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Judges 8





Andrew Bonar, a Scottish Presbyterian pastor, once said, “Let us be as watchful after the victory as before the battle.”  Those are wise words indeed.  After the victory in whatever battle we have been fighting we have a tendency to let down our guard or take up the credit for the victory.  Either one is dangerous.  And in this chapter we actually see Gideon doing both.

As the chapter opens, there is an interesting conversation between Gideon and the tribe of Ephraim.  It seems they were upset that Gideon didn’t call them to the original battle with the Midianites.  If you think through it logically, Gideon was right by not calling them out for the original battle.  First, he didn’t need them.  God pared the army to 300.  Second, the Ephraimites wouldn’t have been in position to capture the fleeing Midianite kings.  So, why were the Ephraimites so upset?  It probably had to do with the fact that they didn’t get to share in all the loot that was taken from the 120,000 Midianite soldiers who were killed.  We humans are a funny bunch.

As the chapter progresses, Gideon and his army of 300 are still chasing some Midianite kings.  He sought assistant from a couple of groups of people along the way.  They refused to help.  After capturing those two kings, Gideon returned to take vengeance on those two groups of people who wouldn’t help him.  He whipped the leaders of Succoth with briars.  I was whipped with a lot of different things when I was growing up.  But I was never whipped with briars.  And I am glad.  Gideon also tore down the tower of Penuel to punish those folks.

When we get to verse 18, we discover that the two captured Midianite kings were responsible for killing Gideon’s brothers at some point.  As a result, Gideon, fulfilling the right of the kinsman was going to execute these two kings.  Oddly enough, Gideon asked his young son Jether to do it.  Gideon did this for an important reason.  How a soldier died in those days was important.  To be killed by a child would be a gross humiliation.  But Jether was not ready for this and Gideon finally killed the two men. 

From there the people of Israel wanted to make Gideon their king and create a dynasty for his family to continue to rule.  Gideon rejected that.  Kind of.  One of his sons was named Abimelech which just happens to mean “my father is a king”.

Not only did Gideon take on the role of the king, he also took on the role of the priest when he made the ephod.  Sadly, this ephod became an idol for the people.  And it wasn’t long before they were worshipping Baal again.  We humans really are funny people.

Gideon fell from the great heights of incredible military victory and overwhelming public support to creating a system that would lead his own people back into idolatry.  As Bonar said, “Let us be as watchful after the victory as before the battle.”

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Judges 7






The story of Gideon or Jerubaal continues in this chapter.  Gideon gathered an army of some 32,000 men to fight the Midianites and Amalekites.  Although the armies of the bad guys were basically too numerous to count, God said that an Israelite army of 32,000 was too big.  He didn’t want the Israelites to get the big head from their upcoming victory.  Amazingly, God began to pare the army of Israel.

The first reduction came as the result of a simple request.  If you are scared, you can go home. 22,000 men took that offer.  And then God continued to reduce the number of soldiers in the army of Israel.  I suspect somewhere in the midst of that, Gideon took a big gulp.

The second reduction came as a result of having the men drink water from the nearby stream.  Although the text is a bit unclear about what the difference in drinking styles actually was, the result was that God reduced Israel’s army to 300.  That would be less than one percent of the original force.

Most commentators believe the “drinking test” had to do with distinguishing between those men who were alert and watchful and those were not so careful.  Most commentators believe that the 300 men drank water from their hands so that they could keep their heads up and watch.  The other men, perhaps, kept their heads down.  Keep in mind, however, that this is just conjecture.  The Scripture doesn’t give us a clear description.  But the point is out of this test, God reduced the size of the army to 300.

You might think that an army of 300 would be no match for an army that couldn’t be counted.  And that would actually be the case if those 300 men were going to fight that innumerable army.  But God had different plans.  The battle was His to begin with.  He just used those 300 men to startle the enemy and He did the rest.

Once the enemy began to flee in confusion, Gideon put out the call for additional soldiers to attack.  They did and the bad guys were routed.  Interestingly enough in verse 25, one of the enemy’s kings was killed at a winepress.  The reason that this is interesting is the story of Gideon began in a winepress.

There is much that we can learn from this chapter.  One of the lessons is that a faith that can’t be tested can’t be trusted.  God is always testing our faith.  He does this for a couple of reasons.  The first reason is that we might know whether our faith is genuine or not.  The second reason is that He might strengthen our faith for the next adventure.

Another lesson is that God doesn’t need large numbers of people to accomplish His purpose.  He often uses just a few folks who are willing to step out in faith believing the invisible can be visible and the impossible can be possible.

There are times that having faith can be the easiest of things.  There are other times that having faith can be the hardest of things.  Either way, we must never forget that “without faith it is impossible to please God”.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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