Questions to Consider
1. Go back to lesson 3 (link above) and review your answer to the first part of question 5, Israel’s pattern of sin and repentance in 2:16-23. How does today’s passage fit this pattern? How does today’s passage fit the theme verse of Judges (21:25), “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”?
2. Explain verses 1-6 in your own words. How does this set the scene for the drama that follows? What position does it put Israel in? Verse 6 says Israel was brought “very low”. How low were they brought, by Whom (ultimately), and why? Think about the desperate situation Israel was in. Were they capable of helping themselves in their own strength?
In this chapter of Israel’s history, they were “brought low” as a consequence of, and discipline for their own sin. But sometimes even the most obedient, godly people suffer extreme hardship or tragedy (sometimes because they’re godly and obedient). What is God’s overall goal in allowing people to suffer the consequences of their sin? What is God’s overall goal in allowing a godly, obedient person to suffer? Why does God use suffering to accomplish both of these goals?
3. In 7-10, why does God take the people all the way back to Egypt? What is He reminding them of about Himself and about themselves? Why do they need reminding of these things? Why do God’s people today – corporately and individually – need to be reminded of these same principles about God and ourselves?
4. Read 11-24. In what ways does this passage point us ahead to Christ?
Who is “the angel of the Lord”? (11) Many would consider this to be a Christophany. What is a Christophany, and how does this passage lend support to this being an appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ?
Compare and contrast what the angel says about Gideon’s might (12, 14) with Gideon’s self-evaluation of his own might (13, 15). Where is his is strength actually going to come from? (16a) What is the significance of the word “But” in 16a? Consider the connection between Gideon’s weakness and Christ’s strength in light of 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. (Make a mental note of this for later when we get to Samson.) Compare Israel’s weakness (6) and God’s strength, soon to be on display through Gideon. How is God glorified, and His strength magnified in our weakness?
How is Gideon being a “good Berean” in verse 17? Why is he asking for confirmation? How does this demonstrate His godliness? Does this mean Christians today should ask God for confirming signs? Why not?
What was the significance of God accepting Gideon’s offering? (21)
5. Read 25-32. What was God’s initial instruction to Gideon in 14-15a? But what had to take place first? (25-27) Why did the altar to Baal and the Asherah pole have to come down and be replaced by an altar to the one true God before Gideon went to battle with the Midianites? Who did those monuments declare – to Israel, Midian, and the rest of the world – Israel’s gods to be? What did tearing down those monuments to false gods and replacing them with an altar to God declare to Israel, Midian, and the rest of the world about who their God was? If the Baal altar and the Asherah pole had remained in place, who would have gotten the glory -in the eyes of Israel, Midian, and the rest of the world – for the victory over Midian?
Did Baal “contend for himself” against Gideon? (31) What did this tell the Israelites about Baal’s impotence as a god?
How do these passages apply to this situation?
Consider the vehement anger with which the Israelite men reacted to their idol being torn down. (29-30) Have you ever – even in the gentlest way possible – challenged someone’s idol (told a friend she was following a false teacher, that she should give up feminism and submit to her husband, etc.)? Was her reaction in any way similar to the Israelites’ reaction? Have you ever reacted in a similar way when your own idol was challenged? What is the source of all of that vehement anger? What does this tell you about idolatry and the condition of the human heart? When it comes to idols of the heart are we really any different from these Israelites?
6. Read 33-40. Think back to 1-6 and all the horrors Midian, the Amalekites, and the people of the East have visited upon Israel for the last seven years. Now try to picture in your mind 135,000 of them – well fed, confident, and strong – drawn up in battle array. And you – the weakest guy in the weakest clan of his tribe – you’re the one who has to lead a starving, feeble army against them. Do you think you might be a little nervous and wanting some reassurance from the Lord that you really had understood His instructions correctly and that He was with you? Is it possible that’s how Gideon felt? Describe God’s mercy and compassion toward Gideon in answering and reassuring him (38, 40).
- Have you ever seen the Disney movie A Bug’s Life? If so, have you ever noticed the similarities between the storyline of that movie and Judges 6:1-6? What are some of the similarities and differences? Why do you think secular storytellers and artists often mimic stories and themes from the Bible? Why is the Bible better? (Please note, I know there are numerous problems with Disney. I’m not recommending this movie nor instructing you to watch it. This assignment is for people who have already seen the movie.)
- What is a paradox? Describe the paradoxes in today’s passage (14-16, 20-21). What are some other paradoxes in Scripture? Have you seen any of these biblical paradoxes play out in your own life? Why does God use paradoxes?
- If you feel the need to place a “fleece” before God, seek a sign from Him, or hear Him speak to you in order to feel like you’re making a wise, godly decision, sorry to put it this bluntly, but…you’re doing it wrong. Read my article about making decisions biblically, Basic Training: 8 Steps to Finding God’s Will for Your Life.