SDA Sabbath School Lessons
May 4, 1996
#5 Signs of Security
Read for this week's study:
ges 6:22, 23
When God calls people to work for Him, He gives them the assurance that He
will be with them. At times, He may reinforce this assurance with
miraculous or providential signs.
The Father's Hand. A tiger pads softly along a pathway toward a
two-year-old girl. She watches intently through the bushes as the large
animal approaches. Stepping into the pathway a few feet in front of the
tiger, she says, "Rarrrrrr!" Little Sarah roars at the
tiger without fear, not because she notices the thick chain around the
tiger's neck, held by a trainer of Marine World, Africa U. S. A., but
because she firmly clutches her father's hand. As far as she is concerned,
Daddy is big and strong enough to take care of any situation.
Adults need security too. We saw in the last lesson that Barak needed
Deborah, the prophetess, to provide him with security by accompanying him
into danger. When God called Gideon to deliver Israel he was insecure about
the whole idea, but he had nobody like Deborah to help Him. He had to rely
upon God directly, making sure that his heavenly Father was with him.
- Sunday April 28: Oppressed and Depressed Again (Judg
- After the deliverance from Jabin and Sisera, "the land had rest
forty years" (Judges
5:31). But after a while, the people no longer guided their lives by
the Lord and His triumphs, and they fell back into idolatry. The result was
depression, not merely emotional but economic, as well. Whereas the
Israelites had survived 20 years of oppression under Jabin and Sisera, they
were driven to desperation after only seven years of plundering by the
- What was so devastating about what the Midianites did? (Judge
- "Inasmuch as the Midianites were nomadic tribes, they did not
conquer the land and settle down permanently. . . . They preferred that the
settled peoples would do the work of sowing. Then in a series of raids they
would sweep over the land, confiscating the crops and driving off all the
farm animals they could find. According to custom, they left the houses
undestroyed in order that the farmers would be tempted to return and sow the
fields once more."--SDA Bible Commentary," vol. 2, pp. 339,
- The Midianites, along with the Amalekites and other "people of the
East," were like locusts in terms of their numbers, and also in terms
of their effect on the land (Judge
s 6:3-5; compare Joel
2:4-10). After losing their crops for seven years in a row, the
Israelites were starving. When they were "greatly impoverished"
6:6), they were ready for the Lord again. But the Lord did not respond
to their cry for help by immediately promising to deliver them. While He
had their attention, He sent them an unnamed prophet to explain the cause of
their distress (Judg.
6:7-10) so that they would be wiser in the future.
- Compare the words of the prophet (Judg.
6:8-10) to the earlier message of the Angel of the Lord at Bochim (Judg.
- The prophet reiterated the overall theme of the book of Judges: In
spite of God's faithfulness, the Israelites persisted in faithless
disobedience. By breaking God's covenant, they forfeited complete
fulfillment of the covenant promises.
- Do you tend to rely on God most when you are "brought very
low"? Why, or why not? Why do we tend to blame God for trials that we
have brought upon ourselves?
- Monday April 29: The Call of Gideon (Jud
- The "judges" were called by God in various ways. Ehud was
simply raised up by the Lord (Judg.
3:15), Othniel was designated as Israel's deliverer by the Spirit of the
Lord coming upon him (verse
10), and Barak was called through the prophetess Deborah (Judg.
4:6, 7). Gideon's call was special. The Angel of the Lord appeared to
him in person.
- Read Judge
s 6:11-16 carefully, looking for the significance of (1) the
circumstances in which the conversation between Gideon and the Angel took
place and (2) the ideas that were expressed in the course of the conversation.
- Wheat was normally threshed on a threshing floor, but Gideon was
threshing wheat in a wine press, where the Midianites would not look for it.
At this low point in his life, as he was hiding his food for fear of the
Midianites, the Angel of the Lord appeared to him.
- The first words of the Angel were: "The Lord is with thee, thou
mighty man of valour" (Judg.
6:12). Gideon questioned this statement. He had heard of the past
triumphs of the Lord for the Israelites, but he did not see how He could be
with them at the present time. "Then the Lord turned to him and said,
'Go in this might of yours and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian; I
hereby commission you'" (verse
14). So the Angel was the Lord Himself, and Gideon was to be the deliverer!
- The Angel had twice referred to Gideon's might. It was true that
Gideon's brothers, and probably Gideon himself, had been involved in
military action against Midian (Judg.
8:18, 19), but he did not regard himself as qualified to lead Israel.
He claimed to have less power than anyone else in the tribe of Manasseh.
"The Lord said to him, 'But I will be with you'" (Judg.
6:16). The Lord Himself would be with Gideon! That was all the power
- Compare the call of Gideon with that of Moses (Exod
. 3:1-4:17) and Jeremiah (Jer.
- God could use people like Moses, Gideon, and Jeremiah because they
recognized their own inadequacy and relied upon His strength rather than
- Is it a lack of faith to request evidence from God? How would you
support your point of view?
Tuesday April 30: The Angel of the Lord
- How is the identity of the "angel of the Lord" revealed in Judge
- Whereas the Being who spoke with Gideon is first called the "angel
of the Lord" (Judg.
6:11, 12), He is subsequently identified as "the Lord" (verse
s 14, 16). Thus, the initial words, "The Lord is with thee"
), mean the same thing as the later statement, "I will be with
16). Note that "the Lord" in these verses translates the
Hebrew word Yahweh, which means "Jehovah."
- Compare the Gideon story with the story of the "angel of the
Lord" appearing to Samson's parents (Judges
13). The Angel appeared in human form (verse
6), but He was the Lord (vers
- In the Gideon and Samson stories (
6, 13 ), why is the Lord called "the angel of the Lord"?
- In the Old and New Testaments, the Hebrew and Greek words translated
"angel" mean "messanger." We associate this term with
created beings sent forth by God. (See
b. 1:6, 7, 13, 14;
1:26.) But sometimes the Lord has appeared to deliver messages in person (
- In E
xodus 23:20, 21, God spoke of "an angel" whom He sent to bring
the Israelites to the Promised Land. "Be attentive to him . . . for my
name is in him" (verse
21). Ellen White comments: "Christ was not only the leader of the
Hebrews in the wilderness--the Angel in whom was the name of Jehovah, and
who veiled in the cloudy pillar, went before the host--but it was He who
gave the law to Israel. Amid the awful glory of Sinai, Christ declared in
the hearing of all the people the ten precepts of His Father's
law."--Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 366.
- It appears that occasions such as those mentioned above must be included
among the "goings forth from of old" of the divine Messiah born in
5:2). This birth has brought to humankind the ultimate manifestation of
the Lord in human form: Jesus Christ, "God with us" (Matt.
1:23). In Jo
hn 1:1-5, 9-14, Jesus is not only identified as the divine Creator, who
has become human in order to communicate with us; He is called "the
Word," the content of the message itself.
- In view of the personal care that the Lord has invested in His messages
to us, how should we demonstrate our respect for them?
- Wednesday May 1: Signs From God
(Judges 6:17-24, 36-40).
- Gideon asked for a sign confirming the divine identity of the One who
was speaking with him (
6:17 ). Since the encounter was so unusual and so much depended upon
it, this request was reasonable enough. Keep in mind that Gideon did not
have in front of him the words of the Bible, which identify his Visitor as
"the Lord" (verses 11, 12, 14, 16). What he saw and heard was a Being, presumably
in human form, sitting under an oak tree (verse
- Why did Gideon's sign take the form of a food offering? Judge
s 6:18, 19.
- Gideon might have thought that if his Visitor were the divine Angel of
the Lord, He would not consume food as a human being would. Israelite
sanctuary sacrifices were called "food" for the Lord (Numb.
28:2), but He did not consume them in a human manner because He does not
need human food at all (Ps
alm 50:12, 13).
- The "angel of the Lord" identified Himself by not eating the
food but miraculously burning it. Then He vanished (Judge
s 6:20, 21; compare Judg
es 13:15-20). Feeling insecure, Gideon later sought miraculous
confirmation from the Lord that He would deliver Israel as He had promised
s 6:36, 37).
- Why did Gideon request a second test with the fleece? Judge
- What dangers do you see in placing undue reliance on signs that we have
stipulated? (See Heb.
- Thursday May 2: First Things First
- Before the Lord could use Gideon, He required him to purge idolatry from
his family (Judge
s 6:25, 26). "Gideon must declare war upon idolatry before going
out to battle with the enemies of his people."--Ellen G. White,
Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 547
- Can you think of other cases in which reform preceded deliverance by God?
- God cannot accept the prayers of those who cherish iniquity in their
66:18). When sin is cherished, confidence is false and turns to defeat
- On the other hand, the Lord is eager "to give repentance" (Acts
5:31). As soon as His people put away those things that come between
Him and them, He is ready to help them (Judges
10:16). After Gideon's reform, the next time the Midianites and their
allies crossed the Jordan, the Spirit of the Lord took possession of Gideon,
and he summoned the Israelites to a war of liberation (Judge
- How can we rid ourselves of the idols that separate us from God?
- Friday May 3:
Further study: Review what Jesus said about trusting Him even when there
are no outward signs:
20:29. Read Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, "The
Earlier Judges," pp. 546-548.
- "The Lord does not always choose for his work men of the greatest
talents, but he selects those whom he can best use. Individuals who might
do good service for God, may for a time be left in obscurity, apparently
unnoticed and unemployed by their Master. But if they faithfully perform
the duties of their humble position, cherishing a willingness to labor and
to sacrifice for him, he will in his own time intrust them with greater
responsibilities."- -Ellen G. White, Signs of the Times, June
- Discussion Questions:
- God gave signs to Gideon, and Jesus performed many miracles, which were
signs of His divinity. Why did Jesus refuse to grant the request of scribes
and Pharisees for a sign, except for "the sign of the prophet
Jonah" ( Matt
. 12:38-41; 16:1-4
)? Compare Jesus' refusal to give Satan a sign of His divinity (Matt.
4:3, 4). Do you sometimes look for miraculous signs for wrong reasons?
- God required Gideon to do something that offended some Israelites by
attacking their form of worship. Did these people have a just basis for
being offended? Does God ever ask us to do or say things that result in
offending people? If so, how do we know that it is God who is behind this,
and not our own emotions or prejudices? Does our own tactlessness cause
problems in these situations? Does fear that we may offend someone keep us
from saying things that should be said?
Gideon's confidence in God needed to grow, but God could use him because he
was not self-confident. He needed repeated assurances that God was with
him, but then he went ahead and faithfully did what God asked him to do,
beginning with reform in his own family. As by faith we accept God's
assurances, He imparts to us the strength and wisdom to carry out His will.
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Last updated on April 24, 1996.