Gideon was a former judge of Israel who ruled the people after he led a small army to defeat the Midianites. He is placed on the Biblical Timeline Chart at around 1179 – 1154 BC. Gideon’s story begins with the Israelites not obeying God. The Israelites were not perfect people, and they constantly wandered away from God, and he punished them when they departed from him. In this particular instance, he allowed the Midianites to become so strong that the Hebrews lived in fear of them.
According to the book of Judges, the Israelites were living in the caves and cliffs of their country since God had made the Midianites so strong. They and their allies would come to Israel and take the people’s crops at harvest time. They would camp out within the land, kill all the livestock and harass the people before taking their crops. To make matters worse, the Midians would ravage and destroy the land. Many people in Israel at the time found the situation to be unbearable, but according to scripture God had a plan to free them from this type of tyranny.
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An angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon while he was threshing wheat. (Keep in mind that Gideon was a wealthy man in Israel, but his wealth and power didn’t mean anything under these type of circumstances.) Gideon had servants, but he still had to thresh out his own wheat. When an angel of the Lord contacted Gideon, he told him about God’s plan to use him to free his people from the tyranny of the Gideonites.
Gideon didn’t believe the angel and claimed that his clan was the least among his people and that he was the weakest member of his clan. God assured him that he was stronger than what he believed. Gideon still wasn’t convinced and wanted a sign, so he placed meat and bread on a rock, and the angel touched it with a rod. The fire then consumed the food. Gideon built an altar after this happened.
God instructed Gideon to tear down his father’s altar to Baal and to construct one in his honor. Then Gideon still wanted proof that God was with him. So he placed a wool fleece on the threshing floor. He told the Lord if there is dew only on the fleece and not the ground, and then he would believe him. God did as he requested. He then asked God to make the ground wet while leaving the fleece dry and God fulfilled this request. Once this happened Gideon was finally convinced.
Gideon gathered a bunch of men, but God ended up reducing their numbers down to 300. He then sent the 300 soldiers into battle. The Israelites snuck up on the Midianites in the darkness. In the confusion of the night, the Midianites began to slay one another. The next day many of them had fled, and they never harassed Israel again. The people wanted to make Gideon a king, but he refused. He judged Israel for 40 years, and there was peace in the land. After Gideon passed away the people of Israel turned after other Gods once again.
Gideon in the Bible
- Judges 6: 1-5 the people of Israel worship other gods and God becomes angry. He decides to send the Midianites out against them.
- Judges 6: 6-10 the people are frustrated and cry out to God. He sends a prophet who tells them why they’re being oppressed. He wants them to repent.
- Judges 6: 11-13 an angel of the Lord appears to Gideon and tells him that he has been chosen by God to free his people.
- Judges 6: 14-16 Gideon questions God’s decision for choosing him. He claims to be too weak to accomplish this feat.
- Judges 6: 17-40 Gideon questions God again and makes special requests to validate his choice. Gideon finally believes the Lord.
- Judges 7:2 Gideon had selected many warriors, but God wanted their numbers reduced so that they would not claim that the victory came from them.
- Judges 7: 18-25 Gideon and his forces defeat the Midianites.
- Judges 8: 28 Gideon ruled the Israelites for 40 years before he died.
- Judges 8:33 after Gideon had died, the people of Israel started to worship foreign gods once again.