Today’s reading begins with the oppression of Israel by Midian and concludes with the death of Gideon.
In the continuing saga of the book of Judges comes the story of one of the more famous of the judges, Gideon. Gideon is a portrait in contrasts. At one moment timid, the next valiant. Gideon sought to hide his daily farming activities from the Midianites, but at the command of the LORD struck down the idols of the Midianites–in the middle of the night to escape notice.
He was willing to take men into battle against the Midianites, but first wanted a sign from God. The sign that he asked of God was this: Gideon would lay a piece of fleece on the threshing floor. If it was truly God who was speaking to him to go out to battle, then he asked that God would make dew fall on the fleece but leave the threshing floor completely dry. God did as he asked and the fleece was so wet with dew that when Gideon squeezed out the fleece it filled an entire bowl. Trusting as he was, Gideon on the next night asked for another sign from God: let the ground be wet with dew but the fleece be completely dry. God was patient with Gideon’s timidity and complied with his request for another sign.
After having received word from the LORD and two signs, Gideon set out to battle against the Midianites. Before going into battle, however, Gideon would need fighting men. God would provide fighting men, but this time, God told Gideon that He would be the one to choose who the men would be who would fight. The LORD brought the men willing to go into battle to the spring of Harod. God told Gideon that only the men who lapped water with their tongue would be the men who would fight for Israel. After performing this test, the LORD had narrowed down the number of men fighting to 300.
The 300 fighting men that the LORD had provided to Gideon went into the camp of Midian in the middle of the night and while everyone in the camp was sleeping blew loudly on trumpets and created such a commotion that the warriors of Midian began attacking each other and eventually fled.
Once again, the LORD had provided a judge to fight for Israel. It would not be long, however, until Israel once again walked away from the LORD.