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Sunday School is a vital part of any ministry. In it, one is able to experience a deeper knowledge of God’s Word. We here at “Word For Life Says” want to help you help others. Below you will find resources to help you prepare for your upcoming lessons. May God bless you!
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Please Note: All lesson verses and titles are based on International Sunday School Lesson/Uniform Series ©2013 by the Lesson Committee, but all content/commentary written within is original to wordforlifesays.com unless properly quoted/cited. As always you are encouraged to do your own studies as well. Blessings!)
Lesson Text: Judges 6:11-18
11) “And there came an angel of the Lord, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites.
12) And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.
13) And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt? but now the Lord hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.
14) And the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?
15) And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.
16) And the Lord said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.
17) And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.
18) Depart not hence, I pray thee, until I come unto thee, and bring forth my present, and set it before thee. And he said, I will tarry until thou come again.”
The last sentence of Judges chapter 5, coming off of the victory discussed in last week’s lesson involving the leadership of Deborah and Barak, tells us, “And the land had rest forty years,” (Judges 5:31). But, as the story of the book of judges goes, the children of Israel “did evil in the sight of the LORD,” (Judges 6:1). Once again they found themselves in the pattern of a sinful lifestyle that was displeasing to God and once again they suffered the consequences of the choices they made. This time that consequence came through the people of Midian, whom the LORD delivered them into their hands (Judges 6:1). The Midianites, believe it or not, were descendants of Abraham, from Keturah his wife whom he married after the death of Sarah (Genesis 25:1-2). Although distantly related, there was no familial devotion or love between the two peoples. They were enemies at large.
The warfare the children of Israel suffered under their hands was different than previous oppressions. Whenever Israel sowed crops, at harvest time, the enemy would come in and wiped the land clean. The Midianites, along with “the Amalekites, and the children of the east” (Judges 6:3) gathered against them to make life where they lived absolutely miserable. The people lived in utter fear, spending their days hiding in dens and caves (Judges 6:2) whenever the enemy breached their territory. The land was ravished before them because the raiding bands of the Midianites “destroyed the increase of the earth” (Judges 6:4), leaving nothing to eat behind for people or animals. The enemies own animals and they, which were considered to be “without number”, took over everything leaving Israel “greatly impoverished” (Judges 6:5-6).
Once again, as in the cases of their sin cycles, they went through before, when the oppression of the Midianites became too much to bear, after seven years of dealing with this enemy, “Israel cried unto the LORD,” (Judges 6:6). But rather than immediately sending a judge to deliver the people, God sent a prophet.
The prophet God sent reminded the people of God’s previous deliverance for them, particularly how He brought them out of Egypt and out of bondage. The prophet also rehearsed their history by reminding them that God not only delivered them from the hand of the Egyptians but also “out of the hand of all that oppressed you,” (Judges 6:9) and gave them their land.
God, time and again, delivered His people and set them up for success. All the people had to do was to remember that they were in a covenant relationship with the one and only true God and they were to “not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell,” (Judges 6:10). In that same verse, we see once again, the people’s heart was not securely fastened to the Lord, for through the prophet, He rebuked them, saying, “But ye have not obeyed my voice.”
This leads us to the lesson text for today’s study and the sixth judge to appear on the scene: Gideon.
“And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite.” Ready to address the issue of the enemy His people were dealing with, God placed Himself on the scene to get the ball of deliverance rolling, in the form of “an angel of the LORD.”
I love the illustration this gives. It shows God’s nearness; His presence, and His observant nature (He sees it all, He knows all), even when we are going through the hardest times of life. The free will of man may seem like it prevails at times, but when God is ready, He will act on behalf of His people. So there, located on the property of “Joash the Abiezrite,” He sat until He was ready to make Himself known to the prospective judge.
In that place also was where “Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites.” Threshing wheat was normally a job best suited for doing out in the open where it could catch a good breeze. This breeze would help separate the actual wheat from what is called the chaff. Chaff is the worthless husks of the grain that usually blows away in the wind during the threshing process. But Gideon was trying to keep the process hidden as much as expected from the eyes of the roving Midianites whose sole purpose, it seemed, was to take everything from everyone present in that place. Thus, Gideon threshed by the “winepress,” an enclosed area normally used for extracting juice from grapes.
It was here and during that time of threshing that God made Himself known to Gideon. “The angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.” When the “angel of the LORD” came upon him, He greeted him openly as He already saw him, not by who is now or what he is doing. God saw more in him past his current situation.
In an article I previously wrote titled, “Your Content Reads More than Your Cover,” I said:
“We’ve all heard the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” It simply tells us that what we see on the outside doesn’t always accurately represent what’s on the inside. Books usually contain a lot of content within their pages and when one looks at the cover it is supposed to give an idea of that content. Sometimes covers can disappoint you. What they show can appear to be an exciting and promising read but when you get into the story it’s simply not so. And vice versa. Covers can inaccurately represent some great stuff on the inside while the outside seems to be dull and dreary.
Down through the years this phrase has been applied to people, and rightly so. As we treat book covers and their content is often how we view other people. We judge the outside without first getting acquainted with what’s written within. As in Gideon’s case, sometimes we apply this same judging standard to ourselves, not recognizing the promise and potential in our own person . . .
God has often called and declared more for a person than they have seen in themselves. Abraham was going to be a father of multitudes though he had no son. God saw more! Joseph was going to reign as second in command over Egypt though he was the bane of his brother’s existence. God saw more! David, out in the field tending his father’s sheep and considered to be the least in the family rose to be Israel’s greatest king and deemed “A man after God’s own heart.” God saw more!” (Word For Life Says)
Gideon was not convinced. All he could see is what he and his people were going through right now. He couldn’t get past the ordeal they found themselves in and began to question, “If the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of?” What happened to the great things that God once performed for His people?
During our introduction, we discussed God sending a prophet into the midst, noting to this people their failure to obey God. In that, he also rebuked them for the idol worshipping their hands and hearts participated in. This sin or any sin will stop the flow of God’s blessing on an individual life or a whole nation. Although, many people question life and have the “What’s going on?” thoughts that cross their mind, one of the best things to do in these situations is to be reflective of our own hearts and lives before Him. (A word of caution on that note: Not every hard circumstance we face is the result of sin or wrongdoing. Refer to John 9:2-3 and Luke 11:32).
But, for the children of Israel, the Midianites were their punishment for breaking their holy covenant with God. Before Joshua passed off the scene, he warned them, “Therefore it shall come to pass, that as all good things are come upon you, which the LORD your God promised you; so shall the LORD bring upon you all evil things, until he have destroyed you from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you. When ye have transgressed the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed yourselves to them; then shall the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and ye shall perish quickly from off the good land which he hath given unto you,” (Joshua 23:15-16).
Even so, we get the sense that Gideon, after dealing with this enemy for seven years, after living in hiding for seven years, after watching food sources dwindle for seven years was feeling exasperated over everything they were dealing with; Gideon continued to pose questions, saying, “Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hand of the Midianites.” For those who remain faithful to God, He remains faithful to them (compare Deuteronomy 7:9 and 2 Chronicles 16:9), and He will not forsake them.
Rather than answer any of his personal, disheartening questions, the lesson text tells us, “The LORD looked upon him,” and gave him a command and a mission. This is where we really see the manifestation of God in this lesson with Him no longer being referred to as an “angel,” but being strictly called, “The LORD.” He said to Gideon, “Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?” “Go” was the command and to “save Israel from the hand of the Midianites” was the mission.
Gideon going up against the Midianites probably seems just as ludicrous as a skinny, teenage boy like David going up against great warrior like Goliath (both seem to be outmatched and outsized). But, anytime God places a call on someone’s life, He doesn’t measure their ability to do the job by the individual. He doesn’t measure it by some fantastic gift they have in them, or their stature, or anything else one might use to determine the probability of success on the outside. God measures it by what He knows He can do through the life on the inside; that person who will just “go” at His calling.
Gideon still didn’t see it the way God saw it (Here’s a hint, my friends; we will never really see it the way God does. This is why our walk with Him is predominately a walk of faith). Gideon said, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”
In other words, Gideon felt totally unqualified for what God was calling him to do. He felt inferior not only because of financial constraints, being “poor” (with no money there are no funds to do anything about anything). But, he also felt the “least” of all in his own father’s house (no power and no authority to do anything because he was the youngest). Again, a lot of times where we see failure, God sees deliverance. Where we see inability, God sees a champion in the making. It’s not, nor has it ever been about what we see, think, or can do within ourselves. It’s all about what God can do through us and this is what Gideon was not immediately grasping hold of.
Have you ever been there? Feeling the tugging of a mission in your life but feeling totally inadequate for the job? Once, I penned these words:
“Too many wrestle with thoughts of a less-than attitude. Even those who have had their lives and souls transformed by the power of the blood of the Lamb, they often succumb to the attitude of inferiority. When those rogue thoughts mine their way into your thinking pattern it changes how you relate to yourself, this world, and others. Those wayward thoughts begin to literally unravel the work of grace accomplished on the cross . . .
. . . You serve the God that is more than enough, and through Christ, He has already approved you.
No matter what people say, you’re qualified.
No matter what the circumstances look like, you are fit to do this.
No matter how hard it seems, you are spiritually equipped to make it . . .
. . . God only has to look at the work of Christ in your life to dip His spiritual stamp in that heavenly ink pad and declare you are QUALIFIED!
Listen, it has never been about what goes on on the outside. It’s all about what He has done on the inside. There, in the crevices of your heart and soul you are who He says you are: QUALIFIED!
Therefore, remember dear friends, wherever it is that God is leading you and whatever He has called you to do – you are QUALIFIED!” (Word For Life Says/Qualified!).
Back to Gideon’s story, “The LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.” God gave Gideon assurance of not only gaining the victory over the oppressive Midianites, but He also gave him the assurance that He would be with him every step of the way. God promised His presence.
Max Lucado is quoted, saying, “We (Christians) are always in the presence of God. There is never a non-sacred moment! His presence never diminishes. Our awareness of His presence may falter, but the reality of His presence never changes,” (Quote Source: AZ Quotes). And, the reality of God’s presence was cemented in His promise to Gideon. This thresher of wheat that struggled with his faith needed more encouragement to believe. He thought, what God was offering was something only the courageous would attempt. Not men in hiding. But, what God was offering was he was not going to have to do this alone. How sweet and wonderful is that?
That’s the great thing about being in a relationship with God – you don’t have to do life alone. Things that may confuse and overwhelm us will never be too much for God. We may not be able to handle the magnitude of the mission, but with God nothing is impossible, and it is He that promised to be there through it all.
The victory He had in mind for Gideon was so great that it was going to be as if “one man” took down a whole army. WOW! In our walk of faith, we have to take our eyes of what we can do and focus more on what God can do through us.
But Gideon was still not wholly convinced. God is so patient and loving toward us sometimes that it simply blows my mind. Gideon said, “If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me;” show me, Lord, this is really You who are speaking with me. He was seeking further confirmation. It’s as if he was saying, “Lord, this is Your work. Show me that this is really You and that this is really Your plan for my life.” The task before him was fearsome and Gideon just wanted to be sure.
“Depart not hence, I pray thee, until I come unto thee, and bring forth my present.” Gideon wanted to make an offering to God, and God, in His mercy, granted him space and time. He said, “I will tarry until thou come again.” As God would be with him in battle and not leave him nor forsake him; so He will be there when Gideon comes back with his offering.
How awesome is God?! God will not pacify our insecurities and doubts, but He is patient to work with us, leading into a deeper relationship with Him and giving us the courage to fulfill His will in our lives. May we learn to follow with courage knowing who He is in us and not who we are within ourselves.
Eventually, as Gideon’s story continues to unfold, he brings his offering and it is accepted. Fire comes out of the rock where the offering is laid and consumes it completely after the Angel of the Lord touches it with the tip of his staff (Judges 6:21). Gideon is then given the reassurance that he will not die because he has seen “an angel of the LORD face to face,” (Judges 6:22).
Following that, after building an altar unto the Lord and calling it “Jehovah-shalom” (Judges 6:24), God gives him the command to destroy the altar of Baal his family has set up (Judges 6:25-27) upsetting the men of the city to the point they wanted to kill him (Judges 6:28-32).
The enemies then etched closer to them, and the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon and he mustered the forces together, the Abiezrites along with all Manasseh. Other tribes also came together with him to stand against the enemy as well (see Judges 6:33-35).
Gideon then sought additional confirmation by way of a fleece (Judges 6:36-40). And, to make a long story short, after the gathering of the troops to go against the enemy, Gideon found out from God that his number of warriors were too large. Eventually, God reduced his army to a mere three hundred men that would go against the vast army of the Midianites.
After that, God instructed Gideon to go into the enemy’s camp unawares. When he did, he received further confirmation that God was going to give them the victory. The people were afraid and their dreams fed their fears even more. God revealed to Gideon in that moment what He had been trying to convince him all along. That He is with him and they will get the victory (read Judges 7-8:21).
As with Barak in last week’s lesson, we don’t want to judge Gideon too hard in what seems to be a battle of insecurities. He too is noted in Hebrews 11, in that Hall of Fame of Faith, right along with Barak and other known peoples whom God chose to recognize for their faithfulness (Hebrews 11:32).
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear,” is what Nelson Mandela once said (Quote Source: Brainy Quote). Eventually, through much encouragement of the Lord, Gideon conquered his fear and insecurities and as God had previously instructed him to go; he went and brought victory to the people of Israel.
Standard Print PDF: Judges: Gideon Sunday School Lesson Summary Standard Print
Large Print PDF: Judges: Gideon Sunday School Lesson Summary Large Print
Below are activities to support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
Draw the Scene: Judges: Gideon Draw the Scene
Memory Verse: Judges Gideon Memory Verse
Medal of Honor/Sheriff’s Star Craft: Have students make medals to pin or wear around their necks such as the ones you may see in Olympic arenas, on soldiers, or even a simple sheriff’s star cut out. They can use yarn or pins to attach them to themselves and wear them to remind them to have courage and faith in God even in the hardest times.
Below are Activities/Links/Resources to support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
“Gideon Bible Lesson Plan” (Loads of printable activities to choose from. Enjoy!)
“God Sends Gideon” (Game ideas and stories to match different aspects of the lesson. Enjoy!)
Text Free Photo Source: Pixabay