A story of an underdog who leads a small group of men against a great military force and utilizes the element of surprise with the creative strategy of the Lord Most High…. Whew! What a wild ride!
It’s no wonder that kids love Gideon.
Jump over the Judges 6-7 for the full Biblical account. It begins with the Israelites under oppression from Midian. In the midst of this struggle, the Angel of the Lord pays a visit to a humble man named Gideon who is hiding out and threshing some wheat. The Lord greets Gideon with a bold “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you,” despite the fact that Gideon is the least in his family from the weakest clan in their tribe. Why would the Lord choose such a guy and call him a hero?
The answer is in the greeting- “The Lord is with you!” It is the power of the Lord that makes a hero!
Then comes the shocking news- Gideon will lead the victorious fight against the Midianite forces and rescue Israel. He needs a bit of reassurance, so he devises a test that involves leaving some fleece out overnight. First, if the fleece is dewy and wet on the dry ground by morning, it’s a sure sign that God is truly with Gideon. But, to be extra thorough and make sure it’s God’s doing and not nature, he switches things around for night #2. This time, if the fleece is dry but the ground is wet, he’ll know for SURE the plans are from God. Sure enough, all signs point to yes.
Emboldened by the Lord, Gideon gathers an army. It’s a decent sized army, but feels pretty small compared to the greatness of Midian. In yet another surprise, God tells Gideon that he has too many men! Anyone who is afraid of battle is excused. The remaining men are told to drink from a spring, and the ones who used their hands (instead of lapping up the water like a dog) got to stay and fight. The final tally? 300 men. For reference, the Midianites had armies (that’s plural) that were “like a swarm of locusts”- too many to count. But this wasn’t a show of Israel’s strength; this was a display of the glory of God.
The Lord gave Gideon the plan. Each of the 300 remaining men received a horn and a clay jar with a torch inside. That night, they crept to the edge of the Midian camp. At Gideon’s signal, all the men blew the horns, smashed their jars, and shouted, “For the Lord and for Gideon!”
Understandably, this surprise explosion of light and sound threw the Midian camp into chaos. They fought each other, and those who survived ran far, far away. Gideon and his men were able to take the victory- just as the Angel of the Lord had declared.
Such a dramatic story deserves retelling, but simply making paper torches and blowing kazoos to reenact the tale is old Sunday school news. We decided to play through Gideon’s victory by creating a board game!
First, we drew a simple scene on a piece of poster board. A few palm trees and a river to represent the spring were enough to spark imagination and leave plenty of room for the game spaces.
To create the spaces, we simply cut out squares from different colored construction paper and arranged them on the poster board to create a winding path. After securing the squares with a glue stick, we designated a start and a finish that we labeled “Victory!”
Finally, we printed out and attached a copy of the game rules to the board. Here’s how to play Gideon’s Game:
Each player places a game piece on the “Start” square. At least two people should play, but the group can be as large as your game board and time allow. We used shiny aquarium stones as our pieces, but any small object works- colored paper clips, fun erasers, buttons, pieces from another game… use your imagination (but watch for choking hazards if you have young players)!
Player one rolls a die and moves according to the number rolled.
Help Gideon Defeat the Midianites! Roll:
1– See an angel, move one space forward
2– Doubt God, move one space backward
3– Put a fleece out to ask God– stay where you are
4– Choose an army– move two spaces forward
5– Have too many men– move two spaces backward
6– Follow God’s plan with trumpets and jars– move 3 spaces forward
Players take turns rolling and moving along the path. The first person to reach the final “Victory!” space is the winner!
Half the fun is creating the game board. Then, playing through Gideon’s story reinforces memory. Move aside, paper torches. Gideon’s got game.