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Gideon's Army

H'mm, not many dog lappers here!

Application:

When we think how big God is, our fears will melt away as we begin to trust God.

Bible Text:

Judges 7:1-25.

 

Lesson:

The people of Israel were afraid again and ran to hide in their caves.   They peeped out and there below them was the enemy, the Midianites.   They had once again had brought a great army into Israel.  The Midianites did this every year at harvest time so that they could steal all the crops, sheep, cattle and donkeys belonging to Israel.  As a result, the people of Israel were poor and very hungry.  There were just too many of the Midianites, and God's people couldn't protect themselves or their belongings.

Finally the Israelites could stand it no longer, so they cried out to God for help.  God sent them a leader named Gideon.  But, what a leader!  He was hiding in a wine press when God spoke to him, hoping he could thresh his wheat without being seen by the Midianites!  Do you think God made a mistake and sent the wrong leader?  (Let the children respond).

God's Chosen Man?

Well, an angel came up to Gideon and said, "Hail, mighty warrior!"   Gideon thought, "Who me?  No, you can't possibly mean me!"  But yes, he was the one that God had chosen!  Gideon was very afraid just like everyone else in Israel, but nevertheless God had chosen him to fight the Midianites.

Gideon nervously went out and gathered as many soldiers as he could find.  He didn't mess about and landed up with an army of 32,000 men!   "Cool," he said, "Lord this lot will surely wipe the floor with those Midianites .... Come on, Lord, let's go!"

All Cowards Leave!

"Not so fast, Gideon," answered God when He saw how many men Gideon had gathered.  "What do you mean, Lord?" Gideon replied, "We need as many men as possible to mow the enemy down!"  But God replied, "No, you have too many men.  Tell anyone who is afraid to go home."

Would you have been glad that you didn't have to fight those fierce Midianites and run off home as fast as your legs would carry you?  (Let the children respond).

"All right, Lord, if you say so," thought Gideon as 22,000 men waved goodbye to him and scuttled off as fast as they could back into their caves.  That left only 10,000 men to fight the Midianites.  Gideon thought, "Surely the Lord will be satisfied with this tiny army!"

All Dog-Lappers Stay!

God spoke to Gideon again, "You still have too many men.  Take them to a stream to get a drink of water and only keep only those men who lap up the water like dogs.  Send home anyone who kneels down to drink."

His heart sank as he thought, "Oh no, not again, Lord!"  However, Gideon was obedient and so he said, "Yes Lord, if you say so."

Gideon folded his arms in despair and watched a few men lap the water like a dog, while 9,700 men went home, and only 300 stayed to fight the Midianites!  "Gosh," thought Gideon, "I thought my last army was tiny.  But, this one?  It's pitiful!"

Preparing the Army:

Was God making a mistake?  (Let the children respond).  No!  Fortunately, Gideon was obedient and faithful to God.  That night God sent Gideon down to spy on the Midianite army.  While he was creeping around in the bushes, he heard some Midianites talking about how scared they were of the Israelite army!  Gideon must have laughed to himself, "That little old army of mine?"

Well this was the best news yet!  And now Gideon was sure God would help him, so he began to prepare his men for battle.  If you were sending soldiers to war today, would you give them tanks, guns, aeroplanes and bombs?  (Let the children respond).

But, what did Gideon do?  Well, he rounded up a bunch of torches!   No, not those with batteries, but just sticks wrapped with rags and dipped in oil.  You had to set them on fire and then carried them around!  Even stranger, he sent men rushing around gathering up all the clay jars they could lay their hands on!

Armed with Torches!

His men stood there marvelling as Gideon counted them, "298, 299, ah, 300!"  Poor man!  He had lost all his marbles this time!  The Midianites were going to die laughing at this tiny army!  Anyway, Gideon called his men and gave each one a flaming torch and told them to hide it inside their jar.

Late that night he led out his army, "Go very quietly men and surround the Midianite camp."  That put a man every half kilometre or so!  "Hey Gideon, hallo there!" whispered one soldier, "It's rather lonely out here!"

A Great Victory!

Just then came Gideon's signal!  All the soldiers blew their trumpets, broke their clay jars, held up their flaming torches, and yelled as loudly as they could, "A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!"  Children, why don't you try it?  Come on, one, two, three, "A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!"  (Let the children respond).

The Midianites were caught by surprise, and were so terrified that they started fighting and killing each other as they ran this way and that.  "Out my way!" they roared as they scattered their equipment in their haste to run away.  The Israelites laughed and cheered and then chased them clean across the border!  That night Gideon won a great victory for the Lord and broke the power of the Midianites.  After this the Midianites never bothered Israel again!

Trusting God:

When you feel afraid, remember what God could do with one man and his tiny army.  Our God is a big God, and 1 John 4:4 says:

"Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world"

Yes, God is bigger than all our problems and bigger than all our fears.   Ask Him to help you and then think about how big God really is - He fills this gigantic Universe.  In no time, your problems will seem smaller and your fears will melt away as you begin to trust God, and His peace and love will fill your heart!

Be like Gideon, don't trust in huge armies, but trust in our wonderful God!

God bless.

 

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