by Tony Nester

Gideon and His Fleece
Tony R. Nester
Judges 6

Today we return to our series on the key stories of the Bible. We're going to spend two weeks on the story of Gideon. The story is found in the Book of Judges, beginning with Chapter 6.

Chapter 6, verse 1 reads this way: (Judges 6:1 NRSV) "The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD gave them into the hand of Midian seven years."

This is a theme verse for the Book of Judges. Again and again we are told in this book that the people of Israel turn away from God, break God's commandments, and worship the gods of the neighboring peoples. Because of their sin, God disciplines and punishes the people, trying to bring them back to his will. This discipline and punishment came most often in the form of enemy attacks.

In Gideon's time Israel's enemies included the peoples known as the Midianites and the Amalekites. Here's how the Scripture describes Israel's plight:

(Judges 6:2-6 NRSV) "The hand of Midian prevailed over Israel; and because of Midian the Israelites provided for themselves hiding places in the mountains, caves and strongholds. {3} For whenever the Israelites put in seed, the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the east would come up against them. {4} They would encamp against them and destroy the produce of the land, as far as the neighborhood of Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel, and no sheep or ox or donkey. {5} For they and their livestock would come up, and they would even bring their tents, as thick as locusts; neither they nor their camels could be counted; so they wasted the land as they came in. {6} Thus Israel was greatly impoverished because of Midian; and the Israelites cried out to the LORD for help."

Although God allowed Israel's enemies to plunder her, God never abandoned his people. In every time of punishment wrought by an enemy God also sent a deliverer to rescue the people and bring them back to faithfulness. These "deliverers" we ...

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