SanLo Community, an update for the week of September 30, 2018…
Thank you Pastor Rod for the message from Judges 7:1-22, “The Art of Fighting Without Fighting.” This passage reflects the Bruce Lee philosophy of “fighting without fighting,” from a line from the 1973 movie, Enter the Dragon, but in this case putting full confidence in God. The Canaanites, Moabites, Ammonites, Philistines, Midianites and Amalekites amassed a 135,000 man army. They terrorized Israel for seven years, destroying their crops and chased them into dens and caves. Out of this, Gideon of Manasseh, who was from one of the lesser tribes of Israel and least of the families in the tribe, God chose to demonstrate His power. 1 Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the people who were with him, rose early and camped beside the spring of Harod; and the camp of Midian was on the north side of them by the hill of Moreh in the valley. The name, Jerubbaal, meant enemy of Baal. The Midianites and Amalekites camped in the Jezreel Valley, Israel was just four miles to the south but were virtually ignored by the Midianites and Amalekites as their numbers were only 32,000 by comparison. What was God’s math for victory? - Midianite math.
Subtraction (vv.2-8) 2 The Lord said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me.’ Too many? Reduced from 135K to 32K? God did not want them to become boastful – taking credit for themselves. 3 Now therefore come, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is afraid and trembling, let him return and depart from Mount Gilead.’” So 22,000 people returned, but 10,000 remained. – another reduction of men from 32K to 10K! Deuteronomy 20:8 remove the cowardly – this was a typical procedure that had been done before. God can do with as large or as small an army just as He can do with the most or least talented. The odds are now 13 to 1. God gives the victory, God is the victory. 4 Then 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. Therefore it shall be that he of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go with you; but everyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.” God goes from too many to still too many. 5 So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “You shall separate everyone who laps the water with his tongue as a dog laps, as well as everyone who kneels to drink.” 6 Now the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was 300 men; but all the rest of the people kneeled to drink water. – This is the strangest way to measure - laps the water with his tongue as a dog laps 7 The Lord said to Gideon, “I will deliver you with the 300 men who lapped and will give the Midianites into your hands; so let all the other people go, each man to his home.” God gives the promise of victory before sending home 9,700 more. Now they are down to 300 but the victory would be totally God’s as it is not necessary to have best and it did not matter if they were battle tested or aware. 8 So the 300 men took the people’s provisions and their trumpets into their hands. And Gideon sent all the other men of Israel, each to his tent, but retained the 300 men; and the camp of Midian was below him in the valley. Each gets a trumpet of ram or cattle horn. Gideon retained the 300. Were these 300 afraid? Do we become fearful when in difficult or impossible situations? God gives the victory, God is the victory.
Addition (vv.9-14) 9 Now the same night it came about that the Lord said to him, “Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hands. God again tells Gideon that their victory is given. He has fears, he is weak. 10 But if you are afraid to go down, go with Purah your servant down to the camp, 11 and you will hear what they say; and afterward your hands will be strengthened that you may go down against the camp.” God says if you are afraid, take your servant or armor bearer so you won’t be alone. Is Gideon’s fear wrong? So he went with Purah his servant down to the outposts of the army that was in the camp. 12 Now the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the sons of the east were lying in the valley as numerous as locusts; and their camels were without number, as numerous as the sand on the seashore. The Midianites and Amalekites invaded as nomads with their wives, children, and livestock. God reassures Gideon again. 13 When Gideon came, behold, a man was relating a dream to his friend. And he said, “Behold, I had a dream; a loaf of barley bread was tumbling into the camp of Midian, and it came to the tent and struck it so that it fell, and turned it upside down so that the tent lay flat.” 14 His friend replied, “This is nothing less than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given Midian and all the camp into his hand.” A Midianite soldier relates his dream to another soldier who interprets it. Dreams in the ancient world were regarded as divine communication. Barley bread was food of the poor – perhaps all that Israel ate. Tumbling into the camp of Midian - overturning, used of swords. it came to the tent – general or commander. turned it upside down and knocked flat. God gives the victory, God is the victory.
Division (vv.15-18) 15 When Gideon heard the account of the dream and its interpretation, he bowed in worship. He returned to the camp of Israel and said, “Arise, for the Lord has given the camp of Midian into your hands.” 16 He divided the 300 men into three companies, and he put trumpets and empty pitchers into the hands of all of them, with torches inside the pitchers. Interestingly, Gideon is more confident in the enemy’s dream than God’s assurance. Torches inside the pitchers – the pitchers protected from wind and concealed them from the enemy. 17 He said to them, “Look at me and do likewise. And behold, when I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do. He does not give them written instruction, but shows them. do likewise…. do as I do. A great example for us about being a role model by teaching through discipleship, “imitate me as I imitate Christ.” 18 When I and all who are with me blow the trumpet, then you also blow the trumpets all around the camp and say, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.’”
Multiplication (vv.19-22) 19 So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outskirts of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, when they had just posted the watch; they blew the trumpets and smashed the pitchers that were in their hands. 20 When the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers, they held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands for blowing, and cried, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” Trumpets… torches… pitchers… cried out. God’s victory… and Gideon includes himself. 21 Each stood in his place around the camp; and all the army ran, crying out as they fled. 22 When they blew 300 trumpets, the Lord set the sword of one against another even throughout the whole army; and the army fled… Israel held their position, they did not have to even enter the enemy camp. In the suddenness of the sights and sounds of the trumpets and breaking pitchers, a panic came over the Midianites and the Amalekites who fled. In the darkness, there was much confusion as they tried to escape, saving valuables from fire and ended up fighting one another. God gives the victory, God is the victory.
Thank you Ben Wu, for sharing a Children’s Message on the same passage, in Judges, while asking the question, have you ever been asked to do an impossible thing? We are not able to do these things on our own, but God wants us to ask Him to help us so what we accomplish, it is God who receives the honor and praise.