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. Briefly review the end of Judges 6 to set the scene for today’s passage.
3. Using a good Bible map, attempt to locate all of the places mentioned in today’s passage.
4. Read 1-3. How many men did Gideon start out with (3)? How many men did Midian, the Amalekites, and the people of the East have? Do the math (the number of the enemy divided by the number of Gideon’s men) – how many of the enemy were there for every one of Gideon’s men? And yet God said whose army had too many men? (2) Why did Gideon’s army have too many men? (2)
Notice the “spoiler” God gives Gideon in verse 2. How might that have allayed Gideon’s fears and reassured him?
Keep the 22,000 fearful men who left (3) in mind as you read the remainder of today’s passage. What blessings and opportunities did they miss by giving in to their fear?
Looking back at chapter 6 (and ahead to 7:10-11), notice the motif of Gideon’s fearfulness. Compare Gideon’s fearfulness to that of the 22,000 (3). Did Gideon give in to his fears or follow and obey the Lord despite his fears? How was He able to do that? What blessings and opportunities came to Gideon as a result of following and faithfulness despite fear? Think about how many times in Scripture God says “fear not” or “do not be afraid”. How is Gideon a good example to us of how to respond to God and His Word when we are afraid?
5. Read 4-8. Think about God’s reasons (2) for so severely reducing the size of Gideon’s army alongside some of God’s actions we looked at in lesson 6 (link above): God bringing Israel “very low,” God choosing the weakest man from the weakest clan to lead Israel in battle, God having Baal’s altar and the Asherah pole torn down and replaced by His own. How do God’s actions indicate that He wants it clear – to Gideon, Israel, the Midianites, and the world – that He alone is God, that He alone saves, and that He alone is to get the glory for this victory?
Most reputable theologians agree that there is little, if any, spiritual or tangible significance to God using the way the men drank (5) to separate out the 300 men He wanted with Gideon. It was just an expedient and easily visible way to show Gideon who He wanted. But consider God’s sovereignty over such a small thing. Who created these men with either a natural or learned propensity to drink each way? How did God use such a small thing to guide each man’s life in this situation? How does God choosing these particular 300 men and not the 9700 other men demonstrate to us the concept that God has his own reasons for the choices He makes and we aren’t always privy to those reasons? How does all of this impact your understanding of God directing our steps?
With Gideon’s army now reduced to 300, do the math again. How many of the enemy were there to every one of Gideon’s men?
6. Read 9-18. Notice again the motif of Gideon’s fear. How did God reassure him? (9b, 10-11) How does this demonstrate God’s compassion and mercy toward His children who are faithful, yet fearful? Did Gideon have any real reason to be afraid? What was his response to God’s reassurance? (15a)
How do you suppose the Midianites knew who Gideon was? (14) If they knew who Gideon was, what did they also know about God? Did the Midianites have a real reason to be afraid? How could the same dream (13-14) gave courage to God’s faithful servant, but frighten unbelievers?
7. Read 19-25. Think about the motif of shining light into darkness. (16, 19-20) What does light represent in Scripture? Darkness? How does this passage point us to Jesus, the light of the world? How does it point to us, His followers, as the light of the world? As Gideon experienced temporally (21b), what is often the effect, spiritually, of shining the light of Christ into the enemy’s darkness? Does the darkness or the light eventually win in the end? (24-25)
Think about the fearfulness of Gideon, the 22,000, and the Midianites in today’s passage. Now consider your own fearfulness. Are you now, or have you ever been, in a situation that caused you to be fearful? Did you, like the Midianites, have good reason to be fearful because you were an unbelieving rebel? Were you fearful but faithful as Gideon was? Did you let fear or faith inform your actions? Did fear cause you to flee, like the 22,000? What blessings or opportunities did you miss out on by fleeing in fear, or did you experience by remaining faithful despite your fear? Ask God to help you learn from today’s passage and from your own experience about responding to scary situations in faith despite your fears. You may wish to read my article Fear Not: 9 Biblical Ways to Trade Worry for Trust.