STUDY Hebrews 11:32-34
A (click here for notes)
And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength, and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. (NIV)
The author of Hebrews is beginning to conclude this chapter of the fathers and mothers of faith in Israel. In verse 32 he names six more men of faith, and in verse 33 he lists accomplishments of still others. His purpose was to stimulate the memories of these Christian Hebrews. The author knew that his readers would be intimately acquainted with the giants of faith in the Old Testament, and his merely mentioning them or the events in their lives would remind his audience of their legacies of faith.
Because looking back at these Old Testament stories through New Covenant eyes is so revealing, we will look more closely at the stories of these six men.
The story of Gideon is in Judges 6 and 7.
1. Into the hands of what enemy nation did God put Israel when they did evil? (see Judges 6:1)
2. Who were these people, and what other connections did this nation have with Israel's history? (see Genesis 25:1; 37:25-28; Exodus 2:15-22)
3. What were these people doing to Israel? (Judges 6:3-6)
4. After seven years of oppression, God arranged to deliver Israel from its enemies. Who was Gideon? (see Judges 6:11-15)
5. Compare Judges 6:11-14 and Exodus 3:7-10. How are these stories similar?
6. In what other ways was Gideon's interaction with God similar to that of Moses? (see Judges 6:36-40; Exodus 3:12; 4:1-17)
7. How did the divine visitor let Gideon know who he was, and what did his miraculous display mean to Gideon? (v. 20-23; see Leviticus 9:24; 1 Kings 18:38-39)
God's first assignment to Gideon was to tear down his father's altar to Baal and to cut down the Asherah pole beside it. Then he was to build a proper altar and sacrifice a bull, they symbol of Baal, to God on that altar with fire built from the wood of the Asherah pole. Baal was the chief god of the Canaanites and the Phoenecians. Asherah (also known as Ashtoreth and later as Astarte or Aphrodite to the Greeks and as Venus to the Romans) was Baal's consort, and both were fertility gods.
8. Besides the fact that Israel was honoring other gods before God, what did the worship of Baal and Asherah involve that made it so detestable? (see Genesis 38:12; 1 Kings 12:28; Jeremiah 19:5; 1 Kings 14:23-24; 2 Kings 23:4-7)
9. How did the Israelites and Gideon's father react when they found the Baal altar smashed? (Judges 6:30-32)
10. Gideon knew God planned to defeat the Midianites through his leadership, yet many of the men who responded to the muster were afraid. Why did God arrange for the frightened to go home? (see Judges 7: 2,3; Deuteronomy 20:8)
11. After reducing Gideon's army to merely 300 men, God gave Gideon what encouraging information? (Judges 7:13-15)
12. What did the Israelites do when they ambushed the Midianite's camp? (see Judges 7:17-25)
13. How does this conquest of the Midian army both reflect and foreshadow God's consistent plan for his people? (see Exodus 14:14; Joshua 6:20-21; 1 Samuel 14:15, 18-23; 2 Chronicles 20:20-24; Ezekiel 38:17-23; Zechariah 14:3-13; Revelation 19:11-16)
14. How had Israel gotten into such oppression by the Midianites, a group so small they banded together with Amalekites and "other eastern peoples" (Judges 6:3)? (see Judges 6:1-2; 7-10)
15. How is the Israelites' situation with the Midianties similar to situations the church faces/has faced? (see James 2:20-25; 5:19-20; 1 Corinthians 5:1-2; 6:12-20; 5:12-13; Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Timothy 6:6-10; Hebrews 10:26-27)
16. Why did Gideon have to tear down the altar to Baal before God gave him instructions to ambush the Midianites?
17. Gideon's father Joash told the angry Israelites that if they tried to kill Gideon for tearing down the Baal altar and Asherah poles, they would "be put to death by morning." (Judges 6:31) How does God discipline straying Christ-followers, and for what purpose? (see 1 Corinthians 11:29-32; Hebrews 2:1-3; 12:5-11; James 5:19)
18. Both Moses and Gideon asked for signs from God confirming that his commissions to them were really God's will. What kind(s) of sign(s) does God give Christ-followers to confirm and equip them for his call? (see John 13:35; Hebrews 2:2-4; 1 Corinthians 12:7-11; Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 1:13-14; 1 John 3:14-15)
19. In what ways have you experienced sinful motives and decisions and self-indulgence creeping back into your life after your initial conversion and acceptance of Christ?
20. How has God disciplined you since giving your life to him?
21. Who has God sent into your life that has confronted you or re-directed you to honesty and total trust in Jesus?
22. Are you experiencing the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23?
23. About what in your life are you "double-minded", rationalizing it and trying to balance it with living for Jesus?
24. What is in your life right now that God is directing you to abandon for his sake, giving up your struggle and allowing him to fight for you?
25. Have you told Jesus that you give all of yourself to him, your mind, your body, your family, your dreams, your possessions, your talents, your work?
26. Jesus wants a heart as well as a head commitment. Tell him you give him everything about you. Tell him you give him everything your cherish. Ask him to fill your soul with his love, and ask him for his rest and peace which he has promised. Ask him to be your reward as you surrender to him everything you hold close.
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Studio, Redlands, CA USA. All rights reserved. Revised August 11, 2001.