The book of Judges details certain events and individuals in the history of the Israelite people. One of those individuals is the man, Gideon. One of those events is the defeat of the Midianites. For the sake of this article we are going to study primarily from Judges chapters six and seven.
From the very outset of chapter six, God lets us know that the Israelites had ceased from being faithful to Him. “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years” (Jud. 6:1). Unfortunately, this was a recurring theme with Israel. For a period of time they would be faithful, and then they would become unfaithful. Over and over again, God used other nations to punish His people for their disobedience. The Midianites had afflicted Israel to the point that the Israelites were “greatly impoverished” and dwelling in “dens”, “caves”, and “strong holds” (Jud. 6:2, 6). It was during this time of difficulty that an angel appeared before a man named Gideon, the son of Joash the Abiezrite (Jud. 6:11-12). The angel declared unto Gideon, “…The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour” (Jud. 6:12). At first, Gideon was resistant. He even claimed that “…the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites” (Jud. 6:13). It was then that the LORD revealed His plan for Gideon and Israel. “And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites…” (Jud. 6:14). After some hesitance from Gideon, “…the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man” (Jud. 6:16). God’s plan was in full motion.
Shortly after, God revealed to Gideon just how he was going to “save Israel”. At first, “…the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me” (Jud. 7:2). God allowed all who were “fearful and afraid” to leave (Jud. 7:3). Out of thirty-two thousand, twenty-two thousand left. Gideon now had an army of ten thousand. God indicated,
“The people are yet too many…” (Jud. 7:4). This time God’s will was to divide the remaining number into two groups. The LORD said, “Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink” (Jud. 7:5). Only three hundred of them “lapped”, putting “…their hand to their mouth” (Jud. 7:6). It was this small number that were to aid Gideon in defeating the Midianites (Jud. 7:7). This seems to go against the reason of man. Most would want as large an army as possible to attack an enemy. However, a great lesson is to be learned from this. Isaiah the prophet wrote, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8-9). God’s way is always superior to the ways of men! Mankind never has, nor ever will, improve on God’s design. Jesus said, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it” (Matt. 7:24-27).
In regard to Gideon, he and his three hundred men were triumphant over the Midianites. It was not due to them outnumbering their opponents. It was not because they had the latest “super” weapon. It was because they obeyed the will of God, and as such, they were on the LORD’s side. Today, we will be spiritually successful if we are on the side of God. In closing, let us notice what the apostle Paul wrote long ago, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us” (Rom. 8:31)? ~ Corey Barnette
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