The Book of JUDGES
James J. Barker
GIDEON Part 1
- Chapter 6 begins with the fourth apostasy and servitude (6:1). God had blessed Israel during the administration of Deborah but now Deborah was dead. The wheel is turning again – rebellion followed by retribution (6:1), then repentance (6:7), and then restoration. God called Gideon, the sixth judge (6:14-16).
- Gideon was an obscure man from a poor family. Furthermore, he told the LORD, “I am the least in my father's house” (6:15). Gideon felt inadequate; he felt insufficient; he felt unprepared.
- Gideon was full of fear (6:11b, 27). Christians are often fearful – too fearful to go out soulwinning; too fearful to take a stand for God; too fearful to tithe, etc. But this is one of the great themes in the book of Judges. God gave Gideon courage. God equipped Gideon, and God used Gideon, and He can use you and me if we let Him.
- The story of Gideon covers three chapters. His death is referred to in Judges 8:32. It will take several messages to cover the life and trials of Gideon.
- Before we focus on Gideon, let us look at the backgrounds. “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years” (6:1).
- For seven years the Midianites ravaged the land of the Israelites, taking their crops as well as their livestock (6:3-6). So severe were these Midianite raids that Israel had to head for the hills and hide out in caves and dens if there was no room in the strong holds (fortified towns with big walls; 6:2).
- It is emphasized throughout the book of Judges that God was chastening Israel for their rebelliousness (6:1; cf. 4:1, 2).
- “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth” (Hebrews 12:6).
- God’s chastening is evidence of His hatred for sin and His love for His people. God is not like a permissive parent who allows his children to do as they please. Most parents today do not believe in spanking. They say they give them a so-called “time-out” instead. This is unscriptural and foolish.
- Permissive parents are doing a big disservice to their children and oftentimes they are sending their children straight to hell. God chastens His children and we should chasten ours.
- “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame” (Pro. 29:15).
- The Midianites and the Amalekites were nomads, living out in the desert. The Midianites were descended from Abraham through his second wife Keturah, whom he married after Sarah died (Genesis 25:1, 2). God told Israel to go to war against the Midianites (Num. 31), because of what happened at Baal-peor (cf. Num. 25:16-18).
- The Amalekites were descended from Amalek, who was the grandson of Esau, Jacob’s twin brother (Gen. 36:12). The Amalekites were a constant problem for the Israelites (cf. Deut. 25:17-19).
- Exodus 17:16 says, “Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.” This reminds us that the battle is the LORD’s, not ours. And He will give us the victory if we do things His way.
- In the Bible, Amalek always represents the flesh. Midian means “strife” (cf. Scofield’s list of proper names). The Midianites represent the world and all its strife. Worldliness always brings strife, and strife always accompanies worldliness.
- The Midianites and the Amalekites were raiders, who stole the crops of others (6:3-5). God allowed these heathenistic tribes to vex Israel as a way of bringing them to repentance (cf. 6:6-10).
- This is the background. Now let us meet Gideon.
- Around the time of the eighth Midianite invasion, the LORD called Gideon. More space is devoted to Gideon in the book of Judges than to any other judge, with Samson being a close second.
GIDEON MET THE ANGEL OF THE LORD (6:11-24).
- It is my belief that this “angel (messenger) of the LORD” was the pre-incarnate Christ. Gideon addresses this angel as “Lord,” and then verse 14 says, “And the LORD looked upon him, and said…have not I sent thee?”
- Then Gideon again addresses him as “Lord,” and again the Bible says, “And the LORD said unto him…” (6:16; cf. 6:2-25, especially 6:22).
- This is called a Christophany or a Theophany.
- The Lord Jesus Christ frequently appears in the Old Testament as “the angel of the LORD” (cf. Gen. 16:7-14; 22:15, 16; 31:11-13; Ex. 3:2ff; Judges 6:11ff; 13:3-25, especially 13:22).
- The angel of the LORD is sometimes distinguished from Jehovah God (cf. Gen. 24:7; Zech. 1:12, 13).
- Other pre-incarnate appearances of Christ (Gen. 19:24; 32:24-30; Joshua 5:13-15; Dan. 3:25).
- Gideon wanted to memorialize this appearance from the LORD in angelic form and so he built an altar unto the LORD at that spot (Judges 6:24).
GIDEON CAST DOWN THE ALTAR OF BAAL (6:25-35).
- On that very same night, the angel of the LORD told Gideon to throw down his father’s altar of Baal and to cut down the grove next to it (6:25).
- The “groves” were places where heathens and backslidden Israelites would worship images of Asherah, the consort of Baal (cf. Judges 3:7 and Scofield’s notes; Deut. 16:21, 22).
- A friend of mine got saved and tore down his parents’ idol from their front yard in Queens. Like Gideon he did it at night but the RC garbage men would not pick it up.
- God was getting ready to use Gideon but He could not use him till he first got rid of the idol. God cannot use certain Christians till they first get rid of the idolatry in their lives (e.g., money, rock music, sports, worldly pleasures, etc.).
- The Bible says, “Honor thy father and thy mother” (Ex. 20:12; 5th commandment), but it also says, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image” (Ex. 20:4; 2nd commandment).
- In this case, obeying his parents would have meant disobeying God. God must always come first – even before our parents, husband, wife, etc.
- Demonic activity is behind idolatry. Gideon had stirred up the devil and now the unsaved townsmen were upset with him (6:28, 29). We see a similar situation in Acts 19, when a riot broke out in Ephesus.
- In Ephesus, the town clerk calmed the angry mob. The mob in Gideon’s hometown wanted to kill him but his father, Joash, intervened for him (6:30, 31).
- It is interesting that Joash was an idolater and a Baal-worshipper but he exercised good common sense in defending his son Gideon (6:31). His remarks remind us of what Elijah said to the priests of Baal in I Kings 18.
- Gideon picked up a new nickname that day – Jerubbaal, meaning, “Let Baal plead” (6:32).
- Gideon had his shortcomings but God used him.
- Gideon is mentioned along with Barak, and Samson, and Jephthah in Hebrews 11:32 as men of faith.
- These were four judges with problems just like you and me. But God used them for His glory and He can use us if we let Him.