Gideon: Reluctant Leader

KEY VERSE: “The angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD Is with thee, thou mighty man of valor.” —Judges 6:12

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Judges 6:11-16, 25-29, 32

GOD spoke with Gideon through an angel who, when he first appeared, “sat under an oak which was in Ophrah.” This was a section of land which belonged to Gideon’s father, and where at the time “Gideon threshed wheat by a winepress, to hide it from the Midianites.” The words of our text were the angel’s message. Gideon was not, at first, too much impressed by this assurance. To his reasoning mind there seemed little evidence of the Lord’s favor and help as long as the nation was being oppressed by enemies. He knew of the miraculous manner in which the children of Israel had been delivered from Egypt, and of many other miracles God had wrought on their behalf. But now he said, “The Lord hath forsaken us.”

Then through the angel the Lord assured Gideon that if he would courageously make the effort he would be able to deliver the Israelites from the hands of the Midianites—not in his own strength and wisdom, but in the Lord’s, because, “Have I not sent thee?” But Gideon hesitated. He asked the angel of the Lord to remain where he was until he returned, and then went and prepared meat and broth and brought it to him. Instead of eating this meal, the angel caused fire to come out of the rock upon which Gideon placed it, and it was consumed. Then the angel vanished. Gideon was impressed, even frightened, for he realized that he had been speaking face to face with an angel. But the Lord said to him, “Peace be unto thee; fear not; thou shalt not die.”—vs. 23

Following the instructions of the Lord, the first thing Gideon did was to destroy the altar of Baal, “and to cut down the grove” which was near it. This center of heathen worship was operating right on his father’s farm, and apparently by his father’s consent, if not by his special arrangement. To obey the Lord in the destruction of this altar and grove meant that Gideon had, first of all, to take a stand against his own father.

But Gideon was cautious. Taking ten men with him, he destroyed Baal’s altar and the grove by night. This was because, as the account states, “he feared his father’s household.” Naturally it was soon discovered what had happened, and who was responsible for it. Then the “men of the city” demanded of Joash, Gideon’s father, “Bring out thy son, that he may die.”

But Joash had a good sense of reasoning. He realized the implications of what had occurred. He told the men of the city that a god worthy of worship should be able to protect his own altars, so why did they feel it necessary to plead for Baal. Surely, if Baal could not protect his own altar, could it be hoped that he would protect Israel from their enemies? The people were convinced and were then willing to cooperate with Gideon in his further mission to end the Midianite oppression.

Later, seeing his marvelous success in battle, the people assumed that it was because of Gideon’s own shrewdness, and decided that Israel could not have a better man to rule the nation. So they proposed to exalt him to this high and honored position, and even extended the invitation, saying, “Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian.”—Judges 8:22,23

This was a natural expression of appreciation, but Gideon refused the offer. He answered plainly, but eloquently, “I will not rule over you, … the Lord shall rule over you.”

Dawn Bible Students Association
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