Gideon, also called Jerubbaal, was one of the judges of Israel, best known for delivering Israel from the oppression of the Midianites. His life and exploits are recorded in Judges 6: 11-8: 35. The Apostle mentions him as one of the heroes of faith (Hebrews 11: 32).
Because of Israel’s unfaithfulness, the Lord delivered them into the hands of the Midianites for seven years (Judges 6: 1). The Midianites, Amalekites and other nomadic tribes repeatedly raided the country and destroyed the crops and animals until the Israelites cried unto the Lord.
The Lord Calls Gideon
The Lord sent His angel to young Gideon, saying, “The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour”; and he explained to him that the Lord had chosen him to deliver His people. The humble Gideon protested, saying that his family was poor and that he was the least in his family. But the angel replied, “Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.”
The Lord then instructed Gideon to destroy the idols upon his father’s property and to overthrow the altar of Baal; and to build instead an altar to the Lord and offer sacrifices. When the villagers called for his death, his father wisely responded that if Baal was a mighty god, he could defend himself. While the Midianites were gathering, Gideon sent messengers to the various tribes requesting volunteers to battle the invaders – 32,000 responded. Meantime, Gideon desired fresh evidences from the Lord that he was doing the Divine will. The Lord miraculously granted him his two requests.
Gideon and the Three Hundred
The Midianites were 135,000 strong, but the Lord told Gideon that his army was too large, lest the victory would not be attributed to the Lord. When the fearful were told they could go home, 22,000 responded. When the Lord said that there were still too many, He had Gideon bring the 10,000 down to the spring to drink. The Lord indicated that those who bent over and lapped the water from their hands as a dog laps from his tongue would be chosen – only three hundred, although the remaining 9,700 would later join in the pursuit of the enemy.
The three hundred, divided into three companies, surrounded the Midianites. Besides their usual armor, sword, etc., each had in his left hand a pitcher of earthenware with a lamp in it, and in his other hand a ram’s horn trumpet. At the set time they broke their pitchers to let the light shine out, and shouted, “The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon,” and blew in the ram’s horns. The Midianites awoke, and imagining themselves surrounded by a great host, fought each other and fled in confusion. Gideon and his three hundred pursued, aided by the 9,700. They gained a great victory, and the Lord was recognized as their Deliverer.
A Great Prophecy
On a larger and grander scale Gideon and his three hundred picture our Lord and His Church respectively. Isaiah 9: 4 reads, “For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.” This passage points to the great victory that our Lord and His Church will gain over Satan. It will be “as in the day of Midian,” when Gideon and his three hundred routed the hosts of Midian in a short time (Judges 7: 15-22). So in the end of this Age, God will grant the great victory for truth and righteousness over error and sin, through the Time of Trouble, eventuating in the full binding of Satan and his power to deceive, and the release of the oppressed.
God’s Watchcare over His People
Gideon’s experiences show God’s marvelous watchcare over His true people amid all the circumstances of life, including the difficult and untoward experiences. When Gideon at God’s behest rose up against idolatry in his own family home area, God opened the way for him to go ahead boldly and destroy the idol and cut down the grove (Judges 6: 27-32). God took care of the consequences, enabling Gideon also eventually to deliver Israel from the Midianites. Surely God’s people should earnestly seek for His leadings and direction in all of life’s affairs.