Faith & Wisdom

Gideon in the Bible

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Date Published:
April 11, 2022

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One of the most inspiring stories in the Bible is the story of Gideon found in the Book of Judges in the New Testament. This is just one of many examples of God’s promises to us, His faithful children.

The story of Gideon begins with punishment for worshiping false prophets and concludes with a reminder to worship the one true Lord. During the course of Gideon’s journey, there are many lessons rich with values and faith. 

In this article, we’ll look at the story of Gideon and see how we can apply it in our times of struggle with faith.

The story of Gideon

Let’s break down who Gideon was and his story in the Bible.

Who was Gideon?

Gideon was the son of Joash. He lived in a time where the Israelites lost their way and began to worship false prophets. 

As a consequence of turning their back on the one true God, the Lord sent the Israelites into the hand of Midian as well as the Amalekites, who ravaged their fields and livestock. Like locusts, the Midianites left the children of Israel's crops bare for seven years.

The people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help. God then sent an angel to speak with them. The Angel of the Lord explained:

“Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I brought you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of bondage; and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. Also I said to you, “I am the Lord your God; do not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.” But you have not obeyed my voice’ ” (Judges 6:8). 

After giving the Lord's message, the angel sat beneath the terebinth tree in Ophrah, belonging to Gideon's father, Joash. Joash was of the Abiezrite clan in the tribe of Manasseh.

Black and white image of angel statue

The Angel of the Lord saw Gideon threshing wheat in the winepress and spoke to him, calling out to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!” 

Gideon asked why God had forsaken them. If God loved the children of Israel so much, why can't He perform miracles to save them from their oppressors?

The angel instructed Gideon that he could save the Israelites and defeat the Midians with the Lord at his side. Gideon did not believe the angel and requested a sign to know that it was really the Lord he was speaking with. 

Gideon placed an offering of uncooked lamb and unleavened bread on a rock before the angel, which the angel touched with the end of his staff. Suddenly, a fire appeared from the rock and engulfed the offering. The Angel of the Lord then disappeared.

The destruction of Baal

Seeing the miraculous act of God, Gideon praised His name. God told young Gideon not to fear, he would not die. Upon hearing His words, Gideon built an altar to God, calling it ‘The Lord Is Peace.’

The Lord requested that Gideon tear down the altar of Baal that his father had erected. In its place, Gideon was to build an altar to the one true God. Gideon feared his father's wrath as well as the wrath of the city but did as the Lord instructed.

The next morning, the Israelites demanded Gideon be brought forward and killed for his actions. Facing death, Joash stood up for his son and declared to the people of Israel:

“Would you plead for Baal? Would you save him? Let the one who would plead for him be put to death by morning! If he is a god, let him plead for himself, because his altar has been torn down!” Therefore on that day he called him Jerubbaal, saying, “Let Baal plead against him, because he has torn down his altar” (Judges 6:30-31).

The Midianites and the Amalekites then came together and encamped in the Valley of Jezreel.  However, the Spirit of the Lord came to young Gideon again and blew his trumpet. With the sound followed the Abeizrites who appeared behind him, soon joined by the Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali.

The fleece trials

Despite seeing the fire emerge from the rock and engulf the offering he left for the Angel of the Lord, Gideon requested yet another sign.

If the fleece Gideon laid down on the threshing floor at night is wet with dew and the ground is dry when he awakes, then he will believe God has chosen him to lead an army to save the children of Israel.

The next morning Gideon awoke to find the fleece was wet and the ground way dry. He squeezed the wool, filling a bowl with water.

Dark gray fleece from a sheep

Gideon called upon the Lord again, still with doubt in his heart. He requested another sign of God’s power. 

The young man now requested that the fleece be dry and the ground be wet the next morning when he woke. Just as the morning before, God did what Gideon requested.

Gideon's army

Gideon could no longer deny the Lord or His words. The men who would fight with him against the Midianites rose early the next morning, and God spoke to Gideon again. 

The Lord told Gideon there were too many men in his army. He was to reduce his army by asking his men, “Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him turn and depart at once from Mount Gilead” (Judges 7:3).

After the fearful men departed, a third of the men remained. Still, the Lord told Gideon his army was too large and that Gideon was to take his men down to the water. The Lord instructed Gideon to remove any man from his army who drank from the water like a dog, lapping at the water with his tongue.

Gideon followed the Lord's instruction once again, dwindling his army even further. The army of 22,000 then stood at a mere 300 men.

The attack

That night the Lord spoke to an anxious Gideon, telling him to ease his fear of the battle by going down to the Midians’ camp and spying on his enemies.

campfire on rocks and sticks

Quietly, Gideon made his way to the enemy's camp and listened. The men at the camp were speaking about a dream one of them had. 

He had dreamt of a loaf of bread rolling into their camp and collapsing a tent. The man listening responded, claiming the dream prophesied the Lord was with Gideon, ensuring the Midian’s defeat.

With new confidence, Gideon returned to his camp and gave each of the 300 men a trumpet and an empty pitcher holding a torch. He told his men:

“Look at me and do likewise; watch, and when I come to the edge of the camp you shall do as I do: When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then you also blow the trumpets on every side of the whole camp, and say, ‘The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!’” (Judges 7:17).

The men followed Gideon’s instructions. They blew their trumpets and broke their pitchers. The enemy awoke to the ruckus. Frightened by the noises of Gideon's army, they dispersed and retreated.

Solider helmets and chainmail on the ground

The newly confident Gideon spread the message to the mountains of the Ephraim, urging the children of Israel to claim back their land.

The army captured two Midianite princes, Oreb and Zeeb, executing them and delivering their heads to the triumphant mighty warrior Gideon. The Israelites cheered Gideon and told him and his family to rule over them. Gideon declined their request, telling them:

“I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you” (Judges 8:23).

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What can Gideon teach us?

The story of Gideon teaches us not to doubt the Lord.

The Bible teaches us the Lord knows what our future holds, yet Gideon doubted his success as a military leader. His confidence should have come directly from God.

Let us also not forget how this story began. The Lord punished the Israelites for worshiping false idols, which is a fate we must avoid. 

We must remember to follow the guidance of our Lord. Even if the path is not clear to us and we cannot see what comes ahead, we must have faith in the Lord and let Him lead us.  

For more on the Christian faith and God’s word in the New and Old Testament, download the Pray.com app in the iOS App Store and Google Play.

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