Judges 8:1

 

 

The Bible says in Judges 8:1-3, “And the men of Ephraim said unto him, Why hast thou served us thus, that thou calledst us not, when thou wentest to fight with the Midianites? And they did chide with him sharply.[2] And he said unto them, What have I done now in comparison of you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abi-ezer?[3] God hath delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb: and what was I able to do in comparison of you? Then their anger was abated toward him, when he had said that.” These verses also show us that God also gave wisdom to Gideon. That is one of the benefits of coming to know Christ as Savior. After you are saved and start following Him, you will grow in the knowledge of Christ and you will grow in wisdom. It says even about Jesus and His human life: “He grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” Gideon had wisdom to know how to talk to the men of Ephraim. First, Gideon elevated them above his own place of origin by telling them that their grapes were better than his grapes. Then Gideon reminded them in verse three that they did have a part in the victory because they caught the two princes of Midian. This shows us that if only we had wisdom on how to talk to people, many disputes and disagreements would be abated and life would be much more pleasant for everyone. No wonder that Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers

 

The following verses remind us just how violent were the times of the Old Testament. War is hell, and those that wage war had better be ready for the terrible violence that comes with it. War was a matter of dying, or bringing death; and they all knew it very well. The Bible says in Judges 8:4-21, “And Gideon came to Jordan, and passed over, he, and the three hundred men that were with him, faint, yet pursuing them.[5] And he said unto the men of Succoth, Give, I pray you, loaves of bread unto the people that follow me; for they be faint, and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian.[6] And the princes of Succoth said, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thine army?[7] And Gideon said, Therefore when the LORD hath delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into mine hand, then I will tear your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers.[8] And he went up thence to Penuel, and spake unto them likewise: and the men of Penuel answered him as the men of Succoth had answered him.[9] And he spake also unto the men of Penuel, saying, When I come again in peace, I will break down this tower.[10] Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor, and their hosts with them, about fifteen thousand men, all that were left of all the hosts of the children of the east: for there fell an hundred and twenty thousand men that drew sword.[11] And Gideon went up by the way of them that dwelt in tents on the east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and smote the host: for the host was secure.[12] And when Zebah and Zalmunna fled, he pursued after them, and took the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and discomfited all the host.[13] And Gideon the son of Joash returned from battle before the sun was up,[14] And caught a young man of the men of Succoth, and inquired of him: and he described unto him the princes of Succoth, and the elders thereof, even threescore and seventeen men.[15] And he came unto the men of Succoth, and said, Behold Zebah and Zalmunna, with whom ye did upbraid me, saying, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thy men that are weary?[16] And he took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth.[17] And he beat down the tower of Penuel, and slew the men of the city.[18] Then said he unto Zebah and Zalmunna, What manner of men were they whom ye slew at Tabor? And they answered, As thou art, so were they; each one resembled the children of a king.[19] And he said, They were my brethren, even the sons of my mother: as the LORD liveth, if ye had saved them alive, I would not slay you.[20] And he said unto Jether his firstborn, Up, and slay them. But the youth drew not his sword: for he feared, because he was yet a youth.[21] Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, Rise thou, and fall upon us: for as the man is, so is his strength. And Gideon arose, and slew Zebah and Zalmunna, and took away the ornaments that were on their camels' necks.” It says in verse four that even though they were faint, they were able to keep going. It says in Isaiah 41:3, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.” That is one reason not to believe in retirement the way it is commonly defined. Even though you might change what you are doing, you can keep serving the Lord Jesus even during the declining years of age. The greatest service to God is our faith.

 

The people who refused to help Gideon and the other Jews were doomed for one reason: a promise that God made to Abraham centuries ago, and God always keeps His promises. God said to Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3, “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:[3] And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” It was part of God’s hand that the people of Succoth and Penuel would suffer under the army of Gideon when he returned from the battle. They fought to win in those days.

 

The victory that God gave to Gideon and the three hundred was indeed amazing. Notice verse ten: “Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor, and their hosts with them, about fifteen thousand men, all that were left of all the hosts of the children of the east: for there fell an hundred and twenty thousand men that drew sword.” At this point only 15,000 men were left alive and 120,000 perished. If only we could get some spiritual victories like this over the forces of evil in the age in which we live. If only God would raise up some more Gideons.

 

There is a good lesson to learn from verse twenty that says, “And he said unto Jether his firstborn, Up, and slay them. But the youth drew not his sword: for he feared, because he was yet a youth.” The battle symbolizes the spiritual battle. But some are not ready for the battle yet because of their age. That is why Pastors are called “elders” in the New Testament. It is expected that the most spiritual in a congregation are the older ones. Thankfully, that is not always true because Paul told Timothy, “Let no man despise thy youth, but be thou an example of the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” But many of the greatest failures that I have seen in Christian ministries were directly related to how young the ministers were. There are certain things that are learned form experience like how to treat people in different situations, how to handle money, how to avoid temptation, and how to be consistent. Paul wrote about the qualifications for a pastor in First Timothy 3:6, “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil 

 

The Bible says in Judges 8:22-23, “Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son's son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian.[23] And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you.” In just a short time Gideon went from being an impractical, fearful, foolish, and unspiritual person to being very wise and understanding God’s will in a spiritual way. And Gideon was able to take his spiritual understanding and apply it to life in a practical way. God did not want Israel to have a king. That is why this book is called the Judges. God used judges to lead the people of Israel. God did not want them to have a king and Gideon knew that. All the other nations had kings, but kings had too much power and God wants His people to be free. Of course, their other problem was that God was to be their king, not man. The people not only wanted Gideon to be king, but they wanted to establish a dynasty, and so they said in verse twenty-two, “Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son's son also.” It is interesting that God eventually gave the people a king. The people made a bad choice in Saul, but God raised up David to replace Saul. And then God used the lineage of David to bring the greatest king of all: King Jesus. Gideon was right: “the LORD shall rule over you,” and that ruler is the Lord Jesus Christ. He will return to fulfill this truth.

 

The Bible says in Judges 8:24-32, “And Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)[25] And they answered, We will willingly give them. And they spread a garment, and did cast therein every man the earrings of his prey.[26] And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was a thousand and seven hundred shekels of gold; beside ornaments, and collars, and purple raiment that was on the kings of Midian, and beside the chains that were about their camels' necks.[27] And Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house.[28] Thus was Midian subdued before the children of Israel, so that they lifted up their heads no more. And the country was in quietness forty years in the days of Gideon.[29] And Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and dwelt in his own house.[30] And Gideon had threescore and ten sons of his body begotten: for he had many wives.[31] And his concubine that was in Shechem, she also bare him a son, whose name he called Abimelech.[32] And Gideon the son of Joash died in a good old age, and was buried in the sepulchre of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abi-ezrites.” Even though Gideon was not a king, he was very prominent in society because he was a judge and because the Lord used him to bring such a great victory over the Midianites. But as a prominent person in society, he failed where many today also fail: with money and with women. When you acquire wealth, the wealth should be used for God’s glory and for the spread of the gospel of Christ. Once Gideon acquired a great deal of wealth, he did not know how to use it for the Lord. It says in verse twenty-seven, “And Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it…”

 

Gideon had seventy sons because he had so many wives, and verse thirty-one says that he had a concubine too. Things have not changed much. The rich and powerful becoming womanizers is nothing new. We have a lot of sins taking place in our world. Many need to repent and turn to Jesus. Human beings are weak, and do not know how to only use the body for its rightful purposes according to God’s design and God’s will. The best life according to God’s plan is one man and one woman joined for life in marriage. That is why Jesus said, “What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” In the beginning God made them male and female. This is the perfect life and the goal for everyone: that a man and woman come together in marriage an stay together not just through the joys and good times, but through all the difficulties and changes that life can bring. Do not look for another. Stick with the one that you have, if at all possible. One requirement for a pastor is that he be a one-woman type of man. It says in First Timothy 3:2, “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife…” If a pastor should be this way, it is partly to be an example to the other Christians how they should be too. What if someone was not that way in the past? Then they can start being that way now. God wants the marriage relationship to be symbolic of the love of Jesus for a believer. It says in Ephesians, “Husbands love your wives even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it.” That is a lot of love that endures even through sin and weakness and failure.       

 

 

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Copyright; 2020 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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