<<the 5th judge who delivered Israel from their oppressors>>

During the 325 year period of the Judges, which took place after the Israelites had entered Canaan and before Saul was anointed as the first king, a succession of judges or rulers brought deliverance to the Israelites.  Gideon asked, “If God is for us why are we in such a predicament?” (Jdg 6:13). The nation had brought this calamity upon themselves by disobeying and neglecting God.

Gideon’s story is told in Judges 6:11-8:35.  He lived about 1100 years BC. 

Lessons from his life: * Even though the invading enemies were pilfering the Israelites crops, Gideon had been resourceful and was threshing his wheat in a wine press out of sight. God calls people while they are busy doing what is at hand to be done. He was already productively occupied, not waiting idly for God to turn up and give directions (Jdg 6:11).

* God said, “You are my man” but Gideon used the excuse of his natural limitations as to why he couldn’t be used, “I am the least significant member of my family which is the poorest in the whole tribe” (Jdg 6:14,15).  God delights to use those who are nothing in themselves but rely on Him to manifest His power through them (1 Cor 1:26-29).  Stop making excuses. In faith agree with Him and get on with what He wants. When He calls people, He enables them. Am I available as a vessel or channel through which He can work?

* The first test of his commitment to obey God affected those of his own family – as is often the case with us (Jdg 6:25-32).  Our sphere of influence starts locally, spreading out to the neighbourhood, then beyond (Act 1:8).  Although he was afraid of the consequences he did fulfill God’s directive and this led on to greater things for God, and through it he gained respect from the people (Jdg 6:34,35). The Christian walk is a series of steps; each challenge needs to be taken to move on to the next level.

* Gideon asked God for confirmation on the guidance given (Jdg 6:36-40).  Rather than obeying, he was waiting for more confirmation when he already knew what God had spoken. This has become known as ‘putting out a fleece’. To confirm guidance through specific signs is not necessary when God has already spoken clearly. It puts limitations on God by trying to make Him fit our expectations. The results are often inconclusive and thus don’t assist in the decision making process. Guidance comes through growing familiar with the principles that we should live by as we study the Bible, and spending time in prayer and communion with Him. 

* Facing a huge enemy army Gideon was afraid, yet God didn’t excuse him from this task, instead He brought encouragement that victory was assured. This happened when God’s strategy of using just 300 men was followed and the enemy army of 35,000 self-destructed with the glory going to God not man (Jdg 7:1-22). This victory showed that obedience and commitment to God are vital for us to be victorious rather than relying upon our own human self-efforts. “It’s not by might or power but by the Spirit” (Zech 4:6).

* Gideon had a son by a concubine (Jdg 8:31). This son grew up and brought great grief and tragedy to Gideon’s family as well as the nation of Israel. Gideon had become a military leader but he didn’t have control in his own private life. We need to consistently follow Christ, bringing our thoughts and desires into submission to Him so our actions won’t bring disgrace to Him or shame to us. Don’t be the conqueror in one area but conquered in another.

See also: fleece, guidance (divine), Judges (Jdg), Judges of Israel.