Gideon said to him, “But Lord, how can I deliver Israel? Just look! My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my family.”
Judges 6:15 NET
Related Scripture References: Judges 6-8
To teach children God can use them in his service, even when they are young.
Background Information for Teacher: Gideon was a mighty warrior for God, but he wasn’t one when God first called him. While we don’t know how old Gideon was when God spoke to him, we do know Gideon said he was the youngest in his family. In spite of that, God worked a great miracle through him. He—like David—who was just a young shepherd boy when God called him, was used by God in an amazing way. We are never too young or too old for God to use us.
Bible Story Time:
Tell the children the story of Gideon:
Gideon lived during a scary time in his country’s history. Joshua, another great leader, had led the nation of Israel until he was 110 years old, but after he and all his generation died the people turned to wicked behavior. The Bible says, In those days Israel had no king. Each man did what he considered to be right (Judges 21:25 NET). The trouble was that what most of them considered right God considered wrong.
God still loved his people even though many of them were living wicked lives. The nation of Israel was divided into twelve tribes who were named after the twelve sons of Jacob (God later changed his name to Israel.). God gave the members of each tribe a different section of land in the Promised Land. After Joshua died—and the people were rebelling against God—God raised up judges to rule over each of these different territories. Gideon was one of those men.
Gideon belonged to the tribe of Manasseh, and some bad people called the Midianites were bothering them. Gideon and his family members would plant their crops, and the Midianites would swoop down on their land and destroy their crops. Gideon and his family were so scared that many of them had moved to the mountains and were hiding in caves. Gideon was so frightened that he was harvesting his wheat down in a wine press.
While Gideon was working and looking over his shoulder at the same time to make sure his enemies weren’t around, an angel from God appeared to him. The angel told Gideon God wanted him to deliver his people from the Midianites. That’s when Gideon told the angel that his family was very small and that he himself was very young. Gideon’s excuses didn’t bother the angel or change what God wanted Gideon to do. He assured Gideon God would give him strength to deliver his people. Before God could use Gideon, Gideon had to learn to trust God.
Gideon gathered together 32,000 soldiers to fight these enemies. God, however, thought he had too many soldiers. If they defeated the Midianites with this many men, the people would think they had won the battle by their own power. God wanted them to remember that he gave them power to fight. So he told Gideon to let all those who were afraid go home. Imagine Gideon’s shock when 22,000 of his soldiers left. Now he only had 10,000.
But God wasn’t finished yet. He told Gideon to take them down to the water and watch how they drank. Those who lapped the water with their tongues like a dog were to be separated from those who knelt down to drink. Only 300 lapped. These were the ones who were truly prepared for battle. Imagine how Gideon must have felt. He was only a young boy, and now God had reduced his army from 32,000 to 300 warriors.
Gideon and his three hundred men stood on the hillside and looked at the great army of Midianites below them in the valley. How could three hundred people defeat thousands? God showed them. Gideon divided his men into three groups of one hundred each. Each man carried a trumpet and a pitcher with a torch inside.
When all the men were in place, Gideon gave the command. They blew their trumpets, broke their jars, and shouted, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” Their enemies were startled, frightened, and ran like scared rabbits. Gideon may have been young, but God used him to deliver his people from their enemies.
This is a good place to emphasize to the children that while God wants to use them they must first trust him as their Savior. Remind them that God loved them so much that he sent Jesus to die for their sins. When they ask him for forgiveness, they become God’s child.
Children are sometimes tempted to think that they have to be an adult before God can use them, but this isn’t true. There are numerous ways children and youth can be used by God before they ever reach adulthood. Biblical examples of God using children and young people include David, who was chosen to be king of Israel when he was just a youth tending sheep; Manasseh, who was twelve when God made him king of Israel; and Josiah, who was only eight when God made him king.
Below are suggestions of how children can let God use them.
Invite one of their friends to church.
Tell someone that they love Jesus and that he loves them.
Hold a door open for an older person who is having trouble walking.
Help keep the church clean by picking up trash they might see lying around.
Pray for their pastor, teachers, family, and friends.
Give money to help support missionaries around the world who are telling others about Jesus’ love.
Be the one at school who makes the right choices when everyone else seems to be making the wrong choices.
Game: Rise and Shine
After any toys are put away, have the kids lie on the floor and pretend to sleep. An adult says in a loud voice, “Good night!” and turns off the lights. The kids snore. After a few moments, the adult says, “Good morning!” and turns on the lights. At this cue, all the kids stand up and sing, “Rise and shine and give God the glory!” until the adult says, “Good night” again. Then the kids yawn, lie down, and go back to “sleep.”
Remind the children that even though they are young, they can shine their lights for God.
Give children a blank sheet of paper and let them color their version of Gideon and his army fighting the Midianites.
Martin Wiles is an author, pastor, English teacher, and freelance editor who resides in Greenwood, South Carolina. He is the founder and editor of the internationally recognized website, Love Lines from God (www.lovelinesfromgod.com). Wiles is the Managing Editor for Christian Devotions and an Administrator/Editor for Vinewords.net. He has authored seven books. His most recent is Don’t Just Live…Really Live.He has also been published in numerous publications. He is the husband of one, the father of two, and the grandfather of six.