Chapter 1:16-20 16 Is not the meat cut off before our eyes, yea, joy and gladness from the house of our God? 17 The seed is rotten under their clods, the garners are laid desolate, the barns are broken down; for the corn is withered. 18 How do the beasts groan! the herds of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture; yea, the flocks of sheep are made desolate. 19 O LORD, to thee will I cry: for the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field. 20 The beasts of the field cry also unto thee: for the rivers of waters are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness.
Verses 16-18 – It was evident – in your face it – cannot to be denied, that every eatable thing or that of which food was custom to be made, was cut off by the locusts, or the drought. The harvest being perished, there were no first fruits brought to the temple, which used to be attended with great joy. And the corn and vines being wasted, no meat offerings made of fine flour, nor drink offerings of wine, were offered, which used to make God and man glad. The people need to wake up to the fact that as bad as the locust plague has been, it is really only a precursor to greater judgment and that it is meant by God to secure their repentance – so that they may know His mercy, rather than His judgement! The locust plague is a manifestation of His mercy and His grace. If they will awaken from their spiritual insensitivity and repent then the Assyrian invasion will be withheld. If they don’t, then the Assyrians will come and bring destruction. As bad as the locust plague was – if it brought about repentance, then it would save their lives. How do you respond when seemingly bad things happen to you or to the people around you? Some people go to pieces and start accusing God of failing in His love. What they don’t see is that everything that occurs in their life is intended by God for their benefit – even the stuff that seems at the moment to be nothing but bad. We only see this moment – God sees eternity and knows the end from the beginning.
Isaiah 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
This destruction really comes from God. He may use some country to finalize the destruction, but it is truly from God who is angry. The loss of foodstuff is a direct judgment from God. The war is indirect, but it comes from God, too. From the spiritual realm to the physical realm, all was in shambles. Though innocent – in judgment even the animals suffered the loss of food.
“The barns are broken down” – The wheat and barley were stored up in the barns, but this judgment of the locusts and drought continuing year after year, has caused the walls to fall down, and, no care was taken to repair them – there being no use for them – these were the granaries. That which sprung up withered and dried away, through the heat and drought. This speaks of a time, when the farmers have given up. The seed rots in the ground, and does not produce. There is nothing to put in the barn, so the farmer has let it run down.
The poor innocent animals – the cattle out in the fields all they want is fodder, but all green grass and herbs has been ravished and eaten up by the locusts; and also for want of water to quench their thirst. The larger cattle, such as oxen; these were in the utmost perplexity, not knowing where to go for food or drink. Not only are the people out of food, but even the grass of the field is not producing, and the cattle and sheep are starving. The drought and the locusts have destroyed everything that even resembles grain.
Verses 19-20 – “O Lord, to thee will I cry” As the first to call to repentance, the prophet Joel had to be the first to heed the warning. He had to lead by example and motivate the people to respond. In the midst of proclaiming judgment, God’s prophets often led in intercessory prayer for mercy and forgiveness.
Jeremiah 42:1-4 1 Then all the captains of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least even unto the greatest, came near, 2 And said unto Jeremiah the prophet, Let, we beseech thee, our supplication be accepted before thee, and pray for us unto the LORD thy God, even for all this remnant; (for we are left but a few of many, as thine eyes do behold us:) 3 That the LORD thy God may shew us the way wherein we may walk, and the thing that we may do. 4 Then Jeremiah the prophet said unto them, I have heard you; behold, I will pray unto the LORD your God according to your words; and it shall come to pass, that whatsoever thing the LORD shall answer you, I will declare it unto you; I will keep nothing back from you..
All around is barren and dry – not only springs, and brooks of water, but rivers also – places where there were large deep waters – all dried up which was caused by the excessive heat and scorching beams of the sun. This drought has been so severe, that the rivers and streams have dried up. There is no water for the crops. There is no water for the people or the cattle either. Their only chance for help is to cry out to God. This was a drought so great that nothing could live. This speaks of horror beyond our imagination.
Chapter 1:11-15 11 Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl, O ye vinedressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished. 12 The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men. 13 Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God. 14 Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry unto the LORD, 15 Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.
Verses 11-13 – This is speaking from a spiritual standpoint. The vinedressers and the husbandmen were those who cared for the souls of the people. This is saying that those who were supposed to be watching for the souls of the people have fallen down on their job. The wheat symbolizes the believers in Christ. It would be a terrible shame for those who had accepted Christ as their Saviour to be lost, because they had not been guided correctly by their ministers. The fall of Judah could be laid solely at the feet of the spiritual leaders. They did not teach the people the terrible dangers of falling away from God. They not only, allowed their people to fall into false worship, but were guilty themselves. Ministers now, and priests then, were supposed to watch and warn of any danger. They should have preached about the danger of worshipping false gods.
The throne of Judah was alternating at this time between good and wicked kings. One king would fall away from God and encourage the worship of Baal and Asherah. His successor would then lead the nation in revival and would go forth to purge the land of pagan idols and altars. But the fact that there was one revival after another proved that there was something fundamentally wrong with the heart of the people. Revival and reform presuppose there’s been a period of apostasy. Revival after revival indicated that the revivals that were occurring were not genuine – they were not going to the heart of the people; only their outward religious forms. The king might be sincere in his devotion to the LORD, and because he was king, he possessed the power and authority to command the destruction of all evidence of paganism – but political mandates don’t make for genuine heart conversion on the part of the common man.
The picture was bleak, for even the deep roots of the trees could not withstand the torturous treatment administered by the locusts, especially when accompanied by an extended drought. This is speaking of a time, when the joy of the people has withered away. None of the trees produced fruit. There is a curse upon the fruit and vegetables, as well as on the people. The judgment of God has fallen upon them. There is no fruit on the vine. All of the above trees have symbolized God’s people at some time, when the blessings of God was upon them. The trees with no fruit, also, symbolize the fact that God has taken His blessings away. Man’s joy and delight had departed from all segments of society; none had escaped the grasp of the locusts. The joy that normally accompanied the time of harvest had been replaced with despair.
The time had arrived for true repentance which was to be led by the priests and ministers of the LORD. They were to lead the way – to show to the people – to demonstrate to them what it means to show humility and penitence to the LORD whom they have forsaken. Prepare and be ready to raise up lamentation and mourning; and gird yourselves with sackcloth, and mourn. They were to come into the house of the LORD, and there lie all night, in the sackcloth girded; sending up prayers to God, with weeping and lamentations, that He would avert the judgments that had come and was coming upon them. They were to gird themselves with the sackcloth of mourning. Being gird with sackcloth was an outward expression of the sorrow of their hearts. They were to pray night and day. The daily sacrifice has been taken away. In their time, this meant the loss of daily fellowship with their God. In our day, this means that all symbols of Christianity have been taken away. Notice the mention of ministers here, which makes me believe these warnings are for their immediate future, and for our day, as well.
Verses 14-15 –“Sanctify ye a fast” = a “Call to Action”. The prophet called the priests to take action, first by example (verse 13), and then by proclamation (verse 14). As the official leaders, it was their duty to proclaim a public fast so that the entire nation could repent and petition the LORD to forgive and restore them. Here they were admonished to consecrate a fast, denoting its urgency. The fast was used to show the LORD the sincerity of the prayers being prayed. The assembly was not to be one of joy, but sorrow. This is a call of prayer by all of the inhabitants of the land to reach God.
2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
“The Day of the LORD is at hand” – This is the “first time” that “theme” of the Book of Joel is mentioned. Later in the book (Joel 2:18; Joel 3:1, Joel 3:18-21), the Day of the LORD – which is when God pours out His wrath on man, results in blessing and exoneration for God’s people and judgment toward Gentiles.
Ezekiel 30:3 For the day is near, even the day of the LORD is near, a cloudy day; it shall be the time of the heathen.
However, here Joel directs the warning toward his own people. The Day of the LORD is speedily approaching; unless sinners repent, dire consequences await them. Destruction from the Almighty. The notion of invincible strength is foremost; destruction at the hand of Omnipotent God is coming.
Again, this had a near fulfilment. There is coming a Day of the LORD at the end of the Gentile age.
Romans 11:25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.
Once that last Gentile surrenders their life and accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour of their lives, the trumpets sound, the dead in Christ rise up first, and we that are alive will rise up to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
The judgment of God was upon them for the sins in their lives. The wrath of God will fall upon the disobedient, in our generation as well. It is bad to fall into the hands of the devil or Satan, but it is much worse to fall into the hands of God, when He pours out His wrath.
We know well today the damage that is done to the cause of Christ by those who profess His name, but deny His Lordship over their lives and ambitions. God calls the people to genuine repentance.
Chapter 1:6-10 6 For a nation is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion. 7 He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white. 8 Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth. 9 The meat offering and the drink offering is cut off from the house of the LORD; the priests, the LORD’S ministers, mourn. 10 The field is wasted, the land mourneth; for the corn is wasted: the new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth.
Verses 6-7 – God often refers to the nation of Israel as His vine and fig tree. Jesus likened the nation of Israel to a vineyard and cursed the fig tree on the Mount of Olives for its failure to yield fruit in the right season just as Israel had failed to render the fruit of worship to Him as Messiah when He came.
Matthew 221:18-19 – 18 Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. 19 And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it; Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.
Just as the locusts have swept through the land and with their teeth devoured all the plants, so a foreign power will come, covering the land with soldiers, and they will lay the land bare. This is precisely what the Assyrians did. Though they weren’t able to capture Jerusalem itself, and only because of God’s intervention, they did however, lay siege to and take the rest of the cities of Judah. Instead of symbols of prosperity and peace, the vine and the fig tree had become reminders of Divine judgement.
The locusts that ravaged the land as described are not your normal locusts. We read a similar account that will take place in the Book of Revelation when the fifth angel sounds.
Revelation 9:1-9 1 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. 2 And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. 3 And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. 4 And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. 5 And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. 6 And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. 7 And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. 8 And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were astheteethof lions. 9 And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.
Joel describes a time is coming of an unspeakable great destruction IF Israel do not repent and turn from the errors of their ways. The vine has been laid waste and barked (stripped) – My fig tree. This describes an extremity of desolation. The locusts at first attack all which is green and succulent; when this has been consumed. Then when they have devoured all other vegetables, they attack the trees, consuming first the leaves, then the bark. A day or two after other bodies were already hatched to glean after them, gnawing off the young branches and the very bark of such trees as had escaped before with the loss only of their fruit and foliage. They carried desolation wherever they passed. After having consumed vegetation, fruit, leaves of trees, they attacked even their young shoots and their bark. Even the reeds, though quite dry, were not spared. Everything in the country was devoured; the bark of figs, pomegranates, and oranges, bitter hard and corrosive – nothing escaped their excessive desire to eat. That is the locust, which spoiled the vines in Judea. And so not only left them bare and barren, but destroyed them.
The fig tree symbolizes Israel, including Judah. This is speaking of the devastation that comes to Judah. Locusts would debark every tree. This is speaking of them being totally cut off from God. Their protection (bark) is gone. The tree was actually stripped of all the leaves, fruit, and bark. The tree left would have a hard time living. This is exactly what does happen to Judah. They are left barren and helpless.
Verses 8-10 – This is a metaphor that speaks of the LORD as the Husband of Israel. The covenantal offerings could not be carried out – Israel the wife of the LORD, was to repent, lest her relationship with the LORD became that of the young widowed maidens.
Jeremiah 31:32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:
They were to adorn themselves with sackcloth. What is sackcloth? Sackcloth is a fabric generally made of goat’s hair, usually black or dark in colour, and usually placed on the bare body around the hips, leaving the chest free for beating and was used in the ancient world to depict sorrow and penitence
Genesis 37:34 And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days.
Isaiah 32 11-12 Tremble, ye women that are at ease; be troubled, ye careless ones: strip you, and make you bare, and gird sackcloth upon your loins. 12 They shall lament for the teats, for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine.
Because the prophets’ message usually dealt with a call to repentance, it became the main garment worn by prophets. This is speaking of their sorrow, when God has removed Himself from them. This is a time of mourning. Israel was the wife of God spiritually. The Groom has left them helpless and destitute. He has left them, because of their spiritual adultery – their unfaithfulness to Him.
Verses 9-10 – Both the meat offerings and the drink offerings were sacrificed daily – every morning and every evening – this was now to cease. The gravity of the situation was heightened because it threatened the livelihood of the priests, who were given a portion of most sacrifices. These offerings had been a time of fellowship with God. These accompanied the morning and evening sacrifices. Suddenly, all of this is stopped. They have lost contact with their God. The priests the LORD’s ministers mourn, because they had lived off these offerings. Their livelihood is completely gone.
“The field is wasted” – by the locust, that eats up all green things, the grass and herbs, the fruit and leaves of trees. “The land mourneth” – it’s now destitute, nothing growing upon it. “For the corn is wasted” – again by the locusts, and also by the Assyrians. “The new wine is dried up” – no harvesting of the grapes – all has been ravished, and finally – “The oil languisheth” – the olive trees wither; the olives fell off.
Chapter 1:1-5 1 The word of the LORD that came to Joel the son of Pethuel. 2 Hear this, ye old men, and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land. Hath this been in your days, or even in the days of your fathers? 3 Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation. 4 That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpillar eaten. 5 Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth.
The book of Joel was written by the Joel. He was a prophet in Judah. The name “Joel” means “Jehovah is his God”. Joel was trying to call the people to repent of their sins, and be brought back into good standing with God. The one message that really stands out in the book of Joel is “the Day of the LORD”. Joel is unique in the fact of the promise of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all flesh.
Verse 1 – Joel’s father’s name “Pethuel” means “openheartedness of/toward God” and is the only occurrence of this name in the Bible. There is nothing more known of Pethuel, than the fact that he is the father of Joel. Similarly, there is very little known of Joel the person. He was believed by many to be one of the earliest prophets in Judah.
Verse 2 –“Hear – give ear”. The people needed to heed this warning, this message. The gravity of the situation demanded the undivided focus of their senses, emphasizing the need to make a conscious, purposeful decisions in the matter – Israel was found guilty – judgement for their sins was coming. “Old men” refers to the civil and religious leaders, who in light of their position, were exhorted to lead by example the entire population toward repentance. The old wise men had to rise up – this an opportunity for the people to hear the wisdom of the elders. This message seems to be for generations to come, and not just for this generation that Joel is speaking to here.
Many Scriptures in the Bible have a near fulfilment and a far fulfilment, and that is the case here. Whatever the message is, it is not an old story being told again, but is something they have never experienced before. It’s a generational thing. They are to pass it down the line. Whatever IT is – it’s to be a memorial – a keepsake for all the generations that are to follow. The old men are to tellit to their children. Their children are to tell it to their children’s children, their children’s children are to tell it to their children and so forth it goes down the line – so that ALL the children born from cradle to grave KNOW what transpired.
This is the same message we hear Moses tell the children of Israel when the LORD delivered them from the hands of Pharaoh in Egypt – when they were finally set free of their captivity – after 430 years of being in bondage.
Deuteronomy 6:6-11 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. 9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. 10 And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, 11 And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full;
Fathers were to pass down the story of HOW the Israelites left Egypt to their Sons and Daughters and HOW the LORD hit Pharaoh with 9 plagues – yet the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he would not let the Israelites go – UNTIL the 10th and final plague – the Angel of Death – the Passover – the symbolic sign of what Yeshua would do for all those who have accepted Him as Lord and Saviour – the 10th and final plague killed all the firstborn of the Egyptians – including their cattle – yet the children of the Most High – living in Goshen – not even a puppy died on that night BECAUSE OF THE BLOOD!!!
This sign of the Passover and the blood being placed on the doorposts of the children of Israel was a sign that the Angel of Death should Passover wherever the mark of the blood was. It is a memorial that is STILL observed until this day – a 3,000 year old act of obedience has been passed down from generation to generation, and it has not lost its significance – even in this day and age. Likewise the festival of Purim held for two days on the 14th and 15th day in the month of Adar.
Verse 4 – A locust plague has recently descended on the nation and left it utterly barren of vegetation. This was something that had not happened for many generations – and Joel here tells the people to tell their yet unborn children about it, and to tell them to tell their children about it, and then even the generation after that! This was a catastrophe so severe; it was the kind of thing that would be spoken of for many years to come. Joel uses four different words to describe four consecutive locust swarms that had devastated the land. The 4 kinds of locusts refer to their species or their stages of development. The total destruction caused by their voracious appetites demands repentance. This verse describes the devastation of the locust plague. Moses prophesied that God would use locusts to punish His people if they were disobedient.
Deuteronomy 28:38 Thou shalt carry much seed out into the field, and shalt gather but little in; for the locust shall consume it.
Isaiah 33:4 And your spoil shall be gathered like the gathering of the caterpillar: as the running to and fro of locusts shall he run upon them.
The language may express the four stages in the development of a single type of insect.
“The palmerworm”(Hebrew H1501 gazam, “to gnaw”), is the stage at which the locust is first hatched and is characterized by its gnawing activity.
“The locust” (Hebrew H697 arben, “to be many”), is the most common name for the locust, and is the second stage, in which the locust gets its wings and flies.
“The cankerworm” (Hebrew H3218 yeleg, “to lick off”), is the stage in which it does its destructive work.
“The caterpillar” (Hebrew H2625 chasil, “to devour or to consume”), is the final stage, in which the locust reaches its full growth and devours everything in its path.
This speaks of a famine of tremendous magnitude. This is speaking of locusts that devour the entire crop. The palmerworm, cankerworm, and caterpillar are all types of locusts.
Locusts are similar to grasshoppers, only larger and communal in nature. They will live in a secluded area for many years, sometimes 70 or more years without much of anything happening to them. Then, a colony will go through an explosive breeding period and will produce literally millions upon millions of eggs. When the eggs hatch, they produce a miniature version of the locust without wings, a couple months later they’ve grown to adult size which is from 3 to 4 inches long with strong wings and legs for leaping. Because they’re communal in nature, when they move, the entire swarm goes. They aren’t able to fly very far, but if caught in the wind, they can travel for many miles.
Verse 5 – The drunkards were to awaken to the realization that their wine would be no more. They were to weep bitterly and to wail. The severity of the devastation called for public, communal mourning. This Scripture is one that stands out as a warning against drinking.
Proverbs 23:21 For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.
The vines have been dealt such a severe blow; there may not be a grape harvest for several years. There will be no new wine, because the locusts have eaten the raw material that the wine is made from. There is a spiritual meaning, as well. New wine, sometimes, symbolizes the Holy Spirit.
Now Joel turns to use the recent locust plague as a prophetic picture of something even more devastating to come – the invasion of a foreign power – the Assyrians.
WEEK 14: Joel is the second of the twelve MinorProphets in the Book of the Twelve. The Book of the Twelve Prophets was originally on one parchment roll because of the brevity of the text, and together formed one Book of the 24 Books of Hebrew Scripture. These twelve prophets were sometimes named the Minor Prophets, not because they are of lesser importance, but because their writings are brief. The Twelve include Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.
The Book of the Twelve follows the writings of the four Major Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. All together the 16 prophets are called the Latter Prophets, as they began writing after the Division of the United Kingdom of Israel.
“Joel” means “Jehovah is his God”. Joel was a prophet in the Southern Kingdom of Judah during the period of the divided kingdom. We do not know exactly when Joel lived and prophesied to the kingdom of Judah. He may have lived sometime between the reign of Joash, before 850 B.C, and the return of the tribe of Judah from captivity in Babylon. The Book of Joel centres on prophecies that Joel made after the land of Judah was afflicted with a severe drought and a plague of locusts. These prophecies tell of many signs to precede the Second Coming of the Saviour, especially a great outpouring of the Spirit upon all flesh (Joel 2:28-32). The Book of Joel is apocalyptic in nature, referring to the “Day of the LORD”. The Day of the LORD is used 24 times in the Bible – 19 times in the OT, 5 times in the NT.
Chapter 1 – Joel describes a natural disaster caused by a plague of locusts. He calls for the people to fast and to gather at the temple for a solemn assembly to plead with the Lord for deliverance.
Chapter 2 – Joel describes the “Day of the LORD” and the war and desolation that will accompany it and then asks, “Who can abide it”?(Joel 2:11). The Lord answers by telling the people to turn to Him with all their hearts. Joel prophesies of some of the blessings the Lord will give His people in the latter days.
Chapter 3 – Joel prophesies of the latter days and affirms that every country in the world will be at war shortly before the Second Coming. The Lord will dwell with His people when He comes again.
Though only 3 chapters long, the book of Joel is a powerful treatise on the “Day of the LORD”. What exactly does the Bible refers to when it speaks of the Day of the Lord? It is the time when God revealsHis sovereignty over human powers and existence. It is the period of time in history when God moves to answer the prayer of the saints of every generation – “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
The Hebrew word Yom, translated day can mean any period of time from the daylight hours of a single day, all the way to an entire age. It is a general word simply meaning a period of time. We use the word day in the same manner. We say, “What day would you like to get together”? and mean, which day of the week? But we also refer to the day in which we live, meaning the current age and all of its events.
The Day of the LORD does not refer to a literal period of 24 hours, but to a period of time at the end of the current age, when God moves definitively in history to manifest His sovereignty over the affairs of earth.
It begins like labour pains. While God Himself remains hidden to human eyes, He begins to move in the affairs of earth to confront evil. Evil pushes back, and the result is that earth begins to see catastrophes and troubles that occur in increasing frequency and severity, just like birth-pangs. Jesus describes it just that way in Matthew 24.
As the Day of the LORD progresses, God starts pouring out His fury and judgment on man and his rebellious kingdoms. We see these things presented in graphic detail in the middle chapters of the Book of Revelation. Finally, God’s judgment is finally exhausted, and Jesus, as the conquering King, returns to Earth to establish the throne of God’s Kingdom.
This is the point at which the corner turns from the Day of the LORD being a time of terrible trouble, to being a time of blessing and bliss. Earth is renewed from the devastation of the seven year Tribulation, and the entire planet becomes like the Garden of Eden. Mankind is once more returned to the idyllic state of paradise under the benevolent yet just reign of King Jesus. So really, as for length, the Day of the LORD commences with the Tribulation, that will last 7 years and then on into the Millennium – 1,000 years.
The prophecy of Joel centres on the Day of the LORD. He uses two natural calamities that occurred in the southern kingdom of Judah during his lifetime as picturesof what the Day of the LORD will LOOK like. Those two calamities were (1) a locust plague and (2) a severe drought. He uses these as pictures of the kind of overwhelming distress the Day of the LORD will be for the whole earth. Joel interprets these two catastrophes as evidences of God’s judgment on the sins of Judah. He sees God’s intent that the nation would awaken to its peril and return to Him.
Old Testament (1) Job—Unknown (2) Genesis—1445-1405 BC (3) Exodus —1445-1405 BC (4) Leviticus —1445-1405 BC (5) Numbers—1445-1405 BC (6) Deuteronomy—1445-1405 BC (7) Psalms—1410-450 BC (8) Joshua—1405-1385 BC (9) Judges—ca. 1043 BC (10) Ruth—ca. 1030-1010 BC (11) Song of Solomon—971-965 BC (12) Proverbs—ca. 971-686 BC (13) Ecclesiastes—940-931 BC (14) 1 Samuel—931-722 BC (15) 2 Samuel—931-722 BC (16) Obadiah—850-840 BC (17) Joel—835-796 BC (18) Jonah—ca. 775 BC (19) Amos—ca. 750 BC (20) Hosea—750-710 BC (21) Micah—735-710 BC (22) Isaiah—700-681 BC (23) Nahum—ca. 650 BC (24) Zephaniah—635-625 BC (25) Habakkuk—615-605 BC (26) Ezekiel—590-570 BC (27) Lamentations—586 BC (28) Jeremiah—586-570 BC (29) 1 Kings—561-538 BC (30) 2 Kings—561-538 BC (31) Daniel 536-530 BC (32) Haggai—ca. 520 BC (33) Zechariah—480-470 BC (34) Ezra—457-444 BC (35) 1 Chronicles—450-430 BC (36) 2 Chronicles—450-430 BC (37) Esther—450-331 BC (38) Malachi—433-424 BC (39) Nehemiah—424-400 BC
Judges Chapter 8:28-3528 Thus was Midian subdued before the children of Israel, so that they lifted up their heads no more. And the country was in quietness forty years in the days of Gideon. 29 And Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and dwelt in his own house. 30 And Gideon had threescore and ten sons of his body begotten: for he had many wives. 31 And his concubine that was in Shechem, she also bare him a son, whose name he called Abimelech. 32 And Gideon the son of Joash died in a good old age, and was buried in the sepulchre of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites. 33 And it came to pass, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel turned again, and went a whoring after Baalim, and made Baalberith their god. 34 And the children of Israel remembered not the LORD their God, who had delivered them out of the hands of all their enemies on every side: 35 Neither shewed they kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, namely, Gideon, according to all the goodness which he had shewed unto Israel.
Verses 28-29 – In a proud and haughty manner to insult them, and in a hostile way to invade and oppress them, such a blow was given to the Midianites that they could not recover themselves. Nor do we read of any effort of theirs ever after, or of their giving or attempting to give any disturbance to Israel, or any other nation. The land of Canaan was free – it was now free from wars with Midian, or any other people, and they enjoyed undisturbed peace and tranquillity – they had rest and quietness forty years. This in all probability was the time Gideon lived after his victories. God kept His Word. While Gideon was alive (40 years), there was peace for Israel. It seems, Midian would give no more trouble. They are defeated. Gideon – having completed the task laid out to him by the LORD after the battles were over he went and dwelt in his own house; which was at Ophrah. The war being ended, he disbanded his army, and retired to his own house.
Verses 30-31 – Unfortunately, Gideon fell severely into the sin of polygamy, an iniquity tolerated by many but which never was God’s blueprint for marriage (Genesis 2:24). Polygamy always resulted in trouble. Gideon had 70 sons. Gideon was judge over Israel for forty years. We know the spoils had made him rich. He lived richly with many wives. Abimelech, a son by yet another illicit relationship, grew up to be the wretched king in Judges Chapter 9. Polygamy always resulted in trouble. Abimelech was the ruler of the city of Shechem during the period of the judges. He was the son of Gideon by a concubine from Shechem. Abimelech tried to become king and managed to reign three years in Shechem (Judges 9:22). To eliminate all possible rivals, he killed the 70 sons of Gideon, his own brothers and half-brothers, who were potential successors to his father (Judges 9:5). Only the youngest son of Gideon, Jotham, escaped this massacre. Ultimately, Abimelech was killed in a battle when he went too close to the city’s walls and a woman dropped a millstone on his head. He commanded his armour-bearer to kill him, so no one could say the he died at the hands of a woman (Judges 9:50-54).“Abimelech” means “father of a king”.
Verse 32 – Having lived it seems forty years after his war with Midian, blessed with a large family, much wealth and riches, great credit and esteem among his people, and in favour with God and men Gideon died. He was buried in the sepulchre of Joash his father – they probably had a family vault – here he was interred. Gideon began and ended in this place.
Verse 33 – shows Israel returning to type. Their judge who had ruled over them for more than 40 years was now dead – as the devil makes work for idle hands, it did not take much for Israel to fall back into that cyclical sin of idolatry – they started to worship and follow other pagan gods. They went from God, and the pure worship of Him, to idolatry. The gods of the Phoenicians and Canaanites, the several Baal’s of other nations, the gods were many of which they served. These they committed spiritual whoredom with; that is, idolatry.
This is the very same story we have heard with every judge. The people are relatively faithful to God as long as the judge is alive. The minute the judge dies, they begin to worship false gods again. They go the way of the rest of the world. Believers must not be part of the world. We live in the world while we are in the flesh, but we must not be partakers of the world and its ugliness.
Verses 34-35 – Despite all his achievements, Gideon made no permanent spiritual difference in Israel. His story is inspiring, but his small concessions to evil eventually disgraced himself, his family, his people and God.
When things are going well, they soon forgot that it is the blessings of God upon their lives that bring the great blessings. They have forgotten that God took 300 men, and put 135,000 Midianites to flight. In exposing his life to danger for their sake, in delivering them out of the hands of their oppressors. In administering justice to them, and in protecting them in their civil and religious liberties, and leaving them in the quiet and peaceable possession of them – they soon forgot that. Gideon – through the power of the LORD, had led them to victory against their enemies. They had been delivered from the bondage of serving these evil leaders. They forget they did not have enough to eat until God moved upon Gideon to lead them against these people. They not only have forgotten God, but have forgotten Gideon and his family as well. Gideon’s family reminded them of Gideon, and they didn’t want to remember Gideon because as a judge, he had stood in the way of their desire to go after the sensual and seductive practices of those who serve Baal.
We would do well to never forget the life of Gideon, and how it is that God can use the ordinary to do the extraordinary. How it is that God chooses and uses the Gideon’s of this life to do grand and glorious things for His glory. When God does the extraordinary in and through the ordinary – never forget that it was God who did it as you are basking in His glory – don’t touch His glory, for no flesh shall glory in His presence.
So the cycle started all over again, though they ought to have realized where that cycle would take them – back into oppression.
Judges 8:19-2719 And he said, they were my brethren, even the sons of my mother: as the LORD liveth, if ye had saved them alive, I would not slay you. 20 And he said unto Jether his firstborn, up, and slay them. But the youth drew not his sword: for he feared, because he was yet a youth. 21 Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, Rise thou, and fall upon us: for as the man is, so is his strength. And Gideon arose, and slew Zebah and Zalmunna, and took away the ornaments that were on their camels’ necks. 22 Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian. 23 And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you. 24 And Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) 25 And they answered, we will willingly give them. And they spread a garment, and did cast therein every man the earrings of his prey. 26 And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was a thousand and seven hundred shekels of gold; beside ornaments, and collars, and purple raiment that was on the kings of Midian, and beside the chains that were about their camels’ necks. 27 And Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house.
Verses 19-21 – It would seem that these two kings Zebah and Zalmunna were behind the cold blooded murder of Gideon’s brothers at some point. It would also explain why Gideon gives his firstborn son the first opportunity to avenge their death by killing Zebah and Zalmunna. However, Gideon’s son is still a teenager, a youth, he is still insecure, unsure, afraid even, so Zebah and Zalmunna tell Gideon to kill them himself. Why would they want Gideon to kill them as opposed to Gideon’s teenage son? (1) It would have been an insult to as a king have a teenager put them to death. (2) They wanted Gideon to do it because he was more experienced at killing and he would have made it quicker – it may not have been so painful to be put them out of their misery.
There are lessons that we can draw from this. Vengeance belongs to the LORD. Do not mete out revenge by your own hand – WAIT FOR THE LORD!!! IF we would only wait on the LORD to defend us and avenge us, He will always do it and He will always do it in a way that brings about justice in the end. Up until this point, Gideon did not know who had killed his brothers – that is why he asked them. When he realised that it was them – it was at that moment that God would mete out the revenge and he got justice.
What about the crescent ornaments? It is believed that those men were the worshippers of the same moon god – a crescent moon that is worshipped today under the banner of Islam. Allah is the moon god. Allah is the god of Islam, and he is the moon god, and it is evidenced by the symbol of Islam being the crescent moon, which one can see at the top of mosques. The thought is that the crescent ornaments were actually those Midianite ornaments that the kings of Zebah and Zalmunna had around their necks – they had these gold necklaces with the crescent moon because of their worship to the moon god.
The tower that Gideon tore down – if it was a pyramid to worship the moon god, then that would reinforce the notion that the men of Penuel were already betraying the Israelites with the Midianites because they were worshipping the Midianites god and that is why he killed them, and that is why he tore down this temple/tower – because it was being used for the worship of the moon god.
Verses 22-33 – Gideon’s answer reaffirms that he was a humble man – he never once wanted to take the credit for anything that God did. The irony in all this was that Gideon had been accused of the very thing at the beginning of chapter 8 by the men of Ephraim – who had accused him of wanting to take all the glory and credit for himself, which is why he didn’t call them to go into battle in the beginning. They wanted Gideon, his son and his grandsons to rule over them – yet Gideon points them to the LORD. He point blank refuses to rule over them. The LORD will rule over you.
Verses 24-27 – This amounted to between 45-50 pounds of pure gold. Gideon takes all the gold, and he makes them a golden ephod, which is a priestly garment that is worn by the high priest – they would wear the ephod with the breastplate and the twelve stones in the Urim and Thummim to determine God’s will.
Leviticus 8:8 And he put the breastplate upon him: also he put in the breastplate the Urim and the Thummim.
Gideon points them back to the LORD, and he makes a golden ephod so they would give glory to the LORD. This would turn out to be the biggest mistake that Gideon could ever make. As a result of that golden ephod the children of Israel began worshipping the golden ephod instead of worshipping the LORD who the golden ephod pointed to. Gideon in doing this was the only judge of the 13 who inadvertently encouraged the children of Israel to start to worship an idol rather than the God of their fathers. What a sad end to a courageous warrior!
Innate within our sin nature, is this idolatrous desire to worship Man or things instead of worshipping God. Remember the story of Aaron and the children of Israel when they were in the wilderness for 40 years. Moses went up to the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments from the LORD. The people thought he delayed in coming back to them – so they started to misbehave as per.
Exodus 32 2-8 2 And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. 3 And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. 4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, these be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 5 And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, tomorrow is a feast to the LORD. 6 And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. 7 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
This was the beginning of the end for Gideon, because by doing this, Gideon himself became the one responsible for stumbling the Israelites. Gideon should have known that the Israelites have the proclivity to worship gold instead of God. So he makes the golden ephod and he stumbles them.
The making of the golden ephod was the beginning of Gideon and sadly Israel’s downfall. Remember the cyclical sin cycle? Their sin leads to oppression. Oppression leads them to crying out to God. And by crying out to God, leads to God hearing and hearkening unto the voice of their cry and giving them a judge/deliverer to deliver them out of the bondage. Then after they have been delivered – they go right back into their sin and then they go into oppression – bondage – crying out………..that is what the entire Book of Judges is about – over and over and over and over and over again…………………cyclically. They just never learnt – well not until King David came onto the scene – and even then????
Judges 8:10-1810 Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor, and their hosts with them, about fifteen thousand men, all that were left of all the hosts of the children of the east: for there fell an hundred and twenty thousand men that drew sword. 11 And Gideon went up by the way of them that dwelt in tents on the east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and smote the host: for the host was secure. 12 And when Zebah and Zalmunna fled, he pursued after them, and took the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and discomfited all the host. 13 And Gideon the son of Joash returned from battle before the sun was up,14 And caught a young man of the men of Succoth, and enquired of him: and he described unto him the princes of Succoth, and the elders thereof, even threescore and seventeen men.15 And he came unto the men of Succoth, and said, Behold Zebah and Zalmunna, with whom ye did upbraid me, saying, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thy men that are weary? 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 And he beat down the tower of Penuel, and slew the men of the city. 18 Then said he unto Zebah and Zalmunna, What manner of men were they whom ye slew at Tabor? And they answered, as thou art, so were they; each one resembled the children of a king.
Verses 10-13 – I find this very interesting as we progress through this chapter. Have you noticed how much Gideon has grown and matured from the first time he was introduced to us in chapter 6? In chapter 6, Gideon was hiding in the winepress for fear of the Midianites stealing his grain, and that is where he was threshing his grain – that is when God appeared to him and said “oh mighty man of valour” – I am going to use you to deliver the Israelites and you are going to be the judge of My people Israel – you are going to deliver them, and I am going to deliver into your hands the Midianites. Gideon responds by giving the LORD three reasons why he did not qualify. (1) I am the black sheep of my family. (2) The family is the black sheep of the tribe. (3) My tribe is the black sheep of all the tribes of Israel. God assures Gideon that he is the man for the job – yet Gideon still does the fleece thing – not once but twice. Then the LORD allows Gideon to overhear the interpretation of a dream, because Gideon was the barley bun.
Now in chapter 8 we see that Gideon has become that “mighty man of valour”, that victorious mighty man of valour. It would seem that God as He is always faithful to do – in beginning that good work in us – He is faithful to complete it. God is always about that work of perfecting us and completing us. God loves us too much to leave us where we are at.
Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
Sometimes we are not the same person we were a year or two ago, or even five years ago. God is doing a work in us, and He is maturing us. He is growing us. He is preparing us. God is the God of endless chances. God has built Gideon up to where he has become that mighty man of valour. Gideon’s name means “mighty valour”.
Verses 14-16 – Why did Gideon interrogate this young man of Succoth in order to force him to write down the names – specifically the names of the very men who ridiculed him and rejected him, and refused to give his 300 men bread? Why does he only want to know their names – the 77 of them? Could it be because Gideon was measured in meting out justice – that is why it is called the Book of Judges? That is why we call the deliverer judges. God is going to use these judges – 13 in total to mete out justice. He is going to use them to bring judgement upon the enemy nations and also even the Israelites – such is the case here.
Gideon only wants to mete out justice against those who ridiculed and rejected him. Gideon told them WHEN I come back, not IF I come back. By faith he knew God was going to give him the victory over the remaining 15,000 Midianites. These 77 men end up on the receiving end of the very thing they had feared. They had feared being the recipients of retaliation and humiliation at the hands of the Midianites were the Israelites not to be victorious over them – so they didn’t want to take sides with their own brethren for fear.
This ancient practice with these briars and thorns would surely teach a man a very harsh sobering lesson. Here is what they would do. The one that they would be teaching a lesson to would lay face down on the ground while his body was beaten with thorns and briars. Then after that they would drag them alive on the ground – they would actually do this until they were at the point of death – they would stop just shy of death, with the hope that they would have learnt a lesson. It is called deterrence.
Verse 17-18 – Why did Gideon kill all the men of Penuel? Gideon had earlier told them that he would be back, and he will tear down their tower. He did not mention anything about killing them. So why did he kill them? Could it be that the men of Penuel sided with the Midianites which would explain why they did not help their brethren the Israelites? But not only would they not help their brethren, they were actually betraying the Israelites – they were helping the Midianites under the banner of fear of retaliation? The Midianites had so oppressed and impoverished the Israelites, and the Israelites lived in fear of the Midianites, so the men of Penuel and the men of Succoth in fear of the Midianites wanted to side with the Midianites to get on their good side.
Or did he kill them because when Gideon came back to mete out judgement by tearing down their tower, the men of Penuel may have started to engage in battle with them, and that would explain why they were killed? They didn’t want their tower to be destroyed. These were astrological temples and towers to worship the moon god and the sun god. So Gideon tore down that temple, just like he tore down the altar of Baal in his father’s backyard. So – here he is tearing down those altars and towers and temples to these false gods – they probably tried to resist Gideon and his men tearing down their temple. This is now the third battle that Gideon and his men have undertaken, and what makes this battle so bad, is because it is against their own brethren. This makes sense, because Gideon never planned to kill them. This severe measure was justified by virtue of how it would have been a lesson in deterrence publicly meted out for the benefit of the rest.
Judges 8:1-91 And the men of Ephraim said unto him, Why hast thou served us thus, that thou calledst us not, when thou wentest to fight with the Midianites? And they did chide with him sharply. 2 And he said unto them, What have I done now in comparison of you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer? 3 God hath delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb: and what was I able to do in comparison of you? Then their anger was abated toward him, when he had said that. 4 And Gideon came to Jordan, and passed over, he, and the three hundred men that were with him, faint, yet pursuing them. 5 And he said unto the men of Succoth, Give, I pray you, loaves of bread unto the people that follow me; for they be faint, and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian.6 And the princes of Succoth said, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thine army? 7 And Gideon said, therefore when the LORD hath delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into mine hand, then I will tear your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers. 8 And he went up thence to Penuel, and spake unto them likewise: and the men of Penuel answered him as the men of Succoth had answered him. 9 And he spake also unto the men of Penuel, saying, When I come again in peace, I will break down this tower.
Verse 1 – Well that’s gratitude for you! The men of Ephraim felt they were slighted by Gideon. Their harsh and sharp rebuke is that Gideon did not ask them to come and fight with him and help him in the battle against the Midianites. The tribe of Ephraim are just complaining and moaning unnecessarily. They should be happy – showing unspeakable joy that their tormentors who have terrorised them these last seven years have been annihilated, yet they complain. WHY? Some people will complain about everything, yet they do nothing, They complain the most but they do the least. It is in human nature – in marriages, business, in the church, parents, relationships – we just have a tendency to complain. Why is it that people complain about everything? There is no doubt an exhaustive list as to why people complain, but here is a list of 5.
Number 1 – People complain because of their pride. This is manifested by the wanting to be in the spotlight and when they don’t get what they want – they will complain about it and just moan.
James 4:1-3 1 From whence come wars and fighting’s among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
Number 2 – People complain because they themselves are guilty of their accusations. They accused Gideon of wanting to take all for himself – all the glory. However, Gideon did not want anything to do with the mission the LORD sent him on. He resisted the LORD. He put out not one, but two fleeces, to ask the LORD to confirm that it was actually Him sending him out to battle and fight against the Midianites. He told God that He had got the wrong guy. He gave God three reasons why he didn’t qualify. I do wonder – how many of those complaining were among the original 22,000 men who returned home because of fear?
Number 3 – People complain because they have a false sense of the role of their importance – self-importance. In their complaint and self-rebuke, it is all about them.
Number 4 – People complain because they falsely believe that somehow they are entitled and owed. This comes packaged with this life isn’t fair mentality.
Number 5 – People complain because they don’t like what they heard God say. And or they didn’t like what they see God do. They were beside themselves that God chose Gideon.
Complaining and accusing should never characterise a Christian, let alone take up residence in the life of a Christian.
Philippians 2:14-16 14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; 16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
What should set us apart as believers is that we do not complain as the world complains – especially in the workplace.
Verses 2-3 – Gideon’s response completely disarms them. He completely turns away all of their anger and hostility and harshness.
Proverbs 15:1-2 1 A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. 2 The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.
Gideon does not respond in anger – he is softly spoken and turns it around to appease them. He didn’t stoop down to their level. He actually compares himself to them and in so doing he magnifies them. He brings himself down – he humbles himself and in so doing, he is able to turn away wrath. This is good leadership. It is a character quality in a leader that is a MUST!. It is not only good leadership, but it is also supernatural discernment on Gideon’s part.
Why was Gideon so tactful, so gracious, so discerning in what his response was to the Ephraimites? Gideon knew how to stay on message. Had he engaged in a battle against them, and not picked his battle wisely, it would have discredited Gideon from what God had called him to do. This Midianite victory is still incomplete as of now – as we will see as we progress in the chapter – there are still 15,000 men they have yet to defeat with the same 300 men. Going back to verse 1 – those who spoke roughly to Gideon and rebuked him – did any agree to go back into battle with Gideon to wipe out the remaining 15,000 Midianites? Talk is cheap isn’t it???
Verses 4-6 – What an answer from their Israelite brethren. All Gideon was asking for was for some nourishment – bread for his faint 300 men – to give them strength in their pursuit of the remaining 15,000 men they sought. Why would they refuse to help their fellow brethren who was going into battle? Their response was to mock Gideon – suggesting to Gideon “who are you? Just who do you think you are, and what makes you so sure that you are going to be victorious when you cross over into battle to finish it off? Why should we give you any bread”? It is almost as if they are telling him “we are not so sure that you are going to come back victorious”. The thing is, God had already ensured and assured them of the victory. It is also worth noting that 300 men went to battle with 135,000 Midianites, and 300 men also returned from battle. Not one man was lost. It is also these 300 men who were enroute to conclude their final battle with the remaining 15,000 Midianites.
Could it be that they didn’t want to help their fellow Israelites in case Gideon and his army were defeated in battle? Could it be that they were afraid that if they took God’s side and helped out Gideon’s army and stand with God’s people – it may in fact bring about retaliation by the Midianites if the Israelite were defeated? Could it be that they feared retaliation from the Midianites?
We as Christians are prone to fear reprisals in taking a righteous stand. This is the number one reason why Christians refuse to take a stand in confronting sin. Could it be that this kind of Christian is only concerned for themselves in their carnal fear, and fleshy fear of retaliation were they to confront sin? Could it be that Christians are afraid of repercussions or that they will put their relationship in jeopardy? Or is it because they want to be liked and loved? I can only ask – whom will you serve? God? Or Man?
Initially, people may hate you and reject you for simply speaking the truth to them, but eventually they will thank you – it may take days, or weeks or months, or even years down the road – but eventually, they will thank you. Speak the truth in love – with meekness. Speak the truth not only in love, but because you love!
Verses 7-9 – This is righteous anger. Jesus also had righteous anger.
John 2:15 And when He had made a scourge of small cords, He drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;
Gideon tells them that I will be back and then……… This reminds me of Abraham when he was asked to go and sacrifice his son Isaac on mount Moriah
Genesis 22:2-5 2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. 3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. 4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. 5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.
Incidentally, Isaac was also 33 years old when Abraham was asked to sacrifice him as a type of Christ on Mount Moriah. Abraham had heard the Word of God who told him that through Isaac He was going to multiply his descendants. Abraham was not fearful to obey this Word from the LORD.
Again we read here that Gideon says WHEN not IF. Gideon wasn’t even asking the men of Succoth and Penuel, to go to battle with them – all he is asking for is some bread, just a bun to sustain the men – yet they refused him.
Oftentimes – those who we look to for support may not be the ones who in the end are going to be there for us, or come through to help us, but it is at those times that God in spite of them will give us the victory without them!
Judges 7:19-2519 So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers that were in their hands. 20 And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon. 21 And they stood every man in his place round about the camp: and all the host ran, and cried, and fled. 22 And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the LORD set every man’s sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host: and the host fled to Bethshittah in Zererath, and to the border of Abelmeholah, unto Tabbath. 23 And the men of Israel gathered themselves together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and pursued after the Midianites. 24 And Gideon sent messengers throughout all mount Ephraim, saying, Come down against the Midianites, and take before them the waters unto Bethbarah and Jordan. Then all the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and took the waters unto Bethbarah and Jordan. 25 And they took two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb; and they slew Oreb upon the rock Oreb, and Zeeb they slew at the winepress of Zeeb, and pursued Midian, and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side Jordan.
Verses 19-23 – This beginning of the middle watch would be around 10pm – which would be the time that the Midianites were already falling asleep or already asleep – except for those that they had posted as watchmen. Suddenly, these 135,000 men were awakened by the sound of 300 trumpets blowing and in addition to the 300 trumpets blowing, you had the sound of 300 pitchers breaking – that was probably enough to absolutely terrify them so much so that they would flee and even turn on their own fellow Midianites and kill them. WHY?
God would use not 300 men to defeat the 135,000 Midianites, but it would supernaturally be 300,000 men that would defeat them. The military strategy of that day was such that each trumpet represented 1,000 warriors. So the Midianites heard the sound of 300, and if every one of them represents 1,000, that means that there are 300,000 Israelites up there and that is what caused them to react in such a way, and if that wasn’t bad enough, they heard the words “The sword of the LORD and of Gideon” – that was the final straw for them – the breaking of the Camel’s back so to speak. They became so afraid they actually turned on each other and slaughtered one another in their blinding fear in the darkness of the night.
What lessons can we take from this? The victory comes when the great and loud trumpet sound of the God’s Word is heard – the sword of the Spirit – the Word of God. Not only is it when the Word of God is heard – it is when the vessel chosen by God is broken. It was when the pitchers were broken and the light of the LORD was able to shine forth that confusion arose within their camp.
THE BEAUTY OF BROKENESS – In all of the Bible, you always find that the blessing never comes before the breaking. Jesus when He fed the multitudes would break the bread and then bless the people. Jacob fighting with the angel saying LORD bless me as he wrestled with the LORD all night – the LORD couldn’t bless him until He first broke him.
Genesis 32:24-28 24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. 25 And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.27 And he said unto him, what is thy name? And he said, Jacob. 28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.
The victory here with Gideon couldn’t come unless the breaking came first. Now here’s the problem. We place no value on broken things. If something is broken we dispose of it, and we replace it. Not so with the LORD. It is those who are broken that God is the closet to. It is the ones who are the most broken that the light of the LORD is able to shine through. Victory comes subsequent to the breaking. Blessings come subsequent to the breaking. Never undervalue the breaking or brokenness in your life.
Verses 24-25 – Gideon sent word to the tribe of Ephraim to join in the battle, suggesting they race ahead and cut off the Midianites escape back across the Jordan. Gideon wanted to get possession of the fords of Jordan before them, and hinder their passage over it. For though he had routed them, and they were fled before him, yet he did not have enough men with him to destroy them. And besides, as they had their Camels to ride on, and he and his men only on foot, they could not come up with them. “Then all the men of Ephraim” – that is, great numbers of them, whose hearts were inclined to, and whose situation lay best for this service took possession of all the passes, and guarded them, as Gideon directed. Gideon had not invited the tribe of Ephraim to get involved in the war at first. Now he does. He gives them a specific task to do. Ephraim is to block the escape of Midian. They immediately joined in and took the waters unto Beth-barah and Jordan. They have now trapped the Midianites and their allies. They have now captured two of the Midianites leaders. They then met up with Gideon just east of the Jordan.
Now, you would think the tribes would be happy about this victory and would be pounding Gideon on the back with a lot of “you got them Gideon”. But that is not what they said or did. It looks like the green eyed monster is about to rear its ugly head huh???