1. In our study last week we met B __ __ __ __, one of those less-than-perfect "heroes" that appear here and there in the Bible. His careful and cautious approach to the revealed will of God stood in sharp contrast to both the confident assurance of Deborah and the opportunistic courage of Jael. But, truth be told, the character of Barak -- as revealed in Judges 4 and 5 -- more closely resembles the "average" Christian than does that of either of these great women of faith. Still, in spite of his initial reservations, Barak did finally do as he was told, and God provided a great military victory for Israel through him.

2. Deborah taught us much about spiritual l __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __. A simple wife and mother, God empowered her to serve Him faithfully as Israel's only female judge and one of the very few prophetesses mentioned in Scripture. Her excellent leadership skills, coupled with complete faith in the promises of Yahweh, led to a great victory over Israel's oppressors and forty years of peace in the land.

3. The exploits of Barak demonstrated to us God's penchant for using all kinds of "vessels" as channels through which He exercises His power. Not all of the Bible heroes were already "great" when God called them into His service. Barak, although a leader of the tribe of Naphtali, possessed a weak and insecure faith in God. Moses was the son of slaves, afraid to speak in public. David had a heart for God, but was morally weak. Isaiah was considered by many to be absolutely crazy. And Christ's inner circle of twelve disciples included several common fishermen, a despised tax collector, and the one who would eventually betray him to the authorities in exchange for a reward of money.

4. In our study this morning we will meet another unlikely hero in the "rogues gallery" of God: G __ __ __ __ __. Only Samson is given a larger portion of the book of Judges. Gideon's name is well-known, attached as it is to one of the most famous para-church organizations in all the world. Most of us also remember the story about Gideon and the 300 soldiers with the trumpets and the pitchers and the torches. But, I dare say, most of us know little of the essential character of Gideon before and after the famous surprise attack recorded in Judges 7:1-25. It is part of the Bible record and, I think, it will surprise some of us. Gideon, like Barak before him, was an unlikely leader of men. He, too, was reluctant at first to respond to the call of God He did not always possess strong faith and, like all of us, he had great weaknesses. Still, God used him in a powerful way, just like He uses the most ordinary garden-variety Christian in this day and age -- if we are willing to believe Him and to do what He commands us.

1 Corinthians 1:25 [ KJV ]

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

B. TEXT: Judges 6:1-40

1. The fourth epoch of the period of the Judges in Israel is introduced in v.1 in the same way as are all of the six epochs - Israel's inability to remain faithful to Jahweh. Just like before, successive generations succumb to the false gods of the Canaanites, and the familiar pattern falls into place:

a. s __ __,

b. s __ __ __ __ __ __, and

c. s __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __.

2. This time God "g __ __ __" His disobedient people into the hands of the Midianites.

a. They were descended from Abraham's second wife, K __ __ __ __ __ __ (Genesis 25:1-5). She bore him six children, including Midian.

b. The Bible records that a prominent Midianite family gave sanctuary to M __ __ __ __ after he fled Egypt as a fugitive from justice. He married into that family and lived among the Midianites for forty years (Exodus 2:10-25).

c. It was Moses' Midianite father-in-law, J __ __ __ __ __, who gave him the idea of using a group of e __ __ __ __ __ to help him govern the new nation of Israel (Exodus 18:1-27).

d. Subsequently Israel and Midian became enemies. Just before his death, Moses was ordered by God to completely wipe out the Midianite people, who had become completely devoted to the false god Baal and had led many Israelites into idolatry. Although many Midianites were slaughtered and their cities put to the torch, they were by no means annihilated.

ref: Numbers 25:1-18

Numbers 31:1-18

Psalm 106:28

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