Gideon, Defeating The Midianite
Book of Judges 6:1, 11-16, 24, 34; 7:2-7, 16-22
We have seen war and rumors of war for several years now and it does not seem that things will ever be better.
In fact God says things are only going to get worse.
One of the main things we need to learn from this lesson is that when we see and hear of these wars we need to go in prayer to the God of Peace or “Jehovah-Shalom”.
Who is our peace?
Isa 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, [The Prince of Peace].
Heb 13:20 [Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus], (that great shepherd of the sheep), through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
There is only one way for true peace to come.
Col 1:20 [And, having made peace through the blood of his cross], by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
*****Jdg 6:1 And “the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD”: and the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years.
3 times the Bible uses this same phrase in the Book of Judges.
3 other times the word “again” is added to this phrase in the Book of Judges.
We know that 6 is the number of man. And 666 is the number of the Beast.
These Midianite were the wandering herdsman of the Eastern desert. They were somewhat like the Bedouin Arabs that are seen in the Middle East today.
Many of the Midianite were probably descendants of Abraham and Keturah after the death of Sarah.
But they were also intermingled with the Ishmaelites and the Amalekites.
It was because of these wandering nomad that the children of Israel had to move into caves and strong holds during the harvest seasons for about seven years.
Though these Nomad traveled in search of grasslands for their flocks continuously it was an intentional act allowed by God in His judgment of Israel, to destroy their crops.
We might say this was harsh but God does what He says He will do.
Lev 26:15 And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant:
Lev 26:16 I also will do this unto you; [I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it].
How can we say God is harsh if we will not obey Him. The problem is not in God’s Judgment. The problem is in our obedience!
*****Jdg 6:11 And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites.
Here again we get to meet a Theophany of The Lord. The angel of the Lord came as a wayfaring man and sat under an oak of Ophrah.
This city of Ophrah belonged to Joash, of the tribe of Manasseh.
The winepresses of that day were normally at the bottom of the hills but the threshing normally took place at the top of the hills so it is evident that Gideon was hiding the work he was doing.
This would be a terrible job if you could not take advantage of the wind to help blow away the husk.
*****Jdg 6:12 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.
We will soon see what kind of man Gideon was and again we will wonder why he was chosen by God for this task.
But it is the Bible that tells the story:
1Co 1:25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
1Co 1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
1Co 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
1Co 1:28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
1Co 1:29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
Notice the Lord immediately offers encouragement to Gideon. (“mighty man of valor”)
*****Jdg 6:13 And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, [why then is all this befallen us?] and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.
How many of us have asked this same question?
(Why have these things happened to us, if the Lord says He is always with us?)
Gideon believed the Lord had forsaken Israel and we should know for sure that all the others of Gideon’s family worshipped Baal, though Gideon was an outcast at this time, which could mean that he did not.
We can be sure that Gideon did not believe that the Lord was with Israel at this time and surely not with some one as he was, which could be said “as a coward”.
We can see that Gideon was suffering from a lack of “faith”.
*****Jdg 6:14 [And the LORD looked upon him], and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?
If this verse were in the New Testament it would be written in Red Letters. We find out again that this angel of the Lord is actually God in the flesh.
Gideon is still uncertain about this angel. Gideon’s first response had been to question God’s concern for His people BUT now He questioned God’s wisdom in choosing him to deliver his nation.
What we should learn as believers is that once God has called and commissioned us, all we need do is obey Him in “faith” and Our Lord will do the rest!
“Faith” is believing God no matter what we see!
Our God cannot lie but more to the point He Cannot Fail!
The world we live in laughs at “faith” but the reality is, that whether we are believers or not, “we cannot live in this world without faith”.
***** Jdg 6:15 And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.
Gideon now questions the omnipotence of the Lord. Gideon was not sure this angel understood that Israel lived in fear of these Midianites.
Israel was hiding in caves!
This half tribe of Manasseh is not mentioned as ever having valiant men SO, “Again” we see that God will take a nobody and make a somebody out of them!
This is another example to the Body of Christ.
1Co 1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
*****Jdg 6:16 And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.
It is obvious that the Lord is telling Gideon that the number of these Midianites are not important. It did not matter how many they were.
They would fall as if there were only one man!
Although Gideon was a weak individual, God told him that he was the one that was chosen to deliver Israel.
BUT, Gideon must first be trained to overcome his own fear.
*****Jdg 6:23 And the LORD said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.
Jdg 6:24 Then Gideon built an altar there unto the LORD, and called it Jehovahshalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
Why is it that the fear of death keeps us from doing a work for God. We don’t want to be missionaries because we are afraid God will send us to some foreign land so we will not even do what God ask us, which is to be a missionary where God has placed us!
God told Gideon that he would not die in this thing God had asked him to do. Only then did Gideon have no fear!
Every Born Again child of God is promised “eternal life” in a much better place than anywhere here on this Earth, yet we still cling to life in this flesh than can only last such a few years.
Jehovah-Shalom means the God of Peace.
Unless we are at peace with God, we simply will not be able to face the enemy with confidence and fight the Lord’s battles.
The Hebrew word “Shalom” not only means “peace” but also well-being, good health, and prosperity!
Remember what the Bible teaches:
Php 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
*****Jdg 6:34 But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him.
In verse 33 it said that these invaders were pitching in the Valley of Jezreel and this valley may have been the most fertile valley in all of Canaan Land.
It was now time for Gideon to act.
Gideon blew the “shophar”. A “shophar” is made from the horn of a Ram.
The town of Abiezer gathered with him and he sent messengers to Manasseh, Asher, Zebulaun, and Naphtali because these are the tribes that were closest to this valley.
32,000 men gathered to Gideon but there was 135,000 man army gathered in the Valley of Jezreel.
This was not only an army but also a calvary riding on camels.
This enemy army was very mobile and could move on an enemy in almost any terrain.
*****Jdg 7:2 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].
Though Gideon’s army was outnumbered 4 to 1 God said his army was just too large but let’s look at the reason that was given.
A couple of things we need to always remember about the Lord.
1.) No flesh is going to get the “glory” while in God’s presence!
2.) AND, A “faith” that is not tested cannot be trusted!
God will test our “faith”!
1.) So we can know if our “faith” is real, God already knows the outcome of every test!
2.) So our “faith” will increase for something that is coming in the future!
The promises of God must shine through our tribulations in this world.
*****Jdg 7:3 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.
If we are afraid to get into the battle then we will not be of any use to the Lord.
There were 22,000 who wanted no part of this war and thus would rather just serve them or continue to hide from this invading army.
There are so many of our young people today that have just given in to Satan and have chosen to serve him.
Just so we have a clear understanding of the significance of this let’s see what the Bible says:
Rev 21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
Rev 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Gideon was also being obedient to Laws of Moses by sending these men back home.
Deu 20:1 When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the LORD thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
Deu 20:8 And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? [let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren’s heart faint as well as his heart].
Any kind of fear is contagious!
If we compare to God’s army, whom He will bring with Him at His second coming we can see the difference:
Rev 17:14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: [and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.
*****Jdg 7:4 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.
Jdg 7:5 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.
Jdg 7:6 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.
Some times, in fact most of the time, we may never realize we are being tested by the Lord until the test is over.
Notice the rejection of the remaining soldiers was not based on physique, or experience, or age, or military knowledge, but only on how they drank their water.
It could be said that those that brought the water to their mouths with their cupped hand could be more alert to their surroundings but whether this is true or not there were only 300 that drank the water this way and these are the ones that God chose for the battle.
Now Gideon’s army was outnumbered 45 t0 1.
*****Jdg 7:7 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.
We should notice that there is nothing on this planet that can restrict the power of God.
In the modern day church we should clearly understand the if we count the strength of the church by it’s numbers then we do not understand the power of God!
In fact a small congregation will many times do more for the Lord than a large congregation and this is a shame to that larger congregation.
BUT, statistics are not important to God!
God told Gideon that by these 300 chosen men Israel could be saved!
When all those other men left for home those 300 that remained each had a torch, a trumpet, and an empty pitcher.
Just the weapons God needed for this battle!
That empty pitcher, an earthen vessel represents the believer:
2Ti 2:21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.
That torch represents the Word of God:
Psa 119:105 NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
That trumpet represents the coming of the Lord.
Joe 2:1 Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand;
That enemy of 135,000 never had a chance against God’s chosen army of 300!
*****Jdg 7:16 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.
Jdg 7:17 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.
When I was in Vietnam and were on search and destroy missions in the far north, we would split up in 3 man killer teams to cover our area. We would try to keep each team within eye range but this was hard to do most times because of the jungle growth.
We set certain signals but each team also had a radio and Each team carried the LAWS antitank weapon that could fire only one time, not because we were expecting to see tanks because tanks could not operate in the far north without roads. We did know that the enemy may have elephants. Each team had a M60 machine gun and every team member totted an extra case of ammo for that gun and an extra battery for the radio man.
If we came under attack that person who carried that LAWS rocket launcher would make sure his area was clear and if he could get some idea where the enemy had fired from they directed that rocket to that area, but if they did not know where the enemy was they were to fire anyway.
It was not that we could win a battle with those weapons but we wanted to make the enemy believed we had more firepower than they did and we did not want them to know we were such a small group.
My team was only 18 men at full strength.
Gideon used this same tactic which of course came from the Lord.
Gideon divided his team into three groups but they tried to keep everyone in sight and each team knew exactly what to do when the signal was given.
*****Jdg 7:18 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.
Jdg 7:19 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.
Jdg 7:20 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.
There were normally three watches of 4 hours each. The beginning of the middle watch would be about 10 o’clock at night.
As Gideon gave the signal an over confident army did not realize the actual strength of Gideon’s army and they panicked.
All they thought was that they were surrounded by a mighty army.
Suddenly the darkness and quietness of the night exploded into sudden light all around them, noise that they were not familiar with and three hundred trumpets blowing the attack signal.
*****Jdg 7:21 And they stood every man in his place round about the camp: and all the host ran, and cried, and fled.
Jdg 7:22 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.
There was nothing also for Gideon’s army to do at this time except to wait on the Lord.
As these soldiers panicked they fought with each other in the darkness and they fled in the direction they had come toward the Jordan.
Now look at what the Lord did to ensure the victory.
The Lord sent the Spirit of Confusion into this army and these enemies fled before God’s people.
So what can we learn from this?
1.) God’s Church does not need overwhelming numbers to defeat our enemies. It is “faith” that must rule in the Church.
2.) God does not need especially gifted leaders to accomplish His will on this Earth. All our leaders cannot depend on their own skills nor on their education or experience. Every leader must depend of the Lord God Almighty in order to succeed.
3.) The best thing we can do to help Our Lord is to give Him a willing servant. We may not fully understand God’s plan but it is His plan And He Wants Us To Be A Part Of It!
God wants us to give ourselves to Him completely:
Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
After all we are His earthen vessels and until we have broken our ties to this world we can never shine as the lights of The Lord.
Mat 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Php 2:15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
After these things we listen for the trumpet to sound:
1Co 14:8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?
When we give our testimony to the world, it must be certain and it must be clear.
1Jn 4:2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
1Jn 4:3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
1Jn 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
Only after these things will we ever hear the true trumpet of victory!
1Co 15:51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
1Co 15:52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
He is coming!
Are we going with Him should be our only concern in this world we live in!