By Mark Beckham
God’s people, the Israelites, had been in a period of peace that lasted 40 years. Unfortunately, the Israelites again started to disobey God. God called Gideon to prepare His people for a separation.
Questions for Discussion
‘The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the LORD for help. When the Israelites cried out to the LORD because of Midian, he sent them a prophet, who said, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of all your oppressors; I drove them out before you and gave you their land. I said to you, ‘I am the LORD your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.’ Judges 6:1-10
a. Why did the children of God turn away from the Lord? Why does anyone?
b. Do we go back and forth in our relationship to God like the Israelites did?
c. How did God use the Midianites against the Israelites?
‘The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, ‘The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.’ Judges 6:11-12
a. What was Gideon doing when the Angel of the Lord came to Gideon and spoke to him?
b. Why was Gideon working in such an unusual place?
c. What expectations do we have of how God should reveal Himself to us? Are we missing or ignoring the opportunities before us?
‘Pardon me, my lord,’ Gideon replied, ‘but if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.’ The LORD turned to him and said, ‘Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?’ ‘Pardon me, my lord,’ Gideon replied, ‘but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.’ Judges 6:13-15
d. What did the angel call Gideon? Why is this strange?
e. Gideon was threshing wheat. Threshing is a process that was used to separate the grain (nutrient rich) from the light and useless chaff.
Normally this was done on a threshing floor using oxen pulling a heavy slab. Gideon was separating the wheat from the chaff. This was his normal daily job. Now God was going to use Gideon to separate His people, the Israelites, from the Midianites.
‘That same night the LORD said to him, ‘Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old. Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. Then build a proper kind of altar to the LORD your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering.’ Judges 6:25-26
a. What was Gideon commanded to do in his home town and why?
b. What made it difficult to obey this command?
c. This was the start of Israel’s separation process from sin and idolatry.
d. What opportunities exist around us to help separate those in sin from their current lifestyles and introduce them to the God who transforms?
e. How should we approach this important task?
f. What strength do we have available to lean on?