INTERESTING FACTS : "Do you wish to find out the really sublime? Repeat the Lord's Prayer." --NAPOLEON
DAILY READING : JUDGES 6 - 7
TEXT : JDG 7:2 AND 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.
THEME : POWER OF GOD
As we continue through the Book of Judges, we come upon Gideon, considered by some to be the greatest of all the Judges of Israel. Called by an angel [Jdg_6:11; Jdg_6:14] he doubts the designation given him as a "mighty man of valor." No doubt, he had already distinguished himself as a warrior [his name means "he that cuts down"] but offers excuses as to why he could not or was reluctant to be used of God to deliver Israel [Jdg_6:15].
Still, the Lord promises to be with Him, and the angel works a miracle to confirm the Lord's presence and the Word of God to him. Gideon rises up to destroy the altar of Baal - a bold move, since this is the god of his people, and he builds an altar to Israel's God - Jehovah [Jdg_6:25-27]. Still, he needs additional confirmation that God is going to be with him and deliver Israel from the Midianites, so he decides to ask for a sign. He first asks the fleece to be wet and the ground to be dry, then asks for the fleece to be dry and the ground to be wet. On both occasions, it was as he asked. By this, Gideon was assured God had spoken to him.
It is also where we get the expression "putting a fleece before the Lord" in Christian circles. With this, we must come to know that God does not ordinarily give signs - such as Gideon had with his fleece - so easily. Many Christians use this idea of "fleecing" unwisely. Signs in the Bible are given in extraordinary circumstances and are not the norm. In fact, Jesus condemned the Pharisees because they asked for a sign. For us, we must know the principles of God's Word in the Bible, and not rely on the unique circumstance in Gideon's life.
He finally leads a small army that God reduces from 32,000 men to 300, and defeats the Midianites [Jdg_6:33-35; Jdg 7; Jdg_8:4-12]. In this, we see once again the desire of God to prove to His people that He alone is sufficient for their needs. He will do this with you and I as well. God will allow us at times to have nothing or no one to turn to or rely on but Him. Yet, if we believe and refuse to doubt, we shall have good success as Gideon did. God wants to show Himself strong to His people. Indeed, He IS sufficient!
After this victory, Gideon reproaches the Ephraimites for not joining in the campaign against the Midianites, and avenges himself upon the people of Succoth who would not help him in his time of need. In the end, Israel desires to make him king, but he refuses. He tells Israel the Lord is their king. This exhortation would last only so long though until the day came the selected a king having rejected the Lordship of God Himself.
Gideon also makes an ephod that Israel turns into an idol and it becomes a "snare" to them in their walk with the Lord [Jdg_8:24-27]. We read that Gideon had seventy sons, and after his death, the people did not treat his memory or his descendants with the type of respect and honor Gideon deserved. God had used him mightily, yet the people whom Gideon had delivered had no regard for his service to Israel [Jdg_8:30]. Still, Gideon is such a great man of faith that He is written down in the "Hebrews Hall of Faith" [Heb_11:32].
TRUTH FOR TODAY : GOD'S GRACE NOT OUR WORKS!
In the text above - Judges 7:2, God tells Gideon the 32,000 men he has is too many for Him to work with. Even though this number is only 1/6th of the Midianite army, God is looking to work in such a way that there will be no doubt Who gave Israel the victory. Even with only 1/6th of the size of their enemies, Israel would have been tempted to believe they obtained victory in war on their own. After all, we are reading in the Book of Judges how easily Israel forgets God and goes astray. Therefore, it is reasonable to see why God would reduce the number of the army to 300, so there could be no doubt - the defeat of the Midianites was the Hand of God and none else.
Although Israel is outnumbered many times in the Bible, still, Israel wins battle after battle because the Lord is fighting for them. However, this is the only time God "purposely" reduc es their numbers. Again, this was to leave no doubt God does not need Man to do His work. Matthew Henry gives us insight into this phenomenon.
"The army consisted of 32,000 men, a small army in comparison with what the Midianites had now brought into the field; Gideon was ready to think them too few, but God comes to him, and tells him they are too many, Jdg_7:2. Not but that those did well who offered themselves willingly to this expedition, but God saw fit not to make use of all that came. We often find God bringing great things to pass by a few hands, but this was the only time that he purposely made them fewer. Had Deborah lately blamed those who came not to the help of the Lord, and yet in the next great action must those be turned off that do come? Yes; (1.) God would hereby show that when he employed suitable instruments in his service he did not need them, but could do his work without them, so that he was not indebted to them for their service, but they to him for employing them. (2.) He would hereby put those to shame for their cowardice who had tamely submitted to the Midianites, and durst not make head against them, because of the disproportion of their numbers. They now saw that, if they had but made sure of the favour of God, one of them might have chased a thousand. (3.) He would hereby silence and exclude boasting. This is the reason here given by him who knows the pride that is in men's hearts: Lest Israel vaunt themselves against me. Justly were those denied the honour of the success. My own hand hath saved me is a word that must never come out of the mouth of such as shall be saved. He that glories must glory in the Lord, and all flesh must be silent before him."
God will not share His glory with anyone. Thus, the Scripture states no flesh will glory in His presence. For us, our salvation in receiving the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ is evidence of God's m ercy and power. There is nothing for us to say except - "Thank You!" We will make Heaven because God will make sure we get there. Still, in the end, we will know it was the power of God and not of the preacher, the Church counsel, the Christian denomination, the missions' board or the missionary. Salvation is of the Lord, and no flesh will glory in His presence!
"But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." [Eph 2:4 - 10]