God Works With a Few

Photo by Hakan Erenler: https://www.pexels.com/photo/flaming-gray-candles-289770/

Last week we ended with Gideon being given a mission from God. He was to go to his father Joash’s Altar to Baal and, using a 7 year old bull, tear the altar down. Tearing it down he was then to kill the bullock, and offer a sacrifice to the God of Israel.

God’s Leaders Must Publicly Stand Up For God

Gideon’s action was a public profession of his faith in God. Those who claim to be children of God are to publicly stand up and affirm their faith in God, regardless as to what others think. Jesus said in

Luke 9:26 (ESV) For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

Matthew 10:32-33 (ESV) So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

Luke 12:8-9 (ESV) And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God.

I have often heard people say, “I have faith, but my faith is a private matter”. It cannot be a “private thing” if you’re saved. John MacArthur rightly said in reference to Luke 12:8 …

If you have a very private, personal faith of your own, you’ll take it to hell. …

We do not come together as people who have a personal, private faith. We come together as people who have made a public confession …”

After destroying the Altar to Baal, the people demanded Gideon’s death. Joash renamed Gideon “Jerubbaal” which means “The One Who Threw Down Baal”.

God demanded Gideon stand up for his faith before he become a Judge, just as God demanded that Moses circumcise his son (Exodus 4:24-26) before he could lead Israel.

Judges 6:33-35 Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east were gathered together, and went over, and pitched in the valley of Jezreel. 34 But the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him. 35 And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh; who also was gathered after him: and he sent messengers unto Asher, and unto Zebulun, and unto Naphtali; and they came up to meet them.

As the Midianites (descendants of Abraham through his second wife Keturah) and Amalekites (descendants of Esau) gathered with the Children of the East, the Bible says:

the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon

Word Study: The Hebrew for came upon” (lāḇaš) literally means “to clothe, to cover with clothing”. This phrase occurs only three times in the Bible – here, and in 1 Chronicles 12:18 and 2 Chronicles 24:20. As Gideon felt vulnerable and fearful, God “clothed” him and gave him the courage to blow the shofar, rallying Israel to prepare for war. We are told that Gideon – emboldened by the Spirit – SENT MESSENGERS to the Tribes of Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and unto Naphtali. Manasseh was Gideon’s Tribe, and the other three tribes were adjacent to Manasseh. As the troops began to show up, Gideon – like Simon Peter – started looking at the water rather than at Jesus.

So Gideon asks God for a sign.

God’s Leaders Must Call On God To Declare His Will

Judges 6:36-38 And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, 37 Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said. 38 And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water.

Though God had already promised to be with Gideon (see Judges 6:14, 16), he was still uncertain in his calling. So he asked the Lord to give him a sign. Gideon would put a fleece of wool ON the {threshing} floor, and leave it there overnight. When he woke up he asked that God make the threshing floor dry, but the fleece full of water. Yet Gideon was still uncertain.

Judges 6:39-40 And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew. 40 And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.

Gideon asked that God reverse the miracle, and let the fleece stay dry while the ground be very wet. Gideon knew that he was treading on dangerous ground. He told the Lord, Let not thine anger be hot against me. Why did he ask for the second sign? The Keil and Delitzsch Commentary (pages 339-340) notes:

The woollen [sic] fleece represented the nation of Israel in its condition at this time, when God had given power to the foe that was devastating its land, and had withdrawn His blessing from Israel. The moistening of the fleece with the dew of heaven whilst the land all round continued dry, was a sign that the Lord God would once more give strength to His people from on high, and withdraw it from the nations of the earth. Hence the second sign acquires the more general signification, ‘that the Lord manifested himself even in the weakness and forsaken condition of His people, while the nations were flourishing all around’ (O. v. Gerl.)…”

When people came after Jesus looking for a sign, He said:

Matthew 12:39 … An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign

God gave the Pharisees sign after sign that Jesus was the Messiah. God had given Gideon sign after sign that He was going to bless his work. And yet, Gideon still asked for signs. People today talk about “putting a fleece before the Lord” as if that is a good thing. We live in a different age, under a New Covenant.

Gideon did not have the completed Scripture as we have.
Gideon did not have the Cross and empty Tomb to look back on.

God’s people today are to let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16) while we do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17). We rely upon a – as Peter wrote:

2 Peter 1:19-21 (ESV) we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Gideon did not have a full Scripture. He did not have a Temple to seek God’s face in. So Gideon called upon God, using the two fleeces to determine the will of God. God tells us in the Scripture that we are to call on God. We are told:

James 1:5-7 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

God did not upbraid or chastise Gideon for the asking. Gideon cried to God in his weaknesses and uncertainty, and God – without condemnation – answered his prayers.

God’s Leaders Must Understand It Is God Who Works

Judges 7:1-3 Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley. 2 And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me. 3 Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.

God knew the heart of His people. He knew that Israel would take the credit for defeating the Midianites if there were too many Israelites in battle. This s a common problem among humans. We love to take credit! God says:

Isaiah 42:8 (NASB) I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images

Very few people in America today worship graven images like Buddhas or Hindu gods, but we do worship ourselves. Even the most religious can fall into self worship. Jesus chastised the Pharisees because:

Matthew 23:5-8 (ESV) They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, 6 and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues 7 and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.

The Pharisees loved to be seen of men. Their prayer, their giving, their attendance at Synagogue, whatever they were doing was for their own glory. This is idolatry, a violation of the 1st and 3rd commandments. Only God is to be glorified. The Lord says,

Isaiah 48:11 … How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another …

God will not give His glory to others because “all glory, honor, and praise belong to God alone” (1 Chronicles 29:11). One of the greatest defeats in the history of Israel was when King David wanted to “number” or take a census of his armies (1 Chronicles 21). Though his General Joab begged David not to do so, he commanded it anyway. What did God do in response?

1 Chronicles 21:7, 10-14 (NLV) God was not pleased that Israel was numbered so He punished Israel. … 10 “Go and tell David, ‘This is what the Lord says. “I give you three things to choose from. Choose one of them, that I may do it to you.”’” 11 So Gad came to David and said, “This is what the Lord says. ‘Choose one of these. 12 Three years of no food in the land; three months to be destroyed by the sword of those who hate you; or three days of the sword of the Lord. This would be a disease sent upon the land. The angel of the Lord would destroy with disease through all the land of Israel.’ Now decide what answer I should give Him Who sent me.” 13 David said to Gad, “I am in much trouble. Let me fall into the hand of the Lord. For His loving-kindness is very great. But do not let me fall into the hand of man.” 14 So the Lord sent a disease upon Israel. And 70,000 men of Israel died.

God will not be mocked by His people! He alone is to be glorified. He tells Gideon, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand” (7:3). Having lost over half the people, God tells Gideon:

Judges 7:4-7 And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go. 5 So he brought down the people unto the water: and the Lord said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink. 6 And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water. 7 And the Lord said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place.

What is interesting about this test is that God was examining the position of the warriors. There are two ways to get water out of a river. You can lower your head down to the water, and drink directly from the river. But here’s the thing: if you do this, your eyes will be on the river, and not on the things that are around you.

God wants to use people who are careful in how they do His work. He wants their focus on His instruction.

The other way to drink water from a river is to keep looking around, but dip your hand into the river and lap it like a dog. Of the 10,000 men that were there, only 300 used this method to drink. God told Gideon, “Those are the men I want – men focused on My will and My work!”. 9,700 men were sent home.

Judges 7:8-11 So the people took victuals (tsêydâh, provision, food) in their hand, and their trumpets: and he sent all the rest of Israel every man unto his tent, and retained those three hundred men: and the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley. 9 And it came to pass the same night, that the Lord said unto him, Arise, get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered it into thine hand. 10 But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host: 11 And thou shalt hear what they say; and afterward shall thine hands be strengthened to go down unto the host. Then went he down with Phurah his servant unto the outside of the armed men that were in the host.

After sending the 9,700 away, the Bible says that God told Gideon the same night to go down to the Midianites with his soldiers. God knew that Gideon was still frightened, so He told him to go down to the enemy camp with his armor bearerPhurah. God had given a dream to a Midianite Warrior, and He wanted Gideon to hear what this man would say. So Gideon and Phurah head down to the encampment.

Judges 7:12-14 And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the sea side for multitude. 13 And when Gideon was come, behold, there was a man that told a dream unto his fellow, and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along. 14 And his fellow answered and said, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: for into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host.

Though the Midianite forces were overwhelming, Gideon and Phurah heard one soldier tell another how he dreamed that Gideon would destroy their forces because God delivered Midian, and all the host. With this, Gideon stopped WORRYING and started WORSHIPING.

When We Do As God Says, the Enemy
Will Defeat Themselves

Judges 7:15-22 And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshiped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the Lord hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian. 16 And he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man’s hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers. 17 And he said unto them, Look on me, and do likewise: and, behold, when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so shall ye do. 18 When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon. 19 So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers that were in their hands. 20 And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon. 21 And they stood every man in his place round about the camp; and all the host ran, and cried, and fled. 22 And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the Lord set every man’s sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host: and the host fled to Bethshittah in Zererath, and to the border of Abelmeholah, unto Tabbath.

It was the beginning of the middle watch” (vs 19), the darkest part of the night, when the Midianite watchmen changed their shifts. As they are changing the shift, Gideon blows his horn – and his 300 men that surround the caps blow their horns. Inside of empty food containers – clay jars – they have lamps. They shatter the clay jars, which causes the light of the lamps to pour out suddenly. They have the clay pitchers and lamps in one hand, and trumpets in the other.

They have no hands available to hold a sword – but they don’t need a sword. All of the flashes of light and crashes of pottery along with the trumpets and the shouts of “The Sword of the Lord and Gideon” convinces the enemy that they are overwhelmingly surrounded. They begin to strike out with their swords in a panic, killing whoever is closest. In a panic, the Midianites and their forces run home. As they run we read:

Judges 7:23-25 And the men of Israel gathered themselves together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and pursued after the Midianites. 24 And Gideon sent messengers throughout all mount Ephraim, saying, come down against the Midianites, and take before them the waters unto Bethbarah and Jordan. Then all the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and took the waters unto Bethbarah and Jordan. 25 And they took two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb; and they slew Oreb upon the rock Oreb, and Zeeb they slew at the winepress of Zeeb, and pursued Midian, and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side Jordan.

What is happening here? Of the 32,000 soldiers that were gathered at the beginning of this chapter, all but 300 were sent home. But once the Midianites and their forces began to run, the 31,700 who were sent home left their homes and started chasing Midianites. The Midianites were defeated by God Himself, not by Israel. The lesson we learn is that …

It is not our responsibility to understand how God is going to keep His Word and accomplish His work. It is our responsibility to obey Him and to do what He commands (Inrig)

May God grow our faith through his Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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