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Thinking Points by Mickey Chiang

‘Rapid-Fire’ Gideon

Who do you think is the most multi-faceted character in the Bible? The title almost surely goes to Gideon son of Joash the Abiezrite. The Abiezrites were a branch of the tribe of Manasseh, living west of the River Jordan.

Some 90 verses in the Bible speak of him (Judges 6-8). In them we see a brave and mighty warrior whom God used to drive out the marauding Midianites, who swarmed into Israel every year to carry off the harvested crops, livestock and everything else they could lay their hands upon. We see a crafty man who threshed grain in a winepress to keep it from the raiding Midianites. We also see a smart aleck who tried to outsmart God. In fact the account of his two tests for God is nothing short of hilarious.   

First, Gideon asked God to prove that He really wanted Gideon to save Israel from the Midianites, by making Gideon’s spread-out fleece wet with night dew while the ground all around remained dry. Then, when God did this, crafty Gideon perhaps thought how easy it was for anyone to throw water on the fleece on a dry night with no dew. So he tested God again: this time to make the ground wet but keep the fleece dry. Although the Bible does not say so, I laugh as I imagine the cunning Gideon staying awake the whole night, keeping an eye on the whole area around the fleece, to make sure no one sprinkled water around the fleece.

But could Gideon outsmart God? Can anyone?

Gideon is familiar to us as a brave man, a mighty warrior, a crafty fellow, a man bold enough to test God not just once but twice in a row, and much more. But was Gideon not quick-witted also?

When the “angel of the Lord” appeared to Gideon and said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior,” what was Gideon’s reaction? Did he not verbally attack the angel, saying, “If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all His wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian!”  

Can we say from this that Gideon was docile and polite? Or was Gideon an argumentative person?  Was he afraid to offend a perfect stranger by more or less calling him a liar? No way.  For Gideon had a rapid-fire mouth. Unlike the M-16 rifle or the Russian AK-47 assault rifle that can shoot single rounds as well as automatic fire like a machine gun, Gideon’s mouth was permanently set on ‘Automatic’, like a machine gun.

Look, his reply to a simple greeting by the angel has 54 words in the New International Version of the Bible in English. Most people today would have just said “Hi” in reply.

When the angel turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” (Judges 6:14), Gideon quickly switched to a softer tone to get out of the mighty, and highly dangerous, task. “But Lord, how can I save Israel?” he whined. “My clan is the weakest in Manasseh and I am the least in my family.” How quickly Gideon changed tack. How smoothly his excuse came. If the famous comedian Seinfeld or Bob Hope said on TV, we would be rolling with laughter and falling off the sofa.

Didn’t Gideon know who he was talking to so boldly? Of course he did. If not, why did he rush off to kill a goat and prepare a veritable feast of goat stew and enough unleavened bread to feed dozens of people? Wasn’t unleavened bread used for religious purposes in ancient Israel?  

Was Gideon quick-witted? Yes. By his rapid-fire quick-witted answer to the Ephraimites (Judges 8:2) Gideon saved his skin and evaded a war between his tribe and that of Ephraim.

God’s first task for Gideon was to steal his father’s second bull and offer it as a burnt offering to Him, using as firewood the Asherah pole of his father. Gideon was also to tear down his father’s altar to Baal, and to build a new one on which to offer the burnt offering. When Gideon accomplished all this, a mob of townspeople came to Joash and demanded, “Bring out your son!  He must die because he has broken down Baal’s altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it!”

Gideon was in deep trouble. Could Joash get Gideon out of it?

Notice what Joash said in reply: “Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him will be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.” Notice how bold and quick-witted Joash was? Notice how readily he came up with a good answer? Notice how rapid-firing his mouth was? Now where have we come across a bold fellow with that kind of quick-wittedness, able to give ready answers in a rapid-fire way? The answer is at the tip of my tongue.

To drive out hordes of fierce Midianites from a country a special kind of man was needed. He had to be bold, brave, afraid of no one, crafty or cunning, quick thinking, able to come up with quick and good solutions, and a mighty warrior. When God chose Gideon for the job, did he make a mistake?

But, in the end, no matter how many talents Gideon had, the key factor in the driving out of countless thousands of fierce Midianites by only 301 Israelites was Gideon’s willingness to be obedient in carrying out what God wanted him to do, no matter how impossible the task appeared. God still looks for obedient men and women, boys and girls, to play a part in the miracles He performs.

By Mickey Chiang

  1. Dr Aquila Lee is warded in SGH5, Bed 3). His fever has gone down. He is undergoing ERCP to check for and remove stones from his bile duct. Do uphold him in prayer.

  2. NT Greek II (BG112A) and NT Foundations I (NT101) classes by Dr Aquila Lee have been postponed this week. Classes resume next week.

  3. Chapel speakers for May are: Melissa & Daniel Tay (May 17); Lai Pak Wah (May 24); and Dr Philip Satterthwaite (May 31).

  4. LIBRARY NEWS : Libronix Digital Library System (LDLS). For new purchase, BGST students and staff will be offered the deepest discount of upgrades to the new Logos 3 Libraries including the new GOLD Edition Library (more than 700 titles). To benefit from this academic discount visit the on-line purchase site at www.logos.com/academic/discount/program  between 15 May to 31 May. 

Renovations & Out-Fitting

Thank God for the gifts received so far in response to our Appeal. The following items have yet to be donated. We urge those who have not yet given to help us complete the re-make of our Tanjong Pagar campus as soon as possible. Write now to queksh@bgst.edu.sg (Dr Quek Swee Hwa), copied to admin@bgst.edu.sg (Serene Woon).


1.   Corridor and Exterior 
1.5 Canopy repairs 

2.   Commercial Section
2.1 Bible Lands Sales Cabinet
2.2 Two Book Sales Cabinet—$1150x2
2.3 Full height cabinet

5.  Lending Collection—Rear
5.3 Two long high tables—$960x2 5.4 One high chair  
5.7 Storage cabinets    
5.8 One Ottoman bench

7.   Corridor and Access

7.6  Lights: stairway to the attic
7.7  Lobby phone
7.8  Security cameras & installation

12.  Attic
12.2 One Pentium III notebook











Here are 15 ways you can give . . .

  • $150 One high chair, 5.4

  • $160 One lobby phone, 7.7

  • $200 One Ottoman bench, 5

  • $600 Canopy repairs, 1.5

  • $900 Bible Lands Sales Cabinets, 2.1

  • $950 Storage cabinets, 5.7

  • $960 One long, high table, 5.3

  • $960 One long, high table, 5.3

  • $1150 One book sales cabinet, 2.2 

  • $1150 One book sales cabinet, 2.2

  • $1200 Full height cabinet, 2.3

  • $1340 One Pentium III notebook, 12.2

  • $1500 Lights above stairway, 7.6

  • $3990 Security cameras, etc, 7.8

 OR you can sponsor all the items by choosing

  • $15,210 One Gift to complete Phase 2, Renovations & Out-Fitting.


An Intensive Course by Prof. Victor Shepherd
Introduction to the Theology of John Wesley
(1.5 credits)

 Dates: 14-17 June 2006
Time: 9.00 am - 12 noon
Venue: 31 Tanjong Pagar Rd ,
4th floor

 Visit our website for the course description. 


Prof. Daniel Chan  22/5
Mr Shi Pau Soon  22/5
Mdm Julia Ng  22/5
Mr Kevin Lim  24/5
Mrs Zhang Haidi  25/5
Mdm Khoo Ka Bit  25/5
Mr James Goon  26/5
Mr Peter Lim  26/5
Ms Cindy Tay  27/5
Dr Lawrence Chan  28/5
Ms Irene Tay  28/5
Mr Winston Lim  28/5

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This page was updated on Tuesday, August 01, 2006
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