1 Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and camped beside the well of Harod: so the army of the Midianites was on the north side of them, in the valley by the hill of Moreh. 2 And the LORD said to Gideon, The people that are with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel boast themselves against me saying, My own hand has saved me.
- God made them small so they couldn’t get proud.
- Pride is a sin. It cuts us off from God
- 2Corinthians 12:9 And he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore I will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
- Isaiah 48:11… I will not give my glory to another.
- Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you are saved through faith; and not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, so no man can boast.
God excused the fearful from military service
3 Now go proclaim in the ears of the people saying, Whoever is afraid and trembling, let him return and leave early from mount Gilead. And 22,000 of the people returned; 10,000 remained.
- This was God’s policy regarding military service.
- Deuteronomy 20:8 And the officers are to speak further to the people and say, What man is afraid and fainthearted among you? Let him go and return to his house, so his brothers hearts not faint as well as his heart.
4 And 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: and whom I say to you, This one will go with you, the same will go with you; and whoever I say to you, This one is not to go with you, the same will not go. 5 So he brought the people down to the water: and the LORD said to Gideon, Every one that laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, set him aside by himself; and in the same way set aside every one that bows down on his knees to drink. 6 And three hundred men lapped, putting their hand to their mouth: but all the rest of the people bowed down on their knees to drink water. 7 And the LORD said to Gideon, I will save you by the three hundred men that lapped, and deliver the Midianites into your hand: let all the other people go, every man to his place.
- God picked the troops.
- If the ratio of troops was 300 Israelites against 135,000 Midianites, the battle would be 450 to 1.
- God likes to do the impossible.
- Verse 12 tells us that the army of the enemy was vast.
8 So the people took provisions in their hand, and their trumpets: he sent away all the rest of Israel, every man to his tent, and retained those three hundred men: and the army of Midian was beneath him in the valley.
God encouraged and strengthened Gideon
9 And that same night the LORD said to him, Get up, get down to the camp; for I have delivered it into your hand. 10 But if you are afraid to go down, go with Phurah your servant down to the camp: 11 and you will hear what they say; and afterward your hands will be strengthened to go down to the camp. Then went he down with Phurah, his servant, to the outside of the armed men that were in the camp. 12 And the Midianites and the Amalekites,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 seaside for multitude. 13 And when Gideon came, behold, there was a man who told a dream to his friend and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and look, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian, and came to a tent, and struck it so that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay flat. 14 And his fellow answered and said, This is nothing except the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: for God has given Midian and all the army into his hand. 15 And when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and its interpretation he worshipped, and returned to the camp of Israel and said, Get up; for the LORD has delivered the army of Midian into your hand.
- Each day we have a battle to fight to obey God, to love Him with all our heart.
- The world presses in continually to distract and defeat us.
- God has given us the victory but we must claim it by faith.
- Ephesians 6:12 we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
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 torches inside the pitchers. 17 And he said to them, Watch me, and do the same: look, when I come to the outside of the camp, you do what I do. 18 When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then you blow the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon.
- God’s sword is only used against evil.
- Our victories come by looking unto Jesus.
- Hebrews12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
- Isaiah 30:15 The Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel says this; In returning and rest you will be delivered; in quietness and in confidence will be your strength...
19 So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came to the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; they had just newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and broke the pitchers that were in their hands. 20 And the three companies blew the trumpets, brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets to blow in their right hands: and they cried, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon. 21 And every man stood in his place around the camp: and all the army ran, and cried, and fled.
- All God asks is that we follow, obey, and stand still and see His deliverance.
- Exodus 14:13 And Moses said to the people, Do not fear, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will show you today: for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever.
22 And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the LORD set the sword of one man against another throughout all the army: and the army fled to Beth-shittah in Zererath, and to the border of Abel-meholah, to Tabbath. 23 And the men of Israel gathered themselves together out of Naphtali, 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 seize the waters to Beth-barah and Jordan before them. Then all the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and took the waters to Beth-barah and Jordan. 25 And they took two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb; and they killed Oreb on the rock Oreb, and they killed Zeeb at the winepress of Zeeb, and pursued Midian, and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side of the Jordan.
- God turned the enemy against themselves.
- This victory marked the end of seven years of terror with enemy forces continually raiding to steal their crops, just as evil terrorizes our lives to steal our blessing and joy.
- Romans 8:31 If God is for us, who can be against us?
1 The men of Ephraim said to him, What is this you have done to us, not calling us when you went to fight with the Midianites? And they debated sharply with him. 2 And he said to them, What have I done compared to you? Aren’t the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abi-ezer? 3 God has delivered the princes of Midian into your hands, Oreb and Zeeb: what was I able to do compared to you? Then their anger ceased toward him when he said that.
- God delivered their enemies into their hands.
- The moment you believed in Jesus Christ for your salvation, His enemies became your enemies.
- Matthew 12:30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that does not gather with me scatters abroad.
4 Then Gideon came to Jordan and crossed over, he and the three hundred men that were with him, faint, and still chasing them. 5 And he said to the men of Succoth, Please give us loaves of bread for the people that follow me; for they are faint, and I am chasing after Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian. 6 And the princes of Succoth said, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in your hand, that we should give food to your army?
God’s victory is by faith
7 And Gideon said, When the LORD has delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, then I will tear your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers. 8 And he went up from there to Penuel, and spoke similar things to them: and the men of Penuel answered him like the men of Succoth had answered him. 9 And he spoke to the men of Penuel also saying, When I come again in peace, I will break down this tower.
- Gideon was now confident of victory.
- 2Corinthians 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
- 1Samuel 17:47 And all this assembly will know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hands.
10 Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with their armies, about 15,000 men, all that remained of all the armies of the children of the east: for 120,000 men that drew sword fell. 11 And Gideon went up by the way of those that dwelt in tents on the east side of Nobah and Jogbehah, and struck the army: for the army was secure. 12 And when Zebah and Zalmunna fled, he chased after them, and captured the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and routed all the army.
- The Hebrew word for ‘routed’ means to make shudder with terror. God gives complete victory.
- 1John 5:4F or whatever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.
13 And Gideon the son of Joash returned from battle before the sun was up, 14 and captured a young man of the men of Succoth, and questioned him: and he listed for him the princes of Succoth and its elders, 77 men. 15 And he came to the men of Succoth and said, Behold Zebah and Zalmunna, with whom you taunted me saying, Do you now have Zebah and Zalmunna in your hand, that we should give food to your men that are weary? 16 And he took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and he taught the men of Succoth with them.
- Disciplining with thorns and thistles was God’s idea first.
- At the fall of man God gave the curse of thorns and thistles.
- Genesis 3:18 Thorns also and thistles will it bring forth to you; and you will eat the herb of the field;
- Numbers 33:55 But if you will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it will come to pass, that those that you let remain of them will be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and will trouble you in the land where you dwell.
- Proverbs 20:30 The blueness of a wound cleanses away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.
- Hebrews 12:6 For whom the Lord loves he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives. 7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without chastisement, of which all are partakers, then are you bastards, and not sons.
17 And he beat down the tower of Penuel, and killed the men of the city. 18 Then he said to Zebah and Zalmunna, What kind of men were they whom you killed at Tabor? And they answered, They were like you; each one resembled the children of a king. 19 And he said, They were my brothers, the sons of my mother: as the LORD lives, if you had let them live, I would not kill you.
- If God were not alive, neither would we be.
- Colossians 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist (are held together).
20 And he said to Jether his firstborn, Up, kill them. But the boy did not draw his sword: he was afraid, because he was still a boy. 21 Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, Get up and fall on us: as the man is, so is his strength. So Gideon rose up, and killed Zebah and Zalmunna, and took away the moon-like ornaments that were on their camels’ necks. 22 Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, Rule over us, you, your son, and your grandson also: for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian. 23 And Gideon said to them, I will not rule over you, neither will my son rule over you: the LORD will rule over you.
- Psalm 93:1 The LORD reigns, he is clothed with majesty…
- Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from thedead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
- Colossians 2:10 And you are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power…
24 And Gideon said to them, I would desire a request from you; that every man of you give me the earrings from his plunder. (They had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) 25 And they answered, We will willingly give them. And they spread out a garment, and every man threw in it the earrings from his plunder. 26 The weight of the gold earrings that he requested was 1,700 shekels of gold; beside ornaments, collars, and purple clothing that was on the kings of Midian, and beside the chains that were about their camels’ necks. 27 And Gideon made an ephod from it, and put it in his city, in Ophrah: and all Israel went there whoring after it: this thing became a trap to Gideon, and to his house.
- The ephod was the high priests garment of gold, blue, purple, and scarlet.
- On its shoulders were onyx stones engraved with the names of the tribes of Israel.
- Gideon and all Israel prayed to it as if it were God.
- In Samuel’s day the people trusted the Ark of the Covenant rather than God (1 Samuel 4).
28 Through this Midian was subdued before the children of Israel, so that they no longer lifted up their heads. And the country rested in quietness forty years in the days of Gideon. 29 And Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and dwelt in his own house. 30 And Gideon had seventy sons born from his body: for he had many wives. 31 And his concubine that was in Shechem, she also bore him a son, whose name he called Abimelech. 32 And Gideon the son of Joash died in a good old age, and was buried in the tomb of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abi-ezrites. 33 And as soon as Gideon was dead the children of Israel turned again, and went whoring after Baalim, and made Baal-berith their god. 34 And the children of Israel did not remember the LORD their God, who had delivered them out of the hands of all their enemies on every side: 35 Neither did they show kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, that is, Gideon, according to all the goodness that he had showed to Israel.
- The people of Israel were ungrateful—just like mankind. God’s made man and gives him all things to enjoy and man is ungrateful.
- Psalm 103:2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits: 3Who forgives all your iniquities; who heals all your diseases; 4 Who redeems your life from destruction; who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies; 5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things; so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
- Romans 11:36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
SUMMARY: Judges 7-8
- The LORD excuses the fearful from military service
- He encourages and strengthens military leaders
- His victory is by faith