1. THE SPIRIT OF GOD AT WORK
a. After Gideon had disposed of his father’s altar to Baal by night, how did the men of the city react the next morning? Judges 6:28–30.
b. How did Gideon’s father respond? Why? Judges 6:31, 32.
“Gideon had told his father, Joash, of the Angel’s visit, and the promise that Israel should be delivered. He also related to him the divine command to destroy the altar of Baal. The Spirit of God moved upon the heart of Joash. He saw that the gods whom he had worshiped had no power even to save themselves from utter destruction and hence they could not protect their worshipers. When the idolatrous multitude clamored for the death of Gideon, Joash fearlessly stood in his defense, and endeavored to show the people how powerless and unworthy of trust or adoration were their gods. [Judges 6:31 quoted.]
“He reminded them that the penalty of death would justly rest upon themselves instead of Gideon, for they had broken the law of God against idolatry.”—The Signs of the Times, June 23, 1881.
2. GOD’S AMAZING PROVIDENCE
a. How did the putting away of idols motivate progress? Judges 6:33–35.
“The whole transaction [of destroying the idols], with the stirring appeals of Gideon, produced a powerful effect upon the people of Ophrah. All thoughts of violence were dismissed; and when, moved by the Spirit of the Lord, Gideon sounded the trumpet of war, they were among the first to gather to him. He then sent messengers throughout his own tribe of Manasseh, and also to Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and all cheerfully obeyed the call.”—The Signs of the Times, June 23, 1881.
b. What can we learn from Gideon’s prayers requesting confirmation from the Lord? What spirit prompted his petitions? Judges 6:36–40.
“Gideon deeply felt his own insufficiency for the great work before him. He dared not place himself at the head of the army without positive evidence that God had called him to this work, and that he would be with him. . . .
“Unbelief suggested that wool naturally absorbs moisture when there is any in the air, and that the test was not decisive. Hence, [Gideon] asked a renewal of the sign, humbly pleading that unbelief might not move the Lord to anger. His request was granted. . . .
“Before honor is humility. The Lord can use most effectually those who are most sensible of their own unworthiness and inefficiency. He will teach them to exercise the courage of faith. He will make them strong by uniting their weakness to His might, wise by connecting their ignorance with His wisdom.
“God will accept the services of all who will work in obedience to His will, who will not for any consideration bring a stain upon the conscience, who will not permit any influence to lead them from the path of duty. . . .
“The teachable and trusting ones, having a right purpose and a pure heart, need not wait for great occasions or for extraordinary abilities before they employ their powers. They should not stand irresolute, questioning, and fearing what the world will say or think of them. We are not to weary ourselves with anxious care, but to go on, quietly performing with faithfulness the work which God assigns us, and leaving the result wholly with Him.”—Ibid.
3. GOD KNOWS THE HEART
a. What law had been established in ancient Israel, revealing God’s compassion for families during times of war? Deuteronomy 20:5–8.
“It had been made a law in Israel that before they went to battle, the following proclamation should be sounded throughout the army: [Deuteronomy 20:5–8 quoted]. What a striking illustration is this of the tender, pitying love of Christ! He who instituted the relations of life and the ties of kindred, made special provision that these be not too widely broken. He would have none go forth to battle unwillingly. This proclamation also sets forth in a forcible manner the influence which may be exerted by one man who is deficient in faith and courage, and further shows the effect of our thoughts and feelings upon our own course of action.”—The Signs of the Times, June 30, 1881.
b. Now that Gideon had been assured of God’s direction in his venture, how did the Lord again amaze him? Why? Judges 7:1, 2. What effect does pride have upon us today?
“Because his numbers were so few compared with those of the enemy, Gideon had refrained from making the usual proclamation [of Deuteronomy 20:5–8]. He 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. Aroused by the stirring appeals of Gideon, they had readily enlisted; but 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 to themselves instead of ascribing the victory to God.
“Gideon obeyed the Lord’s direction, and with a heavy heart he saw twenty-two thousand, or more than two thirds of his entire force, depart for their homes.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 549.
“Pride of heart is a fearful trait of character. ‘Pride goeth before destruction’ (Proverbs 16:18, first part). This is true in the family, the church, and the nation.”—The Faith I Live By, p. 68.
4. A TEST OF CHARACTER
a. After Gideon’s army was reduced to a mere 10,000, what did God tell him to do before going to battle? Why? Judges 7:4, 5.
“The people were led down to the waterside, expecting to make an immediate advance upon the enemy. A few hastily took a little water in the hand and sucked it up as they went on; but nearly all bowed upon their knees, and leisurely drank from the surface of the stream. Those who took of the water in their hands were but three hundred out of ten thousand; yet these were selected; all the rest were permitted to return to their homes.
“By the simplest means character is often tested. Those who in time of peril were intent upon supplying their own wants were not the men to be trusted in an emergency. 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.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 549.
b. How does the actual principle God was teaching likewise apply to us in His church today? Philippians 2:4; 3:13, 14.
“Success does not depend upon strength or numbers. God can deliver by few as well as by many. A large church is not necessarily a strong church. Some of its members may be cherishing selfishness, pride, or unbelief; some may be dishonest, others corrupt in heart and life. All these are a source of weakness to the church. They bring the frown of God upon His people, and the great adversary will work through them to advance his own cause.
“Anciently, those whose worldly interests would draw their hearts from the work of God, were bidden to return to their homes. It were better for the cause of truth today, if those whose attention is absorbed with their own private interests, would separate from the work of God, and give themselves to the things in which their hearts delight. Then they would not, by their wrong example, exert so dangerous an influence upon others.
“God is honored, not so much by the great number, as by the character of those who serve Him.”—The Signs of the Times, June 30, 1881.
5. SOLDIERS OF THE PRINCE OF PEACE
a. What is God’s plan for all enlisted in His spiritual army? 2 Timothy 2:3–5.
“We are not placed in this world merely to care for ourselves, but we are required to aid in the great work of salvation, thus imitating the self-denying, self-sacrificing, useful life of Christ.”—Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 325.
“True Christian character is marked by a singleness of purpose, an indomitable determination, which refuses to yield to worldly influences, which will aim at nothing short of the Bible standard. If men will permit themselves to become discouraged in the service of God, the great adversary will present abundant reasons to turn them from the plain path of duty to one of ease and irresponsibility. Those who can be bribed or seduced, discouraged or terrified, will be of no service in the Christian warfare. Those who set their affections on worldly treasures or worldly honors, will not push the battle against principalities and powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places.
“All who would be soldiers of the cross of Christ, must gird on the armor and prepare for conflict. They should not be intimidated by threats; or terrified by dangers. They must be cautious in peril, yet firm and brave in facing the foe and doing battle for God. The consecration of Christ’s follower must be complete. Father, mother, wife, children, houses, lands, everything, must be held secondary to the work and cause of God. He must be willing to bear patiently, cheerfully, joyfully, whatever in God’s providence he may be called to suffer. His final reward will be to share with Christ the throne of immortal glory.”—The Signs of the Times, June 30, 1881.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How can I appeal to someone in apostasy as Gideon did to Joash?
2. Why was Gideon the one assigned to the task of delivering God’s people?
3. Why did God want the 32,000 to be reduced to 10,000?
4. Explain how the test about how the men drank water can be applied today.
5. What does it mean to be a spiritual soldier for a kingdom not of this world?