Gideon

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Son of Joash, of the tribe of Manasseh, one of the judges of Israel. An angel of the Lord appeared to him while he was threshing wheat to hide it from the Midianites, and said, “The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valor.” Thus addressed, the true though weak faith that was in Gideon was manifested, and he said to the Lord, “If the Lord be with us, why is all this befallen us? And where be all His miracles which our fathers told us of?” Jehovah added, “Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?” Gideon pleaded that his family was poor, and that he was the least in his father’s house. He was further encouraged. The first thing he was bid to do was to throw down the altar of Baal, and erect an altar to Jehovah, and offer an offering thereon. Gideon obeyed, but he did it by night, for he feared to do it by day. The men of the city desired his death, but his father protected him, saying, Let Baal plead for himself, and symbolically named Gideon JERUBBAAL, “Let Baal plead.” In 2 Samuel 11:2121Who smote Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? did not a woman cast a piece of a millstone upon him from the wall, that he died in Thebez? why went ye nigh the wall? then say thou, Thy servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also. (2 Samuel 11:21) it is JERUBBESHETH, “Let the shameful thing plead,” meaning the same, without mentioning the name of Baal (compare Jer. 11:1313For according to the number of thy cities were thy gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars to that shameful thing, even altars to burn incense unto Baal. (Jeremiah 11:13); Hos. 9:1010I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time: but they went to Baal-peor, and separated themselves unto that shame; and their abominations were according as they loved. (Hosea 9:10)).
Obedience led to strength: the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he blew a trumpet, and sent messengers to the tribes of Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali. But his small though true faith wanted a sign from God that He would save Israel by him God graciously responded by the moisture and then by the dryness of the fleece of wool. God declared that Gideon’s followers were too many: they would take the glory to themselves, and say, “mine own hand hath saved me.” So he bade all that were fearful and afraid to return, and more than two-thirds went back, leaving but 10,000: proving that the mass of the people were unfit to fight the battles of the Lord. Still the people were too many, and they are tested at the water: those that fell on their knees to drink were sent away, and only three hundred men remained, those who had lapped a little water from the hand, as satisfied with a hasty refreshment.
God then told Gideon to go down to the host, for He had delivered it into his hand; but if he was afraid, he could first go with his servant and hear what the enemy said. He was still faint-hearted and therefore went to listen, and there he heard himself compared to “a cake of barley bread,” but that God would deliver Midian into his hand. Gideon at once arranged his men into three companies, each man having a trumpet, and a lamp inside a pitcher. When they reached the camp, the trumpets were blown, and the pitchers broken. The Midianites were dismayed and some of them in the confusion and terror killed one another, and the others fled, pursued by the tribes before named, and by Ephraim. Ephraim proudly found fault with Gideon for not calling them to the battle at first; but a modest answer appeased their wrath. The conquest was complete, and the men of Succoth and Penuel were punished for not aiding Gideon with bread when he was faint.
Israel desired Gideon to rule over them, but he refused, saying, “The Lord shall rule over you.” He requested of the army the golden earrings taken from the enemy. With these he made an ephod, and placed it in his city, and all Israel went in idolatry after it, and it became a snare to Gideon and his house. Alas, the man of faith, who had thrown down the altar of Baal, was now led astray with a golden ephod! A memorial of God’s intervention is not present faith in the God who has intervened. The time of victory is a time of peculiar danger, when many being off their guard have fallen. During the life-time of Gideon Israel dwelt in peace during forty years, but at his decease the people turned to idols and were ungrateful to the house of Gideon (Judg. 6:1111And there came an angel of the Lord, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. (Judges 6:11)Judg. 8:3535Neither showed they kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, namely, Gideon, according to all the goodness which he had showed unto Israel. (Judges 8:35)). He is called GEDEON in Hebrews 11:3232And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: (Hebrews 11:32), where his faith is spoken of.