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Lesson Prep

Background Scripture (read 2-3 times during the week)

Judges 6-8

Story Summary

Just as we learned in last week's lesson, the Israelites fell into their familiar pattern after Deborah ruled Israel. They forgot everything the Lord had done for them and began to do evil. As a result, God allowed the Midianites to begin to take over Israel. The Midianites also descended from Abraham (Midian was Isaac's half-brother), but they were known for worshipping many false gods and for being nomadic traders. Joseph's brothers sold him to the Midianites who carried him down to Egypt and sold him. Moses spent his 40 year exile in Midian after killing the Egyptian. 

The Israelites then cried out to God when they were in trouble, and God sent a prophet that reminded them that their trouble was because of their rebellion against him. So God raised up Gideon to deliver the Israelites from the Midianites.

God Chooses Gideon

The Lord appeared as an angel to Gideon as he was threshing wheat in a winepress. Why was he threshing wheat in a winepress? To hide it from the Midianites. They had become so oppressive to the Israelites that they had to live in caves and hide their food from the Midianites. The angel of the Lord told Gideon that he would use him to defeat the Midianites. Gideon wasn't quite sure how that was going to happen since Gideon's family was the weakest of his tribe, and Gideon was the weakest of his family (God seems to get a kick out of using weak people and things to defeat the strong). But God assured him that he would be with Gideon. Gideon brought an offering of a young goat to God. God showed Gideon his power by touching the meat with a wooden staff and immediately burning it up with fire that appeared. So Gideon knew that he was chosen by God.

Gideon Tears Down Baal's Altar

Gideon's first assignment was to tear down an altar to a false god (named Baal) and replace it with an altar to the real God. So Gideon did it, but the people weren't happy and were afraid of what Baal might do to them as a result of what Gideon did. Gideon's father talked some sense into them, though, and convinced them that if Baal was a real God, he could defend himself. And nothing happened to Gideon...

Gideon Asks God for a Sign

So the Midianites began to join forces with other tribes to the east of Israel, and things weren't looking good for the Israelites. It was time for Gideon to go into action. Before he did, though, he wanted to make sure one last time that he was hearing God correctly, and that God would in fact deliver the Israelites from the Midianites. So Gideon asked God to give him a sign. He put a piece of wool fleece on the threshing floor and left it there overnight. He asked God to make it wet and the ground around it in the morning - and sure enough, that's what happened. Just to be sure, Gideon asked God again for a sign, and this time asked for the opposite. He laid the fleece in the threshing floor and this time asked God to make the ground wet and the fleece dry - and that's what happened.

Gideon and His Small Army Defeat the Midianites

So Gideon was ready for battle and called upon everyone to fight.  32,000 men joined in to take on the Midianites and their allies, who had 135,000! But God told Gideon that he had too many men. Too many men? How can you have too many men in a battle, especially when you are already outnumbered 4-1? Well, God wanted to be sure that the Israelites knew that it was He who delivered them, not by their own strength. So, first God told Gideon to just tell the men that if they were afraid, they could go home without shame. So 22,000 of them just left there on the spot. But God told him that he still needed to winnow the forces down. God told Gideon to lead his men to drink, and if his men lapped the water like a dog, they stay. And if they got down on their knees and drank water out of cupped hands, they had to leave. So that left Gideon with only 300 men...

Gideon learned that God had made the Midianites very afraid of the Israelites, so he used that against them. He had the 300 men bring torches and clay jars and surround the Midianite camp. All at once, they broke the jars and shouted "For the Lord and for Gideon!" and then blew 300 trumpets. The Midianites were so surprised and afraid, they began to turn and fight each other! They fled, and God won the battle for the Israelites.

What You Will Need

Supplies
Cheap clay pot, wool, meat

Resource Sheet

Gideon Coloring Sheet

This coloring sheet depicts the angel appearing to Gideon as he was threshing his wheat in the winepress.

Lesson

1. Warm Up

get your kids talking and engaged

Use the "Lapping vs. Bowls" reinforcement activity at the beginning of the lesson time, before you have taught the story. Observe which of your students lapped the water directly out of the bowl and which drank the water by picking up the bowl. Then tell them that you need to assemble an army, but only some of the students can be in it. Separate the children who lapped out of the bowl (if any) and tell the class that only those students will be in your army (you can do this "American Idol"-style if you would like to add some drama to it). Your students will most likely be confused as to why you chose that way. Then begin the story...

2. Teach the Story

teach a holistic story

Read story from a Children's storybook Bible for younger children.

For older children, read story from an age-appropriate Children's storybook Bible or tell the story yourself.

As you are telling the story, use the meat, wool, and clay pots to illustrate the story. For dramatic effect, you can smash the clay pot.

3. Bible Mastery

give them basic Bible skills

Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud: Judges 6:1-6, 6:33-40, 7:16-23

4. Comprehension Questions

make sure they understand the story

First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?

  • Why were the Midianites able to take over Israel (the Israelites began to disobey God again)
  • Who did God raise up to deliver the Israelites from the Midianites? (Gideon)
  • What was God's first sign to Gideon that he was with him? (he burned up Gideon's offering)
  • What was Gideon's first assignment? (to tear down an altar to Baal, a false god)
  • What did God do to prove to Gideon that he would win the battle against the Midianites? (gave him the sign of the wool fleece being wet and dry)
  • Why did God want Gideon to have a small army? (so that God would get the glory for the victory and not the Israelites)
  • How did Gideon reduce the number of men in the army? (he told them they could leave if they were afraid, and he chose only those who lapped the water like a dog and not those who drank it from cupped hands)
  • How did the Israelites defeat the Midianites? (by breaking clay jars, shouting, and blowing trumpets to confuse the Midianites, causing them to turn on each other)

5. Faith Questions

help them apply the story to their lives and open up a conversation about faith and the gospel; close with prayer
  • In this story, we learn that a little + God = enough. Even though Gideon had no hope of defeating his enemy with such a small number of people, God was with him and the battle was the Lord's.
  • Have you placed your whole life in the hands of God?

6. Memory Verse

hide God's Word in their heart
Nothing is impossible with God. Luke 1:37

Reinforcement Activities

Learning 10 commandments- commandment #10

Scripture Do not long for anything that belongs to your neighbor. Exodus 20:17

Supplies colored beads, leather, string

  • Teach the tenth commandment.
  • When the child can tell you each commandment correctly, without assistance, they are given a bead for a bracelet.
  • Keep the bracelet in the classroom and when they have learned all 10 commandments, they get to take it home.
  • To help them remember the commandments, you can separate them into 2 groups for the children.
  • The first four commandments are concerning our relationship with God.
  • The last six are concerning our relationship with others.

Paper Lunch Bag Torches

Scripture The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” judges 7:20

Supplies brown paper bags, red and orange tissue paper, stapler

  • Take several pieces of orange and red tissue paper and staple them to the inside of the lunch bag (leaving them sticking out of the top).
  • squeeze together the bottom part of the paper sack to for the handle for the torch.
Paper Lunch Bag Torches Example

Wet Fleece, Wet ground

Scripture Judges 6:36-40

Supplies small pitcher or cup with water, something resembling fleece (I found white pads for waxing a car or a fluffy white car wash mitt or a bundle of cotton balls)

  • Act out the part of the story where Gideon tests God.
  • Have students pretend to sleep.
  • Pour water on the "fleece", but make sure table or ground stays dry.
  • Repeat, but the second time, use a second "fleece" and only allow table or ground to be wet.

Lapping vs. Bowls

Heads up! This activity should be done before the story is taught

Scripture So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink. Judges 7:5 The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.” Judges 8:7

Supplies Bowls, water

  • (see Warm Up for more info)
  • Give each student a bowl of water and tell them to drink it.
  • Observe how they drink it. If they lap it up like dogs, they are part of the army. If they pick up the bowl and drink it, they are not.

Threshing Wheat

Scripture The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. Judges 6:5

  • Threshing wheat is the process of loosening the grain from the chaff. This step comes after harvesting, but prior to winnowing.
  • Winnowing is the process of separating the chaff from the grain. (Will learn more about this in the next lesson)
  • Threshing may be done by beating the grain using a flail (see link below) on a threshing floor. Another traditional method of threshing is to make donkeys or oxen walk in circles on the grain on a hard surface.
  • Gather some wheat stalks from a local farmer.

Act out Story

Heads up! make sure students know they cannot throw poppers at another student

Scripture Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands. The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled. Judges 7:19-21

Supplies folded paper, homemade torches, trumpets (or kazoos) and poppers (4th of July)

  • Have students make homemade torches and trumpets (trumpets can easily be made ahead of time to save time or give each student a kazoo).
  • Fold paper in half to make tent shapes.
  • Place tents outside.
  • Take students outside with their torches and trumpets.
  • Give each student a few poppers (to represent glass jars breaking)
  • Have students blow trumpets, throw down poppers and yell "A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!"

Make Trumpets

Scripture Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands. Judges 7:19

Supplies construction paper or card stock, strips of paper

  • Fold paper into a cone shape.
  • Glue a strip of paper with the words, "A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!" onto the trumpet.
  • Allow students to decorate trumpet.