Title: Judges 8. Gideon, part 43: We don’t help God. He helps us.
JDG 8:14 And he captured a youth from Succoth and questioned him. Then the youth wrote down for him the princes of Succoth and its elders, seventy-seven men.
JDG 8:15 And he came to the men of Succoth and said, "Behold Zebah and Zalmunna, concerning whom you taunted me, saying, 'Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna already in your hand, that we should give bread to your men who are weary?'"
JDG 8:16 And he took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and he disciplined the men of Succoth with them.
JDG 8:17 And he tore down the tower of Penuel and killed the men of the city.
Gideon's war is over. Midian is defeated and will not return. Gideon returns home.
Gideon interrogates the kings concerning war crimes.
JDG 8:18 Then he said to Zebah and Zalmunna, "What kind of men were they whom you killed at Tabor?" And they said, "They were like you, each one resembling the son of a king."
JDG 8:19 And he said, "They were my brothers, the sons of my mother. As the Lord lives, if only you had let them live, I would not kill you."
It was likely that Gideon brought the two kings back to Ophrah since it was in this area where these men committed the atrocity against Israel; against Gideon's family. Tabor is just north of Ophrah and some of Gideon's extended family lived there.
This passage shows that Midianite not only plundered Israel, they also committed murderous acts.
Gideon takes vengeance. Personally, I would have liked to see Gideon approach God and ask of Him what he should do to the kings. Vengeance is the Lord's. This was a clear truth from Deuteronomy. God does not give us His evaluation of Gideon, and so we cannot determine if his actions are in accordance with God's will.
JDG 8:20 So he said to Jether his first-born, "Rise, kill them." But the youth did not draw his sword, for he was afraid, because he was still a youth.
It is a great insult to be executed by a youth. Plus, the youth is inexperienced and not strong, so death might not be swift, but protracted and painful.
Gideon wanted to humiliate them and he probably wanted his son to gain strength. But Gideon never got his strength from revenge feelings or training from another soldier. Gideon only found strength in the Lord. Has his power gone to his head? He asked to army to shout, "For the Lord and for Gideon," and he has taken revenge upon his own people. However, when the people offer him a kingship, he refuses it and states that only Jehovah will rule over them.
JDG 8:21 Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, "Rise up yourself, and fall on us; for as the man, so is his strength." So Gideon arose and killed Zebah and Zalmunna, and took the crescent ornaments which were on their camels' necks.
Gideon executes them and then takes the crescent, moon shaped ornaments as spoils, commonly hung around the necks of camels belonging to the wealthy.
If we think about how all of this is perceived by the people of Israel, which in this case would likely only include northern Israel, it won't take us long to see that they must have been overjoyed. Seven long years of oppression by these people though theft and murder and now Gideon, in public, plunges his sword into each of the two kings that ruled them. Not only was Midian forced out of Israel without stealing, raping, or killing, but they were all killed. None exist to return. Israel is free and without oppression. They can come out of the mountains and again live openly. They can farm and look forward to next year's bounty of produce. They can again work and live and prosper together in freedom. Naturally they then think of how they can prevent the oppression from occurring again and they imagine that it was their lack of a central government that was the problem when it was only for the reason that they did evil in the sight of the Lord.
The people conclude it was the lack of a king that allowed the oppression, when God made it clear that it was their evil idolatry.
JDG 8:22 Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, "Rule over us, both you and your son, also your son's son, for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian."
This is an offer not only for Gideon to rule but also to establish his family as a dynasty. The people see the benefit of a central power, but they already have Jehovah for that.
The people figure that with a central, strong leadership they will be better able to fight off enemies in the future. What they fail to see is that God raised up this leader when he was needed, and he would not have been needed if Israel hadn't done what was evil in the sight of the Lord. All Israel has to do is to follow Jehovah. In the Lord they have a king, they do not need a human king.
It is the rejection of God's grace that brings such woe upon man. If he would only receive from God and wait upon God's power, grace, and mercy then he would prosper in all things.
ISA 64:4 For from of old they have not heard nor perceived by ear,
Neither has the eye seen a God besides Thee,
Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him.
ISA 64:5 Thou dost meet him who rejoices in doing righteousness,
Who remembers Thee in Thy ways.
Behold, Thou wast angry, for we sinned,
We continued in them a long time;
And shall we be saved?
ISA 64:6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
And all of us wither like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
When things are miserable in a person’s life they often look for secular or temporal causes. The cause is always a problem with their relationship with the Lord.
God, in grace, provides all of man's needs so that he doesn't have to search for them in illicit ways.
Every need is provided for and that without cost. The world tells you that you need more than God’s providence and the “more” that it offers has a very high price tag. Those telling you that you need more are described in ISA 64:6.
One of the things we receive from God, as Israel did, is His commands. They are for our benefit. He is showing us how to govern our own lives, our families, and our nation. We don’t know how.
When man gained knowledge of good and evil by eating of the tree, his eyes were opened but his fallen nature could not discern what was truly good and evil.
What we gained is knowledge we could not handle. We knew good and evil existed but we could not perfectly define them. This causes stress which stems from confusion. But God in His great mercy gave us guidance. After the world was flooded due to the enormous depravity of man, God gave a covenant to Noah. Then the covenant to Abraham and Moses and David all came with more of God’s promises and guidance.
We have God’s commands in grace because fallen man has no steering mechanism. In following the commands of God we benefit and God is glorified.
Israel did not suffer because they lacked a king. They suffered because they refused to follow God’s commands. They did evil in His sight and they were severely disciplined. God desired their prosperity in His grace gifts and discipline is the only way that could see that.
But when man makes his own commands and sets his own conscience, then he only finds woe in life.
MAT 23:23 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.
MAT 23:24 You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!"
MAT 23:25 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence.
MAT 23:26 "You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.
MAT 23:27 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.
MAT 23:28 "Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.