Judges 6-7

M. Again we find the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and He allowed the Midianites to oppress them for seven years. When they sowed corn in their fields the Midianites came up and destroyed it, and they took all their sheep, and their oxen and asses, and they made the children of Israel quite poor. At last they cried unto the Lord, and He sent a prophet with a message to them; and he said, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I brought you up from Egypt, and I delivered you from the Egyptians, and. out of the hands of all who oppressed you, and I gave you this land; and I said, I am the Lord your God: do not worship the gods of the people of the land. But you have not obeyed my voice.
S. Was God displeased when He sent that message to them?
M. Yes. But He did more than send a prophet, for an angel came and sat under an oak tree that belonged to Joash, and his son Gideon was threshing his wheat to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel said to Gideon, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valor. And Gideon said, Oh my Lord, if the Lord be with us why is all this befallen us? Our fathers have told is how He brought us up out of Egypt, but now the Lord has forsaken us, and given us into the hands of the Midianites. But the Lord looked upon Gideon and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the Midianites. Have not I sent thee? And Gideon said, With what can I save Israel? my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house,.
Then the Lord promised to be with him, and Gideon asked for a sign, that He talked with him; and Gideon ran to fetch a present and he came again with a kid and with unleavened cakes, and he brought them to the oak and presented his offering. The Angel had graciously waited while Gideon prepared it. And He said, Take the flesh and the cakes, and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth; and Gideon did so. And the Angel of the Lord touched it with his staff, and fire came out of the rock, and burnt the flesh and the unleavened cakes; then He vanished out of Gideon's sight.
S. Was it a burnt offering and a meat offering together?
M. Yes. And the fire showed that the Lord accepted it, and when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the Lord he said, Alas, O Lord God! I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face. But the Lord said, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die. Then Gideon built an altar there, unto the Lord, and he called it Jehovah Shalom, which means, The Lord is Peace. For the Lord had made peace in Gideon's heart, before He made him His servant to bring peace to Israel. And the same night the Lord told Gideon to take his father's young bullock, and to go to the place where his father had an altar to a false god called Baal, and to throw down the altar and cut down the trees that were round it, and Gideon was to burn the trees and to offer a burnt offering to the Lord.
S. Was the young bullock for the burnt offering?
M. Yes, and the trees that Gideon was told to cut down were to make the fire. God had told them not to plant trees round their altars. Then Gideon took ten of his servants, and because he was afraid to do it by day he did it in the night. And in the morning when the men of the city saw it, they were very angry, and they told Gideon's father to bring him out to them that he might die. But his father said, Who will take Baal's part? If he be a god let him take his own part, because some one has thrown down his altar. So his father called him Jerubbaal, which means, Let Baal plead; because he threw down the altar of Baal.
S. Why was Gideon to throw down the altar of Baal?
M. Because Baal was a false god. God's servant must put away the evil thing before, he could set anything right. The worship of Baal was the real cause of all their sorrow; that must be the first thing put away.
Then all the enemies of Israel gathered together in the valley of Jezreel, and the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet to gather the people to him; he also sent messengers to some of the tribes. Then Gideon asked God to give him a sign that He would save Israel by his hand. So Gideon put a fleece of wool on the ground, and he asked God to let there be dew on the fleece, and to let all the earth near it be dry. And the Lord. gave him this sign, for in the morning he squeezed a bowl full of water out of the fleece, and all the ground was dry. But Gideon asked for one more sign; he said, Let it now be dry only on the fleece, and let there be dew on all the ground. And God did so that night.
S. Was it wrong of Gideon to ask God to give him a sign?
M. It showed how weak his faith was. He was not like Abraham, who believed what God said, when there was no sign to be seen that what God said would come true.
But Gideon rose up early in, the morning, and took all his men to a place near the valley where the Midianites were. And the Lord said to him, The people you have with you are too many; Israel will boast and say, My own hand has saved me. So go and tell all the people who are afraid, to go home. And Gideon did so, and twenty-two thousand went to their homes, and there were still ten thousand. And the Lord said, There are still too many, bring them down to the water, and I will try them for thee there. So Gideon brought his army to the water to drink; and the Lord told him to watch how every man drank the water, and those who took up the water in their hands and lapped it he put on one side, and those who went down on their knees to drink he put by themselves; and only three hundred men lapped up the water in their hands, but all the rest went down on their knees to drink. Then the Lord said, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and all the rest may go home.
S. Why did God like the three hundred men better than the rest?
M. Because they were thinking more of following Gideon than of their own enjoyment. They wished to hurry on, and not stop, to drink more than they could catch up in their hands as they passed; but the others stopped to have a good drink. So Gideon kept the three hundred, and they had their food and their trumpets in their hands; and he let the rest go home. And the host of Midian lay beneath them in the valley. What a little army these three hundred men must have looked in comparison to them And the Lord said to Gideon, If you are afraid, go down with your servant into the host, and hear what the Midianites are saying. And Gideon did so: the Midianites looked like grasshoppers there were so many, and their camels were like the sand on the sea-shore. And when Gideon went down he heard a man telling a dream to another man, and he said, I dreamed that a cake of barley bread fell into the host of Midian, and it fell upon a tent and upset it! And the other man said, That is nothing else but the sword of Gideon, for God has given all the Midianites into his hands. And when Gideon heard the dream, and heard the way the other man explained it, he worshipped; and he came back to the three hundred, and said, Arise, for the Lord has given them into your hands. At last Gideon believed, and he divided his men into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man's hand, and an empty pitcher, with a lamp inside the pitcher. And he said to them all, Look on me, and do what I do.
When I blow with a trumpet, then you must blow with a trumpet, and say, The sword of the Lord and of Gideon.
S. Why did Gideon tell them to look at him?
M. Because it was a day of man's weakness, and of the power of God. So their only strength was to watch, and see what God would do, that they might be able to follow. So in the middle of the night they went down into the camp of the Midianites, and when they got quite close to it they all blew their trumpets together, and they broke their pitchers which hid their lamps, and the bright light shone around the dark tents of the sleeping Midianites, who ran, and cried, and fled, and they took up their swords and killed one another in their fright, while Gideon's three hundred men stood round the camp, blowing with their trumpets, and shouting, The sword of the Lord and of Gideon. And the men of Israel followed those who fled, and Gideon sent messengers to mount Ephraim, and the men of Ephraim caught the two princes of Midian, and killed them. So God gave Gideon a great victory.