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Judges 6 – 10
There are five more leaders of Israel we come to today including; Gideon, Abimelech, Tola, Jair, and the beginning of Jephthah’s story.
Again Israel rebelled against God and worshiped the Baal idols. Because of this, God gave them as slaves into the hands of the Midianites and such was their oppression the people fled to the mountains to hide in rock crevices and caves. The Midianites would come every year at harvest and camp on the crops ruining them and killing all the flocks and herds. They descended on the land like locusts with all their tents and camels. When God called Gideon to save Israel he was threshing wheat in a windmill so as not to be caught by the Midianites. First God reminded Gideon of all He had done for Israel in the past, but Gideon asks the question we all sometimes ask during difficult times,
“if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian.”
So God offers Gideon a challenge, go up and save Israel in your own strength. Gideon answers, how can I? My clan is the weakest and I the weakest in my family. Don’t you love that? God didn’t choose Gideon because he was the most capable for the job, the bravest or the strongest. Yet because God declares him a mighty warrior, a mighty warrior he will be. In reply to Gideon recognizing his own insignificance, God tells him that He will go with him and the battle will be won.
To know that he really is speaking to God Gideon asks Him to wait while he prepares an offering. When He gives it to the LORD, He has him place the meat and the bread on a rock and pour out the broth on the ground just like at the temple. Then God touches the offering with the rod in His hands, the offering bursts into flames and God disappears. Gideon is now more afraid than ever because he knows that seeing God face to face is a cause of death.
God tells him again not to be afraid. The first thing he is commanded to do is tear down the idols in his own town. He does so but at night because he was afraid of the people. When the people find out it was him some of them want to kill him but his father demands of the people if they will defend Baal. If he is a real God let him defend himself. Gideon then goes out and does exactly what the LORD says. It is not in the might of Israel that they are freed from Midian but because God rescued them. Gideon also destroys the towns of Succoth and Peniel who would not provide for the LORD’s army when they were exhausted and still in pursuit of two of the enemy kings. Even after all this Gideon takes gold from their plunder and makes it into an ephod which the people worship and anger God again by their faithlessness.
Israel has forty years of peace under Gideon who in that time has many wives and 71 sons. One of these sons, Abimelech, is born to Gideon’s concubine.
The next judge is the bastard son of Gideon. The people have again turned from God and no longer treat Gideon’s family with kindness for all he did for Israel. Abimelech decides that he should be the leader of the people so he highers reckless men to be his followers and kills all seventy of his brothers except the youngest, Jotham. Jotham curses his brother and the Shechemites who have named him their king. After three years this curse is fulfilled and the town of Shechem is destroyed. Then Abimelech is killed by a woman who dropped a millstone on his head as he invaded the tower her people were hiding in. He asks his servant to run him through with a sword so that it cannot be said he was killed by a woman.
“After the time of Abimelech a man of Issachar. Tola son of Puah, the son of Dodo, rose to save Israel. He lived in Shamir, in the hill country of Ephraim. He led Israel twenty-three years; then he died, and was buried in Shamir.”
“He (Tola) was followed by Jair of Gilead, who led Israel twenty-two years.He had thirty sons, who rode thirty donkeys. Thecontrolleded thirty towns in Gilead, which to this day are called Havvoth Jair. When Jair died he was buried in Kamon.”
Judges 10:3-5 (parenthesis added)
Today we only read about how again Israel has turned from God and is worshiping all the false gods around them. God then gives them as slaves to the Philistines and the Ammonites. Whoever will rise up against them will be the next leader of Israel.
What is important to note is that all these leaders failed God’s laws in really big ways, but God still used them for His plan in delivering Israel and showing His people who He is. He is the One God worthy of worship. All other gods are frauds, lies meant to lead people into destruction. There are consequences for angering this jealous God just as Israel is continually finding out.