Monday, April 8, 2013

G is for Gideon

Sorry about the lateness of this post.  I had a busy weekend.
If you haven't read the book of Judges, it falls into a bit of a predictable pattern.  Israel worships idols > God lets foreign nations invade > Israel says they're sorry and asks God for help > God sends a "judge" to save them > Israel is happy and worships God until the judge dies > repeat
These judges aren't what we think of judges today.  They were more of a ruler/warrior depending on the situation.  Most people know the judges Samson and Samuel from Sunday School.  The next most popular judge is Gideon found in Judges 6
At the time of Gideon, Israel is occupied by Midian.  The angel of the Lord comes to Gideon as he is threshing wheat and tells him that he will help Gideon defeat Midian.  Gideon, in a moment similar to Moses, makes a minor protest that he is the least in his family and of the least of the tribes.  God reassures him and Gideon asks him to stay while he goes and gets an offering. 
Gideon went inside, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak.The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And Gideon did so. Then the angel of the Lord touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the Lord disappeared. When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord, he exclaimed, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!”
But the Lord said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.”

After that, God asks Gideon to tear down his father's altar to Baal and then cut down the Ashtoreth pole and use it to offer their seven year old bull.  Gideon does this--at night--but somehow everyone knows that he did it because they call for his death.  His father, however, says something surprising.

 But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, “Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.”

After this is the famous test of Gideon and the fleece.  The first night, Gideon asks for the fleece to be wet and the ground to be dry.  The second night, he asks for dry fleece and wet ground.  Both times, God gives him the sign. 

Gideon then amasses a bunch of Israelites to fight Midian.  Thirty two thousand men show up.  God says that it's too many people so after sending home 22,000 scaredy cats and another 700 who drink water on their knees, Gideon is ready to fight.  His battle strategy is definitely untraditional and involves trumpets, torches and clay jars.  You can read about the battle in Judges 7.

There's a bit more to Gideon's story including him dealing with two towns that would not help him and his troops and a golden ephod that was more trouble than good but I won't go into that.  You can find it in the book of Judges.  [On a side note, while you're there, may I recommend Ehud as well]

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