And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. – Hebrews 11:32-34


“The children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord.” And so the Lord used the Midianites to oppress and impoverish Israel for 7 years. As a result the nation finally cried out to the Lord for help and deliverance.

Gideon was called and appointed by God through the message of the Angel of the LORD to be a judge over Israel. He had a desire to save his people but was concerned at that start of his ministry because he was from the small tribe of Manasseh. Remember Joseph’s sons blessed by Isaac? Well Gideon was a descendent of Joseph through his son Manasseh.

The Lord directed hin to tear down the altar of Baal, but the Scriptures tell us that because Gideon “feared his father;s household and the men of the city too much to do it by day, he did it by night.” Indeed, the men of the city, upon learning that the altar had been desecrated and torn down and that Gideon was responsible, demanded that he be put to death. But Gideon’s father Joash told these men that if Baal was indeed a powerful god then he should be allowed to plead for himself. Hereafter Gideon was known by the nickname Jerubbaal, which means “Let Baal contend.” The Bible says that he earned this nickname as people would say, “Let Baal plead against him, because he has torn down his altar.”

Later, as the Midianites and others encamped against Israel and prepared to attack them, Gideon received instructions from the Lord. He was told that he would be used to protect Israel by overcoming their enemies. Yet his faith faltered and he sought assurance from the Lord by means of a fleece.

Judges 6:36-40 gives us the account:

36 So Gideon said to God, “If You will save Israel by my hand as You have said— 37 look, I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that You will save Israel by my hand, as You have said.” 38 And it was so. When he rose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece together, he wrung the dew out of the fleece, a bowlful of water. 39 Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me, but let me speak just once more: Let me test, I pray, just once more with the fleece; let it now be dry only on the fleece, but on all the ground let there be dew.” 40 And God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only, but there was dew on all the ground.

This dual test was not an exhibition of faith, but of doubt. Gideon even pleaded with God not to be angry with him, knowing that he was testing the Lord after having been told to his face by the Angel of the LORD that he would lead the Israelites to victory. Thankfully, we see that God graciously gave Gideon the signs he had requested in order to bolster his faith.

Gideon was to lead an army to defeat the Midianites in a well known battle. He raised an army but the Lord said that there were too many men. When they won the victory that He promised He knew they would claim the glory so God wanted to make it clear that He was giving them victory. He had Gideon narrow down his army. First Gideon told anyone who was scared to fight that they could go home. Twenty-two thousand men left.

Secondly he was instructed by God to take the men to the river to drink, and when they drank those who cupped the water in their hands and lapped it were to be chosen for the battle. Having started with 32,000, then having 10,000 God narrowed the group down to only 300 men who lapped the water.

God gave Gideon the battle plan. Gideon divided the force into three groups of 100 men. They each had a trumpet and a torch. The torch was covered in a jar and when Gideon gave the order they broke the jar so that the light shone out and they blew the trumpets. The enemy though they were surrounded by a great and fierce force and in the confusion the Midianites started fighting and killing each other. The survivors fled, God received the glory, and Gideon was noticed for his faith.


Barak was a judge who served with Deborah, also a judge. Israel had begun to fall into sin again and the king of Canaan was oppressing them. Barak, a military commander and a judge was appointed to drive Jabin and his armies out of Israel. However, while he is remembered for his faith he is also known for relying on Deborah to win the victory. He was unsure on his own but when Deborah went with him into battle he led the armies of Israel to victory.

Because he insisted that Deborah go with him instead of leading as he should have, Barak was told that a woman would get credit for killing the commander of Jabin’s army, a man named Sisera. So while Barak’s army drove them out and defeated them Sisera escaped.

Sisera fled and hid in a tent, resting from the battle. The tent was where Jael and her husband Heber lived. Jael asked him to come rest, covered him with a blanket, and when he asked for water to drink she gave him milk instead. He was weary and surely the milk helped induce sleep. As he was drifting off he told her to stand guard and deny that he was there if anyone came looking for him.

As surely as Deborah had prophesied to Barak for his dependence upon a woman, a woman, Jael, killed Sisera. While he was sleeping she took a tent peg and a hammer and nailed him to the floor, driving the peg through his temple through to the ground. She then showed his dead body to Barak who had been pursuing him.
Barak, with Deborah’s help, led the nation to freedom from oppression and into a time of peace. He was faithful. He did ultimately trust God and God gave him the victory.

For Today

As we study these men and women we need to pause every once in a while and remember the lessons learned through these snapshots of the history of God’s people. Today, ask yourself, “What is God doing in my life right now that only He can get the glory for?” If you have to think too long without an answer get to praying. God delights in the impossible and He alone deserves the glory. Ask Him to do things in your life that only He can take credit for. Glorify and magnify Him.