Gideon, Mighty Judge of Israel
Summary of Lesson Activities:
The ingredients and actions of drinking water from bowls and making Crispy Rice treats will help the students to learn the story.
Don’t be afraid; I am with you. Don’t tremble with fear; I am your God. I will make you strong and help you.” (Isaiah 41:10a, CEV)
Rotation Objectives --at the end of the Rotation, kids should be know:
- About God: God is patient with our weaknesses. He helps us do what he wants us to do.
- About Us: We can rely on God’s promised help.
- To Do and to Share: When I am afraid, I can remember God’s promise to be with me, and ask him for help.
God will help us be brave enough to do what he wants us to do.
- Read Judges 6-8
- Review Bible Background notes
- Read lesson and gather the materials.
- White board and markers
- Variety of bowls, straws, ice cubes in bowl
- Pitchers of water
- Ingredients for Rice Crispy Treats (no nuts, dairy):
- 3 tablespoons dairy-free margarine (Crystal Margarine from Costco is good)
- 40 regular marshmallows or 4 cups miniature marshmallows, or a jar of marshmallow crème
- 6 cups crispy rice cereal (Kellogg’s doesn’t have a nut warning)
- Ice cream cones (enough for class size)
- Microwave, microwavable bowl, large bowl, spoon,
- disposable plastic gloves
- helper to run microwave if not in same room
- Put the pitchers of water, ice cubes, bowls and straws on the table for the children to view
- Measure crispy rice into a large bowl
- Put margarine and marshmallows into a microwavable bowl and gloves and cones nearby
Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Make sure you have your nametag on. Introduce yourself and welcome the students. Take attendance.
Ask if they children have ever had to do something that was very scary for them to do. (e.g. stand up and talk to a group of people, try skiing for the first time, learn to ride a bike, tell someone they did something wrong…)
Tell them you are going to make a Fear Meter so they can show you how scared they were. Write the words “FEAR METER” at the top of the whiteboard. Leave a little bit of space and draw a line across the board underneath the words. Draw short vertical lines to divide it in half and then into quarters. Draw two more lines at the ends. Then number the vertical lines from 0 (not afraid at all) to 4 (extremely afraid)
0 1 2 3 4
Have them rate the examples they gave you to show how scary they were. Add some more to fill out the scale if you like.
Tell them that the story we are going to learn is about a man named Gideon. God wanted him to do a very scary thing, and he was very afraid. We will see just how scared he was, and how God helped him be brave. They will be doing some activities, with the things they see on the table, at different points in the story.
Tell the story of Gideon. At selected parts, pause and do the specified action. When you see FM, ask the kids to rate how scared the person was on the fear meter. CRT means to work on the “Crispy Rice Treat”.
- Background: Gideon’s story is found in the Old Testament, in the time before Jesus was born. Years before, God chose Moses to free the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt, and then God guided Joshua as he led them into Canaan, the Promised Land. We did those stories last year. At this point in Israel’s history, they were still a loose association of twelve tribes (one for each of Jacob’s sons) with God as their only common ruler. From time to time, when they needed help, God would raise up a person with the skills and respect needed to lead all of the people against their common enemy. These temporary leaders are called “judges” in the Bible. Gideon was one of those judges, and his story is found in the book of Judges.
- Opening: In those days, the Israelites were farmers. Other people in the area were nomads, who roamed all over the desert with their camels. One group of nomads was called the Midianites. Every year when the Israelites’ crops were ready, the Midianites would come in from the desert and camp all over the crops. There were so many men and camels that they looked like sand on the seashore. The Midianites would take some of the crops and ruin the rest, and the Israelites went hungry. Some of them were so afraid that they started to live in caves. (Judges 6:1-6). FM. The Israelites had not been obeying God. They had ignored the commandments God gave Moses, and started worshiping Baal, the false god, or idol, that the people in that area worshiped. But after seven years of being attacked by the Midianites, they cried out to God. God answered by calling Gideon to help.
- The Angel under the Tree: Gideon was a farmer. One of his jobs was to thresh the wheat, which means to separate the grains of wheat from the stalk it grows on. He did this inside a big hole in the ground so the Midianites wouldn’t see him. FM. CRT: the crispy rice represents the wheat that the Israelites grew and the Midianites stole. Suddenly, the Angel of the Lord came and sat down under a nearby tree. The angel said “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” Gideon did not feel like a mighty warrior. He said “God used to be with our people when he led Moses and Joshua, but if he was with us now, the Midianites wouldn’t be attacking us.” The angel said to him, “You are strong. Go and rescue the Israelites from the Midianites.” FM. Now Gideon was very frightened. He said “But my family isn’t very powerful and I am the weakest brother.” The angel said “I will be with you, and we will defeat the Midianites together.” FM.
- Test #1: Notice that the angel didn’t get angry when Gideon said he thought God wasn’t there. God wants us to tell him (or his angel) what we think. But Gideon was still afraid. He asked the angel to prove that he was really the Angel of the Lord. The angel waited while Gideon prepared an offering, just like he would make for God. He brought goat meat, unleavened bread, and some soup broth. The angel said to put all of those things on a rock. When Gideon did, the angel touched the rock with his stick, and fire blazed from the rock and burned up the meat and the bread. This showed that the angel really was from God, and that God accepted Gideon’s sacrifice. FM. Now Gideon was very afraid. But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid. You are not going to die.” FM.
- First Task: The angel told Gideon to tear down the alter to the idol Baal that his father had, and build a proper one for God, and sacrifice his father’s bull on it.. FM Gideon was afraid of his family and of the people in the town. But he wanted to obey the angel. So he did what the angel said at night when everyone was asleep. In the morning, the people were very angry. They wanted to kill Gideon, even though God had told them not to worship the false gods. (Commandments #1, #2) FM. But Gideon’s father was sorry he had worshiped Baal. He said that if Baal was God he could come down and punish Gideon himself. Did he? No, because he isn’t real. So the people didn’t hurt Gideon. FM.
- Test #2: The Midianites and some other people started to come in from the desert and camp nearby. So Gideon blew his trumpet to call all the warriors in his tribe to come to fight. He also sent messengers to some of the other far away tribes of Israel to ask them to come and fight too. FM. But he was still afraid. So he prayed to God and said, “I know you promised to help me, but would you please do something to prove that you are going to? Tonight, I will put some wool on the stone floor of the place where I thresh the grain. If you are really going to help me, in the morning, let the wool be wet with dew but the floor be dry.” Normally, of course, the floor and everything on it would be either all wet or all dry. In the morning, the wool was wet and the floor was dry. FM. CRT: the marshmallows represent the fleece. Have someone put the marshmallows in the microwave for 3 minutes while you continue the story. When they are melted, show that they are now wet like the fleece was in the morning, then mix them with the crispy rice. You can have older children do this while you continue with the story.
- Test #3: Even after that, Gideon was still afraid. So that night he prayed the opposite: “If you are really going to help me, God, let the fleece by dry and the floor be wet.” And that’s what happened. FM.
- Choosing the Army: Finally Gideon didn’t feel afraid. He had a big army of 32,000 men and he knew God was with him. So he took his army and went to camp by the spring of Harod, which was the only fresh water in the area. The Midianites were gathering, but because Gideon’s army was already at the spring, they had to camp in a valley a little way away where there was no water. Things were going well for Gideon. FM. Then God said to Gideon, “Your army is too big. If you win with a big army, the Israelites will think they defeated the Midianites all by themselves. I want you to take a smaller army so everyone knows you won because of me. So tell your men that if any of them are afraid, they should go home.” 22,000 men went home, leaving only 10,000. FM. Then God said, “That’s still too many men. Go down to the spring and watch them while they drink, and I will tell you which men to keep.” So the men went down to the spring, and Gideon watched them drink. PAUSE HERE: Tell the kids they should come and get some water to drink. They can each take a bowl and some water and if they want to, a straw and some ice cubes. Let them do this, go back to their seats, and drink. Tell them to drink, but also to watch and see how the others are drinking from the bowls. Collect the bowls and briefly discuss the different ways the children drank the water. Then continue the story. Gideon saw that some of the soldiers knelt down to drink, while others picked up water in their hands and lapped with their tongues like a dog. God said, “your army will be all the men who lapped the water like a dog.” That was only 300 men. All the rest went home. Remember, there were so many Midianites that they and their camels looked like sand on the seashore. Gideon had only 300 men left to fight with. FM.
- Test #4: Gideon was very afraid as he stood on top of a hill with his tiny army and looked down at the Midianites. But this time he didn’t have to ask God to help him be brave. God said to him, “Take your servant and sneak down the hill and listen to what the people are saying down there. So Gideon and his servant went down the hill. They heard a guard say “I just had a very scary dream. I saw a flat loaf of bread come tumbling down the hill. It hit our tent and knocked it to pieces.” Another guard replied, “How terrifying! It must be about Gideon, the very strong and powerful commander of the Isrealite army. Your dream can only mean that God is going to help them defeat us.” When Gideon heard that, he knew that God had made the Midianites afraid of him and his army. FM. Gideon bowed down to praise God. Then he went back to his army and shouted to them “Let’s go! The Lord is going to let us defeat the Midianites!”
- The Battle: God gave Gideon a good idea. When it was dark, he divided his little army of 300 men into 3 groups of 100 each. He gave each man a trumpet and a burning torch inside a jar to hide the flame. CRT: Hand out the ice cream cones. They remind us of trumpets, and also jars. Put on the disposable gloves and put the crispy rice mixture into the cones. Now they represent burning torches. Older children can help. When you are done, continue the story while the children eat the treats. Gideon told the men to sneak down the hill and spread out around the camp. When he gave the signal, they all blew on their horns and once and broke their jars. The Midianites woke up. They were very surprised. They heard all the horns and saw the burning torches all around their camp, and they thought they were surrounded by a gigantic army they couldn’t see. They panicked and started fighting with each other. Lots of them ran away. Gideon’s army chased them. But the armies from the other tribes that Gideon had called earlier were coming from that direction. They caught the Midianites and defeated them. FM
- The end: The Israelites were so happy that they wanted to make Gideon their ruler. But Gideon didn’t want to rule over them. He said “I won’t be your ruler, and neither will my son when he grows up. Only the Lord is your ruler.” He went home to his farm, and the Midianites didn’t come back for 40 years, as long as Gideon lived.
- Gideon was often very afraid. What helped him not be afraid? (Praying and asking God to reassure him. God always answered and let him know that he was there with Gideon.)
- When the Israelites called out to God to rescue them from the Midianites, were they being faithful to God? (No. They were worshiping Baal. They were so unfaithful that they were angry at Gideon for destroying Baal’s altar.)
- Why do you think God helped them anyway? (They were his chosen people and he had promised to be with them, and God always keeps his promises. He loved them so much that he wanted to help them even when they didn’t deserve help. That’s like Jesus. He came to Earth to help people come to God even when they didn’t deserve it either. He loved them enough to come and teach them and even die for them.)
- What are some ways God reassures us that he is with us? (through Bible promises and stories, through people, by touching our hearts when we pray…)
- When we are afraid, what should we do? (Ask God to help us be strong and brave, read the Bible to remind ourselves of his love and promises, read books about Christians who had strong faith…)
- What if we feel like we don’t deserve God’s help? (ask anyway, say we’re sorry if we need to.)
- Should we give God tests like Gideon did? Actually, the Bible and Jesus both say we shouldn’t put God to the test like Gideon did. We should read our Bible and ask God for faith to believe. Discuss. (Not all of the people in the Bible are people we should imitate. We should learn from what they do, but do what God wants us to do.)
Written by Sharon of Argyle Road Baptist Church, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Adapted from: “Gideon’s Trumpets” written by Augustana Lutheran Church Saint James, Minnesota and found on rotation.org, and their lesson set found above this lesson https://www.rotation.org/topic/...ago-roundtable-group