We left Gideon (in the last blog) finally convinced that the direction he has been getting is coming from God. Through this revelation we have learned about fleeces in the context of testing and can understand their use when trying to make certain the direction we feel we are getting is coming from God.
Now, we look at the action part of this story. Gideon is now ready lead an army as God has directed. Judges 7 starts out with God giving direction by telling Gideon he has too many men. In verse 2 we find that the reason God doesn’t want Gideon to use a big army is because God wants to show Israel that he is the rescuer and deliverer. He wants to make certain they know, when it’s all said and done, just whose hand delivered them.
He has Gideon announce that any of the men who are afraid to fight must leave and go home. 22 thousand take off, leaving 10 thousand men (v. 3). Still that is too many, so God has Gideon take the remaining 10 thousand to the river for a drink. Those who kneel and cup the water into their mouths are sent home. Those who get down on their bellies and lap the water like dogs are kept. That whittles the numbers down to 300 (v.7).
Meanwhile, in the enemy camp, one individual is telling his friend about a dream he has just had where a loaf of barley bread comes tumbling down a hill and plows into a tent and causes it to overturn. The friend interprets the dream and explains that the dream is about Gideon and that the whole camp has been delivered into his hands.
Gideon, who God has sent on a reconnaissance mission hears the dream AND the interpretation and knows that it’s a done deal. He rallies his band of warriors, telling them God has delivered the enemy into their hands, and they head out (v. 15).
I think this next part is ingenious. God has Gideon divide the army into three companies. He has each of them carry a trumpet and an empty jar with torches inside them. They surrounded the camp and all together blow their trumpets and smash their jars crying, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!”(v.20)
The enemy is caused to be thrown into a state of confusion (Nice having God on your side isn’t it?), and they turn on each other. Long story, short, the enemy is vanquished.
A couple of interesting things I ponder in this last part of Gideon’s story.
First, why were they to cry “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon“? I mean, God made it a point to stack the deck so far against Israel, just to be able to show that HE was what the victory was all about. So why have them throw Gideon’s name in there? Why had the person in the enemy camp dreamed that the sword of Gideon was coming for them all? Why not the sword of the Lord?”
Second, what does this story show us in the here and now?
For the first, I am certain there are many ideas on why God did that and none of them wrong. For me, I like to think that God cared about Gideon, personally. I believe that he saw Gideon’s heart and knew there was no hubris. So, he was good with allowing acknowledgement for a man who was so willing to do what he asked in the humblest manner. Plus he was wise enough to check and make sure that he was actually getting his direction for God. There was, after all, so much at stake.
And the second part can then dovetail off of the first. For me, much of that practical application is a directive on how to best serve God. I so often hear people, and I have done so as well, asking what they should do or how to know what God wants for them. I think that this story shows that it is never about how insurmountable something appears. If we have God on our side, he can always make a way.
We must seek him, ask and wait for confirmation that it is he who is directing us. Once we have confirmation, we must look to him to show us exactly how to go about accomplishing what we are doing, always remembering it is never about us and our skills. The victory always belongs to the Lord.
Through that acknowledgement, we may find ourselves winning something far greater than our original goal. We may find our names being announced alongside that of Yashuea, the Rescuer.