Let God Rule
Key Verse: “It was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the LORD hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian.”
FOLLOWING THE FAITHFUL judgeship of Deborah and Barak, Israel once again “did evil in the sight of the Lord: and the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years.” (Judg. 6:1) The Midianites were so many in number they quickly took all the land, pushing the Israelites to Gaza and leaving them without land to grow crops or sustain cattle. As had happened often before, Israel finally cried unto the Lord because of their desperate situation.—vs. 7
Gideon, a faithful young Israelite, was found to be threshing wheat out of the Midianites’ sight to help provide for his family. This caught the attention of God, who sent an angel to appear to him. The angel said to him, “The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.” (vs. 12) Gideon immediately questioned the angel as to why so much evil had befallen Israel and they now appeared forsaken. God, through the angel, responded, “Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee? … Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.”—vss. 14,16
Gideon desired signs that what the angel had said was true. The first of these was that he would present an offering to the Lord, requesting that a sign be shown that it was accepted. He killed a kid of the goats and made unleavened cakes and set them upon a rock under an oak tree. The angel touched the offering with his staff; fire came out of the rock, consuming the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel departed. Gideon responded, “Alas, O Lord GOD! for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face.”—vs. 22
The next sign requested by Gideon was that he would put a fleece of wool outside on the ground, leaving the fleece there all night. In the morning, if dew was only on the fleece and not on the ground around it, Gideon said “then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said. And it was so.” (vss. 37,38) Wanting to be absolutely sure, Gideon made one last request of God, simply reversing the previous sign. Once again, God favorably answered Gideon the next morning by causing dew to be on the ground, but with the fleece completely dry.—vss. 39,40
As Gideon prepared to battle against the Midianites, God informed him that the thirty-two thousand men he had gathered were too many. Any who were fearful were asked to return home. This reduced the number to ten thousand. These were then taken down to the water to drink. God observed those who lapped the water as a dog would do, and those who bowed face down to drink. Those who lapped the water were only three hundred, but these were the ones God wanted. Those who lapped the water were able to see everything going on around them as they drank, whereas those who bowed their faces down to the water and drank could not see their surroundings and were vulnerable. Thus Gideon, armed with only three hundred men, and following the instructions of God as to the use of trumpets, lamps, and pitchers as their “weapons” (see Judges 7:16-22), was used to deliver the Midianites into the hands of Israel.