Character Sketch Bible Study
Section: BIBL 104-B12 LUO
Step one: For this character-sketch Bible study I will be studying Gideon.
1. Gideon was the son of Joash the Abiezrite and was a wheat pressor. (Judges 6:11)
2. Gideon was a fearful person. (Judges 6:11)
3. Gideon was someone who questioned everything, especially before doing something that required action. (Judges 6:13, 17, 36, 39)
4. Gideon felt powerless and weak. (Judges 6:15)
5. Gideon trusted God. (Judges 7:7-18)
6. Gideon worshiped God, for delivering them, before it had happened. (Judges 7:15)
7. Gideon obeyed God’s directions. (Judges 6:32)
8. Jerubbaal was a second name given to Gideon. (Judges 7:1, 6:32)
9. Gideon was a leader and people followed him. (Judges 6:34-35)
10. Gideon was empowered by God through words of a man’s dream interpretation. (Judges 7:13-14)
11. Gideon taught those of little faith a lesson. (Judges 8:16)
12. Gideon was a humble person. (Judges 8:23)
13. Gideon had 70 sons and many wives. (Judges 8:30)
14. Gideon overcame his fear when he killed Zebah and Zalmunna the two Midian kings. (Judges 8:21)
Observations related to “Who?”
The story of Gideon starts with his father Joash. For the seven years before the story begins the Midianites had overpowered Israel. An angel of the LORD came to Gideon and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian.” Gideon and his servant Purah spied on the Midianites before God told them to attack. The army that God and Gideon formed of just 300 men captured and killed Oreb and Zeeb the two princes. After that, the men were tired from pursuit, Gideon captured Zebah and Zalmunna the two Midian kings and killed them. Gideon had 70 sons but only two names are mentioned and that is Jether his first born and Abimelech his son through a concubine.
Observations related to “What?”
What does the word Asherah mean found in chapter 6 of Judges? According to dictionary.com, it means a wooden pillar used as a symbol of Canaanite goddess Asherah.
What was the reason for so few men to fight along side of Gideon? The reason God only had 300 men in the army to fight with Gideon was so that no one could explain the win by human powers. They only explanation was that God won the fight, so that God would receive the glory of the win.
What is significant about the fleece? Nothing is significant about the fleece alone. What is in fact significant is that Gideon doubted his calling from God, partially due to fear and feeling unqualified. However, God did give Gideon the signs he asked for to confirm his role in freeing Israel from the Midianite hand.
Observations to “Where?”
The first observation to where, is that Gideon is pressing wheat in a winepress in Ophrah his home. The only reason to do this is out of fear of a Midianite attack. This “Where” not only gives a location of Gideon, but also tells about his personality. Judges also explains that Gideons camp by the Spring of Herod is above the Midian camp in Moren, because their camp is in the valley. Gideon towards the end of his story found the two kings of Midian in Karkor and brought them through Succoth where he taught his men a lesson due to their lack of faith, that God would hand over the kings to Gideon.
Observations to “When?”
The events of Gideon happen after Joshua’s seven-year conquest. There has been three cycles of failure, judgement, repentance, deliverance and restoration, and the story of Gideon comes in during cycle four.
Observations to “Why?”
Why were the Midianites powerful for seven years? They were powerful because God had allowed judgement due to his people doing evil. Another question is Why was Gideon chosen to free Israel from the hand of the Midianites? Gideon thought his clan was the weakest in Manasseh and that he was the weakest in his family. He felt unqualified. The reason he was chosen was to give God the glory and because God choses the people least expected or qualified to do great things.
1. Gideon was chosen by God.
2. Gideon took down two altars.
3. Gideon asks for a sign to confirm what God is asking of him.
4. God lowers the number in Gideon’s army from 22,000 – 300 men.
5. Gideon and Purah his servant spy on Midian.
6. Gideon worshiped God for handing over Midianites.
7. Gideon defeats Midian.
8. Gideon captures Zebah and Zalmunna the Midian Kings.
9. Gideon overcame his fears and killed Zebah and Zalmunna.
10. Gideon returned home after turning down the title Ruler.
11. Gideon had 70 sons with many wives and died of old age.
A. Overcoming fear and anxiety
Gideon’s early life is an example of how many Christians live their lives; full of anxiety and fear about what they cannot control. Gideon was fearful of an attack from the enemy and was doing his work underground and hiding. However, once he trusted God, he confronted his fear head on with God and overcame them.
Gideon stepped outside of his comfort zone because he trusted that God would deliver him from his adversaries. Yes, he did question God a couple times, and ask for signs to confirm what the angel had said to him. Followers of Christ need to trust God, so that they too can do what God has called them to, so that the name Jesus can be spread, and more people saved. Just like Gideon saved the people of Israel due to trust in God. Yeah, he was still scared, but faith in God, motivated him to follow through.
Gideon obeys God all throughout these three chapters in Judges. He takes down the false god altars, and because he did, it proved that those gods were indeed false. Followers of Christ need to obey. Just as children need to obey their parents, because they have their best interest in mind, so does God for his Children. Therefore, Christians need to trust God and simply obey, even when we are nervous about it or simply do not want to.
D. Spirit empowerment
Gideon is empowered by the spirit when he hears the Midianite explain a dream he had, and the interpretation was Gideon taking over their camp. This spirit empowerment was encouragement that God had already handed over the Midianites to Gideon. If Christ followers pay attention the Holy Spirit is still empowering them today to do what is asked of them. It is encouragement to do what God has called you too, because he is saying “I will be right beside you, it is going to be okay.”
Gideon had dedication to overtaking the Midianites. After the Princes were captured and killed most of the army had fled or had been killed, yet… He continued to pursue the kings and capture them. (Judges 8:5-12). In verse 21 Gideon arose and killed Zebah and Zalmunna. He was dedicated to freeing Israel completely from Midian.
A. Followers of God go through cycles
According to Courageous Faith Judges records six cycles of failure, repentance and restoration. This happens all throughout the Old Testament though. One example is in Exodus while the Israelites are in the captivity and after in the wilderness. They go through the cycle of failure (worshiping a calf), then judgement (not being allowed into the promise land), repentance, and then deliverance (like when Abraham freed them from Pharaoh), and then restoration. Gideon’s story with fighting the Midianites is one of the six times this cycle happens in Judges.
B. God always delivers
God delivered Israel from the Midianites with Gideon leading the 300 men into battle. God always delivers in scripture. He delivered the Israelites from Pharaoh’s control in Exodus. He also delivered Noah from the flood waters and the corrupt world in Genesis six through nine. He delivered Joshua into the promise land, by walking around Jericho’s city walls until God brought them down.
C. Followers of Christ can be those least qualified
Repeatedly in scripture God chooses people who are the least qualified or most surprising people to do his work, or to be used in mighty ways. Gideon was fearful, and weak, Esther was an orphan, David was an adulterer and murderer and started our just a farm boy, Saul was a persecutor. God chooses people that will exemplify his glory instead of self-glory.
Step Eight: “How does this character’s life point me to Jesus?
A. Like Jesus, Gideon was chosen to deliver freedom to Israel
Gideon was chosen to give freedom to Israel from the Midianites terrors. Jesus came to bring freedom from death, and everlasting life. Jesus died for us to be able to be free from the penalty of sin.
B. Like Jesus, Gideon obeyed God.
Gideon was fearful about what God had asked of him. He did not really want to do it, he asked for physical signs three times before he agreed to lead to lead his people to freedom from the Midianites. Gideon did obey however, he did execute what God asked of him. Jesus did the same, when he died for us on the cross. Jesus said in Luke 22:42, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” He obeyed God, and His will instead of not because he did not want to go through the pain that He knew was coming.
C. Like Jesus, Gideon showed Faith
Gideon showed faith that God would defeat the army of 22,000 with only 300 men, even though the ratio would say otherwise. Jesus did the same when he fed 5,000 with just five loaves of bread and two fish in Matthew 14:13-21. Jesus and Gideon alike put their faith in God and he provided a way, despite the numbers.
A. The question of duty
Gideon was told to lead an army to battle to defeat the Midianites. Before God called him to do this, he was a wheat farmer. Gideon was not someone who had military training or qualifications, but he was chosen and did what was asked of him. It was not always willingly or free from fear, but he followed through and obeyed God’s directions. As Christians, we must do this duty as well. We must stand against evil in this world and follow God’s directions and do what He asks of us. Christians should be speaking Jesus name and spreading light in this dark world daily. Their actions should be like Gideon, though he was fearful of what might happen to him, he still did what God asked.
B. The question of character
Gideon’s character is all throughout his story in just these three chapters. One reason God chooses him to lead Israel to freedom is because he is the last one you would expect. He was weak, fearful, and had no experience. He also was a questioner, he was not one to commit to something before he was positive that it was what he was supposed to do. Scripture tells us this with him asking for not one, but two different confirmations by God with the fleece. Once he knew that this was what he was supposed to do though, he followed and was persistent until was finished with him killing the kings. Christians do need to affirm through scripture what they see and hear because there are false prophets and false gods everywhere in this world. Christians also need to be persistent and committed to their calling God has on their lives, just like Gideon.
C. The question of cause
Gideon’s life was one that was lived for God. His story started with him as a fearful young man, who avoided confrontation, and hid himself. However, once he received confirmation and his duty he was committed to the cause of freeing his people and serving God. When he had completed his duty and freed Israel from the Midianite’s hand, he turned down the peoples request for him to be their ruler. His response was “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; The LORD shall rule over you.” (Judges 8:23 NKJV) As believers we need to give God all the credit where it is owed. As humans we often try to give ourselves credit and make ourselves holier than thou, but instead should follow Gideon’s example and point everyone back to the LORD.
D. The question of discernment
Gideon made the choice to follow God’s directions even though it seemed like 300 men would not be enough to take down 22,000. He used discernment by asking the angel for confirmation with the fleece before he accepted what was requested of him. Christians can learn from this by not jumping into decisions, but instead use discernment, prayer, and spiritual confirmations to affirm what they believe God is telling them to do. So often Christians will jump into a new job or commitment because their excited and want to do it, but it might not be what God wants. Being able to discern and ask is something that is needed to do, so there are no regrets later or causing to walk outside of God’s plan.
English Standard Version. Crossway publishers., 2001
New King James, The Open Bible Expanded Edition. Thomas Nelson Publishers., 1982
Asherah. (2018). Dictionary.com. retrieved from https://www.dictionary.com/browse/asherah