This post follows the Bible reading plan available at oaktreechurch.com/soap.
Chapters six through eight tell the stories surrounding Gideon’s rule. After Deborah’s forty years of peace, Israel turned from God again. This time he used the Midianites to punish them. Judges 6:1-10 describe a situation of nearly complete famine in Israel. Not only did the Midianites and Amalekites take the Israelites’ crops, they took their animals as well, leaving them nothing. The writer compared them to locusts swarming over the land. When Israel finally turned back to God after seven years of this, he sent an unnamed prophet to remind them of their wickedness, the reason for their plight. However, because they had turned to him, God would not let the punishment continue.
The angel of the Lord visited Gideon, who was hiding from the Midianites in a winepress while threshing wheat (Judges 6:11-18). When he addressed Gideon as courageous and said that God would help Gideon defeat Midian, Gideon responded with incredulity. Wasn’t this situation God’s doing? Would he really help them get out of it? And Gideon and his family were small and weak; what could he accomplish? When promised God’s presence, he asked for the first of several signs God would grant him. When he received the supporting sign and recognized this was truly God, he was reassured by God that he would not die (Judges 6:19-24).
God’s first objective was for Gideon to tear down the local Baal statue, set up by his own family (Judges 6:25-32). Gideon was too afraid to do it until the middle of the night, but he did take servants to help him and followed God’s orders exactly. He pulled over the statue, built an altar to Jehovah, cut down the asherah pole, and used the wood to make a sacrifice to God. The next morning, the damage was discovered and traced back to Gideon. However, his father (maybe beginning to understand the situation) stood up for him, nicknaming him Jerub-Baal, “Let Baal fight” his own battles.
With Gideon’s obedience started, God moved him onto the next objective: doing battle with the enemy (Judges 6:33-40). The nations had come together against Israel and were camped, ready to attack. God had Gideon gather an army to fight them. After summoning men from several tribes, Gideon wanted another sign, his second. He asked God work two miracles on successive nights with a piece of wool and the dew. God did exactly as Gideon asked, to encourage him in this mission.