Narrator, Gideon, Angel, Lord, Townspeople x2, Joash
Narr: Once again the people Of Israel sinned against the Lord, so he let the Midianites rule over them. Whenever the Israelites would plant their crops the Midiantites would come and raid them. They would destroy their crops and take their animals. They came as a huge army and the Israelites were helpless against them. But then, as often happened, the People of Israel cried out to God to help them. So God sent a prophet to tell them that they had to stop worshipping idols and turn again to worship him. Then God sent help.
Gideon: This is ridiculous. What a nightmare. Try and do anything and the Midianites are down on you like a swarm of locusts. Taking everything sheep, cattle, crops - all gone. Well they're not getting my corn - even if I have to thresh it inside a winepress to hide it.
Angel: The Lord is with you mighty warrior!
Gideon: AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH! Who are you?
Angel: The Lord is with you mighty warrior!
Gideon: Huh? Don't do that! Sssssshh!!! Do you want the Midianites to hear you?
Angel: The LORD is with you mighty warrior!!
Gideon: Oh hah hah there's been a mistake. You've got the wrong bloke.
Angel: No, I don’t think I have. I have been sent to you by God.
Gideon: Now look here. What would God want with me. You've got the wrong bloke I say. You're probably thinking of Big Benjamin - he's the closest thing we've got to a warrior.
Angel: YOU ARE Gideon son of Joash.
Gideon: y-y-yes. That’s me.
Angel: Then The LORD is with you.
Gideon: Yes, so you said. Okay, okay. If the Lord is with us why has he abandoned us to the Midianites. They are taking everything we have. They leave us without food and we are near starving. What about all the great deeds he did bringing us out of Egypt - where are the great deeds now.
Angel: That's where you come in. The LORD says: "Go with your great strength and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I myself am sending you."
Gideon: Hah! But how can I rescue the people of Israel. My family is the weakest of the clan, which is the weakest of the tribe of Manasseh and I am the youngest member of my family. Why would God choose me.
Angel: The LORD says: "You can do it because I am with you. You will crush the Midianites as if they were only one man".
Gideon: But how do I know that you're who you say you are? Give me some proof that you are from God.
Angel: What do you want me to do?
Gideon: Wait there until I get back – I will bring you an offering of food.
Angel: As you wish. I'll wait here until you return.
Narr: So Gideon took him some food, - some meat, bread and some soup. The angel told Gideon to put the meat & bread on a rock and pour the soup over them. Then the angel reached out and touched the food with the end of the stick he was holding. Fire came out of the rock and burned up the food. Then the angel disappeared. Well, that was proof
enough for Gideon. So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there. That same night the Lord said to him..
Lord: Take one of your father's best oxen, hitch it to your father's alter to the god Baal that he bows down to, and tear it down, and cut down his wooden pole idol to the goddess Asherah next to it. Build a proper kind of altar to the Lord your God on the top of this hill. Use the wooden idol to sacrifice a bull as an offering.
Narr: So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the men of the town, he did it at night rather than in the daytime. In the morning when the men of the town got up, there was Baal's altar demolished, with the Asherah pole cut down and lying beside it, and the bull sacrificed on the newly built altar! They asked each other:
Townspeople: Who did this!
Narr: Finally they learned that Gideon, Joash's son, did it. They demanded of Joash:
Townspeople: Bring out your son. He must die because he has broken down Baal's altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.
Joash: Are you going to plead Baal's cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.
Narr: Hmmm. They thought about that for a minute. Then decided it was fair enough. So they called Gideon "Jerub-baal", which means "Let Baal fight with him". Now all the Midianites, Amalekites, and other eastern peoples joined forces and crossed over the Jordan and camped in the Valley of Jezreel. Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the people of his clan, the Abierizites, to follow him. He sent messengers throughout their tribe of Manasseh, calling them to fight, and also the nearby tribes of Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali; and they all responded. Then Gideon said to God:
Gideon: If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised then I need proof — look, I will place some wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.
Narr: And that is what happened. Gideon woke up early the next day; he squeezed the wool and wrung out the dew — a whole bowlful of water. Then he said to God:
Gideon: O God, do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the wool. This time make the wool dry and the ground covered with dew. That night God did so. Only the wool was dry; but all the ground was covered with dew.
Narr: That convinced Gideon. So he gathered all the men who had come at his bidding and told them that God wanted them to fight the Midianites. So they headed off. The first night they camped by a stream. Theh Lord spoke to Gideon…
Lord: You have too many men Gideon.
Gideon: What! Too many! But we need them all. There are a lot of Midianites.
Lord: No, You have too many for me to work. I don’t want you to think you have won this battle yourself. You need to know that I have fought this battle for you. Otherwise Israel will start to boast again and forget me again. Now, assemble the soldiers. Tell the men that if any of them are fearful of the coming battle, they can go home.
Narr: So Gideon said to the men that they could go if they wanted to. And twenty-two thousand of them left.
Gideon: Hey Lord, I think that might have been a mistake. Look at them all going. I only have ten thousand men left now.
Lord: Yes, and that is still too many. I want you to take them down to the stream. Have them all take a drink. Those who get down to drink with their mouths place on one side. Those who pick the water up in their hands and drink place to the other side.
Narr: There were 300 who lapped water from their hands. These were the ones God kept.
Gideon: What! Only 300 men! I started with thirty-two thousand and I only have 300 left. Are you sure this is right God?
God: Yes, quite sure. With these 300 I will deliver the Midianites into your hands.
Often we have to trust God when we don’t understand things. But God has our best interests at heart. He can do miracles. And he care for us.
Narrator, Gideon, Lord, Purah, Man 1, Man 2
Narr: Remember last week we talked about Gideon. What was Gideon heading off to do? (fight Midianites) How many soldiers did he have? (only 300). Yes and he started with 32,000 but God wanted him to have only a few so they knew it was God who was going to win the battle and not themselves.
Gideon: Well God. I have the 300 men. I hope they are up to it. What do you want me to do.
Lord: Sleep now. I will call you when it is time.
Narr: And so the men camped above the Midianite army who were settled in the valley below them. Sometime in the dark of night Gideon heard a voice….
Lord: Gideon. It is time to get up. I want you to wake your men. You are going down to the Midianite camp now because I am giving them to you.
Gideon: Are you sure Lord. It is the middle of the night.
Lord: You need reassurance. Don’t you trust me Gideon? How about you take your servant Purah, creep down to the Midianite tents and listen to what they are saying. That will encourage you.
Gideon: Sure. I will do that. Hey Purah. Quiet now. You and I are going undercover to hear what is happening in the Midianite tents.
Purah: Do you think we will hear their plans. It’s a bit dangerous. I will bring my sword.
Gideon: No. It may knock against something and they will hear us. We must be like silent ghosts. It is dark so we must walk carefully.
Purah: After you sir.
Narr: So Gideon and his servant Purah crept down to the tents at the edge of the Midianite camp. As they crept silently up to the first tent, Gideon heard some voices…
Man 1: I had a dream. A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into our camp. It struck our tent with such force that it overturned and collapsed.
Man 2: Oh no. That can only mean that God is going to deliver us into Gideon’s hands. We should get out of here.
Man 1: Do you think we should just quietly leave. I have become rather frightened.
Man 2: Yes, me too. Let’s go. Pack your things. We can go without anyone knowing as we are on the edge of camp.
Narr: Gideon and Purah crept away from the camp. Then Gideon touched his servant on the shoulder and whispered…
Gideon: How about that. Did you hear what I did?
Purah: That the enemy believe we will win too?
Gideon: Yes. That is God confirming to me that he will win this war for us. Thank-you Lord. I praise you for your love and care of your people Israel. We will do as you say.
Narr: So Gideon and Purah returned to the Israelites camp and woke all the men up.
Gideon: The Lord has delivered the Midianites into our hands. Get your trumpets and also bring an empty clay jar with you.
Narr: And so the 300 men lined up with their clay jars and trumpets. A funny way to fight a war they were thinking. But God was in control. He had a plan.
Gideon: You men, light yourself a torch each and place it inside your clay jar.
Narr: Which the men all did. The Gideon divided them into three groups. He told the other groups where he wanted them to go.
Gideon: Follow me now. When we get to the edge of the Midianite camp do exactly as I do. Then when my men blow their trumpets, you blow yours. As loudly as you can. Then we will all shout ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.’
Narr: The 3 groups crept silently away to their stations surrounding the camp. Then suddenly out of the quietness of the night, there was an almighty noise. Gideon and his men were blowing their trumpets. It caused huge confusion. The Midianite men woke up with a start and didn’t know what was happening. Then Gideon and his men broke their clay jars and all the torches were raised high while they shouted out ‘for the Lord and for Gideon.’ Whew! That was even more frightening – all these lights popped up from around camp. They were surrounded by lights. Who was there. What was happening. Then they heard this shouting. It sounded like thousands of people were attacking them. Gideon and his men were standing still around the edge of the camp, but in the confusion the Midianites came out of their tents and started attacking each other. In the dark they couldn’t see.
And so God won the battle for Gideon.
It seemed impossible for Gideon to win this fight with only 300 men against the Midianites thousands. But if we trust God and follow in His ways, He will fight our battles for us.