Gideon: Mighty Judge of Israel
- Video: view “A Bug’s Life” to understand fears and worries
- Cooking: The ingredients and actions of making Rice Crispy treats will help the students to learn the story. [In addition is member Plumtree's adaptation of this lesson here.]
- Drama: be a cowboy in “Giddy-Up Gideon”
- Games: Gideon Volleyball, plus Rock, Paper, Scissors
- Storytelling: The teacher (movie director) will guide the students through six scenes of the story.
Judges 6 through 7
Zechariah 4:6 Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty.
Isaiah 41:10 Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Don’t tremble with fear. I am your God. I will make you strong. (Contemporary English Version)
Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” --Judges 6: 14
Rotation Objectives: at the end of the Rotation, kids should be able to:
- Retell the story of Gideon’s adventures.
- Recognize that we can rely on God’s strength and power
- God calls us to be faithful and can make the most improbable faithful follower into a leader, capable to complete God’s plans.
- God is patient. God loves us even when we doubt and test God’s love.
God is faithful and He fights for us when we face trouble.
God chose Moses to free the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt, and then guided Joshua as he led them into Canaan, the Promised Land. Much of the land of Canaan had been conquered by the Israelites at the time of Joshua’s death, but not all. God’s plan was that the people would gradually drive out the remaining heathen peoples. Unfortunately, God’s people did not complete the conquest and, instead, allowed the heathen nations to live amongst them. And then Israel began to worship their false gods.
Judges 2 outlines the cycle that would repeat itself for hundreds of years: (1) Israel strayed from the Lord and bowed down in worship of idols; (2) the Lord was angered and allowed other nations to come in and plunder Israel; (3) the Israelite people, in their great distress, called out to the Lord for deliverance; (4) God raised up a judge—a deliverer—who saved the people from their enemies. But when the judge died, the people turned away from God and the cycle would begin again. The time of the judges was characterized by the great moral decay of Israel, where “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21: 25).
Gideon was one of these judges that God raised up. At this time in history, the people were harassed by the Midianites, a nomadic tribe that raided the Israelite farms in order to devour the crops. This happened for seven years, at which point, the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for deliverance. God sent His “angel” (really the Lord himself) to a man named Gideon. The Lord said to Gideon, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” (Judges 6:14). Gideon is doubtful and insecure because he is from the weakest clan and he is the least in his family. Three times he asks God for a sign, hoping to strengthen his faltering faith. And three times God graciously provides a sign. Gideon seems an unlikely hero at this point, but God equips him to do great things.
Gideon sends out messengers to his fellow Israelites, and 32,000 men respond! Yet they are vastly outnumbered by the 135,000 Midianite swordsmen. God wanted the people of Israel to place their trust in Him but God knew that with 32,000 men, the people of Israel would think that they had won the battle with their own might. So God had Gideon reduce the number of soldiers to 10,000 and then just to 300 (meaning that they were outnumbered 450 to 1).
Gideon comes up with a crazy battle plan. He divides his 300 men into 3 groups positioned around the Midianite camp. He equipped each one of them with a trumpet and a torch inside of an empty jar. Once darkness had come, the men broke the jars so that the flames showed. They also blew their trumpets and shouted, “A sword for the Lord and Gideon!” (Judges 7:20). Normally, only a few men in an army would have a trumpet, so the Midianites assumed that they were facing a vast army. The Lord threw them into confusion and the Midianites slaughtered each other.
Why is this Story Important?
The story has applications, both of Law and Gospel. Of the Law (from the Our Life in Christ curriculum notes): “The whole period of the judges is a warning against forgetting the grace and blessings of God….the Israelites quickly turned away from the One who had blessed them. The consequences were painful, but not nearly as devastating as the eternal ones for all who reject their eternal Savior.”
There are also applications from the Gospel. The stories in Judges repeatedly reveal God’s faithfulness and forgiveness of His people. These deliverers in Judges point to our ultimate Savior, Jesus Christ. The Lutheran Study Bible notes: “In the same way the Lord fought for Gideon, so He also fights for us against seemingly insurmountable odds. He overcame our greatest enemy in the most improbable way: the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross”.
“God Provides Victory through Judges.” Bible Commentary for Teachers. Our Life in Christ curriculum. Concordia Publishing House.
The Lutheran Study Bible (ESV). Concordia Publishing House. 2009.
I am not the author of all of these lessons, but am posting them for our group.
A Lesson Set written by members of Chicago Western Suburbs Rotation Roundtable
Permission to copy materials granted for non-commercial use provided credit is given and all cited references remain with this material
This image is in the public domain, accessed via Wikimedia Commons.