Judges 8

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Today I’m sharing my final blog on the Hebrew Judge Gideon… As a kid and now as an adult, I find Gideon to be a quite likeable character…

Then the men of Ephraim said to him, “What is this thing you have done to us, not calling us when you went to fight against Midian?” And they contended with him vigorously. 2 But he said to them, “What have I done now in comparison with you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer? 3 God has given the leaders of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb into your hands; and what was I able to do in comparison with you?” Then their anger toward him subsided when he said that (Jud 8:1-3 NASB).

What we find here is now that Gideon has been successful in war, the men of Ephraim are upset that they had not been consulted for aid. Gideon’s reply to them is kind and reasonable, and their anger toward him subsides.

Then Gideon and the 300 men who were with him came to the Jordan and crossed over, weary yet pursuing. 5 He said to the men of Succoth, “Please give loaves of bread to the people who are following me, for they are weary, and I am pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.” 6 The leaders of Succoth said, “Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna already in your hands, that we should give bread to your army?” (Jud 8:4-6 NASB).

Fearing that Gideon would fail and the Midianites would rise back up, the men of Succoth refused even food to his weary followers. They had no Faith in the Work of Jehovah God was doing through Gideon and his men.

Gideon said, “All right, when the Lord has given Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, then I will thrash your bodies with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers.” 8 He went up from there to Penuel and spoke similarly to them; and the men of Penuel answered him just as the men of Succoth had answered. 9 So he spoke also to the men of Penuel, saying, “When I return safely, I will tear down this tower” (Jud 8:7-9 NASB).

Israel had become very fragmented, with each Tribe somewhat standing on its own.

Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor, and their armies with them, about 15,000 men, all who were left of the entire army of the sons of the east; for the fallen were 120,000 swordsmen. 11 Gideon went up by the way of those who lived in tents on the east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and attacked the camp when the camp was unsuspecting. 12 When Zebah and Zalmunna fled, he pursued them and captured the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and routed the whole army (Jud 8:10-12 NASB).

Gideon’s focus was on the two kings of the enemy nations.

Then Gideon the son of Joash returned from the battle by the ascent of Heres. 14 And he captured a youth from Succoth and questioned him. Then the youth wrote down for him the princes of Succoth and its elders, seventy-seven men. 15 He came to the men of Succoth and said, “Behold Zebah and Zalmunna, concerning whom you taunted me, saying, ‘Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna already in your hand, that we should give bread to your men who are weary?’” 16 He took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and he disciplined the men of Succoth with them. 17 He tore down the tower of Penuel and killed the men of the city (Jud 8:13-17 NASB).

The tower of Penuel is also called “Peniel,” meaning “Face of God.” It was named this by Jacob years before– “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” (Gen. 32:30 NIV).  The people of this area had forgotten the heritage of their Fathers, in other words the Patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and had compromised with unbelief and idolatry. But in the End, as Malachi prophesied, “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the Earth with a curse (Mal 4:6 KJV).

Then he said to Zebah and Zalmunna, “What kind of men were they whom you killed at Tabor?” And they said, “They were like you, each one resembling the son of a king.” 19 He said, “They were my brothers, the sons of my mother. As the Lord lives, if only you had let them live, I would not kill you.” 20 So he said to Jether his firstborn, “Rise, kill them.” But the youth did not draw his sword, for he was afraid, because he was still a youth. 21 Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, “Rise up yourself, and fall on us; for as the man, so is his strength.” So Gideon arose and killed Zebah and Zalmunna, and took the crescent ornaments which were on their camels’ necks (Jud 8:18-21 NASB).

At this point, these two kings of the pagans seemed not to have known that these men whom they killed were brothers of Gideon. We aren’t told in Scripture exactly when his brothers had lost their lives.

Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, both you and your son, also your son’s son, for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.” 23 But Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you.” 24 Yet Gideon said to them, “I would [s]request of you, that each of you give me an earring from his spoil.” (For they had gold earrings, because they were Ishmaelites) (Jud 8:22-24 NASB).

In essence, the men of Israel wanted Gideon to be their king. But the time predicted by Moses that a king would rule over Israel was not yet come.

When you are come unto the land which the LORD your God gives you, and shall possess it, and shall dwell therein, and shall say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me; you shall in any wise set him king over you, whom the LORD your God shall choose one from among your brethren shall you set king over you; you may not set a stranger over you, which is not your brother. But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses; forasmuch as the LORD has said unto you, You shall henceforth no more that way (Deut 17:24-16 KJV).

They said, “We will surely give them.” So they spread out a garment, and every one of them threw an earring there from his spoil. 26 The weight of the gold earrings that he requested was 1,700 shekels of gold, besides the crescent ornaments and the pendants and the purple robes which were on the kings of Midian, and besides the neck bands that were on their camels’ necks. 27 Gideon made it into an ephod, and placed it in his city, Ophrah, and all Israel played the harlot with it there, so that it became a snare to Gideon and his household (Jud 8:25-27 NASB).

The people of Israel began worshipping the ephod made by Gideon, which was very displeasing to Jehovah God. In making the ephod, Gideon put his foot in the snare, and so, this very man who had destroyed a terrible form of idolatry in his own home and city, set up a refined form of the same evil in his kingdom.

So Midian was subdued before the sons of Israel, and they did not lift up their heads anymore. And the land was undisturbed for forty years in the days of Gideon. 29 Then Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and lived in his own house. 30 Now Gideon had seventy sons who were his direct descendants, for he had many wives. 31 His concubine who was in Shechem also bore him a son, and he [v]named him Abimelech. 32 And Gideon the son of Joash died at a ripe old age and was buried in the tomb of his father Joash, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites (Jud 8:28-32 NASB).

Gideon’s son Abimelech, born by will of the flesh, would become a channel and an instrument of evil to Israel. To become a king of sorts, Abimelech would murder all of his brothers—some sixty-nine of them!

Then it came about, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the sons of Israel again played the harlot with the Baals, and made Baal-berith their god. 34 Thus the sons of Israel did not remember the Lord their God, who had delivered them from the hands of all their enemies on every side; 35 nor did they show kindness to the household of Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) in accord with all the good that he had done to Israel (Jud 8:33-35 NASB).

Once again, without the spiritual leadership of a Judge raised up by Jehovah God, the Israelites rapidly returned to worshipping pagan gods. They forgot the LORD their God, their Great Deliverer, and they showed no regard for the memory of Gideon and all the good that the LORD had brought to their people through him.

Tomorrow, it looks like we’re on to a lesser known Judge named Jephthah… And finally today, a song about the “Beautiful Terrible Cross.”  It’s amazing how little we hear about the Cross from the modern day pulpit, blogs, or songs… A huge void to be certain… A famine in the land…

There is a beautiful terrible cross, where though You committed no sin. Savior, You suffered the most wicked fate, on the cruelest creation of men. Yet on that beautiful terrible cross, You did what only You could, turning that dark inspired evil of hell into our soul’s greatest good.

We see the love that You showed us. We see the life that You lost. We bow in wonder and praise You, For the beautiful terrible cross. There on that beautiful terrible cross. Though darkness was strong on that hill,You remained sovereign, Lord, still in control, as Your perfect plan was fulfilled.

We see the love that You showed us. We see the life that You lost. We bow in wonder and praise You, for the beautiful terrible cross. Oh, we gained the riches of Heaven. Jesus, You paid the horrible cost. We stand forgiven and praise You, for the beautiful terrible cross, for the beautiful terrible cross.