Online Bible College
Carelinks Home
FREE Literature
'The Last Days' Home
Bible Books Home
Buy this Book!
The Last Days Duncan Heaster  
email the author


6-4.  Gideon And Midian (Jud. 6-8).

That the events of these chapters are to be read as typical of Israel's latter-day conflict with her Arab enemies, is indicated by two pointed allusions to them in later Scripture.   Psalm 83 is a well-known description of the final Arab invasion of Israel to " cut them off from being a nation" , concluding with the imprecation, " Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb;  yea, all their princes as Zebah, and as Zalmunna" (v. 11) - whom Gideon destroyed.

Isaiah 9 is set in the context of the Assyrian invasions of the land, the last of which they were saved from by Hezekiah, the primary fulfilment of the " great light" which appeared to an Israel under Assyria's dominance.   The destruction of the invaders was to be " as in the day of Midian" (Isa. 9:4), i.e. it would be typified by Gideon's destruction of Midian previously.   The context in Isa. 8:12, 19-22 speaks of Israel living in fear of an Arab confederacy, having thrown off their faith in God, stubbornly refusing to seek " to the law and to the testimony" , and with the land full of " trouble and darkness" so that " they shall pass through it, hardly bestead and hungry" , due to the invaders destroying the crops.   This language recalls the scenario portrayed in Jud. 5:6,7, where the Jews creep around their own land after a total collapse of infrastructure.

Isa. 9 then speaks of how God " lightly afflicted the land of Zebulon and the land of Naphtali (in the first Assyrian invasion - 2 Kings 15:29) and afterward did more grievously afflict her" (Isa. 9:1) in the second invasion.   The suffering of Israel at this time is spoken of in terms of their holocaust in Egypt, which is clearly typical of the last days: " Thou hast multiplied the nation (as God did in Egypt - Ex. 1:7), and not increased the joy...thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder (the language of Israel in Egypt), the rod of his oppressor" (same word translated " taskmaster" in Ex. 1:11 [Isa. 9:3,4]).

This was to be" as in the day of Midian" (Isa. 9:4) when Israel's saviour was Gideon.  Yet Isa. 9:2 speaks of their saviour as " a great light" arising in the darkness, and is quoted in Matt. 4:15,16 as referring to Jesus.   Gideon therefore becomes a type of Christ's breaking of the yoke of sin, and also of His latter-day deliverance of Israel from sin's political manifestation.   Similarly the account of David's victory over Goliath has reference to our Lord's victory over sin on the cross, and also over " the man of sin" who will oppress Israel in the last days.

The political restoration of Israel and the victory over her enemies which this implies is associated with the 'setting up' ('resurrection') of a " standard" (Isa. 49:22;  62:10), which is the same word translated " pole" on which the serpent was lifted up and which our Lord referred to - the stake on which He died.      Thus the cross is associated with both Christ's victory over sin, and also over the political manifestation of sin in the last days. 

Other studies have picked up the points of contact between Judges 6-8 and Ps. 72, a Kingdom prophecy.   This fact provides a third strand of evidence for reading the account of Gideon as a type of the last days.

It is now possible to examine the record of Gideon and see its details open up with reference to the final Arab onslaught against Israel in the last days.

" The children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord" (Jud. 6:1) is a refrain which occurs seven times in Judges, recalling how Israel both over history and in the last days were to be punished " seven times" for their sins (Lev. 26:23,24).

It is possible that a 'time' may also refer to a year, so the fact that " the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years" (Jud. 6:1) may refer to this " seven times" punishment for sin, which was to come after their refusal to be reformed by their previous sufferings (Lev. 26:23,24).

A seven-year duration of Israel's final holocaust is hard to square with hints elsewhere that this will last for 3.5 years.   The only way of reconciling this which occurs to the writer is through Dan. 9:25-27, which implies that after 69 weeks ('sevens') there would be a final week of punishment for Israel's sins, which would be split into two halves of 3.5 years each.   I have explained in detail elsewhere (1) how the first 3.5 years may apply to the AD 70 period, and the latter to the last days.

Wandering Jews

" The Lord delivered" Israel " into the hand of Midian" uses the same Hebrew word as in Lev. 26:25, " I will punish you yet seven shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy" .   To fulfil this, " the hand of Midian became strong (Hebrew) against Israel" (Jud. 6:2).   Such an Arab revival coupled with increasing military success against Israel is a process which is already beginning, and which, despite short-term fluctuations, we should expect to continue.

Because of this, " the children of Israel made them the dens ('dry river channels') which are in the mountains, and caves, and strong holds" (Jud. 6:2).   Identical language is found in 1 Sam. 13:6 concerning Israel's pining away when under attack by the Philistines.   There can be no doubt that these incidents are the focus of Heb. 11:37,38, which describes nameless men of faith as being " slain with the sword:  they wandered about in sheepskins...being destitute, afflicted, tormented...they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth" . 

We have shown how Jud. 5:6,7 indicates that Israel under Arab attack had to 'wander' about their country, and dwelling " in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth" is an undeniable reference back to Israel under Arab persecution in Jud. 6:2 and 1 Sam. 13:6.   This therefore teaches us that there were definitely some in Israel at those times who had a remarkable degree of faith, and it surely follows that the final tribulation which these previous invasions typify will likewise lead to the existence of a minority of faithful in Israel.

The Hebrew word translated " caves" occurs again in Eze. 33:27 in a passage speaking of the final desolation of the Land which will lead to Israel's repentance.  " They that be in the forts and in the caves shall die of the pestilence (cp. the plagues to come upon Israel in the last days , Lev. 26:25).  For I will lay the land most desolate...none shall pass through (cp. " the highways were unoccupied" , Jud. 5:6).   Then shall they know that I am the Lord, when I have laid the land most desolate" (Eze. 33:27-29).   It should again be noted that all this does not suggest an army of occupation, but rather a desolation of the land physically and a state of total breakdown of infrastructure.

Scorched earth

Jud. 6:3-6 confirms this by speaking of how the waves of Arab incursions were specifically aimed at destroying the agriculture rather than focusing  on slaughtering the inhabitants.    Thus " when Israel had sown, the Midianites came up" (Jud. 6:3), implying that they waited for this season in order to inflict as much damage on the land as possible.   They " destroyed the increase of the earth...and left no sustenance for Israel...they came as grasshoppers (which destroy crops rather than attack people directly)...they entered into the land to destroy it" (Jud. 6:4,5).   This 'scorched earth' policy of the invaders is portrayed in more detail by Joel's prophecy of the grasshopper-invaders leaving the land physically empty. 

This is exactly what one would expect from the allusion to Lev. 26:26, speaking of the curses to come upon latter-day Israel:  " break my covenant I also will do this unto you (i.e. break My side of the covenant, in that) I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague (illness caused by Arab chemical weapons?), that shall consume the eyes (cp. Zech. 14:12 - what the Arabs do to Israel in the last days will be done to them), and cause sorrow of heart:  and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it" , just as " when Israel had sown, the Midianites came up, and the Amalekites, and the children of the east...and destroyed the increase of the earth" (Jud. 6:3,4).

It would seem that this group of Arab nations achieved this 'impoverishing' (Heb. 'to make thin' by famine, Jud. 6:6) of Israel by repeated raids, without a great degree of co-operation between them.   Thus Gideon " threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites" (Jud. 6:11), implying that they were being constantly raided by the Midianites, whose primary aim was to take away Israel's supply of food.   The record goes on to suggest that after a period of  such raids, these Arab groups began an organized onslaught with the aim of totally destroying Israel:  " Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east were gathered together" (Jud. 6:33).   This is exactly the pattern for Israel's final holocaust which so many other prophecies indicate.

Note that the initial motive for the raids was to spoil the land and steal cattle:  " They...left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass" (Jud. 6:4).   The Ezekiel 38 invader has similar motivation, " To take a take a take away cattle and goods" (Eze. 38:13).   It should be noted, however, that such connections do not necessarily indicate that the invasion prefigured in Judges 6 is to be equated with that of Ezekiel 38.   The point is that all the latter-day invasions of Israel have broadly similar motives.

In their time of suffering just prior to this final onslaught, " the Lord sent a prophet unto the children of Israel" who reminded them of how God had delivered them from Egypt, and pointed out that their present desperate plight was due to their turning away from the true God to idols (Jud. 6:8).   This must have a connection with the suggestion that Elijah will be " sent" to Israel during their suffering, " before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord" (Mal. 4:5).   This " dreadful day" must be that of the final destruction of Israel's invaders rather than simply the return of Christ.   Joel similarly speaks of how during the time when the Jewish heavens and earth are turned into " blood and fire, and pillars of smoke" , the Jews will possess the Spirit gifts " before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come" (Joel 2:28-31).   This connection between Joel and Malachi would hint that the possession of these gifts is associated with the work of Elijah.

The typology of the Judges record cannot be pushed too strictly.   The Judges as the 'saviours' (cp. 'Jesus') of Israel typify both Jesus and Elijah in the last days.   Thus Gideon is likened to a loaf of barley bread tumbling into Midian, overturning it - pointing forward to Jesus, the barley-bread loaf (Jn. 6:35 cp. v 9), falling as the little stone on to the image (Jud. 7:13).  The prophet of Judges 6 appears to typify Elijah, in addition to any way in which Gideon also may do.

The prophet reminding Israel of the covenant they made with God in Horeb (Jud. 6:10), is precisely the work of Elijah (Mal. 4:4).   However, there is every reason to think that Gideon being told to " pour out the broth" upon his offering, which was then consumed by fire from heaven (Jud. 6:20,21 cp. 1 Kings 18:33,34), was encouraging Gideon to see himself as the prototype Elijah-prophet,  providing the basis for Elijah dousing his sacrifice with water before it was accepted in an identical way.   Gideon proceeds to ask that there should only be dew upon the ground (or perhaps even upon the whole land of Israel, see Hebrew text) according to his word of faithful prayer (Jud. 6:37-39).   Elijah saying that " there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word" (1 Kings 17:1) is surely a conscious replica of this.   It is quite possible that we, too, may be given certain prompts in life by reason of particular experiences repeating those of a Biblical character.   

The desire of the Arab leaders for the wealth of Israel was couched in the language of religious zeal.  Ps. 83:11,12 records how the leaders of the Midianite invasion said, " Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession" .   The raw lust of the surrounding Arab peoples for Israel's riches is currently camouflaged in the same way.   Before the final onslaught in Gideon's time, those Arab nations had " encamped against" Israel.   The Hebrew literally meaning 'to incline a pole' has an uncanny relevance to the pointing of missiles towards them.   There can be little doubt that the vast Arab arsenals of missiles will come into use soon.

The early invasions " destroyed the increase of the earth, till thou come unto Gaza" (Jud. 6:4).  The particular Arab invaders being typified here appear to concentrate on the South of Israel, stopping just short of Jerusalem.   Other prophecies and passages typical of the last days speak of the sufferings of Northern Israel during this period;  by bringing them all together a more accurate picture of the final period of holocaust can be obtained.  The exact identification of the Arab invaders, e.g. the contemporary states which equate with Midian, Amalek and " the children of the east" , can at best be speculative.   The purpose of these studies is to provide a general framework upon which such speculations can be hung in accord with current events.   In broad terms it would seem likely that the intense Arab marauding of both Northern and Southern Israel will result in the faithful withdrawing to Jerusalem, which will be ravaged but not occupied, seeing that a righteous remnant will be found there at the Lord's final intervention (Zech. 14:2,3).

Gideon and Elijah

Israel, in Gideon's time, were in a like predicament, bracing themselves for the final blow.  " But the spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon" , as it did upon other judges to effect Israel's deliverance (Jud. 6:34; 3:10;  11:29).   This language is picked up in Isa. 61:1,2: " The Spirit of the Lord God is upon preach good tidings...liberty to the proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God" .   Primarily this refers to Isaiah preaching an inspired message of deliverance to an Israel threatened by the Assyrian invasion,  whilst it is also quoted in the Gospels  concerning the work of Christ.   Both these applications have their basis in the Spirit of God coming upon the judges, showing that they typify both the work of Christ and of the Elijah prophet, of which Isaiah was an early manifestation.

The Elijah prophet was manifested in both Isaiah and John the Baptist, both of whom had some kind of charismatic appeal to the potentially faithful remnant in Israel.   Consider the implications of Isa. 8:18;  Matt. 3:5.   Gideon likewise had this characteristic - the record highlights how the people followed " after him" and " with him" (Jud. 6:34,35;  7:12).

The latter-day Elijah prophet will meet with a similar reception.   The prototype Elijah was brought to realize that there were a considerable remnant who had not " bowed the knee to Baal" .   In line with the other echoes of Elijah found in the Gideon record, it is possible that the remnant who refused to bow down upon their knees to drink water were those whose conscience was keenly attune to the need to shun all appearance of Baal-worship.   It was this remnant whom Gideon used as God's " battle axe and weapons of war" (Jer. 51:20).   It will likewise be the spiritually aware among latter-day Jewry who will be used, under the command of Jesus and 'Elijah', to smash Israel's enemies.   It would appear that there will be at least two phases to this Jewish victory, after the pattern of Gideon.   Firstly he and the faithful remnant of 300 won the initial victory, and then called to the rest of Israel to join in,  in similar fashion to the victory over Jabin and Sisera.

The following verse-by-verse comments fill in a few miscellaneous details:-

Jud. 7:2    " The people that are with thee are too many...lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mineown hand hath saved me" is alluded to in 1 Cor. 1:26-29, where Paul explains that for this same reason God has chosen " not many" to bring about Hisway of salvation, through a small remnant of weak people bringing to nought the mighty things.   This             would equate Gideon's 300 with the true believersof both natural and spiritual Israel.

Jud. 7:12   The Arab enemy were " as the sand by the sea side for multitude" , using the words of the Abrahamic promises (Gen. 22:17,18).   These people were therefore a pseudo-Israel, having the appearance of being Abraham's true seed. Hagar had been promised " I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude" , after the pattern of the promises to Abraham(Gen.16:10). This is confirmed by their description as being " by ranks of five" (Jud. 7:11), using the identicalHebrew phrase as used in Ex. 13:18 and Josh. 4:12 concerning Israel's marching against their enemies.   The aptness of this to Israel's present enemies is obvious- the Arabs claim they are the trueseed.

Jud. 7:17   Gideon's calm voice of inspiration, " Look on I do, so shall ye do" , echoes our Lord's invitation to look upon Him as the serpent on the pole, and to follow Him in very detail. 

Jud. 7:19   The blowing of trumpets by the 300 points forward to the resurrection, and the breaking of the clay to reveal the burning lamps within the pitchers, is clearly at the root of 2 Cor. 4:6-8: " God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness (cp. the sudden appearance of those lights on that night)...we have this treasure in earthen vessels (cp. Jud. 7:19), that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us (cp. Jud. 7:2).   We are troubled on every side" (cp. Jud. 6:2-6).   Allthis would suggest that the 300 men are to be connected with the resurrected of the new Israel, whose " earthen vessels" are broken (by means of resurrection and judgment) at the end of Israel's Arab downtreading and immediately prior to the great destruction of their enemies by them.  However, it is also correct to suspect that the 300 also typify the righteous remnant among Israel who will work with us to achieve this.

Jud. 7:20   " The sword of the Lord" has been interpreted as a reference to the cherubim.   The point has been made that this whole scenario of flashing fire and swords was a   conscious imitation of the cherubim.   From this we  can infer that the cherubim will be associatedwith the latter-day deliverance of Israel.

Jud.  8:12   They " discomfited all the host...the host ran, and cried, and fled" (7:21) uses very intense Hebrew, stressing the totality of panic among the Arabs. In the last days this can only be due to their   recognition that they are up against dramatic, Divine intervention which will save Israel.

Jud. 8:17   After the victory, Gideon " beat down the tower of Penuel, and slew the men of the city" for their refusal to help him during the pursuit.   This is the language of Christ's return in judgment upon the people of Jerusalem, who are elsewhere likenedto a tower in Zion (Matt. 22:7).   Thus those Jews who survive the Arab holocaust but still refuse to learn the lesson of total commitment to their Messiah, will be destroyed at broadly the same time as their Arab enemies.

Jud.  8:21   Gideon " took away the ornaments that were on their camels' necks" is correctly defined in the A.V. mg. as referring to the Arab 'ornaments like the moon'.The crescent moon which is stamped on so many Arab tanks (cp. camels), seems a fair latter-day equivalent to this.


(1) Jesus of Nazareth (London: Pioneer, 1991) pp. 82-89.