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 lesson 7 (link above) to set the scene for this week’s passage.
3. Remember that the Bible didn’t have chapter and verse markings when it was originally written. Judges 8:1 picks up in the middle of a story. Back up and read 7:24-8:3, and the first part of chapter 8 will make more sense.
Describe in your own words what’s going on here. What happened? (7:24-25) What did the men of Ephraim think should have happened – why were their noses out of joint? (8:1 – think about the ego of men as it relates to covering themselves in the glory of battle, and the fact that Ephraim was called up in the middle of the battle).
How did Gideon’s reply (8:2-3) appease the Ephraimites? (Think about the gleaning / harvest comparison, the military glory of killing the enemy’s leader, and the reference to Abiezer.) Explain the wisdom of Gideon’s reply.
4. Read 4-17. Just for reference, which Midianite leaders had Gideon already captured and put to death, and which Midianite leaders was he now pursuing? (8:5)
Think about the intensity of hospitality in Israel at that time – the kind of hospitality that compelled Israelites to take in even strangers as overnight guests. Also consider the strong sense of brotherhood that existed among the 12 tribes of Israel. Look at the words and actions of the men of Succoth and Penuel through that lens and describe how dastardly they were.
As judge, was Gideon’s response justified? Did he act out of personal retaliation, or out of meting out justice, and to set an example for Israel for the future? What is the common, underlying principle between Gideon disciplining the men of Succoth and Penuel and New Testament church discipline? When there’s “sin in the camp,” why is it necessary for that sin to be rooted out from among God’s people? What are the benefits of dealing with it biblically? What are the potential consequences of letting it fester?
5. Read 18-21. How does this wrap up the story of the battle against the Midianites?
Notice the theme of manhood and masculinity that saturates this passage. Examine each verse and what it says about what makes a man a man. Do any or all of these ideas line up with what Scripture says about being a godly man? Which Scriptures about godly manhood do these ideas bring to mind? How would the portrayal of manhood in this passage stack up against Jesus’ portrayal of godly manhood?
6. Read 22-35. Why did the men of Israel want Gideon to rule over them? (22) Was Gideon the one who saved them from Midian? Who was? How does this explain Gideon’s response in verse 23?
What was an ephod? Why do you think Gideon made an ephod? How did Gideon compromise between the end of verse 23 and the beginning of verse 24? How does compromising on God’s rule and reign always lead to idolatry? Notice how idols bookended Gideon’s life. He started by tearing one down and ended by setting up another.
When you see someone singled out and named in a seemingly random piece of information like Abimelech is in 30-31, keep an eye out for that person and/or piece of information in a future passage (we saw this in lesson 5).
“The people of Israel did not remember the Lord their God who had delivered them from [their enemies]…” (34) “Do this in remembrance of Me.” – Jesus, referring to the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:19). How prone are we to forgetting the Lord our God who delivered us from the Enemy through Christ? How does the Lord’s Supper, the gathering of the saints, and the proclamation of the Word help us to remember?
Israel idolized Gideon. They idolized the ephod. And as soon as Gideon died, they idolized Baal-berith. Gideon risked his life to tear down Israel’s idols, and yet fell into idolatry himself at the end of his life.
Think back to lessons 6 & 7 (links above) and the lengths God went to in order to send the message loud and clear to Gideon and to Israel that He alone is God, that He alone saves, and that He alone was to get the glory for the victory over Midian. Why didn’t they get it?
Do passages like this ever pierce your heart? Do you ever wonder if there’s something you’re just not getting even though God has gone to great lengths in Christ and His Word to make it loud and clear to you? Spend some time in prayer asking God to help you avoid the failure of Gideon and the Israelites, to open your eyes to any areas of your life in which you’re not getting it, and to help you obey and stay faithful to Him.
Think about the words and actions of the men of Succoth and Penuel in light of what the New Testament teaches and shows us about Christian hospitality and care. What is one tangible way you can help provide for a brother or sister in Christ this week? Go do it.