See part 1 of this Bible study on the life of Gideon.
Gideon’s 300 Chosen Men
Text: Judges 7
7:1 Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon ) and all the people who were with him, rose early and camped beside the spring of Harod; and the camp of Midian was on the north side of them by the hill of Moreh in the valley.
2 The LORD said to Gideon , “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me.’
· Military strategists want to go into battle with superior forces, superior weapons, and superior strategy. They want to have every advantage working for them to provide the greatest likelihood of victory. Not surprisingly, God doesn’t operate this way. In fact, God actually considered having superior forces a liability! Whenever God’s people are victorious in battle, God should receive all the glory. If the victory is won because His people have a larger force or better weapons, they would become boastful and say that it was their power that gave victory.
· We should be eager for God to get the glory for the things He accomplishes. Ultimately, it’s all about Him and not about us.
· How many of you know what a RIF is? To make sure that Israel had nothing to boast of, God was going to drastically reduce Gideon’s forces so that couldn’t possibly take the credit for it themselves.
· It’s the same way with personal salvation.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
First RIF – Fearful Sent Home
3 “Now therefore come, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, ‘ Whoever is afraid and trembling, let him return and depart from Mount Gilead.'” So 22,000 people returned, but 10,000 remained.
· God eliminated the fearful. First RIF, the force is slashed from 32,000 to 10,000.
· It’s easy to see the logic of this decision. Send the fearful home. They will be a liability and discourage others. It is interesting to note however that fear had been a major issue that Gideon struggled with. If God had used this criteria when selecting Gideon, He would have bypassed him! That’s the very winnowing factor that God used with Gideon’s men. Maybe the Lord sent the fearful home as a further lesson for Gideon to trust Him.
An Additional RIF
4 Then the LORD said to Gideon , “The people are still too many; bring them down to the water and I will test them for you there. Therefore it shall be that he of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go with you; but everyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.”
5 So he brought the people down to the water. And the LORD said to Gideon, “You shall separate everyone who laps the water with his tongue as a dog laps, as well as everyone who kneels to drink.“
6 Now the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was 300 men; but all the rest of the people kneeled to drink water.
7 The LORD said to Gideon , “I will deliver you with the 300 men who lapped and will give the Midianites into your hands; so let all the other people go, each man to his home.“
8 So the 300 men took the people’s provisions and their trumpets into their hands. And Gideon sent all the other men of Israel, each to his tent, but retained the 300 men; and the camp of Midian was below him in the valley.
· Only 300 men against the entire Midianite army!
· One plus God is a majority! As long as you are on the Lord’s side, you are on the winning team!
· 1 Sa 14:6
6 Then Jonathan said to the young man who was carrying his armor, “Come and let us cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; perhaps the LORD will work for us, for the LORD is not restrained to save by many or by few.””
One Final Gracious Lesson on Fear
9 Now the same night it came about that the LORD said to him, “Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hands.
· God says, “It’s yours. All you have to do is go down and take it!”
10 “But if you are afraid to go down, go with Purah your servant down to the camp,
11 and you will hear what they say; and afterward your hands will be strengthened that you may go down against the camp.” So he went with Purah his servant down to the outposts of the army that was in the camp.
· God is saying, look, if you’re still fearful about fighting the Midianites, go down to their camp and listen to their conversation and I will convince you. Gideon is still fearful, so he does take God up on His offer.
· Now, at this point it’s fair to ask, if God sent 22,000 soldiers home because they were fearful of the battle, why in the world did He choose Gideon who has repeatedly demonstrated fear? I’ll admit that I struggled with this question, but the conclusion that I came to is that God gets the most glory when He uses the least likely instrument to accomplish His will.
· Jesus chose 12 uneducated men with no remarkable skills or accomplishments to be his 12 apostles.
· Look at:
1 Ti 1:15
15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.
· God chose Paul, who was one of the greatest enemies of the church to be the most eminent apostle.
· 2 Co 12:9a
9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
· Conclusion: God is glorified when He uses weak, prone to sin vessels like you and me to accomplish His plan. So, our weakness shouldn’t be an excuse for inaction, but rather an opportunity for faith to glorify God more.
12 Now the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the sons of the east were lying in the valley as numerous as locusts; and their camels were without number, as numerous as the sand on the seashore.
13 When Gideon came, behold, a man was relating a dream to his friend. And he said, “Behold, I had a dream; a loaf of barley bread was tumbling into the camp of Midian, and it came to the tent and struck it so that it fell, and turned it upside down so that the tent lay flat.”
14 His friend replied, “This is nothing less than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given Midian and all the camp into his hand.”
· How gracious the Lord was to Gideon. God deals with us where we are. Gideon remained a little fearful, so God gives him one final reassurance of victory and this time from the very mouths of the enemy!
15 When Gideon heard the account of the dream and its interpretation, he bowed in worship. He returned to the camp of Israel and said, “Arise, for the LORD has given the camp of Midian into your hands.”
· Though less dramatic than the flame springing up from the rock to consume his offering or the signs with the fleece, this was yet another sign from the Lord for him.
· Finally, after hearing the enemy’s testimony, Gideon was totally convinced and ready to take action.
16 He divided the 300 men into three companies, and he put trumpets and empty pitchers into the hands of all of them, with torches inside the pitchers.
17 He said to them, “Look at me and do likewise. And behold, when I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do.
18 “When I and all who are with me blow the trumpet, then you also blow the trumpets all around the camp and say, ‘For the LORD and for Gideon.’”
Blowing the Trumpets and Exposing the Torches
19 So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outskirts of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, when they had just posted the watch; and they blew the trumpets and smashed the pitchers that were in their hands.
20 When the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers, they held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands for blowing, and cried, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!”
· Here’s the scene. The Midianites have a vast army as “numerous as the locusts”. Gideon has 300 men.
· The Midianites are well equipped with swords and other weapons. Gideon’s men have now weapons. Trumpets and torches don’t count.
· So far, things don’t look very promising for Gideon.
· The Amalekites allied themselves with the Midianites. God was on Gideon’s side. Oops! The odds just tilted dramatically in Gideon’s favor.
· So what was the result of the battle?
21 Each stood in his place around the camp; and all the army ran, crying out as they fled.
22 When they blew 300 trumpets, the LORD set the sword of one against another even throughout the whole army; and the army fled as far as Beth-shittah toward Zererah, as far as the edge of Abel-meholah, by Tabbath.
· God is very creative. He has defeated armies of the enemy with blindness, hailstones, tar pits, an angel, an ambush, drowning, as well as normal combat. This time, He chooses to throw the enemy into confusion and have them slay one another.
· That day God gave a great victory while His valiant warrior and band of men blew their trumpets!
· Thankfully, being musically gifted isn’t a prerequisite to be a valiant warrior in the Lord’s army, but having faith in Him is!
· Romans 8:37
37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
· Gideon was fearful, but he nonetheless was able to step out in faith and confront the enemy. Don’t let fear cripple you with inaction! Trust the Lord and He will also give you great victories in life!