1 The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years He gave them into the hands of the Midianites. 2 Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. 3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. 4 They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. 5 They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. 6 Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.
Again after another forty years of peace (5:31) the Israelites disobeyed the Lord and did evil in His eyes. It is in this chapter we see Gideon raised up as a warrior to free the Israelites from the oppression of the Midianites. The first task Gideon had was to undo what his father Joash had done.
25 That same night the Lord said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old. Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. 26 Then build a proper kind o] altar to the Lord your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second] bull as a burnt offering.”
Gideon, before he would take on the Midianites and all their allies, tested God first asking for a dry wool fleece when the ground is covered with dew. Then again with the wool fleece wet with dew when the ground was dry. Both tests were met and Gideon assembled 32,000 men to go into battle.
The Lord had a different idea and Gideon sent 22,000 men home leaving 10,000 men for the battle to come.
This was still too many as Israel could boast their own strength saved them. No this victory was to be God’s! so another 9,700 were sent home and Gideon was left with 300 to lead into battle.
16 Dividing the three hundred men into three companies, he placed trumpets and empty jars in the hands of all of them, with torches inside. 17 “Watch me,” he told them. “Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do. 18 When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, then from all around the camp blow yours and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.’”
Later, near the end of the next chapter, Judges 8, we read
28 Thus Midian was subdued before the Israelites and did not raise its head again. During Gideon’s lifetime, the land had peace forty years.
And at the end of this chapter
33 No sooner had Gideon died than the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals. They set up Baal-Berith as their god 34 and did not remember the Lord their God, who had rescued them from the hands of all their enemies on every side. 35 They also failed to show any loyalty to the family of Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) in spite of all the good things he had done for them.
Two things jump out at me. First, once again they had peace for forty years. This time the peace ends because Gideon dies. The second thing that jumped out at me was No sooner had Gideon died than the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals. It was as if they could not wait to involve themselves in this sin. And in the process, they did not remember the Lord their God, who had rescued them from the hands of all their enemies on every side.
Before we judge them, we need to examine ourselves. We need to ask ourselves how quickly we forget all God has done for us and the Grace He has shown us through His Son when our needs are met and we no longer think we need Him? Do we serve Him always? Do we? Or only when we need Him?