Gideon - An Example of Obedience
By Keith Greer

The book of Joshua ends with Joshua presenting God's people with a choice--serve Him or the gods of the land in which they dwell (Joshua 24:14,15). According to the text, they remained faithful all the days of Joshua. Sadly, following his death, they entered a period of instability and constant need for God to rescue them from one mess after another. God sent Judges as deliverers to free them from the oppression into which they fell. We want to discuss one of these Judges--Gideon.

God called Gideon to lead his people. "And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him, and said to him, The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor! Gideon said to Him, "O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, 'Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?' But now the LORD has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites." {Judges 6:12,13} Who did the forsaking? God's people forsook Him! God instructed Gideon to go, and told him He would deliver the Midianites into his hands.

Gideon did not believe he was the man for this task; he sought a sign from God. And God gave him a sign. "...Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth." And he did so. Then the Angel of the LORD put out the end of the staff that was in His hand, and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire rose out of the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. And the Angel of the LORD departed out of his sight." {Judges 6:20,21}

Gideon received his first obedience test. "...Take your father's young bull, the second bull of seven years old, and tear down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the wooden image that is beside it; and build an altar to the LORD your God on top of this rock in the proper arrangement, and take the second bull and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the image which you shall cut down." {Judges 6:25,26} Obeying this command would go against his father and against his friends. Gideon carried out God's order under cover of darkness (Judges 6:27). In defending Gidian's actions, Joash, his father, said: "if Baal is upset, let Baal deal with Gideon." In Judges 6:36-40, Gideon received more assurance of God's approval.

When Gideon called the people to come together, 32,000 responded. God said that was too many. Why? The people could claim the victory came about as a result of their great number. The army had to be trimmed down. All who were fearful were told to go home. This left a 10,000-man army. God said that was still too many, so he devised a test. "...Everyone who laps from the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set apart by himself; likewise everyone who gets down on his knees to drink." And the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was three hundred men; but all the rest of the people got down on their knees to drink water. Then the LORD said to Gideon, "By the three hundred men who lapped I will save you, and deliver the Midianites into your hand..." {Judges 7:5-7} God would give them victory with only 300 men!

How large was the Midianite army? Judges 7:12 describes it as "without number." Israel needed a battle plan? Gideon divided the army into three companies, each with trumpets, empty pitchers, and torches inside the pitchers. They were to blow the trumpets and say "The sword of the Lord and of Gideon." Every man stood in his place around the camp and followed Gideon's instructions. The result--the Midianites were soundly defeated! Through Gideon's obedience, Israel gained the victory. When we follow God's orders, in detail, victory is assured!