BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday September 30, 2012
HOW MUCH AM I WILLING TO RISK?
(Don’t hesitate to rise to the challenge that GOD puts before you)
(Judges 6 & 7)
In the Book of Judges, as it is recorded in the original Hebrew text in chapter 6, verse 13, the word that the author uses for “forsaken” is “nastash” (naw-tash), and it is the only time in Scripture that this particular word is used for “forsaken”. Here it means “to withdraw from”, “reject”, or, “to leave alone”. It describes exactly how Gideon felt about the plight of the nation of Israel, at the time when he was first approached by the angel of GOD. He felt that GOD had forsaken them because of their repeated sin and disobedience against HIM.
In Judges, chapters 6-8, the author of GOD uses 100 verses to relate the story of Gideon’s HOLY SPIRIT-possessed exploits, and, of his 40-year reign as judge over Israel. Chapter 6 opens just as most of the other chapters in this book does, with Israel’s, now familiar, continuing “5-cycle pattern” which consisted of “sin”, “servitude”, “supplication”, “salvation”, and “silence”. First, they would “Sin” against GOD, and GOD would place them into “Servitude” to one of the various pagan nations around them, as a form of punishment for committing those sins against HIM. This would later be followed by Israel’s repentance with “Supplication” to GOD. GOD would then, through HIS ever-present grace and mercy, bless the people with a taste of “Salvation” in the form a mighty Judge, who would rescue them from their oppression. And then finally, they would be able to experience “Silence”, or peace, throughout the remaining life of that Judge. It is a pattern that would continue to repeat itself, throughout the 340 years (1390 B.C. to 1050 B.C.) of Israel’s history that is recorded in the Book of Judges.
In verse 1a, we see that, once again, the Israelites have fallen into sin. We also see in verses 1b-6a, that GOD, as a result, allows them to keep on falling, right into the hands of their enemies, the Midianites. The Midianites were a powerful, nomadic group of people from south of the land of Edom, whose strength was accredited to their army’s unique incorporation of the camel into their military strategy. In fact, this documentation of the use of camels in warfare, here in the Book of Judges, is the earliest known documented case of such, in world history.
In order to understand the Midianite’s military capabilities more thoroughly, one would need to understand the durability and stamina of the camel. A camel could carry 400 pounds, plus a rider, for a week without drinking, and, could travel up to 100 miles per day. This made their military, a very formidable and superior force in those days. Here in chapter 6, the writer tells us that the Midianites would attack the Israelites at harvest time every year, destroying all their crops and eventually driving them to the brink of starvation.
Then, in verse 6b, we see the Israelites repent and cry out to GOD for help, and GOD, as HE always does, answers their call. HE answers first, by sending in a Prophet, and then, subsequently, HE calls up Gideon, whom HE would use to rescue HIS fallen people from their sorrows.
The angel of the LORD first appeared to Gideon while he was hiding at the bottom of a winepress, in order to shield himself from the Midianites while he was threshing his wheat. He feared that the Midianites would kill him, just as they had slain his brothers earlier, if he had been seen by them (Judges 8:19).
The angel tells Gideon that the LORD is with him, and Gideon, being puzzled by the remark, asks “Why then has the LORD abandoned us?” The angel, who appears as a “Theophany” (a manifestation of GOD’s own presence), then tells Gideon to “go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you”. Gideon then replies, “But LORD, how can I rescue Israel? My tribe is the weakest of all the tribes of Manasseh, and I am the youngest of my family. The LORD said to him “I AM with you. You will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man”.
There will be times when many of us will feel just as weak as Gideon obviously felt at that time, but the lesson here is that “if the LORD is with us, we always have strength enough to conquer our problems”. GOD never gives us a task to do, without also giving us the power in which to do it. And no test or trial is put before us to make us fail, but rather, they are given to us to make us stronger.
So Gideon and his army of 32,000 men got up early one morning and went down to the Spring of Harod, just south of where the Midianites were camping in the valley near the hill of Moreh. GOD then tells Gideon that he has too many men, and eventually narrows Gideon’s army down to 300 warriors. HE then tells Gideon that, with these 300 men, I will rescue you, and give you victory over the Midianites.
This lesson serves to show us that, when GOD is with us, there’s no such thing, as us being outnumbered. When we have access to GOD’s mighty power, we don’t have to hesitate to rise to any of the challenges that life may send our way. And the risk is never as great as our human thinking leads us to believe. With GOD’s help, Gideon went on to defeat the mighty Midianites, and he judged over Israel, and kept them faithful to GOD, for another 40 years after that. The presence of GOD’s SPIRIT, and, HIS possession of Gideon, was the key to the Israelite’s victory over the powerful Midianites.
Today, we as Christians, have the same powerful advantage, with the same powerful wonderful GOD working in, and through us, enabling us to overcome our own ever-present weaknesses. We too can succeed in GOD’s strength when we have faith enough to apply it to our own lives, and, to our own, seemingly, overwhelming circumstances. And GOD, will never abandon an obedient person, to face alone, the troubles of this world.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website