Through the Bible in a Year: Judges 6-8

This Week’s Reading Schedule

Today’s (Tuesday’s) Bible Reading is Judges 6-8
Wednesday, April 18: Judges 9-12
Thursday, April 19: Judges 13-16
Friday, April 20: Judges 17-21

Next week we will read Ruth, then spend some time in Psalms and Proverbs.

The overall year’s plan is here.

Judges 6: The Angel of the LORD (Advanced)

We did not discuss "the Angel of the LORD" when he appeared in Judges 2:1, but we should discuss him here.

The Angel (or "Messenger" or "Visible Presence") of the Lord is an appearance of the Son of God in visible form. When he appears, he is worshiped, he receives sacrifices, and those who encounter him speak of seeing the face of God.

Gideon is no exception. In fact, v. 14 says, "The LORD looked at him and said … " (NASB; The NET Bible has "The Lord himself turned to him and said … "). When the Angel disappears, Gideon becomes frightened because he has seen the face of the Angel.

The reason for the fear of seeing the face of God comes from Exodus 34, where God informed Moses that no one can see his face and live (Ex. 33:20; it’s arguable that this is the one place where in some sense the glory of the Father rather than the Son was seen in the Hebrew Scriptures).

The notes on the NET Bible suggest that "the LORD" in v. 14 is God in heaven rather than the Angel, because Gideon hears the LORD speak after the angel disappears in vv. 22-23. I don’t think it’s possible to read v. 14 that way, but you can read it for yourself and see.

I am not arguing against two Yahwehs. Both the Father and the Son can be called Yahweh, and they are mentioned together in Gen. 19:24 and Zech. 2:8-11.

And I replied, "Now assuredly, Trypho, I shall show that, in the vision of Moses, this same One alone who is called an Angel, and who is God, appeared to and communed with Moses. For the Scripture says, "The Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the bush; and he sees that the bush burns with fire, but the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, ‘I will turn aside and see this great sight, for the bush is not burnt.’ And when the Lord saw that he is turning aside to behold, the Lord called to him out of the bush." In the same manner, therefore, in which the Scripture calls him who appeared to Jacob in the dream an Angel, then [says] that the same Angel who appeared in the dream spoke to him, saying, "I am the God that appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother" … even so here, the Scripture, in announcing that the Angel of the Lord appeared to Moses, and in afterwards declaring him to be Lord and God, speaks of the same One, whom it declares by the many testimonies already quoted to be minister to God, who is above the world, above whom there is no other. (Justin, Dialogue with Trypho 60, c. A.D. 150)

Judges 6: Gideon and Fear

God seems to be remarkably patient with Gideon. He gives him several signs, and he does not rebuke him when he complains about the LORD not being with Israel (v. 13).

I think the reason is that God knew there was a foundation of remarkable faith in Gideon. How many of us would have been willing to destroy our father’s altar to Baal and the town’s Asherah pole, even at night, at risk of our lives? Even Gideon’s father was brave, standing up to the townspeople and calling them to let Baal defend himself if he could.

Later, Gideon would do much more amazing things, including going into battle with just 300 people after sending thousands home.

Finally, if you’re following where this battle with the Midianites is going to take place and who will be fighting in it, the Abiezrites are one of the families of Manasseh (Josh. 17:2), and this map shows the Valley of Jezreel (see the list on the left under "Jezreel").

Judges 7

God distills the Israelite army down to 300 people, and then he gives Gideon an amazing sign to build his faith yet more.

Gideon occasionally gets a bad rap as a fearful man because he needed all these signs, but he led 300 men against an army as thick as locusts!

It’s been suggested that the reason God chose the 300 men who lapped water like a dog, lifting the water to their mouth, is because those men were more vigilant. You can see around you when you drink that way, while kneeling down and putting your face to the water leaves you vulnerable to your enemies.

I don’t know if that’s the reason, but I thought I’d pass it on to you.

Judges 8

Gideon completes the conquest of the Midianites, and he returns to his home, though he continued to judge Israel for 40 years. He became rich from the war, and he took some of the gold to make an "ephod" that became a snare to Israel and even to his family.

An ephod is a priestly garment, usually used to hear from God. Rather than try to pass on further information about what an ephod is, I recommend you type "ephod" into Google’s search engine. There you will find articles on the ephod, but also pictures of various types of ephods.

Two notes:

Gideon refuses to "rule" over Israel because God is already their ruler (even though they don’t obey him). Judges did not rule. They judged, which means they only dealt with the people who came to them.

The false god that Israel devoted themselves to was named Baal-Berith, which means "Lord of the Covenant," rather an ironic name, considering that the Israelites were breaking their covenant with the true God.

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