Judges 7-8The Message (MSG)
7 Jerub-Baal (Gideon) got up early the next morning, all his troops right there with him. They set up camp at Harod’s Spring. The camp of Midian was in the plain, north of them near the Hill of Moreh.
2-3 God said to Gideon, “You have too large an army with you. I can’t turn Midian over to them like this—they’ll take all the credit, saying, ‘I did it all myself,’ and forget about me. Make a public announcement: ‘Anyone afraid, anyone who has any qualms at all, may leave Mount Gilead now and go home.’” Twenty-two companies headed for home. Ten companies were left.
4-5 God said to Gideon: “There are still too many. Take them down to the stream and I’ll make a final cut. When I say, ‘This one goes with you,’ he’ll go. When I say, ‘This one doesn’t go,’ he won’t go.” So Gideon took the troops down to the stream.
5-6 God said to Gideon: “Everyone who laps with his tongue, the way a dog laps, set on one side. And everyone who kneels to drink, drinking with his face to the water, set to the other side.” Three hundred lapped with their tongues from their cupped hands. All the rest knelt to drink.
7 God said to Gideon: “I’ll use the three hundred men who lapped at the stream to save you and give Midian into your hands. All the rest may go home.”
8 After Gideon took all their provisions and trumpets, he sent all the Israelites home. He took up his position with the three hundred. The camp of Midian stretched out below him in the valley.
9-12 That night, God told Gideon: “Get up and go down to the camp. I’ve given it to you. If you have any doubts about going down, go down with Purah your armor bearer; when you hear what they’re saying, you’ll be bold and confident.” He and his armor bearer Purah went down near the place where sentries were posted. Midian and Amalek, all the easterners, were spread out on the plain like a swarm of locusts. And their camels! Past counting, like grains of sand on the seashore!
13 Gideon arrived just in time to hear a man tell his friend a dream. He said, “I had this dream: A loaf of barley bread tumbled into the Midianite camp. It came to the tent and hit it so hard it collapsed. The tent fell!”
14 His friend said, “This has to be the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite! God has turned Midian—the whole camp!—over to him.”
15 When Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he went to his knees before God in prayer. Then he went back to the Israelite camp and said, “Get up and get going! God has just given us the Midianite army!”
16-18 He divided the three hundred men into three companies. He gave each man a trumpet and an empty jar, with a torch in the jar. He said, “Watch me and do what I do. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly what I do. When I and those with me blow the trumpets, you also, all around the camp, blow your trumpets and shout, ‘For God and for Gideon!’”
19-22 Gideon and his hundred men got to the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after the sentries had been posted. They blew the trumpets, at the same time smashing the jars they carried. All three companies blew the trumpets and broke the jars. They held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands, ready to blow, and shouted, “A sword for God and for Gideon!” They were stationed all around the camp, each man at his post. The whole Midianite camp jumped to its feet. They yelled and fled. When the three hundred blew the trumpets, God aimed each Midianite’s sword against his companion, all over the camp. They ran for their lives—to Beth Shittah, toward Zererah, to the border of Abel Meholah near Tabbath.
23 Israelites rallied from Naphtali, from Asher, and from all over Manasseh. They had Midian on the run.
24 Gideon then sent messengers through all the hill country of Ephraim, urging them, “Come down against Midian! Capture the fords of the Jordan at Beth Barah.”
25 So all the men of Ephraim rallied and captured the fords of the Jordan at Beth Barah. They also captured the two Midianite commanders Oreb (Raven) and Zeeb (Wolf). They killed Oreb at Raven Rock; Zeeb they killed at Wolf Winepress. And they pressed the pursuit of Midian. They brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon across the Jordan.
8 Then the Ephraimites said to Gideon, “Why did you leave us out of this, not calling us when you went to fight Midian?” They were indignant and let him know it.
2-3 But Gideon replied, “What have I done compared to you? Why, even the gleanings of Ephraim are superior to the vintage of Abiezer. God gave you Midian’s commanders, Oreb and Zeeb. What have I done compared with you?”
When they heard this, they calmed down and cooled off.
4-5 Gideon and his three hundred arrived at the Jordan and crossed over. They were bone-tired but still pressing the pursuit. He asked the men of Succoth, “Please, give me some loaves of bread for my troops I have with me. They’re worn out, and I’m hot on the trail of Zebah and Zalmunna, the Midianite kings.”
6 But the leaders in Succoth said, “You’re on a wild goose chase; why should we help you on a fool’s errand?”
7 Gideon said, “If you say so. But when God gives me Zebah and Zalmunna, I’ll give you a thrashing, whip your bare flesh with desert thorns and thistles!”
8-9 He went from there to Peniel and made the same request. The men of Peniel, like the men of Succoth, also refused. Gideon told them, “When I return safe and sound, I’ll demolish this tower.”
10 Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with an army of about fifteen companies, all that was left of the fighting force of the easterners—they had lost 120 companies of soldiers.
11-12 Gideon went up the caravan trail east of Nobah and Jogbehah, found and attacked the undefended camp. Zebah and Zalmunna fled, but he chased and captured the two kings of Midian. The whole camp had panicked.
13-15 Gideon son of Joash returned from the battle by way of the Heres Pass. He captured a young man from Succoth and asked some questions. The young man wrote down the names of the officials and leaders of Succoth, seventy-seven men. Then Gideon went to the men of Succoth and said, “Here are the wild geese, Zebah and Zalmunna, you said I’d never catch. You wouldn’t give so much as a scrap of bread to my worn-out men; you taunted us, saying that we were on a fool’s errand.”
16-17 Then he took the seventy-seven leaders of Succoth and thrashed them with desert thorns and thistles. And he demolished the tower of Peniel and killed the men of the city.
18 He then addressed Zebah and Zalmunna: “Tell me about the men you killed at Tabor.”
“They were men much like you,” they said, “each one like a king’s son.”
19 Gideon said, “They were my brothers, my mother’s sons. As God lives, if you had let them live, I would let you live.”
20 Then he spoke to Jether, his firstborn: “Get up and kill them.” But he couldn’t do it, couldn’t draw his sword. He was afraid—he was still just a boy.
21 Zebah and Zalmunna said, “Do it yourself—if you’re man enough!” And Gideon did it. He stepped up and killed Zebah and Zalmunna. Then he took the crescents that hung on the necks of their camels.
22 The Israelites said, “Rule over us, you and your son and your grandson. You have saved us from Midian’s tyranny.”
23 Gideon said, “I most certainly will not rule over you, nor will my son. God will reign over you.”
24 Then Gideon said, “But I do have one request. Give me, each of you, an earring that you took as plunder.” Ishmaelites wore gold earrings, and the men all had their pockets full of them.
25-26 They said, “Of course. They’re yours!”
They spread out a blanket and each man threw his plundered earrings on it. The gold earrings that Gideon had asked for weighed about forty-three pounds—and that didn’t include the crescents and pendants, the purple robes worn by the Midianite kings, and the ornaments hung around the necks of their camels.
27 Gideon made the gold into a sacred ephod and put it on display in his hometown, Ophrah. All Israel prostituted itself there. Gideon and his family, too, were seduced by it.
28 Midian’s tyranny was broken by the Israelites; nothing more was heard from them. The land was quiet for forty years in Gideon’s time.
29-31 Jerub-Baal son of Joash went home and lived in his house. Gideon had seventy sons. He fathered them all—he had a lot of wives! His concubine, the one at Shechem, also bore him a son. He named him Abimelech.
32 Gideon son of Joash died at a good old age. He was buried in the tomb of his father Joash at Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
33-35 Gideon was hardly cool in the tomb when the People of Israel had gotten off track and were prostituting themselves to Baal—they made Baal-of-the-Covenant their god. The People of Israel forgot all about God, their God, who had saved them from all their enemies who had hemmed them in. And they didn’t keep faith with the family of Jerub-Baal (Gideon), honoring all the good he had done for Israel.
Luke 5:1-16The Message (MSG)
Push Out into Deep Water
5 1-3 Once when he was standing on the shore of Lake Gennesaret, the crowd was pushing in on him to better hear the Word of God. He noticed two boats tied up. The fishermen had just left them and were out scrubbing their nets. He climbed into the boat that was Simon’s and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Sitting there, using the boat for a pulpit, he taught the crowd.
4 When he finished teaching, he said to Simon, “Push out into deep water and let your nets out for a catch.”
5-7 Simon said, “Master, we’ve been fishing hard all night and haven’t caught even a minnow. But if you say so, I’ll let out the nets.” It was no sooner said than done—a huge haul of fish, straining the nets past capacity. They waved to their partners in the other boat to come help them. They filled both boats, nearly swamping them with the catch.
8-10 Simon Peter, when he saw it, fell to his knees before Jesus. “Master, leave. I’m a sinner and can’t handle this holiness. Leave me to myself.” When they pulled in that catch of fish, awe overwhelmed Simon and everyone with him. It was the same with James and John, Zebedee’s sons, coworkers with Simon.
10-11 Jesus said to Simon, “There is nothing to fear. From now on you’ll be fishing for men and women.” They pulled their boats up on the beach, left them, nets and all, and followed him.
Invitation to a Changed Life
12 One day in one of the villages there was a man covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus he fell down before him in prayer and said, “If you want to, you can cleanse me.”
13 Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, “I want to. Be clean.” Then and there his skin was smooth, the leprosy gone.
14-16 Jesus instructed him, “Don’t talk about this all over town. Just quietly present your healed self to the priest, along with the offering ordered by Moses. Your cleansed and obedient life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.” But the man couldn’t keep it to himself, and the word got out. Soon a large crowd of people had gathered to listen and be healed of their ailments. As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer.