Gideon Takes A Stand
Gideon's work to deliver Israel begins in his own family. His father, Joash, had built an altar to Baal and a grove (an Asherah; an image of a Canaanite phallic symbol that was worshiped). God tells Gideon to knock down the alter and grove that Gideon's father, Joash, and the city elders had put up to worship Baal (Judges 6:25-27) and to set up an alter in it's place to worship God and do sacrifices. Gideon did this at night because he feared his father's household and the men of the city. This made the elders so mad that when they found out it was Gideon they called for his life. Then Joash [Gideon's father] recognizes the truth and the one true God and stands up for Gideon. Remember; God had told Gideon he wasn't going to die in verse 23.
:31 And Joash said unto all that stood against him,
[the elders of the city]
Will ye plead for Baal?
will ye save him?
he that will plead for him,
let him be put to death whilst it is yet morning:
if he be a god,
let him plead for himself,
because one hath cast down his altar.
Joash stood up for his son! Gideon's act was extremely controversial, Joash must have been proud of his son to stand up for the truth and believe God. Joash, in effect, tells the elders, "If your god is so great, why doesn't he defend himself?"
Now the one true God is going to deliver Israel!!
:34 But the Spirit of the LORD came upon [Heb.: clothed] Gideon,
and he blew a trumpet;
and Abiezer was gathered after him. [the children of Abiezer, Gideon's relation]
:35 And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh;
who also was gathered after him:
and he sent messengers unto Asher,
and unto Zebulun,
and unto Naphtali;
and they came up to meet them.
:36 And Gideon said unto God,
If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand,
as thou hast said,
:37 Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor;
and if the dew be on the fleece only,
and it be dry upon all the earth beside,
then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said.
:38 And it was so:
for he rose up early on the morrow,
and thrust the fleece together,
and wringed the dew out of the fleece,
a bowl full of water.
There is something we must consider here; Gideon's situation. In his household they were worshipping Baal. Chances are he was not taught about God very frequently. He was not taught to trust in Him and of all the mighty works that God had done for Israel. Gideon needs to be confident that God will do what he said He would, for this is a very weighty matter. Gideon is going to lead an army against the Mideanites. They had 135,000 soldiers in their army (Judges 8:10). Gideon had only been able to round up 32,000 men (chptr. 7:3). The odds are 18:7 in favor of the Mideanites.
God is patient.
:39 And Gideon said unto God,
Let not thine anger be hot against me,
and I will speak but this once:
let me prove, I pray thee,
but this once with the fleece;
let it now be dry only upon the fleece,
and upon all the ground let there be dew.
:40 And God did so that night:
for it was dry upon the fleece only,
and there was dew on all the ground.
Let's see what else God does for him.
:1 Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon,
and all the people that were with him,
rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod:
so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them,
by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.
: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,
[What?!? You're kidding right?]
lest Israel vaunt themselves against me,
saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.
:3 Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying,
Whosoever is fearful and afraid,
let him return and depart early from mount Gilead.
And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand ;
and there remained ten thousand .
Now everyman will have to slay, capture or otherwise neutralize 135 men, without God I just don't see that happening. The odds are much steeper: 135:1, but God isn't done yet, He wants people who will believe.
:4 And the LORD said
The people are yet too many;
bring them down unto the water,
and I will try them for thee there:
and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee,
This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee;
and of whomsoever I say unto thee,
This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.
:5 So he brought down the people unto the water:
and the LORD said unto Gideon,
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.
:6 And the number of them that lapped,
putting their hand to their mouth,
were three hundred men :
all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water.
:7 And the LORD said unto Gideon,
By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you,
and deliver the Midianites into thine hand:
and let all the other people go every man unto his place.
Those who assumed the position of worshipping idols to drink of the water with their head bowed to the ground were 9700 (it is hard to break habits). God wanted only believers those who haven't bowed themselves to idols. The odds are now 450:1, they will see the deliverance by believing in God and His promises .
:8 So the people took victuals in their hand, and their trumpets:
and he sent all the rest of Israel every man unto his tent,
and retained those three hundred men:
and the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley.
:9 And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him,
Arise, get thee down unto the host;
for I have delivered it into thine hand.
:10 But if thou fear to go down,
go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host:
:11 And thou shalt hear what they say;
and afterward shall thine hands be strengthened to go down unto the host.
Then went he down with Phurah his servant
unto the outside of the armed men that were in the host.
:12 And the Midianites
and the Amalekites
and all the children of the east
lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude ;
and their camels were without number,
as the sand by the sea side for multitude.
Five senses wise the enemy was awesome, they spread out before them covering a great deal of land, 135,000 soldiers, their tents and camels. Remember, Gideon's army is only 300 men. They have no choice but to believe God. God is working with Gideon to strengthen his confidence, his faith in Him. Watch what God does for Gideon.
:13 And when Gideon was come,
behold, there was a man that told a dream unto his fellow, and said,
Behold, I dreamed a dream,
and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian,
and came unto a tent,
and smote it that it fell,
and overturned it, that the tent lay along.
:14 And his fellow answered and said,
This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash,
a man of Israel:
for into his hand hath God delivered Midian,
and all the host.
YES! WAY TO GO! ALL RIGHT!
:15 And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream,
and the interpretation thereof,
that he worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said,
Arise; for the LORD hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian.
:16.And he divided the three hundred men into three companies,
and he put a trumpet in every man's hand, with empty pitchers,
and lamps within the pitchers.
:17 And he said unto them,
Look on me, and do likewise:
and, behold, when I come to the outside of the camp,
it shall be that, as I do, so shall ye do.
:18 When I blow with a trumpet,
I and all that are with me,
then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp,
and say, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon.
They are going up against a great multitude, three nations worth of armies. This is a stupid military move.
I Corinthians 1
:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise;
and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
:19 So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him,
came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch;
and they had but newly set the watch:
and they blew the trumpets,
and brake the pitchers that were in their hands.
:20 And the three companies blew the trumpets,
and brake the pitchers,
and held the lamps in their left hands,
and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal:
and they cried,
The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon.
:21 And they stood every man in his place round about the camp:
and all the host ran, and cried, and fled .
:22 And the three hundred blew the trumpets,
and the LORD set every man's sword against his fellow ,
even throughout all the host:
and the host fled to Bethshittah in Zererath,
and to the border of Abelmeholah, unto Tabbath.
:23 And the men of Israel gathered themselves together out of Naphtali,
and out of Asher,
and out of all Manasseh,
and pursued after the Midianites.
This must have been a frightful site for the Mideanites! They are sleeping, probably a bit uneasily, right before a major battle and in the darkness of night their whole army is surrounded by what appears to be legions of armies. As far as they knew each lamp and horn blower represented 100's to 1,000' of soldiers. In their fear and confusion they started killing each other. Remember, this army is made up of soldiers from three different kingdoms, three different kinds of people and under the starry night it must have been hard to tell who was friend or foe.
So, what happened to the ....like grasshoppers for multitude ? See God's heart on the matter. 22,000 people had excuses, it's easy not to walk with God when you are fearful and afraid. But God had told Gideon that he was going to succeed. God tells us we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37).
God brought great deliverance to the people because 300 men believed the promises of God, it started with one man , Gideon, who took a stand for God against the religious error of the day.