1Again the people of Israel did things the Lord said were evil. So for seven years the Lord allowed the people of Midian to defeat the people of Israel. 2The people of Midian were very powerful and were cruel to the people of Israel. So the people of Israel made many hiding places in the mountains. They hid their food in caves and places that were hard to find. 3They did that because the Midianite and Amalekite people from the east always came and destroyed their crops. 4Those people camped in the land and destroyed the crops that the people of Israel had planted. Those people ruined the crops of the people of Israel as far as the land near the city of Gaza. Those people did not leave anything for the people of Israel to eat. They did not even leave them any sheep, or cattle, or donkeys. 5The people of Midian came up and camped in the land. They brought their families and their animals with them. They were as many as swarms of locusts! There were so many of those people and their camels that it was not possible to count them. All of these people came into the land and ruined it. 6The people of Israel became very poor because of the people of Midian. So the people of Israel cried to the Lord for help. 7The people of Midian did all those bad things. So the people of Israel cried to the Lord for help. 8So the Lord sent a prophet to them. The prophet said to the people of Israel, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: 'You were slaves in the land of Egypt. I made you free and brought you out of that land. 9I saved you from the powerful people of Egypt. Then the people of the land of Canaan hurt you. So I again saved you. I made those people leave their land. And I gave their land to you.’ 10Then I said to you, 'I am the Lord your God. You will live in the land of the Amorite people, but you must not worship their false gods.’ But you did not obey me.” 11At that time, the Angel of the Lord came to a man named Gideon. The Angel of the Lord came and sat down under an oak tree at a place called Ophrah. This oak tree belonged to a man named Joash. Joash was from the Abiezer family. Joash was the father of Gideon. Gideon was beating some wheat in a winepress. The Angel of the Lord sat down near Gideon. Gideon was hiding so the Midianites could not see the wheat. 12The Angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and said to him, “The Lord be with you, great soldier!” 13Then Gideon said, “I promise sir, if the Lord is with us, then why are we having so many troubles? We heard that he did wonderful things for our ancestors. Our ancestors told us that the Lord took them out of Egypt. But the Lord left us. The Lord has allowed the people of Midian to defeat us.” 14The Lord turned toward Gideon and said, “Use your power. Go save the people of Israel from the people of Midian. I am sending you to save them!” 15But Gideon answered and said, “Pardon me, sir. How can I save Israel? My family is the weakest in the family group of Manasseh. And I am the youngest one in my family.” 16The Lord answered Gideon and said, “I am with you! So you can defeat the people of Midian! It will seem like you are fighting against only one man.” 17Then Gideon said to the Lord, “If you are pleased with me, give me proof that you really are the Lord. 18Please wait here. Don’t go away until I come back to you. Let me bring my offering and set it down in front of you.” And the Lord said, “I will wait until you come back.” 19So Gideon went in and cooked a young goat in boiling water. Gideon also took about 20 pounds of flour and made bread without yeast. Then Gideon put the meat into a basket and the water from the boiled meat into a pot. Gideon brought out the meat, the water from the boiled meat, and the bread without yeast. Gideon gave that food to the Lord under the oak tree. 20The Angel of God said to Gideon, “Put the meat and the bread on that rock over there. Then pour out the broth.” Gideon did as he was told. 21The Angel of the Lord had a walking stick in his hand. The Angel of the Lord touched the meat and the bread with the end of the stick. Then fire jumped up from the rock! The meat and the bread were completely burned up! Then the Angel of the Lord disappeared. 22Then Gideon realized that he had been talking to the Angel of the Lord. So Gideon shouted, “Oh my Lord and Master! I have seen the Angel of the Lord face to face!” 23But the Lord said to Gideon, “Calm down! Don’t be afraid! You will not die!” 24So Gideon built an altar in that place to worship the Lord. Gideon named that altar, “The Lord is Peace.” That altar still stands in the city of Ophrah. Ophrah is where the Abiezer family lives. 25That same night the Lord spoke to Gideon. The Lord said, “Take the full-grown bull that belongs to your father, the one that is seven years old. Your father has an altar to the false god Baal. There is also a wooden pole beside the altar. That pole was made to honor the false goddess Asherah. Use the bull to pull down the Baal altar, and cut down the Asherah pole. 26Then build the right kind of altar for the Lord your God. Build that altar on this high ground. Then kill and burn the full-grown bull on this altar. Use the wood from the Asherah pole to burn your offering.” 27So Gideon got ten of his servants and did what the Lord had told him to do. But Gideon was afraid that his family and the men of the city might see what he was doing. Gideon did what the Lord told him to do. But he did it at night, and not in the daytime. 28The men of the city got up the next morning. And they saw that the altar for Baal had been destroyed! They also saw that the Asherah pole had been cut down. The Asherah pole had been sitting next to the altar for Baal. Those men also saw the altar that Gideon had built. And they saw the bull that had been sacrificed on that altar. 29The men of the city looked at each other and asked, “Who pulled down our altar? Who cut down our Asherah pole? Who sacrificed this bull on this new altar?” They asked many questions and tried to learn who did those things. Someone told them, “Gideon son of Joash did this.” 30So the men of the city came to Joash. They said to Joash, “You must bring your son out. He pulled down the altar for Baal. And he cut down the Asherah pole that was by that altar. So your son must die.” 31Then Joash spoke to the crowd that was standing around him. Joash said, “Are you going to take Baal’s side? Are you going to rescue Baal? If anyone takes Baal’s side, let him be put to death by morning. If Baal really is a god, let him defend himself when someone pulls down his altar.” 32Joash said, “If Gideon pulled Baal’s altar down, then let Baal argue with him.” So on that day Joash gave Gideon a new name. He called him Jerub Baal. 33The people of Midian, Amalek, and other people from the east joined together ˻to fight against the people of Israel˼. Those people went across the Jordan River and camped in Jezreel Valley. 34The Spirit of the Lord came to Gideon ˻and gave him great power˼. Gideon blew a trumpet to call the Abiezer family to follow him. 35Gideon sent messengers to all the people of the family group of Manasseh. Those messengers told the people of Manasseh to get their weapons and prepare for battle. Gideon also sent messengers to the family groups of Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali. The messengers took the same message. So those family groups also went up to meet Gideon and his men. 36Then Gideon said to God, “You said that you would help me save the people of Israel. Give me proof! 37I will put a sheepskin on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the sheepskin, while all of the ground is dry, then I will know that you will use me to save Israel, like you said.” 38And that is exactly what happened. Gideon got up early the next morning and squeezed the sheepskin. He was able to drain a bowl full of water from the sheepskin. 39Then Gideon said to God, “Don’t be angry with me. Let me ask just one more thing. Let me test you one more time with the sheepskin. This time let the sheepskin be dry, while the ground around it gets wet with dew.” 40That night God did that very thing. Just the sheepskin was dry, but the ground around it was wet with dew.