Songs and Praise
   

 
 
 

Less 194 THE DEFEAT OF THE MIDIANITES

 
Judges 7:9-25; 8 :1 -35;

Lesson 194 Senior Lessons

MEMORY VERSE:  "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31).

I Sword of the Lord and of Gideon

God allayed Gideon's fear of Midian by permitting him to hear of the fear Midian had for Gideon's God, Judges 7:9-14; Joshua 2: 9-11; Genesis 35:5; Exodus 23:27; Deuteronomy 2:25; 11:25 Gideon's bold and unusual attack on Midian was an act inspired by faith in God, Judges 7:9-20; Numbers 10:9; Joshua 6:5; Deuteronomy 32:41, 42; Jeremiah 46:10 Midian's hosts were disastrously routed by Gideon, Judges 7:15-23; 8:10; I Samuel 14:20; II Chronicles 20:22, 23 The men of Ephraim joined the battle against Midian, Judges 7:24, 25

II Pursuit of Midian

Gideon pacified Ephraim's jealous wrath with a soft answer, Judges 8:1-3; Proverbs 15:1; I Samuel 17:28, 29; Genesis 4:4-8; 37:4 The citizens of Succoth and Penuel refused Gideon assistance in the fight with Midian, Judges 8:4-9; I Samuel 25:10, 11; Judges 5:23; Obadiah 10-14; I John 3:16-18 Gideon promised vengeance against Succoth and Penuel, which was soon carried out, Judges 8:7, 9, 13-17 Gideon captured Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian, and executed them for their evil doings, Judges 8:10-12, 18-22 Peace reigned for forty years, until Gideon's death, Judges 8:22-35

NOTES

Godly Encouragement

'And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Arise, get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered it into thine hand. But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host: and thou shalt hear what they say; and afterward shall thine hands be strengthened to go down unto the host.' With these words God encouraged Gideon in the attack on the hosts of Midian. When the attack upon Midian was once started, there could be no turning back until victory was assured.


The Lord desired to deliver Israel from the hands of their oppressors. who were the Midianites. But there had to be a leader for the fighting men of Israel, a man who would remain undaunted and undismayed at whatever might come to pass in the heat of the battle. If Gideon was fully persuaded that God in truth had given the hosts of Midian into the hands of Israel, he would be invincible. Thus God encouraged Gideon, to embolden him and bolster his faith.


Gideon, acting upon the word of the Lord, went down to the hosts of Midian and listened to their conversations. Hearing a soldier tell his companion a dream, he learned that in the camp there was a great fear of God's people. This was not the first time the heathen nations had felt the fear of God. The Canaanites, who had first felt the strength of Israel's armies as they entered into Canaan from the desert and from Egypt, were well acquainted with the terrors of God's judgments. Doubtless, many of these memories still lingered in those lands, and it was not difficult for God to stir them to life again.

Shout for Battle

'God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are' (I Corinthians 1:27, 23). Gideon's battle against Midian is positive proof of this portion of Scripture. How different are God's ways than man's, and how effective! The peculiarity of Gideon's method of warfare did not detract from its effectiveness. Inspired by the Lord, Gideon divided his men into three companies, and armed each man with a trumpet, and a pitcher with a lamp inside.


Surrounding the camp of Midian at night, Gideon gave the order for battle: 'Look on me, and do likewise: and, behold, when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so shall ye do.' With a true spirit of leadership Gideon went first into the battle, and commanded his men to follow after. Likewise Paul the Apostle told his followers, 'Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ' (I Corinthians 11:1). There will be no defeat to the one who follows the great Captain, Jesus Christ. (See Hebrews 13:20; I Peter 5:3, 4.)


Blowing their trumpets, breaking their pitchers, and holding their lights, the men of Gideon shouted in unison, 'The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon.' The shouts of Gideon's men, the breaking of the pitchers, the blowing of the trumpets, and the light of the lamps suddenly shining forth, all convinced the men of Midian that the hosts of Israel were upon them. In the ensuing confusion every man thought his neighbor was his enemy; and they turned their swords upon one another, with the resultant loss of 120,000 Midianites in the battle. Thus did God begin to give Gideon the victory over the Midianites.


Gideon, in pursuit of the routed Midianites, sent messengers to Ephraim to cut off the men of Midian when they reached the fords of Jordan. This Ephraim did while the men of Naphtali, Asher, and Manasseh pursued Midian another way. The men of Ephraim captured two of the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb, whom they slew. Gideon's faith and obedience to God brought a great victory to Israel.

Jealous Hearts

Now the people of the tribe of Ephraim were desirous of sharing in a victory they had done very little to accomplish. If they had been truly desirous of fighting Midian, they could have lifted their hearts to God, asking for aid as Gideon had evidently been doing when the angel of God called upon him to deliver Israel. Ephraim's sudden boldness did not deceive Gideon at all, and Gideon proved himself a true child of God by the answer he gave them.


He belittled himself and his achievements in comparison to their accomplishments in that they had taken two of the Midian princes captive. 'The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression' (Proverbs 19:11). This was Gideon's action. He could have said much to the Ephraimites about their sudden boldness, but he left them with God, who knows the hearts of all men and shall in the end bring every work into judgment, whether it be good or evil. The Ephraimites soon proved what they were. We read of no account where Ephraim or any of the other tribes of Israel went with Gideon when he pursued the remnants of the Midianites with his faithful three hundred whom God had chosen for him.

Uncharitable Neighbors

The men of Gideon had become faint with hunger as they continued their pursuit of the Midianites. Gideon appealed to the citizens of Succoth and Penuel to give his men bread that they might have strength to continue their fight. This plea for aid was refused, and they mocked Gideon's efforts with the taunt, 'Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thine army?'


It is obvious from such an answer that the men of Succdth and Penuel had no faith in Gideon, nor in the God he served. Their hearts were carnal and full of unbelief, and they feared not to refuse aid to one who was fighting a common enemy, 'and who was also a fellow countryman, and possibly a blood relative.


While the men of Succoth and Penuel could not believe it, the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna actually were in the hands of Gideon, for God had already given the victory to Gideon and his men. 'Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen' (Hebrews 11:1). Gideon asked help from brethren and was refused, but this did not deter him nor dull his faith, for his confidence was steadfast in God.


Gideon and his men pressed on and won the victory for God and Israel. But Gideon promised to return and punish the men of Succoth and Penuel for their refusal of aid. This promise was soon carried out, exactly as Gideon had said. Such are the rewards of wickedness.


Carnality and unbelief have ever been the foe of faith and righteousness. If the powers of wickedness do not forcibly resist God's work and His people, they do all they can to hinder and impede the work of God, as in the situation with Gideon. The men of Succoth and Penuel, when they refused aid, did not refuse only Gideon, but they refused God; for to re¬fuse a messenger of God is to refuse the One who sent him. (See I Samuel 8:7; Matthew 25:41-46.)


Jesus Christ, in His ministry on earth, suffered much at the hands of unbelievers. His enemies denied His Deity and His miracle-working power; and at last they hurled at Him the crowning insult as He hung on the cross, 'If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross' (Matthew 27:40).


Vengeance was sent upon Gideon's enemies, and it shall be sent upon every enemy of a child of God. Jesus told His disciples: 'It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones' (Luke 17:1, 2).

Fruits of Victory

The men of Israel desired Gideon and his sons to rule over them, but he refused. Gideon knew whence his help had come. It was through no might nor power of his own that Israel had been released from the oppression of the Midianites. God had once again manifested His great name and the might of His power for the benefit of His people. Gideon told Israel: 'The LORD shall rule over you'; and God did rule over them for the next forty years through the administration of Gideon. 'And the country was in quietness forty years.'


The victory God gave Israel over the Midianites was one of major proportions. We catch a glimpse, from other passages of Scripture written at a later date, of the feelings of Israel over this great deliverance. A prayer of Asaph against the enemies of Israel who were again rising to attack is recorded for us in the eighty-third Psalm. In that Psalm Asaph prays that God will 'do unto them as unto the Midianites. . . . Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb: yea, all their princes as Zebah, and as Zalmunna: who said, Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession' (Psalm 83:9-12).


We learn from this prayer that Midian not only had invaded Israel for the usual military reasons of conquest for spoil, but they had dared to defy God in so doing. They had aoknowledged the houses were God's, but had dared to steal them from God. That was the reason God rose up against them. Asaph prayed for a similar victory, for he remembered the wonderful deliverance God had given before in like circumstances.


The name of Oreb means 'a raven,' and the name of Zeeb, 'a wolf.' But these scavengers of spoil were nothing to God when He wished to overthrow them. The princes of Midian all met an inglorious and shameful end. Isaiah, in his prophecies to Israel, also refers to Midian as their defeat at the hand of God. (See Isaiah 10:26; 9:4.)

QUESTIONS

1 How did God encourage Gideon to attack Midian?
2 Describe Gideon's methods of attack.
3 Why did the Ephraimites become jealous of Gideon?
4 How did Gideon pacify their anger?
5 What was the sin of the men of Succoth and Penuel?

6 In what manner did Jesus Christ suffer like indignities?

 
   
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