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Gideon - the reluctant hero

Gideon learns to trust God for victory.
Contributed by Julia Watson
Once, long ago in Israel, the people forgot all about God and did many bad things. Then their enemies swarmed all over the country. <br/>They stole their sheep, donkeys, oxen and any food they could find. Things finally got so bad that at last the Israelites turned back to God and said, ‘Help! Please help us. We’re sorry for the bad things we’ve done.’ And God heard them. – Slide 1
A young man named Gideon was busy threshing wheat for his family. They had to hide the grain in a pit, in case it got stolen. – Slide 2
Gideon was so busy, at first he didn’t notice the visitor in front of him.  <br/>‘The Lord is with you, valiant warrior!’ said the visitor, who was actually an angel sent by God. To say that Gideon was taken aback would be an understatement. You could have knocked him down with a feather. <br/>‘If God is with us,’ Gideon shook his head, ‘where are all His miracles to save us, like we heard of in the old days? God has forgotten us.’ – Slide 3
‘Besides, you must have the wrong person. I’m not any kind of superhero. My family isn’t important, and I’m the youngest.’ <br/>Well, the angel was not going to be put off. <br/>‘Go in God’s strength and deliver Israel from the Midianites,’ he said. ‘Have I not sent you? Surely I will be with you. You can do it Gideon!’ <br/>‘Wait,’ said Gideon. ‘Please don’t go away. I want to go and get something for you.’ – Slide 4
In a little while Gideon was back, with some bread, meat and broth for his guest. <br/>‘Put them on that rock,’ said the angel. <br/>Then he stretched out his staff and touched them. There was a flash of flame and the food was gone. The angel too vanished. <br/>A shaky Gideon said to himself, ‘It really must have been God talking to me.’ – Slide 5
That night the Lord again spoke to Gideon. ‘I want you to break down the altars to the idols on the hills,’ He said. <br/>So Gideon crept out at night time and broke down the stone and wooden gods that the Israelites had served instead of God. <br/>What a hubbub there was in the morning! <br/>‘Well,’ said Gideon’s dad. ‘If they were really such powerful gods they should have been able to look after themselves.’ – Slide 6
Then Gideon became really brave, for God was with him, as He promised. <br/>Gideon blew a loud trumpet, and lots of Israelites came to join him. Soon there was an army. – Slide 7
Things were happening so fast that Gideon wanted to make sure—just once more— <br/>‘Please, God, if you’re really going to be with me give me a sign. Make this fleece that I leave out overnight wet with dew, but the ground dry.’ <br/>And the next morning the ground was dry but the fleece was soaked with dew. – Slide 8
But Gideon still had doubts. ‘If you don’t mind, God, this last time! Make the fleece dry, but the ground wet with dew.’ <br/>It happened as he asked. – Slide 9
No more excuses, Gideon. <br/>He was about to find out that miracles still happened. – Slide 10
How on earth was Gideon going to be able to chase out such a huge number of enemies from his country? <br/>Gideon and his men stood on the hillside and looked over the valley where the enemies’ camp was spread. <br/>Tents and more tents, as far as your eye could see. – Slide 11
There were thousands of them—tens of thousands—hundreds of thousands—too many to count. <br/>The task seemed impossible. <br/>He shook his head. ‘God, we’re certainly going to need You,’ he thought. – Slide 12
‘Gideon!’ God called. ‘Yes, I’m going to rescue you. <br/>But you’ve got TOO MANY men! Tell anyone who is afraid to go home.’ <br/>So Gideon did. And 22,000 men went home (and probably looked for somewhere to hide—in caves in the hills, perhaps). <br/>Now Gideon had only 10,000 left. You see God knew that the people would think they could do it all on their own, without God, if they had even a small army. – Slide 13
Hmm. Still too many. <br/>‘Take them down to the stream to drink. See how they drink.’ <br/>Some kneeled down. But some lapped water from their hands. <br/>‘Choose them, Gideon. The others can go home.’ <br/>Now Gideon was left with just 300 men! – Slide 14
That night God told Gideon to secretly go down to the enemy camp. <br/>‘If you are scared, take your servant with you. You are going to discover something to encourage you.’ <br/>Carefully, so as to not even make any sound on the stones, they crept between some of the outlying tents. <br/>Then hush! They froze in their tracks. They could hear a conversation inside one of the tents. They edged closer to listen. – Slide 15
‘That was some dream,’ said the first voice. <br/>‘I saw this little barley loaf come hurtling down the hillside. It hit a tent and smashed it flat, even though it was so little.’ <br/>‘I don’t like the sound of that,’ said the second voice. ‘It must mean that Gideon is going to squash us flat, and utterly defeat us. Their God is going to save them.’ <br/>‘Oh thank you God!’ breathed Gideon outside. ‘What an amazing surprise. They are already scared of us!’ – Slide 16
Gideon was taking his instructions direct from God now, a pretty sensible thing to do. He began to equip his 300 men. <br/>He gave them each a large jar, with a lamp inside and a trumpet. Not quite the usual weapons for a battle. – Slide 17
Then he divided his men into three groups. Noiselessly they crept down to the enemy camp, and positioned themselves at three places round the edge of it. It was dark and silent.  <br/>Suddenly Gideon gave the signal. ‘The Sword of the Lord and of Gideon,’ he yelled. <br/>His men smashed their jars together and blew their trumpets as loudly as they could. – Slide 18
What a pandemonium there was. Shouts, yells, braying of trumpets, crashes and flashes of light. <br/>Hastily the Midianites groped round in the dark for their swords. <br/>‘We’re surrounded! Help! The Israelites are on top of us with a huge army!’ <br/>In their confusion in the dark some of them fought each other by mistake. <br/>Then those who could began running for their lives, shoving and tripping over, anything to escape from the mighty Gideon and his huge army attacking them! – Slide 19
Gideon sent messengers to his people and they chased them, shouting and waving their swords and spears, till there was not an enemy left in the land. <br/>‘Gideon, you are indeed a mighty hero,’ they said. ‘You should be our King!’ <br/>‘No,’ said Gideon. ‘God is our King, and He has saved us.’ – Slide 20
Slide 21