Judges 8.1-32

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Do Not Forget Who Is Your Ruler 

Israel seemed to have a hard time remembering who her Ruler was

Judges 8.1–32

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • December 22, In the year of our Lord, 2013



  1. What do you want to do for someone who is working or fighting for the Lord? 
    1. Some people want to be included in the work.
    2. Others want no part of it.
  2. As Gideon fought the Midianites, he encountered both attitudes. 
    1. How do you deal with these two groups of people?
    2. Gideon in wisdom did the right thing with both.
  3. Why did Israel suffer from oppressors? 
    1. Why did God send
      1. the Midianites,
      2. the Canaanites,
      3. the Philistines,
      4. the Moabites,
      5. and the Mesopotamians
        1. against Israel
        2. so far in the Book of Judges?
    2. Israel forgot who her ruler was.
    3. She turned to idols.
  4. Israel served Yahweh God during the lives of the judges. 
    1. What happened when the judge died?
    2. Israel went back to idolatry.
      1. Why do you think they were faithful during the life of the judge?
      2. Why do you think they became unfaithful after the judge died?


  1. Judges 8.1–3 – Do Not Leave Us Out 
    1. Ephraim did not want to be excluded,

      1 Now the men of Ephraim said to him, “Why have you done this to us by not calling us when you went to fight with the Midianites?” And they reprimanded him sharply.

      1. Why would they not wanted to be excluded?
      2. Back in Judges 6.34–35, when Gideon blew the battle trumpet
        1. the Abiezrites gathered to him.
        2. This was his clan in the tribe of Manasseh.
          1. He sent messengers throughout the tribe to get more warriors.
          2. He also summoned the tribes of Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali.
      3. Ephraim was not totally excluded.
        1. Judges 7.24–25 shows what Gideon did after the battle started.
          1. He called for the tribe of Ephraim.
            1. to recapture the watering places and
            2. they captured two princes of Midian.
          2. This was an honor
            1. to be able to capture and defeat
            2. the leaders of the oppressors.
        2. However, Ephraim may have considered this a small thing.
          1. Or they may have thought that since they could do that,
          2. they could also have fought the Midianite army.
      4. However, to the credit of the tribe of Ephraim
        1. they wanted to be engaged in the entire battle.
        2. They complained because they were not able to do more!
    2. Gideon pointed out the great work of Ephraim,

      2 So he said to them, “What have I done now in comparison with you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer? 3 God has delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb. And what was I able to do in comparison with you?”

      1. Gideon was not only a wise military commander,
        1. he was a wise political leader.
        2. He had learned to expand his people skills.
      2. Wise military commanders are not necessarily wise in other areas of life.
        1. Even as successful actors are not necessarily wise in political opinions,
        2. or successful athletes are not necessarily wise discerners of the best products.
      3. However, if a leader is wise in more than one area of leadership,
        1. his people are doubly blessed.
        2. Some leaders are one talent leaders,
          1. others are two talents,
          2. fewer are five talents,
          3. and rarely is one a ten talent leader.
        3. King David was at least a seven-talent leader, excelling
          1. as a warrior;
          2. in knowledge and wisdom;
          3. in literary skills;
          4. in music:
            1. in lyrics and
            2. instruments;
          5. in political leadership;
          6. in spirituality; and
          7. as a father.
      4. Gideon had leadership skill in at least:
        1. the military,
        2. politics, and
        3. judicial matters.
    3. He wisely pacified Ephraim,

      Then their anger toward him subsided when he said that.

      1. Proverbs 15.1 supports what Gideon did,

        1 A soft answer turns away wrath,
        But a harsh word stirs up anger.
        (Pro 15.1)

      2. Gideon did not need to be fighting his own people.
    4. Gideon did not care who got the credit,

      “Ronald Reagan wisely said, ‘There’s no limit to what a man can accomplish if he doesn’t care who gets the credit.’ So to, there’s no limit to what the Body of Christ can accomplish if we don’t care who gets the credit—just that Jesus gets the glory” (Courson).

  2. Judges 8.4–9 – Succoth and Penuel exclude themselves
    1. Gideon still had his 300 man army,

      4 When Gideon came to the Jordan, he and the three hundred men who were with him crossed over, exhausted but still in pursuit.

      1. None had been lost in any of the fighting.
      2. Fighting with odds of 1 against 450,
        1. you would expect Israel to suffer loses.
        2. Yet, God fought with Israel.
      3. Although exhausted they did not quit.
      4. The men of Gideon were like the men of David, or vice versa (2Sa 23.8–12, 18).
    2. Gideon needed supplies,

      5 Then he said to the men of Succoth, “Please give loaves of bread to the people who follow me, for they are exhausted, and I am pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian.”

      1. Gideon made a friendly request.
        1. Bread may have been scarce because of the Midianites, but
        2. if Succoth could make an extra sacrifice for fighting men,
          1. the problem would be taken away permanently.
          2. Then they would have abundance.
      2. When you find someone doing the Lord’s work,
        1. make sure that they have whatever they need.
        2. Listen to Paul’s argument in First Corinthians 9.
          1. While what he says is true for preachers,
          2. whenever you find someone
            1. teaching a class,
            2. working on the building,
            3. taking care of old people,
            4. teaching people in the community,
              1. or whatever,
              2. make sure that they can concentrate on their work.
          3. Gideon and Paul had a work to do.
            1. Spending their time trying to get their needs together
            2. would only take away from the Lord’s work,

              7 Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock? 8 Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? 9 For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” {De 25.4} Is it oxen God is concerned about? 10 Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? (1Co 9.7–11).

            3. Would we expect American soldiers to pay their own way?
            4. Would we expect the farmer to go without food?
      3. So why should the Lord’s workers and fighters go without support?
    3. Leaders with no foresight,

      6 And the leaders of Succoth said, “Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in your hand, that we should give bread to your army?”

      1. Did the leaders of Succoth not know how the battle was going?
      2. You do not talk that way to a man leading 300 fighters who,
        1. according to verse 10,
        2. had already defeated 120,000.
    4. Midian had been a brutal oppressor,

      7 So Gideon said, “For this cause, when the LORD has delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, then I will tear your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers!” 8 Then he went up from there to Penuel and spoke to them in the same way. And the men of Penuel answered him as the men of Succoth had answered. 9 So he also spoke to the men of Penuel, saying, “When I come back in peace, I will tear down this tower!”

      1. Gideon gave a two-part answer:
        1. The Lord would deliver the Kings of Midian into his hand.
        2. He would punish these leaders for their refusal to help.
      2. He was in the heat of battle.
        1. He was fighting for them!
        2. He was not asking them to join the battle and risk their lives.
  3. Judges 8.10–12 – The Defeat of Midian 
    1. The reduction of the army of Midian,

      10 Now Zebah and Zalmunna were at Karkor, and their armies with them, about fifteen thousand, all who were left of all the army of the people of the East; for one hundred and twenty thousand men who drew the sword had fallen.

      1. 120,000 had fallen already,
      2. leaving only the two kings and 15,000 warriors.
    2. Gideon finished Midian,

      11 Then Gideon went up by the road of those who dwell in tents on the east of Nobah and Jogbehah; and he attacked the army while the camp felt secure. 12 When Zebah and Zalmunna fled, he pursued them; and he took the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and routed the whole army.

      1. Again Gideon attacked the army when it feels secure.
        1. He did not let up.
        2. He had to destroy the army completely.
      2. Remember Gideon’s army was exhausted.
        1. The Midianites would also have been exhausted.
        2. However, the Lord stays with His people,

          27 Why do you say, O Jacob, And speak, O Israel. “My way is hidden from the LORD, And my just claim is passed over by my God”? 28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, 31 But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. (Isa. 40.27–31).

  4. Judges 8.13–17 – The Price for Refusing to Help 
    1. Seventy-seven leaders did not make Succoth perfect,

      13 Then Gideon the son of Joash returned from battle, from the Ascent of Heres. 14 And he caught a young man of the men of Succoth and interrogated him; and he wrote down for him the leaders of Succoth and its elders, seventy-seven men.

      1. Gideon kept his word.
      2. Leaders have to back up what they say.
    2. Gideon made them eat their words,

      15 Then he came to the men of Succoth and said, “Here are Zebah and Zalmunna, about whom you ridiculed me, saying, ‘Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in your hand, that we should give bread to your weary men?’” 16 And he took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth. 17 Then he tore down the tower of Penuel and killed the men of the city.

      1. Did the leaders know what a mighty man of valor Gideon was?
      2. Gideon was a man of God.
  5. Judges 8.18–21 – Gideon’s Brothers 
    1. Zebah and Zalmunna would reap as they had sown,

      18 And he said to Zebah and Zalmunna, “What kind of men were they whom you killed at Tabor?” So they answered, “As you are, so were they; each one resembled the son of a king.”

      1. There was something different about the men they killed.
      2. This is an interesting answer, since
        1. Gideon considered himself from the weakest clan in Manasseh and
        2. himself as being least in his family.
      3. Remember in Judges 6.12 what the Angel had called Gideon.
        1. The kind of man that he was may have been very well known.
        2. A mighty man of valor is hard to hide.
      4. However, Gideon had the right attitude toward himself,

        2 Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth;
        A stranger, and not your own lips.
        (Pro 27.2)

        12 “And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Matt 23.12).

    2. Do not harm a man’s family,

      19 Then he said, “They were my brothers, the sons of my mother. As the LORD lives, if you had let them live, I would not kill you.” 20 And he said to Jether his firstborn, “Rise, kill them!” But the youth would not draw his sword; for he was afraid, because he was still a youth.

      1. Gideon’s oldest son could not bring himself to kill the kings.
      2. Was Jether one of the 300?
    3. The challenge of the Midianites,

      21 So Zebah and Zalmunna said, “Rise yourself, and kill us; for as a man is, so is his strength.” So Gideon arose and killed Zebah and Zalmunna, and took the crescent ornaments that were on their camels’ necks.

      1. The kings were defiant to the end.
        1. Their hatred and disrespect for Israel
        2. had not dimmed after a humiliating defeat.
      2. Gideon finished the job, the leader of Israel killing the leaders of Midian.
  6. Judges 8.22, 23 – Gideon Refuses to Be King 
    1. Israel wanted to honor Gideon,

      22 Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, both you and your son, and your grandson also; for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.”

      1. Like our American forefathers wanting George Washington to be king.
      2. These men of Israel were now strong militarily, but
        1. they were not strong spiritually.
        2. Gideon would show why their request revealed a spiritual problem.
    2. Glorifying God,

      23 But Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the LORD shall rule over you.”

      1. Such a high calling had to come from God.
      2. Gideon did not want his son to rule over Israel.
        1. However, there was one son, probably born later,
        2. who had his own ideas.
  7. Judges 8.24–27 – A New Spiritual Problem 
    1. Sometimes good gifts lead to bad things,

      24 Then Gideon said to them, “I would like to make a request of you, that each of you would give me the earrings from his plunder.” For they had gold earrings, because they were Ishmaelites. 25 So they answered, “We will gladly give them.” And they spread out a garment, and each man threw into it the earrings from his plunder. 26 Now the weight of the gold earrings that he requested was one thousand seven hundred shekels of gold, besides the crescent ornaments, pendants, and purple robes which were on the kings of Midian, and besides the chains that were around their camels’ necks.

    2. Israel had not learned,

      27 Then Gideon made it into an ephod and set it up in his city, Ophrah. And all Israel played the harlot with it there. It became a snare to Gideon and to his house.

      1. God was their true husband.
        1. However, Israel made this ephod its god.
        2. Thus, it was spiritual adultery.
      2. Second Kings 18 shows a similar thing later in Israel’s history,

        4 He removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehushtan. {Literally Bronze Thing} (2Ki 18.4).

  8. Judges 8.28–32 – Gideon Brought Peace 
    1. Forty years of rest,

      28 Thus Midian was subdued before the children of Israel, so that they lifted their heads no more. And the country was quiet for forty years in the days of Gideon.

      1. After this, you will not read of the Midianites in the Bible,
        1. although you about the land of Midian, but
        2. the Midianites themselves were gone after the war with Gideon.
      2. This became a standard for how others would be decimated,

        9 Deal with them as with Midian,
        As with Sisera,
        As with Jabin at the Brook Kishon
        (Psa 83.9)

        4 For You have broken the yoke of his burden
        And the staff of his shoulder,
        The rod of his oppressor,
        As in the day of Midian.
        (Isa 9.4)

        26 And the LORD of hosts will stir up a scourge for him like the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb; as His rod was on the sea, so will He lift it up in the manner of Egypt (Isa 10.26).

    2. The legacy of Gideon,

      29 Then Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and dwelt in his own house. 30 Gideon had seventy sons who were his own offspring, for he had many wives. 31 And his concubine who was in Shechem also bore him a son, whose name he called Abimelech.

      1. Of the 70 sons one is specified.
      2. We will find out why in the next chapter.
    3. A sad day in Israel,

      32 Now Gideon the son of Joash died at a good old age, and was buried in the tomb of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.