Gideon – Judges 6 - 8
Gideon lived at a time of incredible oppression, so when our story opens, we find he was wrestling with the discrepancy between what he had been told about God and what he was actually experiencing. Can you relate to how that feels? Maybe you also have longed to see dramatic evidence of God’s power and presence, the kind we read about in the pages of the Bible, but feel that your experience of God is filled with unanswered prayers.
Inn our first introduction to Gideon, he is hiding in a winepress, trying to thresh wheat – probably to feed his family. I love that Gideon is doing what he can to meet the needs of his family and that he is thinking about God while he is working. But, even more, I love that God sees, not who Gideon is, but who he might become. He calls him a mighty warrior! Gideon isn’t mighty yet, but God sees who he is going to become.
God also reminds Gideon that He is with him, and God’s presence is the secret to all of Gideon’s future successes. But, Gideon has lots of fears. Notice how gently and patiently God addresses all those fears. He gives Gideon, not one, not two, not three, but at least four miraculous signs to confirm that He will give Gideon success (burning up the offering, a dry fleece, a soaking wet fleece, and the dream of the Midianite soldier). After the last sign, Gideon worships God. Have you ever realized how deeply God understands you? He gets you! He understands your fears and your anxieties, and yet God still loves you and wants to use you! Worship is such a natural response to this discovery, and Gideon worships! In the midst of these signs, Gideon comes to know God in a new way. He learns that God is Peace! That’s what our kids need to know – that in God alone, we find peace because Jesus gave Himself, absorbing the wrath of God, so that we could experience the peace of God.
Notice how God stretches Gideon’s faith throughout the story. He gives him the dangerous but essential job of destroying the family’s altar to Baal. (No one can truly serve God with divided allegiances). By the next day, Gideon’s life is being threatened, but of course, God uses his father to save him from the mob. Gideon gathers an army but then, God tells Gideon that his army is too big, so God thins his numbers from 32,000 to 10,000 to 300! Wow! How many of us would stay the course if that happened to us? Gideon forges ahead in obedience. I want to be like that – to do the unlikely thing, to put my life on the line just because God tells me to. What an unlikely battle plan God gives him! But, Gideon carries out the plans to a tee, and he experiences success!
When the people want to make Gideon their king, he refuses and rightly points them to God as their king, but then, despite his words, he begins to act like a king. He “taxes” each man an earring and turns the gold into an ephod, which becomes an idol, a snare to Gideon, his family and all of Israel. How often, especially after a great victory, do I also lower my guard or succumb to temptation? Despite the way God faithfully uses me for His glory, I unfaithfully let Him down. We all have feet of clay, and we are desperate for a Savior. As we tell our kids this story, let’s remember to make God the hero because He is the only one who deserves hero status!
Thinning the Ranks – ask all kids to stand. As you read the following descriptors, have kids sit down if the statement is TRUE of them. You can play this several times.
· You have younger brothers or sisters.
· You have older brothers or sisters.
· You live in a house with bricks on the exterior.
· You live in a house with three or more steps on the exterior.
· You are wearing red.
· You are wearing black.
· You are wearing green.
· You are allergic to nuts.
· You are allergic to bug bites / stings.
· You went to the beach this summer.
· You went camping this year.
Remind kids that God thinned Gideon’s army by sending groups of men home. (Do you remember the descriptions God used to thin the army? Anyone who is afraid; anyone who knelt to drink water) How do you think Gideon felt as he watched so many men leaving? What is something you have recently been afraid about? How do you deal with fear? How did Gideon deal with his fear?
What did you like about this story?
What didn’t you like?
What did you learn about God?
· God sees potential in us.
· God lets His people experience pain and hardship when He wants to get their attention.
· God asks us to get rid of our idols - anything that competes with our attention for God.
· God is patient when we’re afraid, but He asks us to do things to confront our fears.
· God might ask us to do unusual things as we obey Him, like break jars and blow horns.
What did you learn about people?
· We sometimes wonder if God will do for us what we’ve heard that He has done for others in the past.
· Sometimes when times are hard, we turn to God and listen to Him more intently.
· We learn about who God is through difficulties.
· People are often afraid, but God answers our fears.
· People can diffuse arguments with soft answers.
· People must beware of pride and love of material treasures.
What did you learn about yourself?
· I need to trust that God will make me into the person He plans for me to be.
· I want to serve God with my whole heart.
· I want to trust God and obey Him completely.
· I want to serve God my whole life and not be derailed by pride or “stuff.”