Gideon And His Army
Israel had peace for 40 years (5:31). But the new generation sinned like their fathers-and this time the Lord let the Midianites enslave Israel for seven years.
Then God raised up Gideon to be the deliverer. The Word of Gods says, “But the spirit of the Lord came upon (clothed-literally) Gideon” (6:34). The Holy Spirit came on Gideon like the clothes he wore. Then Gideon was empowered and he blew the trumpet and went out to battle. 32,000 men came out to fight along with him. But the Lord said the people were too many (7:2). God didn't want all of them, because they were not wholehearted. So Gideon told all those who were afraid to go home.
That's what the Lord says to us too: “Are you afraid of the devil? Then go home. Are you afraid that somebody will call you 'Beelzebul', 'heretic', or 'false prophet'? Then go home. Don't waste your time serving the Lord.”
22,000 men went home that day. 10,000 were still left (7:3). God said that the people were still too many. They too were not wholehearted. Most of them were seeking their own and had to be removed. “And the Lord said to Gideon 'The people are still too many, bring them to the waters, and there I will try them' (verse 4). When they came to the water, most of them forgot all about the enemy and buried their heads in the water and began to drink. Many Christians are like that. When they see the attractive things of the world, they forget all about the Lord and His battles and bury their heads in covetous pursuit of wealth. 9,700 of Gideon's soldiers were disqualified that day.
There were only 300 left. Theses men, when they came to the water remained alert looking out for the enemy, gathered just enough water with their hands to quench their immediate thirst. These typify those believers who use money and material things, but are not taken up with it. They work at their jobs faithfully to earn their living, but spend the rest of their time doing what they can for the Lord. God says, “those are the people I want.” And there were only 300 left in that army that day- less than 1% of the original 32,000. The percentage is always small, because the way to life is narrow and few find it. Only 2 out of 600,000- Joshua and Caleb- made it to the promise land. But the Lord is happy with those few.
In 7:16, we read that Gideon divided his army into three companies of 100 men each. Each man carried a trumpet and a pitcher with a light inside. They broke the pitcher so that the light showed and then they blew their trumpets. This is a picture of how our life and ministry should be. We are all earthen pitchers but “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency may be of the power of God, and not of us.” (2 Corinthians 4:6-7). But this earthen vessel has to be broken through many trials- “the dying of Jesus.”- before the light can be seen by others (2 Corinthians 4:7-11). Otherwise, the light will be forever hidden within us. When he wrote that, Paul was thinking of Gideon's army carrying earthen vessels with a light inside which became visible only when the pitchers were broken. God seeks to break us through many circumstances, so that the light of the life of Christ within us shines forth. Blowing the trumpet is a picture of our proclaiming the glory of the Lord and His Word unashamedly. God is looking for men and women like that today.
Earlier, before Gideon went to this battle, the Lord had told him, "If you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant. And you shall hear what they say, and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp." (7:10-11). And when Gideon went down there, he heard that they were all scared of us too-if we are true disciples. So let us call his bluff, whenever he tries to frighten us.
But even Gideon did not endure in faithfulness to the Lord. This is the sad story of many who started well – both under the old covenant and today as well. The Israelites wanted Gideon to rule over them and he said, “And all the men of Israel said to Gideon: Rule thou over us and thy son, and thy son's son: because thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian. And he said to them: I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you, but the Lord shall rule over you.” (8:22-23). That sounds so spiritual. But listen to what he said in the very next sentence. He said, “Give me the earrings of your spoils. (8:24) And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was 1,700 shekels of gold, besides the crescent ornaments and the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian, and besides the collars that were around the necks of their camels (8:26). Gideon became a multi-millionaire in a single day – just like many preachers who become millionaires by collecting tithes and offerings from their flock and taking it all home!. Gideon used some of the gold also make an ephod that became an idol that Israel worshiped (8:27).
Thus, this great man backslid.
It is the way a man ends his life that matters and not the way he begins it.
The prize in every race is for those who finish well and not for those who started well (I Corinthians 9:24). we are commanded to “consider how people ended their lives (Hebrews 13:7). Many a man has backslid like Gideon, and ended his life running after money and property. With the anointing lost, they spend their last days collecting gold and earrings for their children! Let me say to those of you who have started well:
Learn a lesson from Gideon, and from these other men, lest the same thing happen to you. You cannot serve God and money. What a blessed contrast we see in people like Samuel who could say at the end of his life, “Speak of me before the Lord, and before his anointed, whether I have taken any man's ox, or ass: If I have wronged any man, if I have oppressed any man, if I have taken a bribe at any man's hand: and I will despise it this day, and will restore it to you.” (I Samuel 12:3). Like him, Paul could also say at the end of his life, “I have coveted no ones silver or gold or clothes... nor did w eat anyone's bread without paying for it... We took advantage of no-one” (Acts 20:33; 2 Thessalonians 3:8; 2 Corinthians 7:2). What a testimony for a preacher! Follow the example of men like Samuel and Paul.
After that, in Judges, we read of other leaders - Abimelech, Tola, Jair, Jephthat, Ibzon, Elon and Abdon.
Jephthah was one who kept his word and offered his daughter to God so that she remained unmarried throughout her life, because her father made a vow to God (11:35).