In times of apostasy,
God often calls His mightiest servants from places of obscurity,
and inspiring them with the assurance of the divine presence,
He works through them great deliverances for His people.
1 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years.
2 And the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel: and because of the Midianites the children of Israel made them the dens which are in the mountains, and caves, and strong holds.
3 And so it was, when Israel had sown, that the Midianites came up, and the Amalekites, and the children of the east, even they came up against them;
4 And they encamped against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth, till thou come unto Gaza, and left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass.
5 For they came up with their cattle and their tents, and they came as grasshoppers for multitude; for both they and their camels were without number: and they entered into the land to destroy it.
6 And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites; and the children of Israel cried unto the LORD.
7 ¶ And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD because of the Midianites,
8 That the LORD sent a prophet unto the children of Israel, which said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage;
9 And I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all that oppressed you, and drave them out from before you, and gave you their land;
10 And I said unto you, I am the LORD your God; fear not the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but ye have not obeyed my voice.
11 ¶ And 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.
12 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.
13 And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.
14 And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?
15 And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.
16 And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.
17 And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.
18 Depart not hence, I pray thee, until I come unto thee, and bring forth my present, and set it before thee. And he said, I will tarry until thou come again.
19 ¶ And Gideon went in, and made ready a kid, and unleavened cakes of an ephah of flour: the flesh he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot, and brought it out unto him under the oak, and presented it.
20 And the angel of God said unto him, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and lay them upon this rock, and pour out the broth. And he did so.
21 ¶ Then the angel of the LORD put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the LORD departed out of his sight.
22 And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the LORD, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord GOD! for because I have seen an angel of the LORD face to face.
23 And the LORD said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.
24 Then Gideon built an altar there unto the LORD, and called it Jehovah-shalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
25 ¶ And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Take thy father’s young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it:
26 And build an altar unto the LORD thy God upon the top of this rock, in the ordered place, and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove which thou shalt cut down.
27 Then Gideon took ten men of his servants, and did as the LORD had said unto him: and so it was, because he feared his father’s household, and the men of the city, that he could not do it by day, that he did it by night.
28 ¶ And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was cast down, and the grove was cut down that was by it, and the second bullock was offered upon the altar that was built.
29 And they said one to another, Who hath done this thing? And when they enquired and asked, they said, Gideon the son of Joash hath done this thing.
30 Then the men of the city said unto Joash, Bring out thy son, that he may die: because he hath cast down the altar of Baal, and because he hath cut down the grove that was by it.
31 And Joash said unto all that stood against him, Will ye plead for Baal? will ye save him? he that will plead for him, let him be put to death whilst it is yet morning: if he be a god, let him plead for himself, because one hath cast down his altar.
32 Therefore on that day he called him Jerubbaal, saying, Let Baal plead against him, because he hath thrown down his altar.
33 ¶ Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east were gathered together, and went over, and pitched in the valley of Jezreel.
34 But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him.
35 And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh; who also was gathered after him: and he sent messengers unto Asher, and unto Zebulun, and unto Naphtali; and they came up to meet them.
36 ¶ And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said,
37 Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said.
38 And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water.
39 And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew.
40 And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.
Judges 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Judges 5:24-31; 6:1-6 – At the Mercy of Midian
What a contrast our reading suggests between those that love the Lord and go from strength to strength in the undimming luster and influence of their life, and the evil that once more brought the tyrant’s yoke upon this neck of Israel! Yet these alternations have too often befallen us. At one moment Sisera and his hosts are chased before us as sheep before the dog; then a reaction sets in and the hand of Midian prevails against us. Why are we not always glad, strong, and victorious? Is it not because we look to our moods, we relax our close walk with God, and we set up the images of Baal in our hearts? We are then reduced to the plight described here and in Haggai 1:6. Why are there not more conversions in the Church? Why is there so little difference between the Church and the world? Why is so much of our Sunday-school teaching ineffective? Ah, the Midianite is in our midst and we acquiesce! The urgent, primal need of the present day is for the Church to realize her true condition, and cry mightily unto God for help. Note Judges 6:6 and Joel 1:14, etc. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Judges 6:7-18 – A Farmer Called to Be Deliverer
God is not content with sending a prophet to condemn our sins; He commissions an angel to bring help. Surely there is truth in the old belief that the Angel-Jehovah, designated here, was our Lord, whose delights were ever with the sons of men. Compare Isaiah 63:9 and Acts 7:30 with Exodus 3:2, 6. He still comes to us, not visibly to the eye, but sensibly to the heart. There is a peculiar burning at the heart, which those who love Him understand, when He manifests Himself to them as not to the world. See Luke 24:32 and John 14:21.
Gideon was the youngest son of a poor family, which had suffered greatly at the hands of Midian. See Judges 8:18. He was compelled to thresh his wheat in the wine-press, below the surface of the ground, lest the Midianites should descend on it and carry it off. He seemed the least likely to be the chosen deliverer. But remember the Apostle’s words, I Corinthians 1:26. There is a might that no human valor can impart; it is that which is communicated directly from Christ, as in Judges 6:14. And when Jesus looks and speaks, the young soul that stands in all humility before Him knows that it can do all things through Him who strengthens, Philippians 4:13. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Judges 6:14—And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might.
The strength-giving power of a look from the eyes of Christ! Gideon was weak enough. He said, quite naturally, “My family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house” (Judges 6:15). But from the moment of that look, accompanied by that summons, he arose in a strength that never afterwards faltered. How truly “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty” (1 Corinthians 1:27).
It was a look of expectation.—Gideon felt that the angel expected him to save Israel. It is a great matter to excite hope in a man. Tell him that you are anticipating some noble deed from him, and you may light a spark that will set his whole soul aglow. It is of immense importance to stir the timid and retiring with fresh conceptions of the possibilities of their lives.
It was a look of encouragement.—Those gentle, loving eyes said, as though they spoke, “I will be with thee; do not hesitate to look for Me in every hour of need.” Such looks Christ still gives us across the battlefields of life; and if our eyes are fixed upon Him, we shall surely hear Him saying to us, “My grace is sufficient for thee: Go in this thy might” (2 Corinthians 12:9; Judges 6:14)!
It was a look of strength-giving might.—It carried help with it. On its beam new spiritual force sped from the speaker to the listener; from captain to cadet. So from the excellent glory one look from Jesus will bring reinforcement. As He looks on us He imparts his strength to us, and says, Go in this thy might. “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Ephesians 6:10). —Our Daily Homily
Judges 6:19-27 – Face to Face with the Angel of Jehovah
Gideon realized the momentous character of that interview. He only wanted to be sure that it was no dream or fancy, and so hence the proposal of the flesh and broth. As the fire started forth at the Angel’s touch, he knew that the veil of the unseen world had been rent to send him direction and help. At first he was startled, and then the peace of God fell upon his soul. He heard the Voice that uttered a similar benediction in Daniel 10:19 and John 20:26. The peace of God henceforth kept His heart and mind.
On Gideon’s side, God required an act of immediate obedience: the destruction—though they stood on his father’s property—of the hideous emblems of cruel and unclean rites and the substitution of an altar to the Lord. Ten of his household servants, beneath the spell of his personality, aided him in this heroic deed, which exposed him to disownment by his family and the forfeiture of his life by the townsfolk. God demands that we should love Him best, Luke 14:26-27, 33. But when our heart is perfect toward Him, He shows Himself strong in our behalf, II Chronicles 16:9. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Judges 6:28-40 – Beginning Reform at Home
The good sense of Joash saved his son. “Of what use is Baal to us,” said he, “if he cannot take care of himself?” Gideon had stood the divine test; can you wonder that the Spirit of Jehovah, whom we know as the Holy Spirit, came upon Gideon and wrought mightily through his submitted life? Oh, to be pliant to the Spirit of Christ, as clothes to the body! With heroic courage he blew the trumpet of revolt, regardless of Midian, and at its notes the whole country aroused as from the spell of a bad enchantment.
But amid the excitement of the hour, the young leader craved one more assurance. He asked two questions. Was it possible that the Spirit had come on him in an especial manner? The answer was in the affirmative, for the fleece—which represented himself—contained a bowlful of water, while the floor was dry. Was it possible, also, that the same Spirit that had come on himself would descend on the people who should gather to his summons? Again the answer was in the affirmative, for the floor was wet. God’s promises are always “Yea” and “Amen.” He cannot fail you. See II Corinthians 1:18-22. —Through the Bible Day by Day