1. A MAN WILLING TO OBEY GOD
a. When the Midianites and the Amalekites found out that Gideon had destroyed the altar of Baal and that he was about to form an army, what did they do? Judges 6:33.
b. What did Gideon do, with the help of the Lord, to give battle to the invaders? Judges 6:34, 35.
c. What instruction from the Lord reduced Gideon’s army to three hundred men? Judges 7:2–7.
“[Gideon] was filled with astonishment at the declaration that his army was too large. But the Lord saw the pride and unbelief existing in the hearts of His people. . . . Many were filled with fear when they saw the multitudes of the Midianites. Yet, had Israel triumphed, those very ones would have taken the glory for themselves instead of ascribing the victory to God.”—Ibid., p.549.
2. NO PLACE FOR THE INDOLENT AND SELF-INDULGENT
a. What lesson can we learn from the way the 32,000 men were tested? Mark 8:34. What are some important qualities we should look for in selecting men and women for the gospel work today? Romans 12:11.
“The Lord has no place in His work for the indolent and self-indulgent. The men of His choice were the few who would not permit their own wants to delay them in the discharge of duty. The three hundred chosen men not only possessed courage and self-control, but they were men of faith. They had not defiled themselves with idolatry. God could direct them, and through them He could work deliverance for Israel. Success does not depend upon numbers. God can deliver by few as well as by many. He is honored not so much by the great numbers as by the character of those who serve Him.”—Ibid., pp.549, 550.
“We want missionaries who are missionaries in the fullest sense of the word, who will put aside selfish considerations, and let the cause of God come first; and who, working with an eye single to His glory, will keep themselves as minutemen, ready to go where He bids, and to work in any capacity to spread the knowledge of the truth.”—Gospel Workers, p. 459.
b. In view of the responsibility given to parents to train their children in habits of usefulness (Proverbs 22:6), what question, echoed in the words uttered to the kind of Judah, will parents have to answer? Jeremiah 13:20 (last part).
“Parents cannot commit a greater sin than to neglect their God-given responsibilities in leaving their children with nothing to do; for these children will soon learn to love idleness and grow up to be shiftless, useless men and women.”—Child Guidance, p. 122.
“God . . . is displeased with those who are too careless or too indolent to become efficient, well-informed workers. The Lord bids us love Him with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and with all the mind. This lays upon us the obligation of developing the intellect to its fullest capacity, that with all the mind we may know and love our Creator.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 333.
3. THE SWORD OF GIDEON
a. After Gideon had spent the night in fear of the imminent encounter with the Midianites and Amalekites, what did the Lord say to him in order to encourage him? Judges 7:9–11.
b. What did Gideon overhear from two enemy soldiers, and what was Gideon’s response? Judges 7:13–15.
“Gideon recognized the voice of God speaking to him through those Midianitish strangers. Returning to the few men under his command, he said, ‘Arise; for the Lord hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian’ (Judges 7:15).”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 550.
c. Describe the plan of attack that was suggested to him by divine revelation. Judges 7:16–20. What did the panic-stricken host do as they were put in confusion by this plan? Judges 7:21, 22.
“By divine direction a plan of attack was suggested to [Gideon], which he immediately set out to execute. The three hundred men were divided into three companies. To every man were given a trumpet and a torch concealed in an earthen pitcher. The men were stationed in such a manner as to approach the Midianite camp from different directions. In the dead of night, at a signal from Gideon’s war horn, the three companies sounded their trumpets; then, breaking their pitchers and displaying the blazing torches, they rushed upon the enemy with the terrible war cry, ‘The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon’ (Judges 7:20).
“The sleeping army was suddenly aroused. Upon every side was seen the light of the flaming torches. In every direction was heard the sound of trumpets, with the cry of the assailants. Believing themselves at the mercy of an overwhelming force, the Midianites were panic-stricken. With wild cries of alarm they fled for life, and, mistaking their own companions for enemies, they slew one another. ”—Ibid., pp.550–553.
4. GIDEON BEFORE AN INTERNAL CONFLICT
a. What did thousands of men from the tribes of Israel do as soon as the call of Gideon reached them? Judges 7:23. What did the men of Ephraim do when Gideon called them? Judges 7:24, 25.
b. Why did the Ephraimites become angry? How did Gideon’s modest and wise answer soothe the unjustified anger of the men of Ephraim? Judges 8:1–3.
“The spirit of jealousy might easily have been fanned into a quarrel that would have caused strife and bloodshed; but Gideon’s modest answer soothed the anger of the men of Ephraim, and they returned in peace to their homes. Firm and uncompromising where principle was concerned, and in war a “mighty man of valor,” Gideon displayed also a spirit of courtesy that is rarely witnessed.”—Ibid., p.555.
c. What must a person learn before he or she can become a successful soul winner? Proverbs 15:1, 33; 25:15; Colossians 4:6; 1 Peter 3:15.
“The leader whom God chose to overthrow the Midianites occupied no prominent position in Israel. He was not a ruler, a priest, or a Levite. He thought himself the least in his father’s house. But God saw in him a man of courage and integrity. He was distrustful of himself and willing to follow the guidance of the Lord. God does not always choose for His work men of the greatest talents, but He selects those whom He can best use. . . .The Lord can work most effectually through those who are most sensible of their own insufficiency, and who will rely upon Him as their leader and source of strength. He will make them strong by uniting their weakness to His might, and wise by connecting their ignorance with His wisdom.
“If they would cherish true humility, the Lord could do much more for His people; but there are few who can be trusted with any large measure of responsibility or success without becoming self-confident and forgetful of their dependence upon God. This is why, in choosing the instruments for His work, the Lord passes by those whom the world honors as great, talented, and brilliant. They are too often proud and self-sufficient. They feel competent to act without counsel from God.” —Ibid., pp.553, 554.
5. THE MIND OF GIDEON FINALLY CONFUSED
a. After the armies of Israel had gained a signal victory over the Midianites and Amalekites, how did Satan work through the mind of Gideon to lead the people of Israel astray? Judges 8:24, 27.
“Because [Gideon] had been commanded to offer sacrifice upon the rock where the Angel appeared to him, Gideon concluded that he had been appointed to officiate as a priest. Without waiting for the divine sanction, he determined to provide a suitable place, and to institute a system of worship similar to that carried on at the tabernacle. . . . His course proved a snare to himself and his family, as well as to Israel. The unauthorized worship led many of the people finally to forsake the Lord altogether, to serve idols. After Gideon’s death great numbers, among whom were his own family, joined in this apostasy. The people were led away from God by the very man who had once overthrown their idolatry.
“There are few who realize how far-reaching is the influence of their words and acts. How often the errors of parents produce the most disastrous effects upon their children and children’s children, long after the actors themselves have been laid in the grave. Everyone is exerting an influence upon others, and will be held accountable for the result of that influence. Words and actions have a telling power, and the long hereafter will show the effect of our life here. The impression made by our words and deeds will surely react upon ourselves in blessing or in cursing.”—Ibid., pp.555, 556.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why was Gideon surprised when the Lord told him to reduce his army?
2. Under the existing circumstances, why was such a step necessary?
3. What did the Lord say to Gideon in the early hours before dawn ?
4. What enabled Gideon to give such a wise answer to soothe the unjustified anger of the Ephraimites?
5. What must a person learn before he or she can become a successful soul winner?