Gideon was an Israelite. The Israelites were God’s special people, and He had done a lot of amazing things for them. Impossible things, actually, like rescuing them when they were slaves in Egypt. Then He divided the water in the Red Sea into two parts and made a path of dry ground appear in the middle so the people could walk across it!
That’s our God. He’s awesome and He’s powerful. He can do things that seem impossible to us.
Wouldn’t you think the people who saw God do those cool things would trust Him and realize He could take care of them?
They did at first, but unfortunately, they forgot pretty quickly. The people in Egypt and other nations around them believed in other gods that weren’t real. As time passed, they convinced the Israelites to believe in their false gods. The Israelites stopped asking the one true God for help and started turning to the false gods the other nations believed in.
The problem was, since those weren’t real gods, they couldn’t really help the Israelites. So when a nearby country called Midian started bullying them, there was no one to rescue them.
That’s where our story starts.
The people of Israel were in a pretty bad situation. We saw in the video that whenever they planted crops, the Midianites would come in and take all their food, until everything had been destroyed. They took all the sheep, goats, cattle, and donkeys, and left the Israelites without any food at all. In your Trailbook, it says the Midianites were so cruel, the people of Israel made hiding places in the mountains and caves around them.
Finally, they decided to turn to God. In Judges 6:6, it says, “So Israel was reduced to starvation by the Midianites. Then the Israelites cried out to the Lord for help.”
God answered by choosing a hero to lead the people in a fight against Midian. His name was Gideon, and the angel of God came to visit him.
Gideon still believed in the one true God, but he was also afraid of the Midianites and had some questions. He had heard about how God parted the Red Sea, but that was almost 300 years ago and the people hadn’t seen Him do anything like that for a long time. Gideon thought God had abandoned them, but the truth is, God never abandons us! He was there the whole time, waiting for the people to turn to Him.
Gideon was also shocked that God would choose him to help rescue the people from the Midianites. His family wasn’t very powerful, and he felt like he was the weakest of all. But the angel of God called him “Mighty Hero” and told him to go with the strength he had. He didn’t need to be extra strong or powerful, because God would be with him and would make it seem like Midian didn’t even have an army.
But there was something important God asked Gideon to do first. Remember, most of the people had turned away from God and were following false gods. That included Gideon’s own family! They had built places where the people could go to pray to their false gods and ask for their help. God asked Gideon to tear those places down and build a place for the people to pray to the one true God instead.
Gideon obeyed God even though he was afraid, because he knew only God could help the people. God gave him strength so he could gather up an army. Then God gave him the signs with the fleece to show him God really was going to use him to rescue the people from the Midianites.
You would think that if you’re going into a battle, having a big army with a lot of soldiers would be a good thing, right? But God had a different plan. He told Gideon he had too many soldiers! Like we saw in the video, God told Gideon to send a bunch of them home, and Gideon obeyed. By the time they got ready for the battle, there were only 300 soldiers left to fight.
Here’s another thing you might have thought was a little strange about this plan: Gideon didn’t tell his soldiers to use weapons! Instead, he divided them up into three groups and gave each man a ram’s horn and a clay jar with a torch inside. The ram’s horn was a musical instrument that was often played at the beginning of a battle, kind of like a bugle. The clay jars were to hide the light from the torches so the Midianite soldiers wouldn’t see them coming.
Gideon told them all to watch him. When he and the men and his group blew their horns, the rest of the men were supposed to blow their horns and shout, “For the Lord and for Gideon!”
The three groups surrounded the Midianite camp. Gideon’s group got there first, just after midnight. They blew their horns and broke the jars in their hands so the light from the torches could shine brightly. The rest of the men did the same thing, all around the camp. Then they all shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!”
When the Midianites heard the noise and saw the lights, they panicked! The Israelites didn’t even have to fight at all. They just stood there and watched as the Midianites attacked each other and ran away!
God rescued the people of Israel from Midian, just like He said He would. But why do you think He sent such a small army to fight when the Midianites seemed so strong and powerful?
Judges 7:2 in your Trailbook says, “The Lord said to Gideon, ‘You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength.’”
God wanted the people to understand that it was His power that saved them, not their own. So He set up a plan that seemed completely impossible.
300 men with ram’s horns, clay jars, and torches against 135,000 men with all the best military weapons that were available in those days. That doesn’t even seem like a fair fight! The Midianites should have won easily.
But God was on the Israelites’ side, and with God, even what seems impossible is possible! There were only three things Gideon and his people had to do.
Turn to the one true God for help instead of the false gods they had been following.
Trust that God would do what He said He would do.
Obey God and do the things He asked them to do, even if they didn’t think it made sense.
God wants us to turn to Him, trust Him, and obey Him, too. The Trailbook is the Bible, and it is filled with God’s own words. He told the writers exactly what to write! The Bible is full of God’s promises to us, and it also helps us to know how we should live if we want to obey Him.
We might not always understand why certain things are happening, but we can be sure that God has a plan, and His plan is always the right one!