Verse 2 – Self-sufficiency is often the cause of our failures. God gives us an assignment and then we assume we are able to do it in our own strength. This is when we will become frustrated because it’s not working. God prevented Gideon’s soldiers from having this attitude. God reduced their number from 32,000 to 300. With an army this small, there could be no doubt that victory was from God. We can be confident of victory only if we put our confidence in God’s strength, not ours.
Verses 10, 11 – God understands our fear, but does not excuse it. Instead, He allowed Gideon to slip into the enemy’s camp and overhear a conversation that gave Gideon courage. Don’t be startled how God helps you. His ways to open doors for answers is always better.
Verse 13 – Barley grain was only half the value of wheat, and the bread made from it inferior. In the same way, Israel’s tiny band of men were considered inferior to the vast forces of Midian and Amalek.
Verse 19 – The night was divided equally into three watches. The beginning of the middle watch would have been around 10:00 p.m. Many in the camp could have still been awake.
Verse 21 – Gideon’s army watched as the army of Midian fell into panic, confusion, and disordered retreat. Not one man had to draw his sword. God demonstrated to Israel that victory depends on obedience and commitment to Him.
Verse 2 – The Midianites were desert people. They descended from Abraham’s second wife, Keturah (Genesis 25:1, 2). This nation was always in conflict with Israel.
Verse 6 – Turning to God shouldn’t be a last resort. This isn’t to say that life is always going to be easy. There will be struggles, but God will give us the strength to live through them.
Verse 11 – The angel mentioned here, appears to be separate from God in one place (6:12) and yet the same as God in another place (6:14).In either case, God sent a special messenger to deliver an important message to Gideon.
Verse 13 – Have you ever asked God, “Why is this happening?” Sure, you have. What Gideon didn’t acknowledge was the fact that the people had brought calamity upon themselves when they decided to disobey and neglect God. In a lot of situations, we have a tendency to not take accountability for our own actions. We blame either God or others for the bad things that happen to us. This reaction will not solve our problems. This attitude may even lead to rebellion and backsliding. When problems come, the first place to look is within, but don’t spend days beating yourself up. Admit it to God and He will help you to go forward.
Verses 14-16 – In spite of God’s clear promise to be with him, Gideon still mad excuses. Sometimes we only look at our limitations and weaknesses and forget that God will supply everything we need to accomplish what God has purposed.
Verses 22, 23 – The Israelites believed that no one could see God and live (Exodus 33:20).Evidently Gideon thought this also applied to angels.
Verses 25-30 – After God called Gideon to be Israel’s deliverer, He immediately asked him to tear down the altar of the pagan god. Gideon took a great risk by following God’s higher law. After Gideon tore down the townspeople’s altar, they wanted to kill him. Many of those people were fellow Israelites. This shows how immoral God’s people had become. When we start to accomplish something for God, the very people who once supported you may criticize you.
Verse 33 – Whoever controlled the Valley of Jezreel controlled the people who lived in and around it. Gideon’s men attacked the enemy armies from the hills, and the only escape route was through the pass toward the Jordan River.
Verses 37-39 – By what Gideon says to God, he just might have thought that God wouldn’t be pleased with what he was asking. But yet, Gideon demanded 2 miracles. It is true we need to gather the facts before making decisions, but Gideon still hesitated. He delayed obeying God because he wanted more proof. Demanding extra signs was an indication of unbelief. Fear will often make us wait for more conformation. Visible signs are unnecessary if they only confirm what we already know to be true. Today the greatest means of God’s guidance is His Word, the Bible. If you want more of God’s guidance study the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).
Verse 39 – “Putting out fleeces” is a poor decision-making method. When we do this, it puts limitations on God. We would be asking God to fit into our expectations. This action will not make us more confident in our decisions.
Verse 40 – “But God” did what Gideon asked.
Verse 1 – Whether you are experiencing a great victory or a major dilemma, singing praises to God will have a positive effect on your attitude.
Verse 8 – If you are letting a desire for recognition, craving for power, or love of money rule your life, after a while, you may find instead of happiness, stress, anxiety, illness, and fatigue. If you keep God at the center of your life, you will have the power through Christ that you need to fight these destroyers.
Verse 1 – Our sin harms both others, and ourselves but all sin is ultimately against God because it disregards his commands and His authority over us. Recognizing the seriousness of sin is the first step toward removing it from our lives.
Verses 2, 3 – The Canaanite army had 900 iron chariots. Israel was not powerful enough to defeat such an invincible army. Therefore, Jabin and Sisera had no trouble oppressing the people – until a faithful woman named Deborah called upon God. After 20 years of this treatment, the Israelites finally cried to the Lord for help. When struggles come our way, God wants us to come to Him first, seeking His strength, wisdom, and guidance.
Verse 4 – God can choose anyone to lead His people, young or old, man, or woman. Obviously, Deborah was the best person to lead Israel. The Bible records several women who held national leadership positions.
Verses 6-8 – Barak wanted Deborah to go with him. Barak’s request shows that he trusted human strength more than God’s promise. There will be times when we will have to step out, and go with no other person – you and God are a majority!
Verse 9 – How did Deborah command such respect? She was responsible for leading Israel into battle and influencing them to live for God after the battle was over. She was also a prophetess, whose main role was to encourage the people to obey God. Those who lead must not forget about the spiritual condition of those being led. Being a true leader is being concerned for the people, not just recognition of success.
Verse 11 – Heber was Jael’s husband (4:21). He was from the Kenite tribe, a longtime ally of Israel. But, for some reason, Heber decided to side with Jabin. Although Heber threw in his lot with Jabin and his forces, his wife Jael, did not (4:21).
Verses 18-21 – Sisera couldn’t have been more pleased when Jael offered him her tent as a hiding place. First, because Jael was the wife of Heber, a man loyal to Sisera’s forces, so he thought she could be trusted. Second, because men were never allowed to enter a woman’s tent, no one would think to look for Sisera there. Woman of that day were responsible for pitching the tent so Jael had no problem driving the tent-peg into Sisera’s head while he slept.
Verses 1-4 – By this time, an entire new generation had grown up that had not been in any great battles. The Bible says the Lord left nations that were not conquered in the land to test Israel in obedience and faith in the One True God. Are there obstacles in your life that test your faith or obedience? Sometimes this testing involves continuous people. How we handle these people or situations will truly show us what’s on the inside of us. The choices we make and the reactions we have should always reflect whom we are and who’s we are.
Verses 5-7 – The Israelites started intermarrying and this affected their relationship with God. They didn’t realize that having these pagan gods so close would cause them great consequences. By allowing these pagan gods into their homes, they began to accept these immoral practices. They began adding these idols to their worship of God. Sometimes people of today do the same thing. Example: We want to befriend others who don’t know God, but through those relationships, we become entangled in unhealthy practices. These friendships are important in order to be an example of the Christian life, but not to the point where it changes the Christians behavior for the bad. There can’t be any compromise in areas of immoral behavior.
Verse 7 – Baal was the most worshiped god of the Canaanites. Most often, cast in the form of a bull symbolizing strength and fertility. Asherah was Baal’s female consort, mother goddess of the sea who was worshipped by means of wooden pillars that substituted for sacred trees. Today’s idols can be substitutes of activities, hobbies, or priorities forsaking worshiping God. Where or with what is most of your time spent?
Verse 8 – The Israelites continued in this behavior until the Lord allowed them to be sold to Cushan-Rishathaim King of Mesopotamia; and the children of Israel served the king eight years.
Verse 9 – When the children of Israel cried out to the Lord, He heard them. Othniel had a rich spiritual heritage. His father was Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. Othniel was Israel’s first judge of Israel. Othniel’s leadership brought the people back to God and freed them from the oppression of the King of Aram, Naharaim.
Verse 10 – This phrase “The Spirit of the Lord came upon him,” was also spoken of the judges Gideon, Jephthah and Samson, among others. It expresses a temporary and spontaneous increase of physical, spiritual, or mental strength. This was an extraordinary and supernatural occurrence to prepare a person for a special task.
Verse 11 – All is well again with Israel for forty years until Othniel dies.
Verses 12, 13 – The Moabites, Ammonites, and Amalekites were nomadic tribes. These tribes were notorious raiders, possessing great military skill. This was the first time nations outside of Canaan attacked the Israelites in their own land.
Verse 14 – Here again a new generation in the time of the 40-year peace, grew further and further from their loyalty of the One True God. So, the children of Israel now served Eglon, King of Moab eighteen years.
Verses 15-30 – Ehud is called a deliverer. This is a strange story, but it teaches us that God can use us just the way He made us. Being left-handed in Ehud’s day was considered a handicap. Many of the Benjaminites were left-handed (see 20:16).
Verse 31 – The Judge Shamgar, the son of Anath, killed six hundred men of the Philistines with an ox goad; and he delivered Israel. An ox goad is an eight-foot stick with a small flat piece of iron on one side and a sharp point on the other.
Verses 1-3 – There had been a covenant made between God and Israel at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:5-8). God had kept His part to protect them, make them into a great nation, and give them unique blessings following Him. Israel’s part was to love God and obey His laws. But, because Israel did not honor their part, the protection that God promised was no longer in effect. God’s intention was never to abandon His people. He wanted them to ask for forgiveness and sincerely follow Him again. Making Israel into a great nation through which the entire world would be blessed, was fulfilled in the Messiah’s coming. God still wanted the Israelites to be a holy people. Too often people want God to fulfill His promises while excusing themselves from their responsibilities.
Verse 4 – The people of Israel were deeply sorrowful. They were aware of rejecting their part of the covenant, so they repented. True repentance is not just being sorry that the sin is found out, but true repentance is not making excuses for what was done, but admitting it. We always have a choice whether to follow God’s ways or stubbornly doing what we know to be wrong.
Verse 10 – Each generation failed to teach the next generation to love and follow God. One generation died and the next did not follow God thus the sin cycle began judgment and repentance. We can’t leave the responsibility of teaching our children about God to others. The parents or guardians must teach faith in Jesus Christ to the children.
Verses 11-15 – Baal was the god of the storm and rains: therefore, he was thought to control the vegetation and agriculture. Ashtoreth was the mother goddess of love, war, and fertility (she was also called Astarte or Ishtar). Temple prostitution and child sacrifice were part of the worshipping of these Canaanites idols.
Verse, 16-19 – Despite Israel’s disobedience, God showed his great mercy by raising up judges to save the people. Mercy has been defined as “not giving a person what he or she deserves.” Our disobedience demands judgment. But, God shows mercy toward us by providing an escape from sin’s penalty through Jesus Christ, who alone saves us from sin and took our penalty for sin on the cross.
Why would the people of Israel turn away so quickly from their faith in God? One of the most attractive features of the Canaanite religion was that the people could remain selfish and promiscuous and yet fulfill their religious requirements. They could do almost anything they wanted and still be obeying at least one of many Canaanite gods. Male and female prostitution was not only allowed, but encouraged as a form of worship. Faith in the One True God, does not offer short-range benefits that appeal to our sinful nature. The essence of God’s way is selflessness.
Verse 1 – Joshua had been Israel’s obvious successor to Moses, but there was no obvious successor to Joshua. The people had not only relied on Joshua’s military might but Joshua kept their focus on God. Always acknowledge God as your commander-in-chief, and avoid the temptation of relying too heavily on human leaders regardless of their spiritual wisdom. Canaan’s greatest threat to Israel was not its army, but its religion. Canaanite religion idolized evil traits: cruelty in war, sexual immorality, selfish greed, and materialism. It was a “me first, anything goes” society.
Verse 2 – Under Joshua’s leadership they all started out strong, but soon most were sidetracked by fear, weariness, lack of discipline, or pursuit of their own interest. Their faith in God started to fade away. Beware of starting out strong and then getting sidetracked from your real purpose-loving God and living for Him.
Verse 6 – The Israelites cut off the thumbs and big toes to make Adoni-Bezek ineffective in battle, which in turn would humiliate him. But, according to Gods instructions they were supposed to kill him.
Verse 8 – Although Israel conquered Jerusalem, they did not occupy the city until David’s time (1 Samuel 5:6-10).
Verse 17 – Although this command from God seems cruel, the Israelites were under God’s order to execute judgment on those wicked people. Over 700 years earlier God had told Abraham that when the Israelites entered the Promised Land, the gross evil of the native people would be ready for judgment (Genesis 15:16).
Verse 19 – Israel’s foot soldiers were absolutely powerless when a speeding iron chariot bore down upon them. This is why Israel preferred to fight in the hills where chariots couldn’t venture.
Verse 21 – Why didn’t they follow through and completely obey God’s commands? We too, often fail to complete things in our lives that we know God wants us to do. The results are a gradual deterioration of our relationship with God. In our battles and struggles, we grow tired and lose the will to go on, but remember, God loves us and has given us a purpose for life. Victory comes from living according to His purpose.
There is a huge contrast between the Book of Joshua and the Book of Judges. In Joshua’s time, the people were obedient and conquered the land through trust in the power of God. In Judges, a disobedient and idolatrous people are defeated time and time again because of their rebellion against God.
All too soon, the “sin cycle” begins. The people soon substitute God’s law for “What was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). However, during four centuries spanned by this book, God raised up military champions to throw off the yoke of bondage and restore the nation.
The Author of Judges
It is clear from 18:31 and 20:27 that this book was written after the ark was removed from Shiloh (1 Samuel 4:3-11) and before the kingdom of Israel was divided. Therefore, this book was probably written during the time of Samuel, and is likely that Samuel compiled this book from oral and written sourced material.
The Time of Judges
In Joshua’s seven-year conquest, much of the land remains to be possessed (Joshua 13:1). Some of the nations have been left to test Israel (Judges 3:1, 4). The Egyptians maintained strong control along the coastal routes and are not interested in the hill country where Israel is primarily established. The events in the Book of Judges covers from 1380 B.C. to 1045 B.C. (335 years), but is extended another 30 years since it includes the life of Samuel (1 Samuel 1:1-25:1). Judges describes the cycles of apostasy, oppression, and deliverance in the southern region (3:7-31), the northern region (4:1-5:31), the central region (6:1-10:5), the eastern region (10:6-12:15), and the western region (13:1-16:31). The spread of apostasy covers the whole land.