Judges Ė Lesson 9
Judges Chapter 8:1-12
In chapter 7, we saw Gideonís army cut from 32,000 to 10,000, and then ultimately to only 300. These chosen 300 were used by God to defeat the Midianites who numbered above 120,000. We learned that when you go to battle and let God fight the war, you will win. Gideon was to be praised for his faithfulness and willingness to do things exactly as God told him. Such faith does not come easy, but we see what God will do when we demonstrate so great a faith.
I. The Jealousy of Ephraim
Judg 8:1 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.
After the victory had been won, Ephraim comes to Gideon and complains became he had not called them to come and join in the battle. This was nothing more than jealousy. We saw in the earlier chapter where Gideon had asked them to help in stopping the Midianites from escaping over Jordan toward their own land.
Judg 7:24 And Gideon sent messengers throughout all mount Ephraim, saying, Come down against the Midianites, and take before them the waters unto Bethbarah and Jordan. Then all the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and took the waters unto Bethbarah and Jordan.
The people of Ephraim responded to the call and were successful in their job, but they wished that they had gotten to be in on the first of the battle. Anytime someone wins, people want to be part of the group. But had the battle been lost, I wonder if the desire would have been there. We need to not be fair weather Christians, but common, steady
folks dedicated to the Lord no matter what comes our way. Anyone can sit back after the battle and say what they would have done, but it is more commendable to be in the battle.
The Ephraimites were a proud tribe. This was the tribe from whom Joshua had descended. The tabernacle was located in their city of Shiloh. Ephraim had been the honored son over Manasseh. (the sons of Joseph. See Gen. 48:8-20)
The Ephraimites had come to believe that their tribe was the most important of the twelve, and that they should be consulted in any matters of importance. You and I have to fight this feeling of importance and significance. We need to all realize that if it were not for the Grace of God, we would still be lost in our sins. And without Jesus, we can truly do nothing. But with Him, all things are possible. Many religious groups get so full of themselves that they think they are the only ones serving God, but when you look around you find many in every city. Remember when the apostles came to Jesus and told him they had found one casting out devils in Jesusí name and they forbad him because he wasnít one of them.
Luke 9:49 And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.
Luke 9:50 And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.
One time Elijah thought he was the only one left serving God, and God told him that was far from the truth.
1 Ki 19:14 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away....
1 Ki 19:18 Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.
Judg 8:2 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 Abiezer?
Judg 8:3 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.
There is wisdom in Gideon in his response. It appeared that it made little difference to them if the enemy escaped entirely because of their interruption. The satisfaction of their personal feelings was more important than catching the enemy of God. You and I need never wear our feelings out on our shoulder where everyone that comes by has a chance to knock them off. We need to develop thick skin, and ignore unjust criticism. The people found fault in Jesus, and be assured that anytime you are doing a good work for God that there will be detractors and those that find fault. But ignore it and be about the Masterís business like Jesus was all through His life.
Judg 12:4 Then Jephthah gathered together all the men of Gilead, and fought with Ephraim: and the men of Gilead smote Ephraim, because they said, Ye Gileadites are fugitives of Ephraim among the Ephraimites, and among the Manassites.
Gideon did not lose focus. He knew that Godís work was more important than playing nursemaid with hurt feelings. That does not mean we are not to be sensitive to others, but it means we need to be sure that we donít get sidetracked from the Lordís work trying to play nursemaid to every minor problem. Gideon felt that unless the Midianites were not destroyed, they would constantly be there to haunt Israel. Instead of arguing with them, he praises them for their capture of two of the Midianite leaders. In verse 2 we read where he says their work is more important than all that he had done. I promise you will accomplish a lot more as a leader with praise of those around you than criticism. Correction may be needful at time, but it needs to be done in a non-critical way to the best of our ability.
1 Cor 1:4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;
1 Cor 1:5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;
1 Cor 1:6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:
1 Cor 1:7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Paul praised the church at Corinth for the good things they had done before he offered correction and rebuke to them. Wisdom comes from God, and we need to ask Him for guidance on how to deal with issues.
Prov 2:2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
Prov 2:3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
Prov 2:4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
Prov 2:5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
Prov 2:6 For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
In verse 3, Gideon gives God credit for delivering Oreb and Zeeb into the hands of Ephraim. He states that this work was not to be compared to the little he had done. If you give credit to those whom credit is due, it will never hurt you. Too many today want to claim credit for things they had little to do in accomplishing. By wisdom, Gideon made them happy with their part, and this showed the leadership qualities in Gideon.
II. Gideon Passes Over the Jordan
Judg 8:4 And Gideon came to Jordan, and passed over, he, and the three hundred men that were with him, faint, yet pursuing them.
The battle moved swiftly through the night, and Gideon with his three hundred men crossed over the Jordan very hungry and tired. In spite of their lack of rest and food, they felt they must pursue the enemy. We read the verses last week that commanded us to be a good soldier of the Lord. We need to be willing to be used in whatever manner God so chooses. That may mean a few missed meals, it might mean a bit less sleep, it might mean breaking outside of our comfort zone. But if it glorifies God, we should do it. These men were tired and hungry, but they kept on coming. One of the slogans of the man who formed the Texas Rangers was that you canít stop a man who keeps on coming. That is doubly true when God is the one enabling you.
Judg 8:5 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.
Gideon comes into this town of Succoth and ask for help with food. He tells them that they are pursuing the kings of Midian. But the people apparently were afraid that the Israelites would fail, and if they helped Gideon, the Midianites would turn on them.
Judg 8:6 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?
Judg 8:7 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.
These princes of Succoth did not deter Gideon. He says that he has faith in God, and says ďTherefore when the Lord hath delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into his handsĒ that he will tear their flesh with thorns and briers. It wasnít like there was any doubt about who would win the battle.
Judg 8:8 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.
Judg 8:9 And he spake also unto the men of Penuel, saying, When I come again in peace, I will break down this tower.
The people of Penuel acted in the same manner. There would be no help for Godís people. Gideon promises to break down their tower when he returned from the victory.
III. Gideon Captures the Two Kings of the Midianites
Judg 8:10 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.
Judg 8:11 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.
Judg 8:12 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.
Gideon was able to get the food he needed, but we are not told how. I know this... if we are in the battle, God can send the birds to feed us if He so chooses. He fed
Prophets that way in the old testament, he provides food even for the sparrows, and he tells us in the New Testament that we are all much better than birds. It may have been that some of the other cities in Israel east of Jordan helped him. The kings fled to Karkor, somewhere east of the Jordan. In arriving there, Gideonís army passed through the cities of Jog-behah an Nobah, both towns of the Gadites. Of the 120,000 Midianite and Amalekite fighting men, the kings were down to 15,000. That means that over 105,000 men had been killed already. In verse 11, it says that Gideon took a path that led through nomadic territory. Iím sure that God guided Gideon down each path. You and I are instructed as to the paths we are to follow. And at every juncture, we need to follow the straight and narrow path.
Mat 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
Mat 7:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
The path Gideon took was called ď the way of them that dwell in tents.Ē I believe the Midianites thought they were secure, but Gideon took them in a surprise attack. He won a victory and took both kings, Zebah and Zalmunna, captive.
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Prov 4:18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
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