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  The Great Bible Story #48
The rise and fall of Gideon

Jacob Ninan
When Israel did evil again, God let the Midianites rule them for seven years. When they cried out to God for deliverance, God sent an angel to an Israelite called Gideon who was threshing wheat in a winepress to avoid being seen by the Midianites. He told Gideon that God had chosen him to deliver Israel from Midian. Gideon could not believe it as he felt he was too small to do anything like that. He wanted to see a sign from God. When he brought some food for the angel, the angel asked him to place it on a rock. Then the angel touched it with his staff, and fire sprang up from the rock and consumed it. Immediately the angel also vanished out of sight.

In the same night God told Gideon to pull down the altar of the idol Baal, to erect a new altar and to offer a bull as a sacrifice on it. Gideon got some people and did this secretly in the night. In the morning when the people saw that the altar of Baal was down and that Gideon had done it, they asked Gideon's father to give Gideon up. But he told them that if Baal was really a god, he should take care of himself!

When the Midianites heard about this, they came to fight with Israel. God empowered Gideon with the Holy Spirit, and he blew a trumpet and asked for his people to come together. But he was still not sure of himself. He asked God to show a sign, putting a fleece of wool on the ground and asking God to wet only the fleece with dew while the ground remained dry. When God did this, he asked Him to keep the fleece dry and to make the ground wet. God did that too.

God wanted to show how He would save Israel with only a few people. He asked all the people who were scared of the fight to return home, and 22000 left. But there were still 10000 left. Now God asked Gideon to take them to a river and watch how they drank water. He was to take only those who cupped water in their hands and lapped it up, which came to 300, and to send back all who knelt down to drink. God strengthened Gideon's faith further by letting him overhear the Midianites expressing their awe of him.

Gideon and the 300 men went to the camp of Midian in the night carrying a trumpet and a pitcher with a torch inside. They suddenly broke the pitcher, shone the torch and blew the trumpet, and the army of Midian ran away in fear.

When the people asked Gideon to be their ruler, he asked them to give him their golden earrings. He made an idol with it which the people began to worship!

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