We saw in the article the story that our logo shows that how God loves to do the Gideon. ‘The Gideon’ is where God takes weak people and difficult situations, and turns them around for His glory. God has been doing it for thousands of years and He is not about to stop now!. when it came time to deliver Israel from the hand of Midian, God went to the smallest tribe, to the least family within that tribe, and chose the youngest member of that family… namely, our friend Gideon. Something special was obviously about to occur as God not only used a weak person but entirely different weapons which the world could ever imagined to use to bring victory upon the enemies. Judges Chapter 7, focuses on Gideon’s unique victory over Midian and its startling accurate portrayal of spiritual truth with the manifestation of omnipresence of God.
Judges 7:1-2 Early in the morning, Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) and all his men camped at the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands…’
Every act of operation involves a recruitment drive. Operation always relays on stats and the numbers to match the expected output is a simple management technique. Here is an exemplary example of how Gods calculation is different from that of man. So the Operation Smash-Midian are under way. But right from the beginning we see that this is not going to be an ordinary fight! Gideon has rounded up all the men he can find and they are still woefully short on numbers. In all 32,000 men are willing to put their lives on the line in order to help deliver Israel (vs 3). From Judges 8:10 we read the interesting fact that Midian had 135,000 fighting men, so each Israelite would have to take out roughly four Midianites for there to be victory. Pretty long odds you would think and Gideon has reason to be more than a little anxious! You can probably imagine his surprise then, when the Lord finally speaks to him saying ‘Gideon, you’ve got way too many men!’ Have such words ever been heard before going into a battle? What war has there ever been when being hopelessly outnumbered, the word goes forth to cut the numbers down yet again? In the natural it seems absurd! In the spiritual it is the very thing God wants to teach us. Will any manager would be silent if the numbers against him stand in odds on what the one has to deliver? How would be the reaction to this sense of management and knowledge? What would be the status of the mindset of the guy facing this? Innumerous questions that cannot be answered; mammoth doubts that blurs our sight for the future and further steps
Judges 7:2-3 In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, announce now to the people, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.
So God has decided to make weak Israel even weaker. Now why would God do that? Why does God allow times of weakness… even overwhelming odds at times? It is so that we will be more reliant upon Him and through that, He can show us more of Himself, His work on our behalf, and hopefully prevent us from stealing His glory! The human heart loves to claim credit for any victory or achievement. If God had allowed Israel to defeat Midian with only a quarter of the number of Midian’s men, then guess who would have got the credit? That’s right… not God. He may have received a bit of token praise, but probably precious little in the long run… and, it is just slightly possible that you would do the same thing!
Judges 7:3-8 But the LORD said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will sift them for you there… So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the LORD told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink.” Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their mouths. All the rest got down on their knees to drink. The LORD said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the other men go, each to his own place.” So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites to their tents but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others.
We read in the previous verse that all those who were really too fearful to fight were allowed to go home. So 22,000 (over two-thirds!) said ‘thanks, but I’m out of here!’ This was in accordance with the command given through Moses in Deut 20:1-8 where those that were fearful, or those that were engaged but not yet married, could go home if they liked. If our heart and mind is not ready in other words free of fear and full of courage then there is no use in pursuing a vision and a mission.
But there was soon to be another test. Out of the 10,000 people that remained, 9700 kneeled down and drank straight from the water where as 300 evidently stood, and used their hands to bring the water to their mouth. God was only interested in the smaller group who was more watchful and alert, and didn’t give themselves over completely to their natural needs. Recently a friend of mine was recruited for a post of consultant. He was tested and then interviewed in five rounds before he secured that post. Similarly here we see a process that God uses to build/select his army. The other thing to note is that the people themselves, all of whom were keen to be used to fight Midian, didn’t even know there was a test going on. Likewise, God tests us, looking for hearts that are truly His, and these tests come in the ordinary events of our daily lives often without our knowing.
Demand Vs supply. Gideon would have been really mystified. So in all, 300 people remained… that’s 300 Israelites versus 135,000 Midianites. Israel was outnumbered 450 to 1! Well, outnumbered that is apart from the small fact that Israel had one Almighty God on their side!
Judges 7:9-15 During that night the LORD said to Gideon, “Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands. If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” …Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. “I had a dream,” he was saying. “A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.” His friend responded, “This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.” When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped God.
Gideon and his 300 fighters are preparing to attack the camp of 135,000 Midianites. You can imagine what they were thinking... now was not a good time to be walking by sight! But God is incredibly kind here. I like this little passage because it shows the loving-kindness of God in bringing encouragement when His people are placed in a position of utter weakness. I like it because I can vouch for the fact that He still does it! When we need it most God still strengthens our faith through a dream, a verse, a prophetic word or encouragement from a friend. In this instant it came through a dream and its interpretation is clear … God is going to give Israel victory! And look at Gideon’s reaction – He worshipped God! On the basis of that encouragement the deal was as good as done! He could walk forth in faith, even though in the natural the odds were truly against him. Hold on to the promises and encouragement God gives you in whatever form it takes. Because it is from God it is as tangible as experiencing the real thing!
Judges 7:15-18 He returned to the camp of Israel and called out, “Get up! The LORD has given the Midianite camp into your hands.” Dividing the three hundred men into three companies, he placed trumpets and empty jars in the hands of all of them, with torches inside. “Watch me,” he told them. “Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do. When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, then from all around the camp blow yours and shout, ‘For the LORD and for Gideon.’”
So Gideon divides his 300 men into three companies and gives them their weapons. Put yourself into their position for a sec… You know you’re massively outnumbered. I guess you would be hoping for some new flash sword utilising the latest technology? So you take your place in the line and Gideon hands out the weapons… an empty clay jar, a torch, and a trumpet! Ever in the history of wars the weapons of this sort were never used. No one would have ever think to go forward with these weapons. Oh thanks a lot Gideon! What are we trying to do? Burst their ear drums? Drive ‘em crazy by playing off key? Well, we’ll get back to these strange weapons that we have been given shortly, but for now it is simply worth noting that with God natural circumstances don’t come into it! When you are weak, then He will prove Himself strong!
Judges 7:19-21 Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands. The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled.
Finally, Midian starts to receive their just deserts. As the jars are smashed exposing the light of the torches, and the trumpets are frantically blown on every side of the camp, confusion reigns amongst the Midian forces! God is bringing victory over Midian! From all angles a cry goes out saying ‘a sword for the Lord and for Gideon.’ Now, that’s all very well and lovely I’m sure you will agree, but what does it have to do with us right here and right now? You may remember from the first study that Midian means ‘strife’. They stand as a picture of the trouble, trials and well, strife that occurs while living on this planet. Does God still use Midian today? And if so, what clay jars, torches and trumpets do we use to gain victory today? Good questions and I’m glad you asked them. This passage in Judges has its New Testament fulfilment in 2 Corinthians chapter 4.
You are the fragile clay jar; Jesus is the light within that jar; and your testimony to His greatness is the trumpet call you are asked to sound! The weapons also signify the usage of soul, spirit and body in one accord to overcome our enemies through extra ordinary intervention. The earthly Jar reveals our Body (2 Cor 4: 5). Our body made of earthly dust carries a value of around 7Rs worth minerals. Torch reveals the Spirit (Prov 20:27) and the trumphet signifies the Soul (Psalms 75:10). Spiritually this brings a lot of meaning into our mission for warfare. When we are spiritually united within our soul, spirit and body we can smash any kind of strife, opposition and danger. That is why Jesus prayed for oneness. Oneness within oneself will make it unique and extraordinary.
2 Cor 4:5-10 For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
God has made His light shine in our hearts. It is the light of the presence of the Lord Jesus within our lives . But this ‘all-surpassing power’ God has placed within jars of clay… us! Fragile human beings – an earthenware vessel which contains the life of God! But how does this light shine forth? God’s light and power is seen in us as cracks appear in the outer jar. Just as Gideon and his army broke their jars to expose the light, so there must be times of weakness which cause a ‘cracking’ of our normal strength. Paul says it was times when he was…‘hard pressed’, ‘perplexed’, and ‘persecuted’. These times when through the power of weakness, ‘the life of Jesus may be revealed in our body’. So Gideon, with his limited followers, armed simply with a jar, a torch, and a trumpet, stormed the Midian camp from every side. 300 Israelites versus 135,000 Midianites! Would the light of God and the trumpet call bring victory? (Yep, the questions just keep getting tougher don’t they?)
Judges 7:22-23 When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the LORD caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords. The army fled to Beth Shittah toward Zererah as far as the border of Abel Meholah near Tabbath. Israelites from Naphtali, Asher and all Manasseh were called out, and they pursued the Midianites.
Yeah, ok, there was victory. I know… you knew that already! We shouldn’t leave this chapter however without emphasising the last ingredient for true victory over Midian. The jars had been smashed, the light of the torches had been exposed, but it was when the trumpet sounded that the Lord brought victory over the Midianite enemy. Blow the trumpet! Not your own trumpet however. A lot of people blow their own trumpet and while they like the sound it gives, it is definitely way off key for the rest of us! Blow the trumpet of God. Look at how the Apostle Paul wrote it in the passage from 2 Corinthians that we have been looking at – ‘For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord.’ The testimony and trumpet call that we sound is about Him, not us. In the midst of difficulty, the real and honest testimony about God is an awesome thing. God will speak through it to draw Christians and non-Christians alike.
Gideon symbolizes the ‘power of weaknesses. We have seen how God delights in using weak vessels to display His strength and faithfulness. We have also seen that this can often come about in the times when Midian (strife and trouble), is around. Like Gideon, it is daunting and scary when faced with overwhelming odds. Trials are never nice when you are in them, otherwise they wouldn’t be called trials! But we can take heart that God has a purpose for them. It is for the strengthening of your faith and the displaying of His life through you! Each crack in the clay vessel brings forth a little more light! The Apostle Paul said
2 Cor 12:9-10 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
To be honest I can’t say that I ‘delight’ in weaknesses and in hardships. Paul really had learned the reality of what this is all about. But I can look back and say that through difficulties and times of weakness, God has been my strength. When we face some unnatural situations like not ready for the exams, interviews, for a new assignment, unnatural deaths..etc. And looking back now, I wouldn’t change those times eventhough at the time they were very difficult. So whether you are currently faced with no‘strife’ or can alook back and recall such a time, I always remember that God’s power is made perfect in weakness and that God loves to do the Gideon!