Through the Bible – Day 85

Bible text(s)

The LORD chooses Gideon

11One day an angel from the LORD went to the town of Ophrah and sat down under the big tree that belonged to Joash, a member of the Abiezer clan. Joash's son Gideon was nearby, threshing grain in a shallow pit, where he could not be seen by the Midianites.

12The angel appeared and spoke to Gideon, “The LORD is helping you, and you are a strong warrior.”

13Gideon answered, “Please don't take this wrong, but if the LORD is helping us, then why have all these awful things happened? We've heard how the LORD performed miracles and rescued our ancestors from Egypt. But those things happened long ago. Now the LORD has abandoned us to the Midianites.”

14Then the LORD himself said, “Gideon, you will be strong, because I am giving you the power to rescue Israel from the Midianites.”

15Gideon replied, “But how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest one in Manasseh, and everyone else in my family is more important than I am.”

16“Gideon,” the LORD answered, “you can rescue Israel because I am going to help you! Defeating the Midianites will be as easy as beating up one man.”

17Gideon said, “It's hard to believe that I'm actually talking to the LORD. Please do something so I'll know that you really are the LORD. 18And wait here until I bring you an offering.”

“All right, I'll wait,” the LORD answered.

19Gideon went home and killed a young goat, then started boiling the meat. Next, he opened a big sack of flour and made it into thin bread. When the meat was done, he put it in a basket and poured the broth into a clay cooking pot. He took the meat, the broth, and the bread and placed them under the big tree.

20God's angel said, “Gideon, put the meat and the bread on this rock, and pour the broth over them.” Gideon did as he was told. 21The angel was holding a walking stick, and he touched the meat and the bread with the end of the stick. Flames jumped from the rock and burnt up the meat and the bread.

When Gideon looked, the angel was gone. 22Gideon realized that he had seen one of the LORD's angels. “Oh!” he moaned. “Now I'm going to die.”

23“Calm down!” the LORD told Gideon. “There's nothing to be afraid of. You're not going to die.”

24Gideon built an altar for worshipping the LORD and called it “The LORD Calms our Fears”. It still stands there in Ophrah, a town in the territory of the Abiezer clan.

Gideon tears down Baal's altar

25That night the LORD spoke to Gideon again:

Get your father's second-best bull, the one that's seven years old. Use it to pull down the altar where your father worships Baal and cut down the sacred pole next to the altar. 26Then build an altar for worshipping me on the highest part of the hill where your town is built. Use layers of stones for my altar, not just a pile of rocks. Cut up the wood from the pole, make a fire, kill the bull, and burn it as a sacrifice to me.

27Gideon chose ten of his servants to help him, and they did everything God had said. But since Gideon was afraid of his family and the other people in town, he did it all at night.

28When the people of the town got up the next morning, they saw that Baal's altar had been knocked over, and the sacred pole next to it had been cut down. Then they noticed the new altar covered with the remains of the sacrificed bull.

29“Who could have done such a thing?” they asked. And they kept on asking, until finally someone told them, “Gideon the son of Joash did it.”

30The men of the town went to Joash and said, “Your son Gideon knocked over Baal's altar and cut down the sacred pole next to it. Hand him over, so we can kill him!”

31The crowd pushed closer and closer, but Joash replied, “Are you trying to take revenge for Baal? Are you trying to rescue Baal? If you are, you will be the ones who are put to death, and it will happen before another day dawns. If Baal really is a god, let him take his own revenge on someone who tears down his altar.”

32That same day, Joash changed Gideon's name to Jerubbaal, explaining, “He tore down Baal's altar, so let Baal take revenge himself.”

Gideon defeats the Midianites

33All the Midianites, Amalekites, and other eastern nations got together and crossed the River Jordan. Then they invaded the land of Israel and set up camp in Jezreel Valley.

34The LORD's Spirit took control of Gideon, and Gideon blew a signal on a trumpet to tell the men in the Abiezer clan to follow him. 35He also sent messengers to the tribes of Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, telling the men of these tribes to come and join his army. Then they set out towards the enemy camp.

36-37Gideon prayed to God, “I know that you promised to help me rescue Israel, but I need proof. Tonight I'll put some wool on the stone floor of that threshing place over there. If you really will help me rescue Israel, then tomorrow morning let there be dew on the wool, but let the stone floor be dry.”

38And that's just what happened. Early the next morning, Gideon got up and checked the wool. He squeezed out enough water to fill a bowl. 39But Gideon prayed to God again. “Don't be angry with me,” Gideon said. “Let me try this just one more time, so I'll really be sure you'll help me. Only this time, let the wool be dry and the stone floor be wet with dew.”

40That night, God made the stone floor wet with dew, but he kept the wool dry.

1Early the next morning, Gideon and his army got up and moved their camp to Fear Spring. The Midianite camp was to the north, in the valley at the foot of Moreh Hill.

2The LORD said, “Gideon, your army is too big. I can't let you win with this many soldiers. The Israelites would think that they had won the battle all by themselves and that I didn't have anything to do with it. 3So call your troops together and tell them that anyone who is really afraid can leave Mount Gilead and go home.”

Twenty-two thousand men returned home, leaving Gideon with only ten thousand soldiers.

4“Gideon,” the LORD said, “you still have too many soldiers. Take them down to the spring and I'll test them. I'll tell you which ones can go along with you and which ones must go back home.”

5When Gideon led his army down to the spring, the LORD told him, “Watch how each man gets a drink of water. Then divide them into two groups—those who lap the water like a dog and those who kneel down to drink.”

6Three hundred men scooped up water in their hands and lapped it, and the rest knelt to get a drink. 7The LORD said, “Gideon, your army will be made up of everyone who lapped the water from their hands. Send the others home. I'm going to rescue Israel by helping you and your army of three hundred defeat the Midianites.”

8Then Gideon gave these orders, “You three hundred men stay here. The rest of you may go home, but leave your food and trumpets with us.”

Gideon's army camp was on top of a hill overlooking the Midianite camp in the valley.

9That night, the LORD said to Gideon. “Get up! Attack the Midianite camp. I am going to let you defeat them, 10but if you're still afraid, you and your servant Purah should sneak down to their camp. 11When you hear what the Midianites are saying, you'll be brave enough to attack.”

Gideon and Purah worked their way to the edge of the enemy camp, where soldiers were on guard duty. 12The camp was huge. The Midianites, Amalekites, and other eastern nations covered the valley like a swarm of locusts. And it would be easier to count the grains of sand on a beach than to count their camels. 13Gideon overheard one enemy guard telling another, “I had a dream about a flat loaf of barley bread that came tumbling into our camp. It hit the headquarters tent, and the tent tipped over and fell down.”

14The other soldier answered, “Your dream must have been about Gideon, the Israelite commander. It means God will let him and his army defeat the Midianite army and everyone else in our camp.”

15As soon as Gideon heard about the dream and what it meant, he bowed down to praise God. Then he went back to the Israelite camp and shouted, “Let's go! The LORD is going to let us defeat the Midianite army.”

16Gideon divided his little army into three groups of one hundred men, and he gave each soldier a trumpet and a large clay jar with a burning torch inside. 17-18Gideon said, “When we get to the enemy camp, spread out and surround it. Then wait for me to blow a signal on my trumpet. As soon as you hear it, blow your trumpets and shout, ‘Fight for the LORD! Fight for Gideon!’ ”

19Gideon and his group reached the edge of the enemy camp a few hours after dark, just after the new guards had come on duty. Gideon and his soldiers blew their trumpets and smashed the clay jars that were hiding the torches. 20The rest of Gideon's soldiers blew the trumpets they were holding in their right hands. Then they smashed the jars and held the burning torches in their left hands. Everyone shouted, “Fight with your swords for the LORD and for Gideon!”

21The enemy soldiers started yelling and tried to run away. Gideon's troops stayed in their positions surrounding the camp 22and blew their trumpets again. As they did, the LORD made the enemy soldiers pull out their swords and start fighting each other.

The enemy army tried to escape from the camp. They ran to Acacia Tree Town, towards Zeredah, and as far as the edge of the land that belonged to the town of Abel-Meholah near Tabbath.

23Gideon sent word for more Israelite soldiers to come from the tribes of Naphtali, Asher, and both halves of Manasseh to help fight the Midianites. 24He also sent messengers to tell all the men who lived in the hill country of Ephraim, “Come and help us fight the Midianites! Put guards at every spring, stream, and well, as far as Beth-Barah before the Midianites can get to them. And guard the River Jordan.”

Troops from Ephraim did exactly what Gideon had asked, 25and they even helped chase the Midianites on the east side of the River Jordan. These troops captured Raven and Wolf, the two Midianite leaders. They killed Raven at a large rock that has come to be known as Raven Rock, and they killed Wolf near a wine-pit that has come to be called Wolf Wine-pit.

The men of Ephraim brought the heads of the two Midianite leaders to Gideon.

1But the men were really upset with Gideon and complained, “When you went to war with Midian, you didn't ask us to help! Why did you treat us like that?”

2Gideon answered:

Don't be upset! Even though you came later, you were able to do much more than I did. It's just like the grape harvest: the grapes your tribe doesn't even bother to pick are better than the best grapes my family can grow. 3Besides, God chose you to capture Raven and Wolf. I didn't do a thing compared to you.

By the time Gideon had finished talking, the men of Ephraim had calmed down and were no longer angry with him.

Gideon finishes destroying the Midianite army

4After Gideon and his three hundred troops had chased the Midianites as far as the River Jordan, they were exhausted. 5The town of Succoth was nearby, so he went there and asked, “Please give my troops some food. They are worn out, but we have to keep chasing Zebah and Zalmunna, the two Midianite kings.”

6The town leaders of Succoth answered, “Why should we feed your army? We don't know if you really will defeat Zebah and Zalmunna.”

7“Just wait!” Gideon said. “After the LORD helps me defeat them, I'm coming back here. I'll make a whip out of thorns and rip the flesh from your bones.”

8After leaving Succoth, Gideon went to Penuel and asked the leaders there for some food. But he got the same answer as he had got at Succoth. 9“I'll come back safe and sound,” Gideon said, “but when I do, I'm going to tear down your tower!”

10Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with an army of fifteen thousand troops. They were all that was left of the army of the eastern nations, because one hundred and twenty thousand of their warriors had been killed in the battle.

11Gideon reached the enemy camp by going east along Nomad Road past Nobah and Jogbehah. He made a surprise attack, 12and the enemy panicked. Zebah and Zalmunna tried to escape, but Gideon chased and captured them.

13After the battle, Gideon set out for home. As he was going through Heres Pass, 14he caught a young man who lived in Succoth. Gideon asked him who the town officials of Succoth were, and the young man wrote down seventy-seven names.

15Gideon went to the town officials and said, “Here are Zebah and Zalmunna. Remember how you made fun of me? You said, ‘We don't know if you really will defeat those two Midianite kings. So why should we feed your worn out army?’ ”

16Gideon made a whip from thorn plants and used it to beat the town officials. 17Afterwards he went to Penuel, where he tore down the tower and killed all the town officials there.

18Then Gideon said, “Zebah and Zalmunna, tell me about the men you killed at Tabor.”

“They were a lot like you,” the two kings answered. “They were dignified, almost like royalty.”

19“They were my very own brothers!” Gideon said. “I swear by the living LORD that if you had let them live, I would let you live.”

20Gideon turned to Jether, his eldest son. “Kill them!” Gideon said.

But Jether was young, and he was too afraid even to pull out his sword.

21“What's the matter, Gideon?” Zebah and Zalmunna asked. “Do it yourself, if you're not too much of a coward!”

Gideon jumped up and killed them both. Then he took the fine gold ornaments from the necks of their camels.

The Israelites ask Gideon to be their king

22After the battle with the Midianites, the Israelites said, “Gideon, you rescued us! Now we want you to be our king. Then after your death, your son and then your grandson will rule.”

23“No,” Gideon replied, “I won't be your king, and my son won't be king either. Only the LORD is your ruler. 24But I will ask you to do one thing: give me all the earrings you took from the enemy.”

The enemy soldiers had been Ishmaelites, and they wore gold earrings.

25The Israelite soldiers replied, “Of course we will give you the earrings.” Then they spread out a robe on the ground and tossed the earrings on it. 26The total weight of this gold was nearly twenty kilogrammes. In addition, there was the gold from the camels' ornaments and from the beautiful jewellery worn by the Midianite kings. Gideon also took their purple robes.

27-29Gideon returned to his home in Ophrah and had the gold made into a statue, which the Israelites soon started worshipping. They became unfaithful to God, and even Gideon and his family were trapped into worshipping the statue.

The Midianites had been defeated so badly that they were no longer strong enough to attack Israel. And so Israel was at peace for the remaining forty years of Gideon's life.

Gideon dies

30Gideon had many wives and seventy sons. 31He even had a wife who lived at Shechem. They had a son, and Gideon named him Abimelech.

32Gideon lived to be an old man. And when he died, he was buried in the family tomb in his home town of Ophrah, which belonged to the Abiezer clan.

33Soon after Gideon's death, the Israelites turned their backs on God again. They set up idols of Baal and worshipped Baal Berith as their god. 34The Israelites forgot that the LORD was their God, and that he had rescued them from the enemies who lived around them. 35Besides all that, the Israelites were unkind to Gideon's family, even though Gideon had done so much for Israel.

Judges 6:11-8:35CEVOpen in Bible reader

The boy Jesus in the temple

41Every year Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem for Passover. 42And when Jesus was twelve years old, they all went there as usual for the celebration. 43After Passover his parents left, but they did not know that Jesus had stayed on in the city. 44They thought he was travelling with some other people, and they went a whole day before they started looking for him. 45When they could not find him with their relatives and friends, they went back to Jerusalem and started looking for him there.

46Three days later they found Jesus sitting in the temple, listening to the teachers and asking them questions. 47Everyone who heard him was surprised at how much he knew and at the answers he gave.

48When his parents found him, they were amazed. His mother said, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been very worried, and we have been searching for you!”

49Jesus answered, “Why did you have to look for me? Didn't you know that I would be in my Father's house?” 50But they did not understand what he meant.

51Jesus went back to Nazareth with his parents and obeyed them. His mother kept on thinking about all that had happened.

52Jesus became wise, and he grew strong. God was pleased with him and so were the people.

The preaching of John the Baptist

1For fifteen years Emperor Tiberius had ruled that part of the world. Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was the ruler of Galilee. Herod's brother, Philip, was the ruler in the countries of Iturea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was the ruler of Abilene. 2Annas and Caiaphas were the Jewish high priests.

At that time God spoke to Zechariah's son John, who was living in the desert. 3So John went along the Jordan Valley, telling the people, “Turn back to God and be baptized! Then your sins will be forgiven.” 4Isaiah the prophet wrote about John when he said,

“In the desert

someone is shouting,

‘Get the road ready

for the Lord!

Make a straight path

for him.

5Fill up every valley

and level every mountain

and hill.

Straighten the crooked paths

and smooth out

the rough roads.

6Then everyone will see

the saving power of God.’ ”

7Crowds of people came out to be baptized, but John said to them, “You snakes! Who warned you to run from the coming judgment? 8Do something to show that you really have given up your sins. Don't start saying that you belong to Abraham's family. God can turn these stones into children for Abraham. 9An axe is ready to cut the trees down at their roots. Any tree that doesn't produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into a fire.”

10The crowds asked John, “What should we do?”

11John told them, “If you have two coats, give one to someone who doesn't have any. If you have food, share it with someone else.”

12When tax collectors came to be baptized, they asked John, “Teacher, what should we do?”

13John told them, “Don't make people pay more than they owe.”

14Some soldiers asked him, “And what about us? What do we have to do?”

John told them, “Don't force people to pay money to make you leave them alone. Be satisfied with your pay.”

15Everyone became excited and wondered, “Could John be the Messiah?”

16John said, “I am just baptizing with water. But someone more powerful is going to come, and I am not good enough even to untie his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 17His threshing fork is in his hand, and he is ready to separate the wheat from the husks. He will store the wheat in his barn and burn the husks with a fire that never goes out.”

18In many different ways John preached the good news to the people. 19But to Herod the ruler, he said, “It was wrong for you to take Herodias, your brother's wife.” John also said that Herod had done many other bad things. 20Finally, Herod put John in jail, and this was the worst thing he had done.

Luke 2:41-3:20CEVOpen in Bible reader
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