Have you ever seen an angel of the Lord? I have. In the midst of a season of complete disobedience by the people of Israel, an angel visited me and told me that God was with me.
With me? With my people? If that is so, then why has Jehovah let the Midianites completely ruin us?
The angel called me a “mighty soldier” and said that God would make me strong… Strong enough to defeat them?
“Right,” I sarcastically agreed. “Sir, I am Gideon,” I told him. “I am from the lowest family of the lowest tribe of all of Israel’s sons. And, quite frankly, I am considered the lowest son of the family. How will I defeat the hordes of Midian?”
It was then that I realized that I was not merely talking with an angel of the Lord, but rather, I was speaking with Jehovah directly. He assured me that He would be with me and it would be His strength that would bring about this conquest. How did I know it was God? His presence consumed my offering right before my eyes.
God then gave me my first assignment. I believe He was testing me. He told me to destroy my father’s false idols to Baal and Asherah. I was nervous, to say the least, but I did as the Lord commanded. When the villagers wanted my head the next day, I was surprised that my father came to my rescue, defending my actions. That gave me hope that if I could bring about change in my own family, maybe God was indeed with me.
And yet, I wondered… when I saw the armies of Midian and the neighboring nations gathering, I doubted, for their victory against us appeared to be guaranteed.
And yet, God had promised… so since He had tested me, I decided to test God. I laid a lamb’s fleece out on the threshing floor one night and asked God to allow it to be covered in dew, while the ground around it would remain dry. Sure enough it happened as I had asked. The next morning, I wrung out a whole bowl of water from the lambskin.
And while it was obvious that God had answered me, something in my head thought to test God again, just to be sure it wasn’t merely a coincidence. This time, I asked Him to make the fleece dry and the dust around it, wet. Again, the Lord had patience with me and did as I asked.
Surely, now I knew for certain that nothing was impossible with God.
The battle with the Lord’s army was on, and I was His newly appointed commander!
I put out the call and 32,000 troops of Israel reported for duty to defeat the Midian army. But God knew my heart. He knew that I would brag about my own strength if these men crushed our enemy. So He told me to send home any who were afraid. Two thirds of my men left me.
Again, God challenged my heart and He culled my troops down to a mere 300 fighting men.
God had a plan to ensure our success and His victory.
Later that night, I snuck into the enemy camp. I crawled passed a fire of still glowing embers and overheard one man describe a nightmare he had just had to another. The interpretation of this bad dream? I couldn’t believe my ears as the man’s tent mate said: “This can only mean one thing. Gideon is going to massacre us all!”
With renewed hope, I returned to my 300 men with a battle plan. We surrounded the thousands and thousands of Midianites. There were so many of them we couldn’t begin to count the camels, much less the foot soldiers!
It was just past midnight. I took 100 of our militia men to the outer edge of the Midian camp. There were another hundred of our soldiers on a second hill, and the final hundred on a third knoll overlooking the site. Oh, and the weapons we had with us for this battle? Trumpets and lamps. Yep, we looked more like worshippers than an army. Maybe that was God’s intent?
First, my unit blew our trumpets and broke our clay jars so the light would burst forth into the dark night. The other two units followed our lead and did the same. With trumpets blasting and lights brightly shining and coursing through the smoke of campfires we shouted “For the Lord and for Gideon!” The Midianites were thrown into complete confusion.
Panic ensued. And you wouldn’t believe what happened next. The men of Midian began killing their comrads of Amalek. And they slaughtered each other from one end of the camp to the other while we watched and cheered from the distance. It was pandemonium.
We didn’t do anything really. God did it all. A few hundred men defeated an army of thousands. He was surely with us.
In the days that followed, the generals and leaders and kings were chased down and killed one by one. The Midianites have never recovered. Our land is at peace.
And the men of Israel wanted me to be their king.
No, I could never be their king, nor would my son. The Lord, Jehovah, is our King!
This is the first-person story of Gideon from Judges 6, 7 and 8. It’s applicable as we approach 2014. Are you willing to let God use you in an extraordinary way? To use tools of worship, like trumpets and lights, to defeat the enemy?
Paul says in Romans 8:2 that “the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed us from the vicious circle of sin and death.”
That was the same circle of the children of Israel. They drew close to God, then they began to sin and worship other gods, then they would repent and draw close to God again. In Gideon’s story, it was only when Gideon first destroyed his father’s man-made gods of Baal and Asherah, that began the process at that time of God delivering His people from the Midianites.
And I believe that is what the Holy Spirit helps us do today… He comes along side of us to comfort us, to give us boldness to share the hope of the Gospel message and He helps us destroy the idols of the world that are in our life. And in doing so, it draws us back to Jesus. So let me ask you, what idols do you need help destroying as you enter a New Year?
Just like Gideon routing the thousands of Midianites with just a few soldiers, God will bring tremendous victory to you as well. A victory for you that will bring glory to Him!
+The sermon from which this is a summary is found on iTunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/rich-ronald/id684438601?mt=2