Faith FellowshipThe Sword of the Lord and You Judges 7:1-25
Gideon’s force was outnumbered. The Mideonite army was 135,000, but Gideon’s force numbered a mere 32,000.
To guarantee that history would record this battle as a divine victory, God issued an order for a massive reduction-in-force. The downsizing resulted in a meager 300 troops. His only option was to trust God or perish. He was left virtually without an army. But when we’re serving in God’s army we never lack strength.
The issue is to engage the enemy with a handful of soldiers to showcase God’s power.
In his book, Hearts of Iron, Feet of Clay, Gary Inrig states: “You cannot be too small for God to use, but you can be too big. If you want credit for what God is doing, God will not use you…that is why, as you look around, you will see God working in a powerful way in the lives of some very weak people. They are people who are careful to give God the glory.” Who gets the credit when we’re successful? Do we bask in our victory, or praise God for His work in our lives?
Well aware of Gideon’s weak faith, God reassures him by arranging for Gideon to overhear a conversation between two enemy soldiers. As Gideon conducted a covert reconnaissance of the enemy, he and his servant Purah gather some encouraging intelligence. In concealment, Gideon listens in as two Mideonite soldiers discuss a strange dream (in ancient times dreams were highly regarded as means of predicting future events). In the dream, a hard loaf of barley bread rolls into the Mideonite camp and flattens one of the tents. They conclude that the loaf represents Israel. The Mideonites had plundered Israel and stolen their wheat harvest. The impoverished Jews had to resort to barley bread. The tent could only represent the nomadic Mideonites. One of the soldiers cries out in awful realization, vs 14: “This is nothing less than the sword of Gideon…God has given Mideon and all the camp into His hand!” The sovereign God gave Gideon a sign of His own.
God protected Gideon during his incursion into enemy territory; God led Gideon to one specific tent; He then timed Gideon’s arrival to hear about a dream and its interpretation. Gideon’s fears and doubts were overcome. He was mentally prepared for combat. We see definite growth of character from the man cowering in a wine press to a confident general ready to lead his outnumbered troops into battle. Gideon was no George Patton. He was a farmer, an unconventional leader by secular standards; but God’s strength is revealed by enabling the weak to triumph. Gideon’s was not being modest—he lacked the resources to overcome and had to rely on God. Perhaps we’ve found ourselves in similar circumstance.
God does not propose that we should believe in ourselves. Our narcissistic society celebrates self-reliance. But God strips us bare, forcing us to recognize our frailty and inadequacy. God shows us that human resources are insufficient for the battles we face. God then teaches us the lesson of dependence, which results in confidence. Paul understood this when he affirmed, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). With God’s power, Gideon was able to “boldly go where no Jew had gone before”!
Gideon’s ammunition supply point was strange indeed. Assembling his army of 300, he then divides them into three companies, arming them with trumpets, empty clay jars, and torches (vs 16). It seems like Gideon sent his military band and supply personnel into battle!
Gideon's small force had one thing strategically in its favor, the element of surprise. How else could 300 troops take on a multitude? At Gideon’s command, they took positions outside the perimeter of the enemy camp. Then out of the night came the startling sound of 300 jars being smashed on the ground, the blinding light of 300 torches piercing the darkness, and the blare of 300 rams horns signaling an attack. With one voice the Israeli force shouted a blood-curdling battle-cry (vs 20): “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!”
Panic seized the enemy. The Mideonite army imagined they were being attacked from all sides. In their confusion they hastily began attacking each other in the dark, not knowing who was friend or foe. The Jewish soldiers held their positions, staying a safe distance from the deadly war before them. King Solomon later wrote, “The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, but the righteous are bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1).
Using soldiers held in reserve, Gideon seals off the enemy escape route eastward down the valley and over the Jordan. His troops capture and kill 2 key enemy officers, Oreb and Zeeb. Chapter 8 describes Gideon’s pursuit and capture of the Mideonite kings.
Out of gratitude, the throne of Israel is offered to the deliverer. The slayer of kings is urged to become king. To his credit, Gideon unselfishly declines the offer to be crowned king of Israel. He knew that he was only an instrument of God, and that Israel’s King was Jehovah (8:23). Gideon continued to serve as a judge and lived out his days in prosperity. All he asks of his countrymen is a small portion of the captured gold, which he forms into an ephod, a priestly garment used in worship (8:22-23). But what was supposed to be a symbol commemorating Israel’s victory regrettably became an object of worship.
Who do we trust? When faced with insurmountable odds, do we fall apart, or fall to our knees in prayer, trusting the Lord of hosts? I once pastored a church where the tradition was to have an invitation for people to come to the altar every Sunday. It was an opportunity to lay burdens before the Lord. I encouraged the congregation to leave their burdens there, but the natural tendency is to pray, then pick the burden back up and hold onto it. An old Gospel song encourages believers to “Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.”
The overwhelming victory was not in man's power, but, in the Lord. May we learn, like Gideon, to use the Sword of the Lord. Every morning, noon and night this year, pick up your Sword. Read it, pray it into your heart, and share what you have learned with others.
Prayer: Lord, help us to look to You for leadership. You are our Commander, and we hope to trust You to overcome every foe we face. Every struggle we encounter we entrust to Your might. Our fiercest battle has already been won—Jesus has won victory over our sins on the cross. If anyone reading this does not belong to You, Lord, impress them to enlist in Your army. This we pray, in Your strong and loving Name, Amen.
May God strengthen your bond with family and friends this New Year and may every one of us experience a new birth of faith!
Pastor Ken Mettler 715-483-9202
Today, you face an army. The powers of darkness and destruction are stronger than you. You must see the invisible hand of God with you as you go through the day. It is impossible to have faith in someone that you don’t know or barely know. It is extremely hard to trust someone that you are misinformed about. Gideon’s ignorance about the Word of God was a strong factor in his ability to trust Yahweh…he misunderstood the very nature and character of God. If we do not plant the Word of God in our lives, we will manifest the same stubbornness to believe that Gideon did. God frequently trims our resources to get us to depend entirely on Him. When we’re serving in God’s army we become part of the “overwhelming minority. God frequently trims our resources to get us to depend entirely on Him. Sickness, financial reversal, family conflict, and other difficulties cause us to turn our lives over to God. When the odds seem overwhelming, God overwhelms the odds! You have been asked to take the Sword of the Word of God and the Shield of Faith and go forth in the power of the Holy Spirit. Is your armor a little rusty? Seek an anointing with the oil the Holy Spirit. ...
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. — Genesis 2:15
Everyone is talking gardening. The cultivation and care for living, growing things is grounded deeply in our soul as we are the created beings in God’s garden.
In the beginning God planted us human beings in his perfect garden. Verses from the creation story make clear that God is the original gardener. He created the vegetation—seed-bearing plants, trees that have fruit with seeds, shrubs, and all kinds of trees. From the beginning, God intended this first garden to produce food for all kinds of creatures and humankind year after year.
Genesis 2:15 shows that God planted people in that first garden “to work it and take care of it.” This suits us because we are from God—created in his image to be like him—and we are also from the ground. We might even say that gardening—working and caring for growing things—is in our bones. Cultivating the gifts of God for the glory of God is what we are meant for.
Gardening involves cultivating, planting, watering, pruning, protecting, harvesting, and much more. When we are drawn to the world of soil, plants, and trees, it is no coincidence. We’re designed to care for the earth, other creatures, and each other. Cultivation is rooted in our beginning and continual thriving in God’s garden.
Are You God’s Garden? If you love and follow Jesus, YOU are God’s garden. The living Word of God, spoken into your life, contains everything needed to unfold the glory of God in your life. Maybe you feel like you’ve been plowed under by the weight of problems and struggles for too long. Watch and see how that plowing is preparing you to become a beautiful garden.
Where Did Your Seeds Come From? God sees what you can’t see. He has been planting many seeds into your life, and you don’t always realize that they are there. These seeds may have come from others sharing spiritual truth with you,. Or perhaps reading the Bible and certain circumstances have drawn your attention to God. Other ways these seed have been planted are through words of encouragement, Christian music, and sermons, as well as through the Holy Spirit teaching you.
How To Blossom All you need is to add spiritual nutrition through prayer and meditating on His Word. Soak up the warm Sonshine of Jesus’ love. And open your heart to let the water of the Holy Spirit flow into you and then out through you. As you do, the seeds will grow and poke up through the good soil of your spirit. (If your spirit hasn’t been good soil, ask His forgiveness and ask Him to make you into good soil.)
Suddenly buds will pop out and bloom. You’ll find yourself singing His praises. As you worship in spirit and in truth, the glory of His Presence will manifest in your life. You will be His beautiful flower garden. The loveliness and fragrance will draw others to Jesus.
Singing “I Come To The Garden Alone, while the dew is still on the roses....” will help you identify with the great “Garden of prayer.”
What are you growing in the garden of your life?
Lord, thank you for this vision of the garden you planted in paradise for us to work and care for with you. Recreate us in Christ back to your purpose for our lives. Amen. ...
Four Principles of Harmony and Joy for today: 1. Don't be defeated! Stand strong in the Lord and in His mighty power! 2. Don't be divisive! How sweet for the brethren to dwell together in unity! Be of one heart and mind! 3. Don't be discouraged! Rejoice in the Lord, always! 4. Don't be defensive! Let your generosity be known to all! ...
John 15:3 "Greater love has no man than this, that a man would lay down his life for his friends...." Happy Memorial Day! May we all realize that the price of freedom is innocent blood. Millions of soldiers have given their life for our nation, our constitution, and our way of life So many soldiers who have died were the very young, men who loved liberty and fought to keep us free from the tyranny of an oppressive government or the influence of an evil power in this world. We live in peace and freedom today because others have fought for it. To All of Our Heroes...Thank You For Your Service!! We Owe You a Debt That We Could Never Repay!
Please stop and thank God for our nation. Walk through a cemetery. Pray that we would always be one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. ...