Week Three: Gideon: The Coward Judges 6:1-16 Spend FIFTEEN - Day One 1. Judges 6:1 starts off with these words, “The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord….” After all the drama and rescue the Israelites experienced in their history, it’s hard to believe they can’t learn their lesson. Or maybe it’s not hard for you to believe. When have you felt trapped in a bad habit or a pattern of behavior that you couldn’t seem to break, despite how it has negatively affected you in the past? How does it feel when you realize in spite of your best efforts, you “did it” again?
2. Read Judges 6:1-6. Describe what life was like for the Israelites under the hand of the Midianites.
3. What did Israel do at the end of verse 6?
4. This time it did not take long for the Israelites to cry out. Perhaps it is a testament to how bad the living conditions were for the Israelites. Read Judges 6:7-9. What did God send this time?
5. Of what did he remind the Israelites?
6. Now read verse Judges 6:10. About what else did he remind the Israelites?
7. The prophet reminded God’s people that God had delivered them from Egypt and oppression in the past. He also reminded them that they were not to bow down to any other gods. It’s the same progression for any sin. In the first question today, we asked how it feels when you are stuck in a disruptive pattern. Likely some of the words that came to mind were: trapped, frustrated, angry, powerless or guilty. In other words, oppressed. Sin leads to oppression. Read Galatians 1:3-5. Just as God held the key for Israelites’ rescue, He too holds the key for our freedom from sin. Have you invited God into your oppression? Even if you have before, do so again today.
8. End your FIFTEEN in prayer thanking God for rescuing us from the oppression that comes from our sins.
Spend FIFTEEN - Day Two 9. When you think of brave people, who comes to mind?
10. Read Judges 6:11-12. a. Who greeted Gideon? b. Why was Gideon in the winepress? c. What did the angel of the Lord call Gideon?
11. Normally we don’t picture mighty warriors hiding in winepresses. What else did the angel of the Lord say to Gideon in verse 12?
12. Read Gideon’s response in Judges 6:13. Write Gideon’s polite reply in your own words.
13. Gideon assumed by his circumstances that God was nowhere to be found in Ophrah. How often have we mistaken our circumstances for proof of whether or not God is with us? Read Jesus’ last words before He descended into heaven in Matthew 28:19-20. What were His last words to us?
14. Do you believe that God is always with you? Gideon was afraid because He did not believe God was with him any longer. Is there a mighty warrior in each of us, simply waiting for the realization that we are not alone in order to emerge? What would you do differently if you lived with Jesus’ promise that He will always be with you in the forefront of your thoughts?
15. Close your FIFTEEN in prayer asking God to help you live boldly with the knowledge that He is always with you.
Spend FIFTEEN - Day Three 16. Read Judges 6:13-16. a. What did the angel of the Lord command Gideon to do? (v.14)
b. What did the angel of the Lord say to boost Gideon’s confidence? (v. 14)
c. What were Gideon’s objections? (v. 15)
17. One more time the angel of the Lord tried to boost Gideon’s confidence by reminding him the Lord was with him, but that was not going to be enough. Read Judges 6:17-18. What was Gideon’s request?
18. Read Judges 6:19-27. So far we’ve seen hiding, doubt, excuses and now bargaining. We’re still waiting to get a glimpse of that hero the angel of the Lord called on (apparently so is Gideon.) But God sees something in Gideon that we do not. Is there something that others have noted in you that you struggle to see yourself? Is there something that God has called you that you still have trouble believing and claiming?
19. Failing to see what God sees is not only a problem when we look at ourselves; it’s also a problem when we look at the people around us. We may discount others because of their appearance or behavior but God does not. He has a plan for each and every one of us. Conclude your FIFTEEN in prayer, asking God to help you see those around you as He sees them, as beloved sons and daughters.
Spend FIFTEEN - Day Four 20. In yesterday’s reading, we saw our “mighty warrior” sneak down under the cover of darkness to destroy the altar and Asherah pole used to worship foreign gods. Read Judges 6:28-31. a. What was the reaction of the townspeople?
b. What was Joash’s reply?
21. Once again we see Gideon hiding. Gideon’s father has to contend with the angry townspeople that want to murder his son for what he’d done. But Joash points out something the followers of Baal had never noticed; they were doing all the work. Baal accomplished nothing on his own, but instead the armies of his followers were the ones in charge. Read 1 Corinthians 1:26-27. What does God use?
22. God doesn’t need powerful armies to accomplish His work. Read 2 Corinthians 12:6-10. What did Paul say his weakness displays?
23. After reading these scriptures, do you have any additional insights into why God might have chosen a man like Gideon to be the rescuer for His people?
24. God not only used Gideon to show His power, but He also used Gideon to discredit Baal. After all, if Baal can’t deal with a coward like Gideon who launches an attack on his honor, what good can he do? One thing is very clear, if God is going to accomplish anything through Gideon, He’s going to have to do the heavy lifting Himself. How does this help give you courage in your own weaknesses?
25. If God can use Gideon, surely He can use us. Conclude your FIFTEEN in prayer, ask God to use your weaknesses to show His strength.
Spend FIFTEEN - Day FIVE 26. If we are not yet convinced that God can use anyone, He has another plan to use Gideon that might just do the trick. Today will be a little more reading, but hang in there; it’ll definitely be worth it. Read Judges 6:36-40. Just before this, Israel’s enemies joined forces and are preparing to attack. What do you make of Gideon’s actions in these verses? Was this a heroic test or a cowardly one?
27. Read Judges 7:1-8. Remember Gideon is not particularly brave. How would you feel if you were Gideon going to battle with an army of 300 stiff-kneed men?
28. In spite of all that God had already done through Gideon, Gideon is still reluctant to embrace his new identity as “mighty warrior.” Yet God continues to provide Gideon with what he needs. Read Judges 7:9-14. What did God do to give Gideon courage?
29. Read Judges 7:15-18. How did Gideon react to his newly found courage?
30. Finally read Judges 7:19-23. What did God accomplish through Gideon and 300 men?
31. One of the most impressive parts of Gideon’s story is not only the courage he gained, but the courage he inspired in others. It’s hard to picture the same Gideon cowering in the winepress saying to an army, just follow me and do what I do! But in the end, he became exactly who God said he was, a mighty warrior. Throughout this week’s study, have you discovered doubts or fears that may be ruling you? Close your final FIFTEEN this week by asking God to give you courage as you, too, face those fears, just as He did for Gideon.