Judges 6 & 7
Gideon was part of the Israelites lead out of Egypt.
Gideon was amazing. He pleased God by acting on God’s Word: people call this Faith. God sent an angel to talk to Gideon one day while he was separating wheat; this process took place in a shallow hole in the ground called a winepress. He hid his whole family in this place. The reason Gideon was hiding, there were many enemies near his home. They were the Midianites and the Amalekites and some were called the children of the east. These enemies had been fighting and robbing all of Gideon’s people and other tribes of Israel for 7 years.
Gideon saw a man sitting under an oak tree, the man hadn’t been there a moment ago. This startled Gideon however the man said “God is with thee”. Can you imagine what Gideon’s thoughts were at that time; Gideon responded “I don’t think so. If the Lord was with us, all these enemies wouldn’t be here”. “Where are all the miracles of God?” He brought us out of Egypt, now He’s let us fall into the hands of the Midianites”. The angel surprised Gideon by telling him that he (Gideon) was to save Israel. Gideon thought that was very funny. He’d seen the armies of the enemies’ down in the valley there were 135,000 taking up a lot of land with all their tents, camels and weapons. The Angel told Gideon, that he would be this great army to save Israel. I probably wouldn’t have believed the angel either, would you? So Gideon decided he’d test this man. Gideon said, “wait here and I’ll go get some flour cakes and meat, when I return you will give me a sign that will show me you’re telling the truth” (does any of this sound familiar!). When Gideon returned with the basket of food, he sat it on a rock, the angel touched the food with his staff and it was burned up and the angel vanished. Gideon now knew he’d been telling the truth and was afraid… Gideon built an altar right there to show God that he believed and worshipped Him. The Lord said, “don’t be afraid, Gideon, you won’t die”.
That night, the Lord told Gideon he was to go the altar place of the false god Baal, this is the god the Israelites had been worshipping instead of God, that’s why Gideon’s people were in this mess with the armies. God gave Gideon a small assignment first to help him get up his courage before the big battle. God never asks us to do more than we’re ready for. When Gideon arrived at the false god’s alter he was to break down the altar and cut down the special trees around it. That doesn’t sound so hard. Gideon was still afraid.
The altar was next to his neighbors (the ones that worshipped Baal) Gideon took 10 servants from his father’s house with him to do the dirty work. Morning came and the people were a bit upset that the altar was destroyed, but Gideon’s father said “if my son has offended Baal, let Baal take care of him” of course being a false god Baal didn’t do anything.
God saw that Gideon trusted Him and sent the Holy Spirit to him and told Gideon to start gathering men to go fight the Midianites. So he gathered men from different tribes to fight, gathering a total of 32,000 men ready to fight – remember the enemy had 135,000. God wanted to prove that when you trust Him you don’t need to be strong in the regular way, when you act on God’s Word, He helps you and you are stronger than you look or even feel. Surprisingly, God told Gideon to ask his soldiers if any of them were afraid. God said, “Anyone who raises his hand can go home” God’s pretty smart. God knew that even though Gideon’s army was outnumbered four to one that they might claim that they beat the Midianites by themselves.
So, Gideon asked and sent the ones that were afraid home. Gideon now had 10,000 men. The odds were now 13 to 1; I wonder what those 10,000 soldiers were thinking about? Hardly believe what God did next. Just in case there was any chance that Gideon’s men could say that the 10,000 had beat the 135,000 without God’s help. God told Gideon to take all his troops to a nearby stream and have them all get a drink. Gideon did as told and he was to watch the men very carefully. Any men that laid down on their stomachs to drink were to be sent home! Come on God? How many do you think he had left? 9,000, 700 what do you think? 9700 soldiers drank lying down, that meant Gideon’s army was now 300 soldiers. 300 against 135,000 talk about faith…. That comes out to 1 of Gideon’s men against 450 men. How can 1 soldier beat 450??? Only 1 way by FAITH – acting on God’s promise that He would help them beat the Midianites.
Goodness that seems like enough for God to ask, no God wants people to TRUST Him all the way. So next thing the soldiers had to do was spread out all around the enemy camp it was 3 in the morning. Remembering there are only 300 of them – they were spread out so far from each other they couldn’t see each other. They didn’t even have their swords drawn. Their TRUST was being tested. I wasn’t there but I would guess the Gideon had them all line up so he could pass out their weapons. Wait till you hear what kind of weapons they had. Each man was given a trumpet, a torch, and a clay pitcher.
Instructions were to put the torch inside the pitcher so it couldn’t be see, and the when the signal came to break the pitcher blow the trumpet and shout “the sword of the Lord and of Gideon”. Wow pretty silly -- talk about FAITH AND TRUST….in God’s Word….Courage lots of courage. Think about it – middle of the night, far away from their nearest friends, with a HORN, A TORCH AND A PITCHER, sitting in the dark waiting for a signal to Shout “ the sword of the Lord and of Gideon” not knowing did the others run away have they been captured.
Before we go on we need to back up a bit. Before Gideon placed his troops around the camp. He was still afraid, and wanted to do everything he could to be sure they would win. So Gideon and one of his men snuck down into the enemy camp crept around and overheard 2 of the enemy soldiers talking, one man was talking about a dream he had, in the dream he saw a big loaf of bread come rolling into camp and knock down a tent. His friend said surely this was the army of Israel and they were going to raid the camp and beat them in battle.
Back to the battle, after the 300 soldiers surrounded the enemy’s camp with their torch, trumpet and pitcher. Gideon gave the signal – they all did as told, broke the pitcher, blew the trumpet and shouted “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon”. The Midianites didn’t have a chance they were so confused at 3 in the morning, they mistook their own men for the Israelites and started killing one another, they killed 120,000 of their own men and the rest fled as fast as they could. There is not much left of the story Gideon and his soldiers chased after the ones running away and sent messages to the surrounding tribes of Israel to come and pursue the enemies and kill the rest and they even captured the kings of the Midianites.
So! Even though Gideon and his men were afraid they TRUSTED in God’s word that they would win.
Tried not to worry about the whole battle and took one step at a time. At every new step Gideon took, God added His power and in the end the Israelites were free from the enemy.
Some of us may or may not find ourselves as bad off as Gideon thought he was, we must stand up for what we know is right even when it looks like the whole world (family, friends, bosses) are against it. Faith and trust on God’s promise to show us how to get through it. God’s Word says “if you believe that I can, ask me for instructions, I’ll be right there with you.”