March 25

Read Judges 8 -- 9

Gideon was called of God to deliver the Israelites from the Midianites. But the Lord wanted it obvious that the victory was His and not because of Gideon's leadership or Israelite superiority. Thirty-two thousand men responded to Gideon's call to war; but God chose to use just 300 men to defeat the Midianites. The other Israelites were sent back home, and, with only 300 men, 135,000 Midianite soldiers were defeated in battle. Then the country was in quietness forty years in the days of Gideon (Judges 8:28). This illustrates a wonderful principle. God would not act without man's cooperation and man could not overcome without God's victory.

The Israelites urged Gideon to be their king. It was an appeal to his pride. But Gideon knew that it was not he who had saved his people, but God who was their King. So Gideon said to them: I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the Lord shall rule over you (8:23). Nothing is said about God speaking to the high priest located at Shiloh in the territory of the insulting and arrogant Ephraimites (8:1, 9:9,11,13). Gideon knew that, as a judge of Israel, he would need God to guide him; but, without the Lord's guidance, he made an ephod, a garment worn by the high priest on which were precious stones engraved with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. This was also used by the high priest to determine the will of God. The high priest had been lax in maintaining true worship and, since God had so clearly spoken to Gideon in defeating the Midianites, perhaps he assumed that the ephod would make it easier to know the will of God.

However, the Israelites soon forgot that God was the One who had miraculously delivered them from the Midianites, and all Israel went . . . a whoring after the ephod: which thing became a snare to Gideon, and to his house (8:27).

After Gideon's death, with an appetite for power, his cruel and crafty son Abimelech negotiated a large sum of money from the Baal temple treasury to pay men to murder his 70 brothers. However, Jotham the youngest son . . . hid himself (escaped) (9:5). Following the execution of his competition, Abimelech felt sure of his victory when, all the men of Shechem (Ephraimites) gathered together . . . and made Abimelech king (9:6). However, at the moment of Abimelech's proudest achievements, Jotham (the son of Gideon who escaped execution) warned that they would soon discover that this self-made king would bring suffering and death upon them as well as himself (9:7-21). As Jotham had foretold, they soon brought about their own destruction (9:22-57).

Abimelech is an example of a person controlled by the deceptive and destructive forces of pride and ambition, one who is determined to gain selfish ends regardless of whom he hurts. He is a reminder to us of what Jesus said to the Church of Ephesus and the Church of Smyrna: Remember therefore from where you are fallen, and repent. . . . Hear what the Spirit says to the churches; he that overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death (Revelation 2:5,11).

Christ Portrayed: By Gideon, who delivered the Israelites from Midian (Judges 8:22-23). The Lord Jesus has delivered us out of the hands of our spiritual enemies, and it is fitting that He should rule over us (Rom. 11:26; Gal. 1:3-4; II Pet. 2:9).

Word Studies: 8:1 chide means quarrel; 8:3 abated means ended, subsided; 8:27 ephod means a shield or breastplate; went . . . a whoring means they made an idol of the ephod; 8:31 concubine means a servant wife; 9:14 bramble means thornbush.

Prayer:

Government Official: Sen. John Ensign (NV) · BPM Staff: Barbara Jean Jackson · Pray for Rev. & Mrs. Mike Hall, Directors, Washington DC Bible Reading Marathon · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio broadcast in honor of Linda Kennon · Country:Botswana (1 million) in southern Africa · Major languages: English and Setswana · Limited religious freedom because of local chiefs · 49% animist; 21% Protestant; 4% Roman Catholic · Prayer Suggestion: Praise the Lord for the privilege of publishing His Word (Psalms 68:11).

Optional Reading: John 16

Memory Verse for the Week: Colossians 2:11