who became a tool in their hands to curse Israel) to the Israelites as they journeyed toward the Promised Land, being found in league with the Moabites (Nu 22-25) and the Amorites (Josh 13:21). Known primarily as prosperous traders, the various groups of Midianites tended to merge with the Ishmaelites (cf. Ge 37:25, 26, 27, 28; Jdg 8:24-note). Later, Balaam became a tool in the hands of the Midianites to curse Israel (Nu 22-24). The AMALEKITES occupied the region just S of Judah. So this oppression was not continual occupation (like the preceding one of the Canaanites) but a seasonal invasion at harvest time. (See related discussion - Amalekites = exposition of Exodus 17:8-16)
AND THE SONS OF THE EAST AND GO AGAINST THEM:
sons of the east a general term for the nomads of the Syrian desert, possibly including some Ammonites and Edomites.
|Judges 6:4 So they would camp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel as well as no sheep, ox, or donkey.|
SO THEY WOULD CAMP AGAINST THEM AND DESTROY THE PRODUCE OF THE EARTH AS FAR AS GAZA: (Leviticus 26:16; Deuteronomy 28:30,33,51; Micah 6:15) (Genesis 10:19; 13:10) (Proverbs 28:3; Jeremiah 49:9,10; Obadiah 1:5)
since Gaza is on the seacoast in SW Israel this fact shows that these Midianite raiders covered most of Israel from E to W.
Related Resource: Judges 6:4-22: One War Over and Another Begun - Sermon by C H Spurgeon
|Judges 6:5 For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, they would come in like locusts for number, both they and their camels were innumerable; and they came into the land to devastate it.|
FOR THEY WOULD COME UP WITH THEIR LIVESTOCK AND THEIR TENTS THEY WOULD COME IN LIKE LOCUSTS FOR NUMBER: (tents - Song of Solomon 1:5; Isaiah 13:20; as grasshoppers - Jdg 7:12; 8:10; Jeremiah 46:23)
"like locusts" = SIMILE = figure of speech comparing two unlike things & often introduced by like or as. Contrast with METAPHOR = figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object (eg, "food" in Jn 4:34) or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them
Desert locusts are phenomenal travelers. They are able to fly for 17 hours at a time and have been known to travel 1500 miles. The sound of their wings is compared to the sound of chariots (Joel 2:5; Rev 9:9-note). A swarm has been known to cover a hundred square miles and to be so dense as to blot out the sun, A truly large swarm may contain ten billion locusts.
Easton's Bible dictionary records that...
BOTH THEY AND THEIR CAMELS WERE INNUMERABLE (camels - Jdg 8:21; 1Sa 30:17; Isaiah 60:6; Jeremiah 49:29,32; to destroy - Psalms 83:4-12)
Camels were a major factor in their success, being able to travel for 3-4 days, at about 100 mi/day w/o food or water, carrying heavy loads which made them a formidable long-range military threat. This is the first reference to an organized raid using camels (cf. Ge 24:10,11). The American army started an interesting experiment to use camels in its fight against the Indians but shelved the project when the Civil War broke out. So here were the Israeli forces, dependent totally on foot soldiers, and in come marauding bands of Midianites on creatures who by their ugly appearance alone would strike terror in the hearts of those who saw them coming.
AND THEY CAME INTO THE LAND TO DEVASTATE IT:
Joseph Parker applies this text commenting on God's use of natural means to discipline us...
|Judges 6:6 So Israel was brought very low because of Midian, and the sons of Israel cried to the LORD.|
SO ISRAEL WAS BROUGHT VERY LOW (see same word "hang down" Pr 26:7 for picture of this low state. LXX = poor & helpless, pix of one crouching like a beggar bc poverty) BECAUSE OF (literally "the face of") MIDIAN: (impoverished - Psalms 106:43; Jeremiah 5:17; Malachi 1:4; cried -
3:9,15; Psalms 50:15; 78:34; 106:44; Isaiah 26:16; Hosea 5:15)
Israel’s backsliding resulted in poverty and fear or lack of peace exactly what God had predicted in (Lev 26:1-6). God's promises are true, both of blessing & cursing (Heb 4:12-note). Those whom Israel had once conquered (Midian defeated in Nu 31 just before Moses died & Joshua led them into the promised land of milk & honey -- instead of enjoying the riches of the physical & spiritual life that God had intended for His children, Israel was reduced as the Septuagint pictures it to lead the life of a beggar - are you living like a beggar even though you are a child of the King, a son of the living God? (Ro 8:16-note) were now her masters. When believers turn from the Lord to the flesh, old habits enslave and impoverish us as well and we will be fearful.
How sad that Israel was brought so LOW, when God had delivered them from bondage in Egypt and brought them UP (Jdg 6:8). What a commentary...our efforts and self will usually end up taking us "DOWN" whereas God's will and work takes us "UP". Lord, open our eyes to see this simple truth. Amen.
AND THE SONS OF ISRAEL CRIED (Qal Impf) TO THE LORD (Jdg 3:9,15, Ps 50:15; Hos 5:15, Ps 78:34,106:44, Isa 26:16):
This cry does not seem to have been an indication of repentance for sin because they apparently were not aware of the moral cause behind the enemy’s oppression until the Lord sent a prophet to point this out (Jdg 6:7, 8, 9, 10).
|Judges 6:8 that the LORD sent a prophet to the sons of Israel, and he said to them, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'It was I who brought you up from Egypt, and brought you out from the house of slavery.|
THAT THE LORD SENT A PROPHET TO THE SONS OF ISRAEL, AND HE SAID TO THEM: (Jdg 2:1, 2, 3; Nehemiah 9:9, 10, 11, 12; Psalms 136:10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16; Isaiah 63:9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14; Ezekiel 20:5-32)
only prophet mentioned in the book besides the Prophetess Deborah. God used prophets in isolated cases before Samuel, the band of prophets Samuel probably founded (1Sa10:5), and later such prophets as Elijah, Elisha, and the writing prophets—major and minor. Here the prophet is sent to bring the divine curse because of their infidelity (v10). So cried to God for a deliverer, and He sent them a prophet to point out the "why" of their predicament (DISOBEDIENCE) (Jdg 6:10 cf Heb 4:12-note, He 4:13-note; Lam 2:14).
We usually call Samuel the first of the prophets (Acts 3:24), but there were unnamed prophets before Samuel’s time.
Ralph Davis comments on God's response to Israel's cry for help writing that...
THUS SAYS THE LORD, THE GOD OF ISRAEL IT WAS I WHO BROUGHT YOU UP FROM EGYPT (Josh 24:17):
There is a great difference between a cry for help from trouble, and a cry of repentance for sin. Israel called on God but they had not dealt with their sin. So God's prophet came in Jdg 6:7-10] and reminded them of God's faithfulness and grace -- how He had delivered them from Egypt and given them the land of Canaan and set forth the terms of His covenant "I am Yahweh your God. You shall not serve the gods of the Amorites." Yet deliberately and defiantly they had broken their covenant with Him. So the prophet reminded them that they were what they were and where they were because they had turned away from Him. But God did not leave them in this awareness (but they must not have been that aware as they still had Baal altars in the Joash's backyard!) of their sin and their defeat because of it but He raised up an unlikely deliverer.
AND BROUGHT YOU OUT FROM THE HOUSE OF SLAVERY
|Judges 6:9 'And I delivered you from the hands of the Egyptians and from the hands of all your oppressors, and dispossessed them before you and gave you their land,|
|Judges 6:11 Then the Angel of the LORD came and sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press in order to save it from the Midianites.|
THEN THE ANGEL OF THE LORD CAME AND SAT UNDER THE OAK THAT WAS IN OPHRAH (fawn): see analysis of this title "Angel of the LORD" (Jdg 6:14-16; 2:1, 2, 3, 4, 5; 5:23; 13:3,18, 19, 20; Genesis 48:16; Joshua 18:23; Isaiah 63:9)
Ophrah's location not absolutely certain but it was apparently E of the Esdraelon Plain = Gk for Jezreel = low-lying area separating mountains of Galilee from the mountains of Samaria.
WHICH BELONGED TO JOASH THE ABIEZRITE (= my father is help):
What is unique in this description of Gideon is that text does not say as it did in previous chapters "God raised up a deliverer". Since Gideon’s father Joash was an Abiezrite (a clan of Manasseh, Jos17:2), this Ophrah was not the place located in Benjamin but rather a northern site possibly near the border of Manasseh in the Jezreel Valley. Possible site identifications are el-Affula (six miles east of Megiddo) or et-Taiyiba (Hapharaim, eight miles northwest of Beth Shan).
The story of Gideon is introduced not by an affirmation that “God raised up a deliverer named Gideon,” but rather by a narration of how God raised him up. Gideon’s call or commission resulted from a confrontation with the Angel of the Lord (Who is “the LORD” YAHWEH, "I AM" [v14, 16, 23, 25, 27]
AS HIS SON GIDEON WAS BEATING OUT WHEAT IN THE WINE PRESS (Cp 7:25; rather than on an exposed threshing floor) IN ORDER TO SAVE IT FROM THE MIDIANITES:
Baxter writes that...
This is an act of desperation & fear, lest the Midianites discover and seize even the small amount that could be threshed that way. The usual practice for threshing would be in an open & elevated location where the wind would blow away the chaff. This indicated a situation of serious distress; also it indicated a small amount of grain. This is clear because he is doing it rather than having cattle tread it. It is on bare ground or in the winepress rather than on a threshing floor made of wood, and is done remotely under a tree out of view.
In sum, Gideon’s act of threshing wheat in a winepress reflected both his fear of discovery by the Midianites and the smallness of his harvest. Normally wheat was threshed (the grain separated from the wheat stalks) in an open area on a threshing floor (cf. 1 Ch21:20-23) by oxen pulling threshing sledges over the stalks.
SIGNIFICANCE OF "WINEPRESS"
In Gideon's day the winepress was always put at the foot of the hill because they brought the grapes down from the vineyard. Naturally, they would carry the heavy grapes downhill; they carried them to the lowest place. In contrast, the threshing floor was always put up on the top of the hill, the highest hill that was available, in order to catch the wind which would drive the chaff away. Here we find Gideon, down at the bottom of the hill, threshing. Now that would be the place to take the grapes, but that is no place to take your crop in order to do your threshing. Can you see the frustration of this man? Why doesn’t he go to the hilltop? Well, he is afraid of the Midianites. He does not want them to see that he is threshing wheat. And you can imagine his frustration. There is no air getting to him down there, certainly no wind. So he pitches the grain up into the air. And what happens? Does the chaff blow away? No. It comes down around his neck and gets into his clothes making him very uncomfortable. There he is, trying his best to thresh in a place like that, and all the time rebuking himself for being a coward, afraid to go to the hilltop.
Many of the ancient wine presses remain to the present day. Ordinarily they consisted of two rectangular or circular excavations, hewn (Isa 5:2) in the solid rock to a depth of 2 or 3 feet. Where possible one was always higher than the other and they were connected by a pipe or channel. Their size, of course, varied greatly, but the upper vat was always wider and shallower than the lower and was the press proper, into which the grapes were thrown, to be crushed by the feet of the treaders (Isa 63:1-3, etc.). The juice flowed down through the pipe into the lower vat, from which it was removed into jars (Hag 2:16) or where it was allowed to remain during the first fermentation. Many modifications of this form of the press are found. Where there was no rock close to the surface, the vats were dug in the earth and lined with stonework or cement, covered with pitch. 1915 edition (J. Orr, Ed.).
A large vat for crushing grapes, located not on a hilltop like a threshing floor, but in a valley. Gideon was threshing in small quantities in an inconspicuous place, hoping to finish quickly and avoid detection by marauding bands. The Open Bible
|Judges 6:12 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, "The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior."|
AND THE ANGEL OF THE LORD APPEARED TO HIM AND SAID TO HIM: (the angel - Jdg 13:3; Luke 1:11,28; The Lord - Jdg 2:18; Exodus 3:12; Joshua 1:5,9; Ruth 2:4-note; Matthew 1:23; 28:20; Luke 1:28; Acts 18:9,10)
Gideon started his career as somewhat of a coward (Jdg. 6), then became a conqueror (Jdg 7:1-8:21), and ended his career as a compromiser (8:22-35). But more space is devoted to Gideon in the Book of Judges (100 verses) than to any other judge; and Gideon is the only judge whose personal struggles with his faith are recorded. Gideon is a great encouragement to people who have a hard time accepting themselves and believing that God can make anything out of them or do anything with them.
Ninety-six verses are devoted to the last judge, Samson. The first four judges were godly people; but from the time of Gideon, the leaders began to decay until you get to Samson, the most unspiritual of them all. Because the nation wanted freedom from the enemy without being dedicated to God, they didn’t deserve godly leaders. Sometimes God gives His people exactly what they deserve.
THE LORD IS WITH YOU (singular): affirmed the Lord’s presence with Gideon
Davis comments on God's promise "Jehovah is with you" writing that...
O VALIANT (mighty, excellent) WARRIOR:
"Valiant" (hayil/chayil) conveys the has the basic idea of strength and influence.
"Warrior" (gibbor) is an adjective meaning brave, strong, mighty and is used in a description of God Himself (El' gibbor" usually rendered as the Mighty God (see Isaiah 10:21; Jer. 32:18).
"Valiant warrior" frequently had a military connotation. In the present context it appears that these name by the Angel of Jehovah anticipated Gideon 's role as a warrior and was intended to inspire confidence. It is possible that the phrase simply identifies Gideon as a prominent citizen in his town which is how it is used of Boaz.
"Valiant warrior" is the same description used of other men in the OT:
It does appear that God called Gideon what he would become, certainly not what he was at the time of this encounter.
God came to a old childless man named Abram and said I will make you a father of many nations.
God came to Cephas and said you will be Peter (Rock).
Our God is an awesome God...while others look at us and see our flaws and failings, God looks at us and sees our possibilities (in Christ). Don't sell yourself short for what God can or will do in and through your life if you are willing to submit to the Refiner's purifying fire and the Master's touch! Remember that God does not save us and use us for what we are but for what by His great mercy and grace we may become.
In short, God recognizes in Gideon something that Gideon does not see himself. God sees our potential. God sees us for what we can become, as He works in our lives. He is in the business of taking "nobodies" and transforming them by His presence in their lives. He begins with us where we are be it in the winepress or on some mundane job, etc. He knows our weaknesses, our faults, our shortcomings but He does not say "If you get those things out of your life, then I'll be able to use you." He takes our inadequacy and transforms it into His adequacy. God has a way of seeing beyond our fears and frailty. God does not save us and use us for what we are but for what by His grace we may become. Amen.
Gideon's story is truly a wonderful example of the truth of [Romans 15:4] = My paraphrase:
God sees the potential in you and says to you as He did to Simon, “You are . . . You shall be” (John 1:42). He knows your weaknesses and will accommodate Himself to your needs so that He might develop your faith.
Brensinger applies the truths in this section noting that...
The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. Judges 6.12
The story of Gideon is one of the most fascinating in this Book. Forty years' rest followed the work of Deborah. Then the people fell again into evil ways, and for seven years suffered the most cruel oppression at the hands of Midian. They were driven to hide in dens and caves and strongholds. From that terrible situation Gideon was raised up to deliver them. These words were addressed to him by the Angel of Jehovah. They reveal the secrets of the strength which gave him the victory presently over Midian; and those secrets were two. First, there was the one supreme fact that Jehovah was with him; but there was also what he was in himself—"a mighty man of valour." Wherein did that valour consist? Apparently he was a simple man living a very ordinary life. The Angel found him about his daily duty, "beating out wheat in the wine-press." He had given no sign of military disposition or ability. We shall discover the answer to the inquiry as we listen to what he said to the Angel. To the heavenly visitor he confessed his double consciousness. This may be stated in two sentences which he uttered: "Did not Jehovah bring us up?" "Jehovah hath cast us off." He was thus revealed as a man conscious of the true relation of the people to Jehovah ; and of the fact that their sufferings were the result of the Divine judgment. It is ever the man who has this double vision of Divine intention and human failure, who is the man of might and valour. With that man the Lord can work. (Morgan, G. C. Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible)
|Judges 6:13 Then Gideon said to him, "O my lord, if the LORD is with us, 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 abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian."|
THEN GIDEON SAID TO HIM, "O MY LORD (not Jehovah but Adon) IF THE LORD IS WITH US, WHY THEN HAS ALL THIS HAPPENED TO US?: (Genesis 25:22; Exodus 33:14, 15, 16; Numbers 14:14,15; Romans 8:31) (Deuteronomy 29:24; 30:17,18; Psalms 77:7-9; 89:49; Isaiah 59:1,2; 63:15 )
How like all of us to question the presence of God because of our present circumstances. But to do so is to doubt the Word of God and that is sin for it is not faith (Ro 14:23). Now it is obvious though that at this point Gideon did not recognize the Holy One Who addressed him but he did use a term of respect similar to Abraham (Ge 19:2 cp Ru 2:13, 1Sa 1:15, etc).
Baxter comments that...
Warren Wiersbe comments that...
The most popular image of the local church today is that of the corporation, with the pastor as the CEO. I wonder how many churches would want a CEO with the credentials of some of the people God used in the Bible? Moses was eighty years old when he began his ministry and he was wanted for murder in Egypt. Jacob was a schemer. Elijah suffered from depression, and so did Jeremiah. Hosea couldn’t keep his marriage together. Amos, a farmer, had no ministerial training. Peter tried to kill a man with his sword. John Mark was a quitter, and Paul couldn’t get along with his associate Barnabas. These traits are not excuses either for leaders to sin or for churches to lower their standards, but they do remind us that God’s ways aren’t always our ways. The man or woman we think least qualified for God’s work may turn out to be a mighty servant of God.
AND WHERE ARE ALL HIS MIRACLES WHICH OUR FATHERS TOLD US ABOUT, SAYING, 'DID NOT THE LORD BRING US UP FROM EGYPT: (Psalms 44:1; 78:3,4 )
Miracles (pala') is a verb meaning to do something wonderful, to do something extraordinary, or difficult. It frequently signifies the wondrous works of God, especially His deliverance and judgments. The verbal root of pala' has the basic meaning be surpassing and conveys the ideas "be extraordinary, beyond one's imagination or expectations" or "be too difficult, beyond one's capability." Gideon most likely was referring to the Exodus and the events connected to it. In the Exodus account pala' refers specifically to the plagues God sent upon Egypt (Ex. 3:20), while Ps. 78:11, 12 associates these wonders with the miracle at the Red Sea.
Gideon's response reflects unbelief as well as ignorance (or forgetfulness) of God and His clear warning in Scripture that if Israel would forsake God...
Gideon had it backwards! The Lord had not forsaken them as much as they had forsaken the Lord!
BUT NOW THE LORD HAS ABANDONED US AND GIVEN US INTO THE HAND OF MIDIAN: (Deuteronomy 31:17; 2Chronicles 15:2; Psalms 27:9; Isaiah 41:17; Jeremiah 23:33)
Gideon’s initial response ignored the singular pronoun “you” (Jdg 6:12), for he replied, If the Lord is with us (pl. pronoun). Gideon questioned the divine promise in view of his people’s present circumstances. He correctly concluded, however, that the Lord had put them into the hand of Midian. The point however is that it was not God Who had abandoned His people, but God's people who had turned their backs on Him. It is far easier to blame God for our problems than to recognize and deal with our sins and responsibilities.
Abandoned (natash) means to forsake or leave alone and carries the basic sense of leave, reject or abandon. Natash is used of the Lord rejecting his people because of their rebellion. When God does so, He withdraws His protective presence and hands them over to their enemies, subjecting them to defeat and humiliation.
John MacArthur's comment is cogent:
|Judges 6:14 And the LORD looked at him and said, "Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?"|
LXE And the angel of the Lord turned to him, and said, Go in this thy strength, and thou shalt save Israel out of the hand of Madiam: behold, I have sent thee.
AND THE LORD [turned towards &] LOOKED AT HIM AND SAID:
Note that the Messiah turned and fixed Gideon in His gaze. Although did not fully recognize Who it was that looked at him, he must have seen something different as he later seeks to bring an offering.
Spurgeon wrote a devotional on this verse entitled "One Look from the Lord"...
GO IN THIS YOUR STRENGTH AND DELIVER ISRAEL FROM THE HAND OF MIDIAN: (Jdg 4:6; Joshua 1:5, 6, 7, 8, 9; 1Samuel 12:11; 1 Chronicles 14:9,10; Hebrews 11:32,34)
He is not saying "Gideon, gird yourself up like a man...you can do it." Relying on his own strength made Gideon hide in a winepress. "This is your strength" is the strength that God has given by His promise of His presence (Jdg 6:12, 16, cp Php 4:13-note). God's answer to discouragement is NOT positive thinking but rather the promise of His presence. (cp Mt 28:18, 19, 20).
Hudson Taylor emphasized that...
The strength-giving power of a look from the eyes of Christ! Gideon was weak enough. He said, quite naturally, “My family is the poorest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house” (Judges 6:15, r.v.). But from the moment of that look, accompanied by that summons, he arose in a strength that never afterwards faltered. How truly “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.”
It was a look of expectation. — Gideon felt that the angel expected him to save Israel. It is a great matter to excite hope in a man. Tell him that you are anticipating some noble deed from him, and you may light a spark that will set his whole soul aglow. It is of immense importance to stir the timid and retiring with fresh conceptions of the possibilities of their lives.
It was a look of encouragement. — Those gentle, loving eyes said, as though they spoke, “I will be with thee; do not hesitate to look for Me in every hour of need.” Such looks Christ still gives us across the battlefields of life; and if our eyes are fixed upon Him, we shall surely hear Him saying to us, “My grace is sufficient for thee: go in this thy might!”
It was a look of strength-giving might. — It carried help with it. On its beam new spiritual force sped from the speaker to the listener; from captain to cadet. So from the excellent glory one look from Jesus will bring reinforcement. As He looks on us He imparts his strength to us, and says, Go in this thy might. “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.”
|Judges 6:15 And he said to Him, "O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father's house."|
AND HE SAID TO HIM, "O LORD, HOW SHALL I DELIVER ISRAEL: (Exodus 3:11; 4:10; Jeremiah 1:6; Luke 1:34)
Gideon looked to his own ability ("how shall [I] deliver?").
A sense of our own inadequacy for God's Work is not a bad thing. Who among us when called to serve the LORD in any capacity has not like Gideon felt unworthy and unqualified? Charles Haddon Spurgeon at age 19 was called to pastor Park Street Church in London, but was convinced a mistake had been made and that the invitation was intended for another man of the same name. But understanding that his strength came from the LORD, he accepted and eventually became one of modern history's most prolific and influential preachers. God is calling leaders today just as He always has. The question is will those He calls respond to this call in dependence on God Himself for their strength? It has often been said that “God’s commandments are God’s enablements.”
Once God has called and commissioned us, all we have to do is obey Him by faith, and He will do the rest. God cannot lie and God never fails. Faith means obeying God in spite of what we see, how we feel, or what the consequences might be. Our modern “practical” world laughs at faith without realizing that people live by faith all day long.
Once God has revealed His will to us, we must never question His wisdom or argue with His plans. “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor?” (Ro11:34, NIV; Isa40:13, 1Co2:16) “Can you search out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limits of the Almighty?” (Job 11:7, NKJV)
A. W. Tozer wrote,
That being true, who are we to question Him?
When you review God’s gracious promises to Gideon, you wonder why this young man wavered in his faith. God promised to be with him. God called him a “mighty man of valor” and promised that he would save Israel from the Midianites and smite them “as one man.” God’s Word is “the word of faith” (Ro10:8), and “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Ro10:17). But Gideon didn’t receive that Word and needed assurance beyond the character of Almighty God.
BEHOLD, MY FAMILY IS THE LEAST IN MANASSEH: (Exodus 18:21-25; 1Samuel 9:21; 18:23; Micah 5:2) (the least - Genesis 32:10; Jeremiah 50:45; 1Corinthians 15:9; Ephesians 3:8)
Gideon seemed to think that God could do nothing because he and his family were nothing. However his family being "Least in Manasseh" may not be completely true as his father Joash seems to have been a fairly important man (he had a huge altar to Baal) and the family was certainly not poor (Gideon had 10 servants! Jdg 6:27).
What Gideon does seem to be saying is that he had a overriding sense of his own inadequacy, which is not a bad place to be ("our adequacy is from God" 2Co 3:5, 6, "when we are weak then we are strong" 2Cor 12:9-note, 2Co 12:10-note). Inadequate in ourselves, overwhelmingly adequate in and through our God -- that is the lesson of Gideon's life. What we most need is not self-confidence, but God (Christ) -confidence! It is worth noting that most often the choice by God as His "vessel of honor" is one who appears to be the least. Jehovah even had to remind Samuel declaring...
AND I AM THE YOUNGEST IN MY FATHER'S HOUSE:
Our problem today, friend, is that most of us are too strong for God to use. Most of us are too capable for God to use. You notice that God uses only weak men, don’t you? [1Co 1:26,27, 28,29] God wants weak vessels, and that is the only kind he will use. God follows this policy so that no flesh will glory in His presence. God always does that, beloved. The interesting thing is that Nero was on the throne while Paul was being beheaded. At first glance, it looked like Paul had lost and Nero had won. But history had already handed down its decision. Men name their sons Paul and call their dogs Nero. This is quite interesting, is it not? God is choosing the weak things of this world.
Gideon’s negative response to the Lord’s words indicates his lack of faith and spiritual perception. Here was Almighty God telling him that He was with him and would make him a conqueror, and Gideon replied by denying everything God said! God would have to spend time with Gideon turning his question marks into exclamation points. Gideon was living by sight, not by faith, and had he remained that way he would never have been named among the heroes of faith in Heb 11:32
Some people approached about leading may offer excuses for why they can’t do it. Perhaps you’ve heard some of the following
What is God’s response to these excuses?
|Judges 6:17 So Gideon said to Him, "If now I have found favor in Thy sight, then show me a sign that it is Thou who speakest with me.|
SO GIDEON SAID TO HIM, IF NOW I HAVE FOUND FAVOR IN THY SIGHT THEN SHOW ME A SIGN THAT IT IS THOU WHO SPEAKEST WITH ME: (Ex 33:13,16) (Jdg 6:36, 37, 38, 39, 40; Genesis 15:8-17; Ex 4:1-9; 2Ki 20:8, 9, 10, 11; Ps 86:17; Is 7:11)
Found favor in Thy sight = a Hebrew idiom which means to be an object of another's favorable disposition or action or to be a recipient of another's favor or kindness. The favor shown may be deserved or at least prompted by the object's character or actions as was Boaz's kindness bestowed upon Ruth in return for her kindness to her mother-in-law had prompted him to reach out to Ruth and meet her needs (Ru 2:10, 11, 12-note).
Sign ('ot) usually refers to an event, object, or person that has special significance. It is used most often to describe awe-inspiring events: God’s work to bring the Hebrew people out of Egypt (Ex. 4:8) Gideon asks for a tangible guarantee of the Lord's identity. Such guarantees sometimes, though not always involved a miraculous deed (Ex 4:8, 9; Is 38:7) as in the present case when the Angel miraculously caused Gideon's offering to go up in smoke (Jdg 6:20, 21).
Like Moses (Ex 33), Gideon desired a sign; in both incidents revelation was so rare and wickedness so prevalent that they desired full assurance. God graciously gave it.
|Judges 6:20 And the angel of God said to him, "Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth." And he did so.|
X (lay them Jdg 13:19; pour out - 1Kings 18:33,34)
|Judges 6:21 Then the Angel of the LORD put out the end of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. Then the angel of the LORD vanished from his sight.|
X (Jdg 13:20; Leviticus 9:24; 1 Kings 18:38; 1 Chronicles 21:26; 2 Chronicles 7:1)
|Judges 6:22 When Gideon saw that he was the angel of the LORD, he said, "Alas, O Lord GOD! For now I have seen the Angel of the LORD face to face."|
WHEN GIDEON SAW THAT HE WAS THE ANGEL OF THE LORD: (perceived - Jdg 13:21)
Instantly Gideon was conscious of his sin and guilt and he cried out in fear. But God had not come to judge him but to deliver His people through Gideon.
HE SAID, "ALAS, O LORD GOD!
The sudden appearance of the fire and disappearance of the visitor convinced Gideon that indeed he had seen God and spoken to Him, and this frightened him even more. Since the Jews believed it was fatal for sinful man to look upon God, Gideon was sure he would die. The human heart is indeed deceitful: Gideon asked to see a sign, and after seeing it, he was sure that the God who gave him the sign would now kill him! There is always “joy and peace in believing” (Ro15:13), but unbelief brings fear and worry.
FOR NOW I HAVE SEEN THE ANGEL OF THE LORD FACE TO FACE: (Jdg 13:22,23; Genesis 16:13; 32:30; Exodus 33:20; Deuteronomy 5:5,24,26; Isaiah 6:5-8; John 1:18; 12:41)
In the realization of the presence of God, the sensitive sinner is conscious of great guilt. Fire from God further filled Gideon with awe and even the fear of death. When he saw the Lord, he knew the Lord had also seen him in his fallenness. Thus he feared the death that sinners should die before Holy God. But God graciously promised life (v23). For a similar reaction to the presence of God, see Manoah in [13:22, 23] (cf. Eze1:26-28; Isa6:1–9; Rev1:17).
God told Moses,
“No one may see Me and live” (Ex. 33:20).
Gideon recognized the angel as a manifestation of God and was afraid. But the Ex. 33 passage means seeing God in His essential glory, not in another form. Richards, L.
|Judges 6:23 And the LORD said to him, "Peace to you, do not fear; you shall not die."|
AND THE LORD SAID TO HIM "PEACE TO YOU, DO NOT FEAR; YOU SHALL NOT DIE: (Genesis 32:30; 43:23; Psalms 85:8; Daniel 10:19; John 14:27; 20:19,26; Romans 1:7)
Related Resource: Fear, How to Handle It
God had to give Gideon a message of peace to prepare him for fighting a war. Unless we’re at peace with God, we can’t face the enemy with confidence and fight the Lord’s battles.
Sometimes the Lord calms the storm.
I know not, but God knows;
Hannah Hurnard, author of Hinds’ Feet on High Places, was once paralyzed by fear. Then she heard a sermon on scarecrows that challenged her to turn her fear into faith. The preacher said, “A wise bird knows that a scarecrow is simply an advertisement. It announces that some very juicy and delicious fruit is to be had for the picking. There are scarecrows in all the best gardens...If I am wise, I too shall treat the scarecrow as though it were an invitation. Every giant in the way which makes me feel like a grasshopper is only a scarecrow beckoning me to God’s richest blessings.” He concluded, “Faith is a bird which loves to perch on scarecrows. All our fears are groundless.”
Black Bart was a professional thief whose very name struck fear as he terrorized the Wells Fargo stage line. From San Francisco to new York, his name became synonymous with the danger of the frontier. Between 1875 and 1883 he robbed 29 different stagecoach crews. Amazingly, Bart did it all without firing a shot. Because a hood hid his face, no victim ever saw his face. He never took a hostage and was never trailed by a sheriff. Instead, Black Bart used fear to paralyze his victims. His sinister presence was enough to overwhelm the toughest stagecoach guard.
|Judges 6:24 Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and named it The LORD is Peace. To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.|
Jehovah Shalom signifies that the Lord is peaceful, friendly or well-disposed toward Gideon. Gideon is able to confidently name the altar this because the Lord had just said shalom or "peace," to him prior to assuring him that he need not fear and that his life would be spared. The Hebrew word for “peace” (shalom click here) means much more than a cessation of hostilities but carries with it the ideas of well-being, health, and prosperity. Gideon now believed the Lord was able to use him, not because of who he was but because of who God was.
Wherever Abraham journeyed, he built an altar (Gen. 12:7, 8; 13:4, 18; 22:9); and Joshua left many monuments of Israel’s march of Conquest through the land. It was customary for the Jews to identify special events and places by putting up monuments, so Gideon built an altar and called it “The Lord is peace.”
Whenever God calls us to a task that we think is beyond us, we must be careful to look to our OMNIPOTENT God (we must know His attributes to experience them in our lives Da 11:32, 2Pet 1:2-note) and not to ourselves. “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” God asked Abraham (Ge18:14); and the answer comes, “For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Lk 1:37ASV). Job discovered that God could do everything (Job 42:2), and Jeremiah admitted that there was nothing too hard for God (Jer 32:17). Jesus told His disciples, “With God all things are possible” (Mt 19:26); and Paul testified, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Php 4:13-note).
Wiersbe concludes that for a man with a worried heart,
Sidlow Baxter comments...
|Judges 6:25 Now the same night it came about that the LORD said to him, "Take your father's bull and a second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal which belongs to your father, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it;|
NOW THE SAME NIGHT IT CAME ABOUT THAT THE LORD SAID TO HIM:
God had sought a sign from God but now God seeks a sign from Gideon.
TAKE YOUR FATHER'S BULL AND A SECOND BULL SEVEN YEARS OLD:
to destroy this shrine Gideon is told to employ a bull, the sacred animal of the fertility cult. Before God gives His servants great victories in public, He sometimes prepares them by giving them smaller victories at home. Before David killed the giant Goliath in the sight of two armies, he learned to trust God by killing a lion and a bear in the field where nobody saw it but God (1 Sam. 17:32–37). When we prove that we’re faithful with a few things, God will trust us with greater things (Matt. 25:21).
AND PULL DOWN THE ALTAR OF BAAL WHICH BELONGS TO YOUR FATHER: (Genesis 35:2; Job 22:23; Psalms 101:2 )
a pagan altar unearthed at Megiddo not far from Ophrah was 26' square & 4.5' high made with stones cemented by mud. Joash's altar was likely of similar size esp since 2 bulls (and 10 men) were conscripted to carry out the desolation.
Wiersbe notes that...
AND CUT DOWN ('gada = hew down...Asherim = root word for Gideon!) THE ASHERAH THAT IS BESIDE IT: (1Kings 18:21; Matthew 6:24; 2Corinthians 6:15, 16, 17)
Asherah (Hebrew = Asherah) signifies the Canaanite fertility goddess believed to be the consort of Baal, thus the worship of Baal and Asherah was often linked together. Asherah most often refers to a carved wooden image of the goddess instead of the proper name. These carved images were frequently associated with high places and fresh trees. The Asherah pole symbolized the fertility supposedly provided by the goddess Asherah, who was viewed as the mother of the gods.
Sidlow Baxter comments...
|Judges 6:27 Then Gideon took ten men of his servants and did as the LORD had spoken to him; and it came about, because he was too afraid of his father's household and the men of the city to do it by day, that he did it by night.|
HE WAS TOO AFRAID OF HIS FATHER'S HOUSEHOLD AND THE MEN OF THE CITY TO DO IT BY DAY THAT HE DID IT BY NIGHT: (Related Resource: How to Handle Fear - 4 Part Study) (Deuteronomy 4:1; Matthew 16:24; John 2:5; 15:14; Galatians 1:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:4) (Psalms 112:5; John 3:2)
Warren Wiersbe summarizes Gideon interaction with God commenting that
“Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” (Mark 4:40, NKJV)
“Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid” (Isa. 12:2, NKJV).
After all the encouragements God had given Gideon, his faith should have been strong. BUT...before we judge him, we’d better look at ourselves and see how much we trust the Lord.
The point is this that FAITH is not demonstrated by fearlessness but by obedience! (cp 1Co 2:3, 4). So if you obey God and sometimes feel fearful and weak, you are not necessarily expressing disbelief and in fact you are in good company with Gideon and Paul. Very real human fear and wise precaution interplays with trust in an all-sufficient God.
MacDonald adds that...
|Judges 6:29 And they said to one another, "Who did this thing?" And when they searched about and inquired, they said, "Gideon the son of Joash did this thing."|
|Judges 6:32 Therefore on that day he named him Jerubbaal, that is to say, "Let Baal contend against him," because he had torn down his altar.|
THEREFORE ON THAT DAY HE NAMED HIM JERUB-BAAL (Let Baal contend): (1Samuel 12:11; 2Samuel 11:21)
Jerub-Baal (yerubbaaal) combines a verb with its subject, Baal but the meaning is not clear although given the following explanation it appears to mean "let Baal contend." This name is used as Gideon's name in list of judges in (1Sa 12:11). And so Gideon's new name was a constant reminder to all those around him of God's power and Baal's weakness. So now every time they saw Gideon, they were reminded of the power of God and the weakness of Baal!
THAT IS TO SAY LET BAAL CONTEND AGAINST HIM :
Often the unbelieving world gives demeaning nicknames to faithful servants of God. D. L. Moody was known as “Crazy Moody” when he was building his famous Sunday School in Chicago, but nobody would call him that today; and Charles Spurgeon was frequently lampooned and caricatured in the British press. If we are given nicknames because we honor the name of Jesus, then let’s wear them like medals and keep on glorifying Him!
Gideon learned a valuable lesson that day: If he obeyed the Lord, even with fear in his heart, the Lord would protect him and receive the glory. Gideon needed to remember this as he mustered his army and prepared to attack the enemy.
BECAUSE HE HAD TORN DOWN HIS ALTAR:
Gary Inrig writes
|Judges 6:34 So the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon; and he blew a trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called together to follow him.|
SO THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD CAME UPON GIDEON: (Jdg 3:10; 13:25; 14:19; 15:14; 1 Samuel 10:6; 11:6; 16:14; 1 Chronicles 12:18; 2 Chronicles 24:20; Psalms 51:11; 1 Corinthians 12:8, 9, 10, 11 )
Here both the Hebrew & Greek state that the Spirit literally "clothed" Gideon. or "The Spirit of Yahweh dressed or clothed (Himself) with Gideon." The human agent became the outer appearance through which the Spirit worked. [1Chr 12:18; see esp the priest Zechariah's boldness upon being clothed by the Spirit & his subsequent martyrdom in 2Chr 24:20]. The Spirit emboldened Gideon to gather followers for his God-given task. God is always as concerned with followers as with leaders. Each role is necessary and important for God. Whom God calls to His work He will qualify and animate for it.
Came upon (labash) which literally means "clothed," (cp Ro 13:14-note; Galatians 3:27) is normally used of garments and in this figurative use pictures the Lord's Spirit enveloping Gideon and energizing him for action. Labash is used in Ge 28:20 to describe a man putting on clothes or in Isaiah 59:17 to describe a warrior putting on a suit of armor. The Holy Spirit wore Gideon the way a man puts on a suit of clothes! It is a vivid way to say that the Holy Spirit took possession of Gideon.
Sidlow Baxter comments...
A seminary professor tells his students
The Midianites and their allies made their annual invasion about that time as more than 135,000 men (Jdg 8:10; 7:12) moved into the Valley of Jezreel. It was time for Gideon to act, and the Spirit of God gave him the wisdom and power that he needed. (See Jdg 3:10; 11:29; 13:25; 14:6, 19; 15:14.) As we seek to do God’s will, His Word to us is always, “Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit” (Zec4:6).
When a group of British pastors was discussing the advisability of inviting evangelist D. L. Moody to their city for a crusade, one man asked,
Quietly one of the other pastors replied,
AND HE BLEW A TRUMPET: (Jdg 3:27; Numbers 10:3 )
This is very interesting because before the Spirit "clothed" Gideon he was fearful but now seems filled with boldness and courage. However go to the next phase of his spiritual progress (Judges 6:36, 37, 38, 39, 40).
AND THE ABIEZRITES WERE CALLED TOGETHER TO FOLLOW HIM: (Jdg 6:11; 8:2; Joshua 17:2)
There must have been some in this number who not long before this may have wanted his head on a platter! So suddenly can God turn the hearts even of idolaters and persecutors!
|Judges 6:36 Then Gideon said to God, "If Thou wilt deliver Israel through me, as Thou hast spoken,|
The Living Bible although a paraphrase does pick up on the thrust of these passages
THEN GIDEON SAID TO GOD: (Jdg 6:14,17-20; Exodus 4:1-9; 2 Kings 20:9; Psalms 103:13,14; Matthew 16:1)
And because these 5 verses are here and not read with careful observation and discernment, they have become a watchword for many to determine God's will for their life "Well, just put out a fleece brother and the Lord will show you what to do." The idea is simple: You say to the Lord that you have 2 options. If You want me to follow plan A, then please do this by Tuesday. Then I will know that it is what you want me to do. If You do not do it, I will follow plan B."
It is worth noting that although the Holy Spirit had come so powerfully upon Gideon, he was still very weak in faith and clearly daunted by the prospect before him. Who would not be? This is a reminder to us that grace does not delete or destroy nature. When God comes into our lives He takes the temperament which He has created and begins to refine and empower it. God wants to maximize our effectiveness and deal with our weaknesses, but it is often His way to keep us conscious of the fact that those weaknesses do exist, so that we depend on Him and not on ourselves. He knows how readily we lean on our own imagined resources and think that we can cope without total dependence on Him.
IF THOU WILT DELIVER ISRAEL THROUGH ME (Lit.= by my hand) AS THOU HAST SPOKEN:
Gideon was not the only one who asked for "signs" that God would complete the work He promised He would carry out. (eg, Moses [Ex 4:1-9] Hezekiah [2Ki 20:9].) And in this example of Gideon's lack of trust in God's sure word, we see the infinite compassion of our Father for He knows our frame, He knows the beginning from the end and He meets us where we are [Ps 103:13,14 - Spurgeon's comment on v13 ; Spurgeon's comment v14] We all exhibit this Gideon-like tendency from time to time, some more than others for our spirits may be willing to believe Him but our flesh is weak.
Gideon's problem was not one of lack of knowledge (v14,16) or a need for more knowledge but of lack of faith & obedience...like the hymn succinctly yet powerful states "trust & obey for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus then to trust & obey." (Play Trust and Obey) Amen to that truth. Let it sink in Lord.
|Judges 6:37 behold, I will put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I will know that Thou wilt deliver Israel through me, as Thou hast spoken."|
BEHOLD I WILL PUT A FLEECE OF WOOL ON THE THRESHING FLOOR: (Related Resources: Judges 6:37: Gideon's Fleece by Alexander Maclaren and Fleeces and the Will of God by Kay Arthur) (Deuteronomy 32:2; Psalms 72:6; Hosea 6:3,4; 14:5)
It is very important to observe that Gideon was not seeking to learn God's will, because that had already been clearly revealed to him (in verses 14,16). He put out the fleece to strengthen the weakness of his own faith. Gideon doubted God’s promise, His steadfast, sure Word. Gideon's doubts might have included thoughts like: "Does God really want me to lead the Jewish army?" "What do I know about warfare?" So, before he led the attack, Gideon asked God for more signs.
Put out a fleece is often used by Christians to refer to asking God to do something special to verify His will. Paradoxically, instead of being an act of faith, such a practice is evidence of unbelief. Yes, God condescended to speak to Gideon’s weakness and He did what Gideon requested. By way of application, God may do that for you; but this is not the level on which God wants to meet and interact with you. Immature faith needs signs for reassurance. A mature believes God's Word and obeys. Have you ever put a fleece out?
Note that these arguments against "putting out a fleece" do not mean to imply that God is not able to work through circumstances to confirm His revealed will, for indeed He is. We need to be careful that we are not using "circumstances" like Gideon did to test God, especially when we know exactly what God's will is from His Word. I cannot speak for you, but beloved my problem is in obeying what He has told me to do.
IF THERE IS DEW ON THE FLEECE ONLY AND IT IS DRY ON ALL THE GROUND THEN I WILL KNOW THAT THOU WILT DELIVER ISRAEL THROUGH ME AS THOU HAST SPOKEN: (Psalms 147:19,20; Matthew 10:5,6; 15:24)
Gideon already knew God's will but he sought another sign to confirm it. His "faith" seems to have been eclipsed by fear. Requests for signs are often the product of unbelief (Mt 12:38,39, 1Cor 1:22,23, cp Jn 20:25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 4:48, Zacharias Lk 1:18,20). See [Mt 16:1] where the Pharisees asking for signs was equated with "testing" Jesus (and we are not to test the Lord [Mt 4:7, 1Cor 10:9]).
Gideon was actually putting God "in a box", telling God what to do; i.e., what conditions had to be met before he would obey His previous orders. Gideon broke his promise to God after refusing to believe after the first sign and requesting a second. God's response in granting his request does not imply God's approval but only demonstrates His understanding and compassion for the frailty of human nature so that He treats His servants with great patience. Consider Thomas example and Jesus reply (Jn 20:29). Only 2 things are required to fulfill God's will: listen to His voice as you read His Word and then follow His directions implicitly. Gideon was at last ready to obey. Are you?
It was a (probably "superstitious") practice in the ancient world to seek last-minute confirmation of divine support before a battle was joined (cf. ) [1 Ki 22:6-28] but Gideon had the perfect PROMISES of God (Jdg 6:6:14, 16), the awesome revelation of His PRESENCE and the clear evidence of His POWER to deliver and protect against the adversary (Judges 6:26-32), so Gideon's call was a manifestation of his unbelief...it's somewhat analogous to the NT cry "Lord, I believe but help Thou my unbelief" (Mk 9:24). And in the final analysis of his "faithlessness" at this juncture of his life we see God place his name first in the prestigious list in He 11:32 (note)! Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom & knowledge of God! The entire episode of the fleece provides a study of God's forbearance and longsuffering. (Ro 2:4-note) It is certainly not meant to establish a pattern for others to follow. Gideon felt that he needed a fleece because he did not entirely believe the Word of God! The fact that the Lord complied with Gideon’s request does not sanctify the process. It merely evidences God’s condescending grace toward our persistent doubt.
Gideon’s fleece unveils a danger, the seriousness of which modern sign-seekers should be aware. While such elements in Christianity hold out the promise of a deeper spirituality through miraculous manifestations, a lack of spiritual maturity is actually being evidenced. Many who fall prey to these delusive promises find that they become so engrossed in looking for the signs that they become completely diverted from doing what God has called them to do. Spiritual maturity is seen, in its truest sense, when we are able to trust implicitly in the already fully verified witness of the Word spoken by Jehovah. God had said what He would do; it was Gideon’s duty to believe and obey.
Beware of seeking for signs of the supernatural rather than seeking the the Supernatural Savior Himself! Our flesh is weak and craves for signs be it the shroud of Turin, the "remnants of Noah's Ark", tales that the Ark of the Covenant is in Ethiopia, etc. We have Jesus' Spirit within us & His perfect word (Ps 19:7 - Spurgeon's note) and thus have all the riches of wisdom & knowledge we need (Col 2:3-note).. Let us not be deluded by persuasive arguments (Col 2:4-note).
HOW NOT TO
When John Wesley was 32yo he was a bachelor missionary in the colony of Georgia. While serving a church in Savannah, he met a young woman named Sophia Hopkey. Wesley fell in love with her, but he belonged to a group of idealistic young men in London called the "Holy Club" and one of their ideals was that members should remain single. So Wesley's dilemma was
To determine God's will he and a friend decided to draw from 3 lots on which were written either
His friend drew for Wesley & selected --
Wesley was heartbroken but took it to be the will of God. He ended the courtship left America for England and wrote in his journal
Shortly after returning to England Wesley came to saving faith in the Lord Jesus and began his evangelistic ministry.
During his travels he fell in love with another woman but this time tried a different approach to discern the will of God, listing 7 characteristics he desired in a wife, then evaluating the prospective wife by each & concluding
Unfortunately John's brother Charles got wind and did not agree, so he went posthaste to G. M. and told her
Then he fainted at her feet. That shook GM so badly that she hastily married another man. Strike 2 for Wesley in regard to discerning the will of God. Finally, a year and one half later John Wesley did marry a wealthy widow, Mary Vazeille. We don't know his criteria for choosing her but we do know the result. He had a very unhappy marriage and 20 years later she left him, at which time he wrote:
And so much for Wesley's discerning the will of God in regard to whom he was to marry!
|Judges 6:38 And it was so. When he arose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece, he drained the dew from the fleece, a bowl full of water.|
|Judges 6:39 Then Gideon said to God, "Do not let Thine anger burn against me that I may speak once more; please let me make a test once more with the fleece, let it now be dry only on the fleece, and let there be dew on all the ground."|
THEN GIDEON SAID TO GOD, "DO NOT LET THINE ANGER BURN AGAINST ME: (Genesis 18:30, 32) (Psalms 107:33-35; Isaiah 35:6,7; 43:19,20; 50:2; Matthew 8:12; 21:43; Acts 13:46; 22:21; 28:28; Romans 11:12-22)
Literally "His nose became hot" so the KJV is closer to the literal Hebrew, a most expressive metaphor for the anger and one of the most obvious examples of the anthropomorphisms for God in the OT.
Twice Gideon reminded God of what He had said (Judges 6:36,37), and twice Gideon asked God to reaffirm His promises with a miracle. The fact that God stooped to Gideon’s weakness only proves that He’s a gracious God who understands how we’re made (Ps 103:14 - Spurgeon's note). Who are we to tell God what conditions He must meet, especially when He has already spoken to us in His Word? “Putting out the fleece” is not only an evidence of our unbelief, but it’s also an evidence of our pride. God has to do what I tell Him to do before I’ll do what He tells me to do!
Matthew Henry writes