GIDEON AND THE CAMELS
A Bible Story for Kiddies by John W. Cowart
The name GIDEON means "Warrior"
In the old days, God's people, Israel, lived in houses, raised cows, sheep and goats, and planted grain; their enemies, a gang of bullies called the Midianites rode around on camels and camped out in tents.
Too wild to plant crops themselves, the Midianites raided Israel's farms and stole all the food leaving the farmers nothing to eat.
If anybody tried to stop the Midianites, they beat him up and set his house on fire. They carried iron swords and there were so many of them that the Bible says their camels could not be numbered, like sand on a beach.
The bullies loved to fight. To show how tough they were, they were into body piercing and each warrior wore a gold ring in his ear and dared anybody to touch it. They did not love God. They did not love people. They wasted the land. They prayed to idols of Ba'al, a demon that ate babies. No wonder they were so mean to everybody.
The people of Israel hid up in the mountains or in caves. They were brought very low and cried for help to the Lord.
One day a farmer named Gideon was making flour for bread behind an wine press. He did not think the Midianites could find him there.
While he worked, the Angel of the Lord came to him and said, "The Lord is with you, Mighty Warrior!"
What a surprise.
Gideon did not feel like a warrior. He did not want to fight with anybody. He just wanted to mind his own business without the bullies stealing his grain. That's why he was hiding.
"If God is with us, then why all the hassle," Gideon said. "Sure, the old men tell about all the neat stuff God did a long time ago, but where is God now when we need him? Who is going to save us from the Midianites?"
The Angel of the Lord said, "Go in the strength you have. I am sending you."
Gideon piled up some rocks to build an altar right on the spot and worshiped the Lord. When a man worships the Lord, he takes the first step toward becoming a hero.
That same night, Gideon took an ax and chopped down a statue of Ba'al; it was nothing but a big log carved to look like a demon anyhow. He split the wood, built a fire, and offered a sacrifice to the Lord.
How everybody talked about that!
Some people began calling Gideon by a new name, Jerubba'al, which means "The man who fights evil Ba'al".
God helped Gideon pick some men to fight the Midianites. (For the whole story, read Judges, chapters 6 through 8).
Gideon only had a few guys on his side, about 300; the Midianite army was so big it covered the floor of the whole valley where they were camping.
Big tents were pitched everywhere. Smoke from hundreds of cooking fires filled the air. Tough warriors sharpened their iron swords. Their gold earrings sparkled as they slapped each other around roughhousing.
And the smell and sound of all those thousands of camels filled the camp.
How could Gideon's few men fight such a mob?
God gave Gideon a great idea.
If you cut off the long curly horn of a goat, you will find that it is hollow. The people of Israel often made trumpets for signaling this way. They are called Shophars and they make a sound louder and deeper than any whistle you've ever heard.
Gideon had each of his friends take a shophar, and a flaming torch hidden inside a clay pot up in the hills above the enemy camp. Then they waited till late at night, till the Midianites and their camels were asleep.
When Gideon gave the signal, the men of Israel did four things: They blew the shophars -- 300 of them! They broke the clay pots. They waved the burning torches around. And they all started yelling, "The sword of the Lord! The sword of Gideon!"
All those sleeping camels woke up and started running. They ran toward the center of the camp away from the waving torches, breaking pots, blowing horns and yelling men.
They tripped over tent ropes and fell screaming on the men sleeping inside. Tents toppled. Midianite warriors stumbled in the dark grabbing for their clothes and swinging their swords wildly at anything that moved.
At first, the farmers of Israel stayed up on the hillside and let the bullies fight each other in the dark. Then Gideon's men ran down the hill to finish things off.
After the battle, Gideon's men brought him a present. They cut off the ears of all the dead Midianites and brought the gold earrings to Gideon. And the Bible says the weight of them was one 1,700 shekels of gold. It made a huge pile.
THEME VERSE: "Blessed be the Lord, my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight”.
--- Psalm 144:1:
THOUGHT: When a man worships the Lord, he takes the first step toward becoming a hero.
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