Judges 4-6

Sunday Evening Bible Study

November 4, 2001

Introduction

The book of Judges gives us little historical vignettes during that four hundred year period between the conquest of the Promised Land under Joshua, and the beginnings of the kingdom.

In the book, we have begun to see the spiritual roller coaster ride of the nation of Israel.  They kept repeating the cycle of falling away from the Lord, going through difficult times, crying out to God, being restored back to God, and then falling away again.

Judges 4 – Deborah and Barak

:1-3 Israel falls away – Canaanites rules

:1 And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, when Ehud was dead.

The cycle again begins for the third time. The judge Ehud dies, and the people fall away from serving the Lord.

:2 And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan … Hazor … Sisera … Harosheth of the Gentiles.

JabinYabiyn – “whom God observes”

This is a title, not a name. There was an earlier Jabin, king of Hazor, whom Joshua defeated in Joshua 11. Now another Jabin has risen up and is causing trouble to Israel.

Hazor – see map

Sisera[email protected]– “battle array”

Harosheth of the Gentiles – (or, “Harosheth Hagoyimm”) see map

:3 And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD: for he had nine hundred chariots of iron;

Lesson

Cry to Him

God is waiting to help. We need simply to cry to Him.

nine hundred chariots of iron – to the Israelites, this seemed to be an impossible foe. The tribe of Judah had already decided years ago that this was an impossible foe –

(Judg 1:19 KJV) And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.

Lesson

Nothing is impossible to God.

When God is leading a person, they can kill giants. When a person is far from God, just about everything looks scary.
(Psa 20:7 KJV) Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.
(Psa 68:17 KJV) The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place.

:3 and twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel.

twenty years he mightily oppressed – last week we saw that:

The first time of foreign dominance was eight years, which ended with the people crying out to God, and God raising up Othniel.

The second time of foreign dominance was eighteen years, which ended with the people crying out to God, and God raising up Ehud.

This time, they’ve taken twenty years before they got to the point that they cried out to God for help.

Lesson

Don’t let your heart grow cold.

Sometimes we allow the enemy to heap such condemnation on us that every time we fall into sin, we take longer and longer before we decide to turn around and ask God for help.
(Jer 4:3 KJV) For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.

:4-24 God uses Deborah

:4 And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.

Deborah[email protected] – “bee”

Lesson

Women in leadership

The Scriptures seem to teach that women shouldn’t be in authority over men. Is this an instance of someone breaking that rule?
(1 Tim 2:11-14 KJV) Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. {12} But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. {13} For Adam was first formed, then Eve. {14} And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

usurp authorityauthenteo – one who with his own hands kills another or himself; one who acts on his own authority, autocratic; an absolute master; to govern, exercise dominion over one

mananer – of a male; of a husband (this is the word that is always translated “husband” in the King James NT).

I’ve heard it suggested that this might not be about women specifically teaching men in general, but aiming more at teaching and exercising authority over her own husband.

Some have suggested that women can never open their mouths in church. But if this is the case, then why does God give women speaking gifts, like the gift of prophecy, and why does the Scripture say,

(1 Cor 11:5 KJV) But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.

I think that the point in 1Timothy is to encourage women not to interrupt in church, but to listen, just as would be the case for everyone.

As to authority, at the very least, a woman needs to be careful that she doesn’t “usurp” her husband. At the very most, it might mean that a woman shouldn’t be in charge of a group of men in the church.

What about the Children’s Ministry?

Debbie Campbell is a wonderful gal and has been asked by me to oversee our Children’s Ministry, which from time to time includes men who teach or lead worship. Is this improper? I don’t think so. Debbie is still accountable to myself as the pastor, and in an indirect way, all those in the Children’s Ministry can consider themselves at some point under the leadership of the pastor, though it is indirect.

Should there be women Senior Pastors?

Personally, I’m not comfortable in going there. I’m not convinced that this isn’t crossing the line.

God uses women
I have heard it suggested that God used Deborah because there were no men available to step up to the plate.

That may indeed be the case, but either way, God uses women.

When the priests rediscovered God’s word during the reign of King Josiah (2Ki. 22), the king was very disturbed by the things he was reading in the scriptures. He sent a delegation, including the high priest, to go and “inquire” of God whether He was going to wipe out the nation or not.

How did they “inquire of the Lord”? They went to a prophetess, Huldah (2Ki. 22:14).

Was this because there were no men who could speak for the Lord? That’s possible, but however you want to look at it, God used a woman.

Keep in mind as you read about Deborah, you will not find a single negative comment about her. You will not find a word stating, “Gosh, it would have been nice if a man had been judging Israel, but we’ll take whatever we can get”.

:5 And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel …came up to her for judgment.

between Ramah and Bethel – see map

for judgment – as a true “judge” of Israel, this woman was being used to by God to turn the people back to the Lord.

:6 called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedeshnaphtali …Go and draw toward mount Tabor

Kedeshnaphtali – the city of Kedesh in the tribe of Naphtali. See map

mount Tabor – a mountain in the northern area where the Canaanites were causing problems. See map

:7 And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin's army

Apparently the major victory would take place near the river Kishon, in the vicinity of the city of Megiddo (Judg. 5:19-21). Part of the victory seems to be the flooding of the river that caused the chariots to be useless in the fight.

:8 And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go.

In a way, this could seem kind of admirable of Barak. He recognizes that God is using Deborah, and perhaps he wants to be as clued in to God’s leading as possible. Some have suggested that it is almost admirable of Barak because the ancients would tend to take the things most dear to them to the battlefield as a way of encouraging themselves to fight bravely.

But there is a problem here as well, and Barak’s limitations are going to affect his life.

Barak is putting limitations on what God can do. He just can’t see how God can work unless Deborah is present.

Lesson

Be careful of over-dependence upon people

It’s kind of interesting that the story we’re looking at is about a man who was too dependent upon a woman.
Sometimes this can happen inside a marriage, where a man is not willing to be the head of the home. He becomes so dependent upon his wife that he is unable to think for himself or make a decision by himself.
I see it in the church at times when we can get the idea that unless a certain person shows up, man or woman, that God certainly can’t work.
I’ve seen it in our church at various times during our history where I thought that unless certain individuals came to the Bible Study, that our planned afterglow wouldn’t be very good, because only these certain people seemed to hear from the Lord.

:9 the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman

It seems pretty clear that Deborah is saying that because Barak was being dependant upon her, a woman, that the honor of the battle wouldn’t go to him, but to a woman.

Lesson

Don’t give your rewards away.

God has work to do. Sometimes He will tap you on the shoulder and ask you to step up.
When I begin to make excuses, God will still get the work done, but He may do it through another and I may lose out on having received all that God wants for me.
Moses – he made excuses as to why God couldn’t use him. He thought that he wasn’t eloquent enough with his speech. God dickered back and forth with Moses for awhile, but there came a point where God simply said in frustration, “Okay, then I’ll use your brother Aaron!”
Esther – she was a little reluctant when she first found out about the plot by Haman to have all the Jews in the Persian empire be destroyed. But her uncle Mordecai said to her –
(Est 4:14 KJV) For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

God will use someone else if He has to. But why would you not want to see what God could do through you?

Esther stood up and took on the challenge.

:10 And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh

Kedesh – possibly the same as Barak’s home town (vs. 6). see map

:11 Now Heber the Kenite…pitched his tent unto the plain of Zaanaim

Zaanaim – see map

Heber the Kenite – we saw last week that the majority of these people, relatives of Moses’ father-in-law, had settled in the south inside Judah (Judg 1:16). But Heber was an exception, and he had settled in the north. We’ll see the importance of Heber in a moment.

:14 And Deborah said unto Barak, Up …

God is using Deborah to issue the command to “march”.

:15 And the LORD discomfited Sisera, and all his chariots, and all his host,

discomfitedhamam – to move noisily, confuse, make a noise, discomfit, break, consume, crush, destroy, trouble, vex; “routed” (NIV, NAS)

It has been suggested that there was more than just Barak’s people fighting in this battle. There are hints that supernatural elements were at work as well –

(Judg 5:20 KJV) They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera.

:16 But Barak pursued after the chariots, and after the host, unto Harosheth of the Gentiles

Barak and his army pursued the majority of the Canaanite troops toward the northwest.

:17 Howbeit Sisera fled away on his feet to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite

While his army went northwest, Sisera fled northeast and ended up in the Kenite community.

:18 she covered him with a mantle.

mantle[email protected] – rug, coverlet, thick coverlet

:19 she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him.

She’s trying to put him to sleep. Comfortable bed, nice glass of warm milk … zzzzzzz

:21 Then Jael Heber's wife took a nail of the tent … he died

a nailyathed – pin, stake, peg, nail. Probably something similar to a tent stake today.

Keep in mind, what Jael is doing is really equivalent to murder. Her husband and their people were “allies” of Sisera. She should have been protecting him. But she chose to do what God had been leading her to do, and she killed Sisera instead of protecting him.

God had again used a woman.

Illustration

WOMEN'S BRAINS COST LESS

The patient’s family gathered to hear what the specialists had to say. “Things don’t look good. The only chance is a brain transplant. This is an experimental procedure. It might work, but the bad news is that brains are very expensive, and you will have to pay the costs yourselves.” “Well, how much does a brain cost?” asked the relatives. “For a male brain, $500,000. For a female brain, $200,000.” Some of the younger male relatives tried to look shocked, but all the men nodded in understanding, and a few actually smirked. Then the patient’s daughter asked, “Why the difference in price between male brains and female brains?” “A standard pricing practice,” said the head of the team, “women’s brains have to be marked down because they are used.”

:22 And, behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him

At some point, Barak has finished fighting with Sisera’s army, and turns to pursue the general himself.

:23 So God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan before the children of Israel.

Lesson

God gets the credit

Jesus said,
(Mat 5:14-16 KJV) Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. {15} Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. {16} Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
God’s desire is that we learn to do things in such a way so that God is the one who gets the credit in the end.

Map

Judges 5 – Deborah’s song

:1 Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying,

This is a “victory song” written to commemorate the events of this victory.

:2 Praise ye the LORD for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves.

Lesson

Victory came with willingness

God was able to work in this situation because the people had been willing to do something. They had been willing to join in the battle.

:4 LORD, when thou wentest out of Seir, when thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, and the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water.

It has been suggested that part of the victory that day came as a result of the weather. It has been suggested that Deborah is describing God contributing to the victory by sending a storm from the southeast, the land of Edom.

:6 In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the travellers walked through byways.

Shamgar – the previous judge (Judg. 3:31), whom Josephus says only was around for a year.

Deborah is describing a sad condition in the nation – one where people were afraid of travelling on the regular roads, afraid to take an airplane across the country, etc.

:7 they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel.

God used an “ordinary” “mother”.

Illustration

Mom and Dad were watching TV when Mom said, “I’m tired, and it’s getting late. I think I’ll go to bed.” She went to the kitchen to make sandwiches for the next day’s lunches, rinsed out the popcorn bowls, took meat out of the freezer for supper the following evening, checked the cereal box levels, filled the sugar container, put spoons and bowls on the table and started the coffee pot for brewing the next morning. She then put some wet clothes into the dryer, put a load of clothes into the wash, ironed a shirt and secured a loose button. She picked up the newspapers strewn on the floor, picked up the game pieces left on the table and put the telephone book back into the drawer. She watered the plants, emptied a wastebasket and hung up a towel to dry. She yawned and stretched and headed for the bedroom. She stopped by the desk and wrote a note to the teacher, counted out some cash for the field trip, and pulled a textbook out from hiding under the chair. She signed a birthday card for a friend, addressed and stamped the envelope and wrote a quick note for the grocery store. She put both near her purse. Mom then creamed her face, put on moisturizer, brushed and flossed her teeth and trimmed her nails. Hubby called, “I thought you were going to bed.” “I’m on my way,” she said. She put some water into the dog’s dish and put the cat outside, then made sure the doors were locked. She looked in on each of the kids and turned out a bedside lamp, hung up a shirt, threw some dirty socks in the hamper, and had a brief conversation with the one up still doing homework. In her own room, she set the alarm, laid out clothing for the next day, straightened up the shoe rack. She added three things to her list of things to do for tomorrow. About that time, the hubby turned off the TV and announced to no one in particular “I’m going to bed,” and he did.

:8 They chose new gods; then was war in the gates

One of the reasons for the condition of the nation was as a result of their own idolatry.

:9 My heart is toward the governors of Israel, that offered themselves willingly

Deborah is thankful for the leaders that decided willingly to help in the battle.

:10 Speak, ye that ride on white asses, ye that sit in judgment, and walk by the way.

white asses – Those which are purely white are highly prized, and being costly, are possessed only by the wealthy and great.

:11 They that are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water …

Better …

(NLT) Listen to the village musicians gathered at the watering holes. They recount the righteous victories of the LORD, and the victories of his villagers in Israel. Then the people of the LORD marched down to the city gates.

:12 lead thy captivity captive

Telling Barak to take his Canaanite prisoners of war and parade them in front of the people.

:14-15 Out of Ephraim … Benjamin …

Deborah lists all the various groups that took place in the battle: Ephraim, Benjamin, Machir, Zebulun, Issachar.

:16 …For the divisions of Reuben there were great searchings of heart.

(Judg 5:15-16 NLT) …But in the tribe of Reuben there was great indecision. {16} Why did you sit at home among the sheepfolds-- to hear the shepherds whistle for their flocks? In the tribe of Reuben there was great indecision.

At first, the tribe of Rueben seemed interested in helping, but later decided that they would rather tend to their flocks than join the battle.

:17 Gilead abode beyond Jordan: and why did Dan remain in ships? Asher continued on the sea shore, and abode in his breaches.

Gilead was the area to the northeast of the Sea of Galilee, the tribes of Gad and half of Manasseh. As a region, they decided to stay home. The tribes of Dan and Asher stayed at home as well.

:18 Zebulun and Naphtali were a people that jeoparded their lives unto the death in the high places of the field.

Zebulun and Naphtali were among the tribes that joined in the battle. They risked their lives.

:19 The kings came and fought, then fought the kings of Canaan in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo; they took no gain of money.

Jabin had help from other Canaanite kings as well. The Israelite people who fought didn’t do it to become wealthy, they did it because they needed to.

:20 They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera.

As mentioned before, this seems to hint that there was something supernatural going on as well.

:21 The river of Kishon swept them away, that ancient river, the river Kishon.

It’s possible that Deborah is describing the flooding of the river, which would have rendered the chariots useless in the battle.

:23 Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the LORD, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty.

Meroz – this was a village located in the north, in the area of Isaachar and Naphtali, located about three miles west of Hazor, the city of king Jabin.

Lesson

The sin of doing nothing.

(James 4:17 KJV)  Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
Illustration
An incident from the American Revolution illustrates what tragedy can result from procrastination. It is reported that Colonel Rahl, commander of the British troops at Trenton, New Jersey, was playing cards when a courier brought an urgent message stating that General George Washington was crossing the Delaware River. Rahl put the letter in his pocket and didn’t bother to read it until the game finished. Then, realizing the seriousness of the situation, he hurriedly tried to rally his men to meet the coming attack, but his procrastination was his undoing. He and many of his men were killed, and the rest of the regiment were captured.
Illustration
There is an ancient story about three demons who were arguing over the best way to destroy the Christian mission in the world. The first demon says, “Let’s tell all the Christians there is no heaven. Take away the reward incentive and the mission will collapse.” The second demon says, “Let’s tell all the Christians there is no hell. Take away the fear of punishment and the mission will collapse.” The third demon says, “There is one better way. Let’s tell all the Christians that there is no hurry” and all three immediately say, “That’s it! All we have to do is tell them there’s no hurry and the whole Christian enterprise will collapse.”

:24 Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent.

Jael was blessed because she allowed herself to be used by the Lord.

I think it’s interesting that Jael was used by the Lord and she didn’t even have to leave her house to obey. God brought Sisera to her.

:25 she brought forth butter in a lordly dish.

butterchem’ah – curd, butter; some translations have “yogurt”.

:26 she smote off his head

(NAS) she smashed his head

(NIVUS) she crushed his head

:28-30 The mother of Sisera looked out at a window …

Deborah now gives a picture of what general Sisera’s mom might be thinking at that moment …

(Judg 5:28-30 NLT) "From the window Sisera's mother looked out. Through the window she watched for his return, saying, 'Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why don't we hear the sound of chariot wheels?' {29} A reply comes from her wise women, and she repeats these words to herself: {30} 'They are dividing the captured goods they found-- a woman or two for every man. There are gorgeous robes for Sisera, and colorful, beautifully embroidered robes for me.'

Lesson

Sometimes our imaginations can be terribly wrong.

How sad for this woman to think that her son was at that moment enjoying the spoils of war, when in reality, he lay dead as a doornail (or a tent peg) at the feet of a woman.
Wishful thinking doesn’t make it true.
It is a dangerous thing to get so caught up in your fantasy world that you actually start believing in something that you are only dreaming of.
We need to be careful that what we call “truth” is based in reality.

:31 And the land had rest forty years.

The assumption is that Deborah performed the role of “judge” during these forty years.

Judges 6 - Gideon’s call

:1-6 Israel falls away – Midian rules

:1 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years.

Another cycle begins of Israel falling away. We’re going to see that part of the idolatry they’re caught in is again the Baals and the Ashtoreth.

This time, it only takes seven years for Israel to wake up and ask God for help.

Illustration

The Five Chapter Book:

Chapter One: A man was walking down the street. He fell into a hole. He groped his way in the darkness. After a long time, he made his way out of the hole.
Chapter Two: A man was walking down the same street. He pretended not to see the hole. He fell in. After a long time, he made his way out of the hole.
Chapter Three: A man was walking down the same street. He sees the hole. He falls in. He says it's not his fault. After a long time, he made his way out of the hole.
Chapter Four: A man walks down the same street. He sees the hole. He knows it's there. He tries to walk around it. He falls in. He knows it's his fault. He quickly gets out.
Chapter Five: A man takes another street.

:2 the children of Israel made them the dens which are in the mountains, and caves

Just as the Taliban are holing up in the mountains and caves of Afghanistan, the Israelites did the same during this period.

:4 And they encamped against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth

Every time the Israelites would harvest their crops, the Midianites would come in and take everything. Very similar to the grasshoppers and the ants in “A Bugs Life”.

:5 they came as grasshoppers for multitude

We find out later when Gideon has begun to fight the Midianites, that they had an army of 135,000 men. Even though Israel had an army of 600,000 men when they had made it to the Promised Land, things had changed quite a bit. The last battle with Barak and Sisera had taken place with Barak having an army of 10,000.

:7-10 God uses a prophet

:10 And I said unto you, I am the LORD your God; fear not the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but ye have not obeyed my voice.

God uses this prophet to tell the people clearly that the reason they are in a mess is because they have gone into idolatry again.

:11-24 Gideon and the Angel

:11 And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite

Ophrah – was this near the land of “Winfrey”? J

The area of Gideon’s homeland is all in the same area as that of Barak’s battle with Sisera (Judg. 4), up in the north, about 15 miles southwest of the Sea of Galilee.

Abiezrite – a descendant from Abiezer, one of the descendants of Manasseh.

:11 Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites.

The process of “threshing” was the removing of the chaff from the kernels of wheat. Under normal circumstances, grain was “threshed” out on a hilltop, on a wide, open place. Normally, oxen would pull sledges through the stalks of wheat, then the grain was tossed into the air to allow the wind to blow the chaff away.

The fact that Gideon is threshing his wheat in a winepress shows two things:

He’s scared of the Midianites, so he’s doing his threshing in a place where he hopes he won’t be found. The Midianites won’t be looking for food at winepresses during the wheat harvest.
Secondly, Gideon’s harvest must be unusually small. A winepress was not a large place.

:12 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him

the angel of the LORD – this is a special personage in the Old Testament. He appeared to Abraham (Gen. 22), to Moses (Ex. 3), and here to Gideon. We believe this is none other than an appearance of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. This is a “theophany”, Jesus before He took on human flesh in Bethlehem.

:12 The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.

valourchayil – strength, might, efficiency, wealth, army

An interesting thing to say to Gideon, since you’ll see that he was also quite afraid at times.

I have this notion that God must think we can handle a lot more than we give ourselves credit for.

:13 Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us?

Lesson

Why?

It’s a question we all ask from time to time. It’s okay to ask it.

Lesson

We ought to know better

I find it interesting to think that Gideon should really know better. After all, the answer to Gideon’s question has already been clearly given by the prophet (Judg. 6:10).
The people had disobeyed the Lord and had gone into idolatry.
And to make things worse, we’re going to see that there was idolatry right in Gideon’s own family. It’s not like Gideon is unaware that people are worshipping Baal or Ashtoreth. He knows better.
Sometimes we ask good questions, but in reality, if we’d just sit down and think about it, we already know the answer.

:14 Go in this thy might

Lesson

Use the strength you have

You may not feel like you have enough strength for the things you face, but I think God must think you do.
The Bible says that God won’t allow us to face something that we can’t handle with His help –

(1 Cor 10:13 KJV) There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

All you can do is take a step forward. Go as far as you can.

:15 I am the least in my father's house.

Lesson

God uses inadequate people.

There may be times when you begin to get this hint that God wants you to do something. And for some of us, our immediate reaction is that we couldn’t possibly to that thing because we aren’t anything special …
Moses felt extremely inadequate –
(Exo 3:11 KJV) And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?
(Exo 4:10 KJV) And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.
Saul started off with this humble attitude –
(1 Sam 9:21 KJV) And Saul answered and said, Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou so to me?
Isaiah –
(Isa 6:5 KJV) Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
Jeremiah –
(Jer 1:6 KJV) Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.
It may not be a bad thing that you may at times feel inadequate. It actually may be to your advantage. Someone who feels inadequate will tend to run to the Lord and depend upon His help much more than the person who feels like they can handle anything.

:16 And the LORD said unto him

Notice how Gideon is talking to “the angel of the Lord” one moment, and now it simply refers to this person as “the LORD” (or, Yahweh). This is part of why we believe that this person is God, making an appearance. One moment he is called an “angel”, which means “messenger”. The next moment this individual is called “Yahweh” Himself.

:17 show me a sign that thou talkest with me.

Gideon isn’t so sure about this whole thing. He wants to know that this is really a God thing.

Some have suggested that Gideon will be shown a “sign” in verse 21, but I don’t think this is the “sign” that Gideon is asking for here. The “sign” will come in verses 36-40, the “fleece”. We’ll talk more at the end about this.

:18 Depart not hence, I pray thee, until I come unto thee, and bring forth my present

Gideon wants to offer a sacrifice to this person in front of him.

:21 there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the LORD departed out of his sight.

For me, if I had asked God for a “sign”, and then I see this guy start a fire with a stick and then disappear, I’d be pretty satisfied. But this isn’t what Gideon asked for. He’s not impressed or convinced yet.

:24 Then Gideon built an altar there unto the LORD, and called it Jehovahshalom

Jehovahshalom – “Jehovah is peace”

:25-27 Gideon tears down the idols

:25 Take thy father's young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old

Apparently, Gideon’s father had at least two bulls. For some reason, the “first” bull was unacceptable. It might be that God didn’t want Gideon to sacrifice the “main” bull. Another suggestion was that the “first bull” had already been set aside to be sacrificed to Baal.

:25 throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it:

grove‘asherah –; a Babylonian (Astarte)-Canaanite goddess (of fortune and happiness), the supposed consort of Baal, her images; the goddess, goddesses; her images; sacred trees or poles set up near an altar

Lesson

Tear down the altars

At some point when you make a decision to follow the Lord, He’s going to ask you to remove some of the junk in your life.
We call this “repentance”.

:27 because he feared his father's household, and the men of the city, that he could not do it by day, that he did it by night.

It has been suggested that if Gideon and these ten men tried to tear down Baal’s altar during the day, that the men of the city would have prevented it.

Lesson

God even uses people who are afraid.

We often talk about how we ought to trust the Lord and not be afraid.
But the truth is, God uses people who are scared to death.
Joshua – Over and over again, God said to Joshua …

(Josh 1:7 KJV) Only be thou strong and very courageous …

But God doesn’t want you to stay in a state of fear.
There will come a day when God will ask you to put your fears aside and serve Him.

With Gideon, God will have him tell the army that if they are afraid, they should go home. And two thirds of Gideon’s army will leave.

:28-32 Gideon is defended by his dad

:30 Then the men of the city said unto Joash, Bring out thy son, that he may die: because he hath cast down the altar of Baal, and because he hath cut down the grove that was by it.

Lesson

Some people don’t like you following God

Realize that some people won’t like the changes God is making in your life. Even though it was Gideon’s father’s altar, these people are the ones that are offended. Why should they care? If anyone should be offended, it should be Joash.

:31 if he be a god, let him plead for himself, because one hath cast down his altar.

Some wisdom from Gideon’s dad. Apparently the truth of what Gideon has done has affected his dad, even though Gideon has torn down his altar.

(1 Ki 18:27 KJV) And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.

:32 Therefore on that day he called him Jerubbaal

Jerubbaal[email protected]‘al – “let Baal contend”

:33-35 Gideon gathers an army

:33 pitched in the valley of Jezreel.

This is the same area where Barak and Sisera fought, just southeast of the Sea of Galilee. This is the area near the city of “Megiddo”.

:34 But the spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon

Earlier, Gideon had been told by the Lord, “Go in this thy might”.

But now, as the time for action has come, God puts His Spirit on Gideon.

Lesson

You step, God fills

I think this is often the case.
We may face a particular challenge and feel pretty inadequate for the job.
But, out of obedience to God, we take a step in our “own strength”.
And then the Holy Spirit comes in to pick us up and take us through the event.
For some of us, we may be waiting for some kind of energy bolt from heaven to come cursing through our bodies before we will get up out of our Lazy Boy recliner. But I think we will find that if we will get up and start taking a step, God will meet us with His strength.

:34 and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him.

One of the reasons for blowing a trumpet was to gather people together to form an army.

When Gideon blows the trumpet, his particular clan, Abiezer decides to follow him.

Lesson

Some people will be affected by your stand.

Even though some of the people were offended by Gideon tearing down the altar of Baal, some people were deeply impressed, enough to follow him into battle.
It was the members of his own family, the people closest to him that were affected most.
If Jesus has truly changed your life, the people closest to you will know it best.

:35 And he sent messengers …

After it was all said and done, Gideon had gathered an army of 32,000 men (Judg. 7:3). They would be facing an army of 135,000 Midianites (Judg. 8:10)

:36-40 Gideon’s fleece

:36 If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand,

It’s possible that when Gideon sees that his army is dwarfed by the Midianites, he’s a little unsure that he heard God correctly.

:39 let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew.

Gideon might have been thinking that perhaps there had been dew on everything, but that the ground had simply dried quicker than the fleece. So he asks God to reverse the sign.

God obliges.

:40 And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.

Lesson

All about fleeces

Confirmation
One of the important elements of this “fleece” is that it was only meant to confirm what God had already told Gideon.

God didn’t use this “fleece” to give Gideon a message.  The message was already there.  God had already told Gideon that He wanted to use him.  The fleece only confirmed what God already had said.

Other “fleeces”
Eleazar finding a bride for Isaac (Gen. 24)
Jonathan and his armor-bearer deciding to take on the Philistines (1Sam. 14)
King Ahaz is asked by Isaiah to ask God for a sign, and he refuses to ask for a sign saying he doesn’t want to “tempt” God (Isa 7:12). But Ahaz is rebuked because God was offering to give him a sign.
There is a sense in which God wants us to “prove” Him. He wants us to know how wonderful He is. David wrote,

(Psa 34:8 KJV) O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

The Holy Spirit and fleeces
I have heard it said that Gideon and his fleece was a thing of the Old Testament. I have heard it taught that now that we have the Holy Spirit, we don’t need to be testing God by asking for a “fleece”.

But I would encourage you to notice that at the point that Gideon is asking for a fleece, he too has had the Holy Spirit come “upon” him (6:34).

Gideon’s reluctance of asking for the fleece.
He was afraid of testing God’s patience.  This is good.
At some point you need to get up and get moving. Though I believe God may from time to time give us these extra blessings to show us that He’s leading us, don’t expect God to give you twenty-five fleeces, just to be sure.

Illustration

The story goes that a big storm was on the horizon, and the police cars went through the small farming community to warn the citizens to head for high ground. Farmer Bill heard the warning, but decided that he was just going to stay put and trust God. When the rain began to fall, and the water began to rise, the firemen came by in a boat, offering to evacuate Farmer Bill, but he said, “No, I’m going to stay put and trust God.” Finally, as Bill had to climb out onto his roof to get away from the raging flood, a helicopter came by offering assistance, but Farmer Bill stayed put. When Bill got to heaven, he was kind of ticked off at God. He said to God, “How come you didn’t rescue me from the flood when I trusted you!” God gently replied, “Bill, I sent a police car, a rescue boat, and a helicopter. What did you expect?”

Fleeces or divining
(Deu 18:10 KJV) There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,

The ancient pagan practice of “divination” was about looking for “signs” from God. It might be the spotting of an eagle flying overhead, or the shape of a sacrificial animal’s liver that was used to determine which enemy an army was to attack next. It’s the practice of using tea leaves and tarot cards to determine what choices you make.

Sometimes the practice of laying out a “fleece” gets awfully close to the practice of divination.

The “fleece” only confirmed what God had already told Gideon.
Letting God’s Word confirm things
The Psalmist wrote,

(Psa 119:105 KJV)  Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

When you begin to sense that God is leading you, the FIRST place you need to go is to God’s Word.  Does this thing agree with what I know that God has already told me?
Having a daily routine of reading through the Scriptures – you will find additional confirmations in God’s Word, confirming what you think God is saying to you.