Battleground Earth 11: Gideon Part 3 - David Mitts
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Last chapter, we looked at the tearing down by Gideon of the altar of Baal Peor and the Asherah pole, the idols of the Midianites. This was a declaration of war in the heavenlies against the attempts to appease the gods of the enemies of God and the Israelites.
The response is immediate:
33Then all the Midianites and Amalekites, the people of the East, gathered together; and they crossed over and encamped in the Valley of Jezreel. (Judges 6:33 (NKJV)
When the gauntlet is thrown by Gideon, by destroying the altar of Baal Peor and the Asherah pole, The followers are threatened at an existential level. This is hard for us to understand in our era of dissolving national identities. The closest thing we have to the heart attitudes of those who worship and an idol is our modern-day racial identities. Stronger than skin color as an identifier was idol worship if you can imagine that. To deface an idol was to blaspheme the god of that idol which in turn blasphemed the people of the god.
Gideon’s destruction of Baal Peor and the Asherah pole was as deep a challenge as you could get. Now there would be a battle of the gods, Yahweh versus Baal Peor. We know this by the next verse:
34But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon; then he blew the trumpet, and the Abiezrites gathered behind him. 35And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh, who also gathered behind him. He also sent messengers to Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali; and they came up to meet them. (Judges 6:34-35 (NKJV))
The Spirit of the Lord comes upon Gideon, which is the anointing. Gideon sounds the shofar as a battle cry. The shofar is the symbol of God’s provision when Isaac, the son of promise was to be sacrificed, and in His stead, the ram was sacrificed. The ram’s horn, the shofar is the declaration of the covenant of the Lord and ultimately is the battle sound of the return of the conquering Lamb of God. (1Cor 15:52).
With all of this, Gideon still has to deal with his own fears. He has a personal prayer encounter with God:
36So Gideon said to God, “If You will save Israel by my hand as You have said— 37“look, I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that You will save Israel by my hand, as You have said.” 38And it was so. When he rose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece together, he wrung the dew out of the fleece, a bowlful of water. 39Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me, but let me speak just once more: Let me test, I pray, just once more with the fleece; let it now be dry only on the fleece, but on all the ground let there be dew.” 40And God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only, but there was dew on all the ground. (Judges 6:36-40 (NKJV))
Many of us need confirmation from the Lord. This is not a lack of faith in Gideon’s case as many might perceive it, but a strategic confirmation. Had it been perceived as a lack of faith, God would not have profited Gideon’s efforts.
1Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. 3For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said:
“So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest,’”
although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. (Hebrews 4:1-3 (NKJV))
If this is not a lack of faith, what is it? What is Gideon trying to accomplish? I think a possible answer might be in the statement Gideon makes to God, “If You will save Israel by my hand as You have said”. He isn’t doubting that God has said it. No, He is developing and understanding of how that works. The works are finished before the foundation of the world, according to Hebrews 4. This means that they are foundational to how the world works. Gideon has already believed that God is for him. What he doesn’t yet know is how this will work with the natural circumstances of an overwhelming majority numerically of the Midianites and their allies. In the natural, it is impossible.
So Gideon tests God’s grace. Grace violates natural law. It is the realm of the miraculous. Gideon uses a simple principle, water is wet. He puts a dry fleece of dry ground and God makes it wet. That can still be explained by the fleece, a natural fiber and maybe it attracted the water in the dew somehow. But then Gideon goes one step further, the ground is wet, and the fleece alone is dry a true grace miracle. Now He is confident that God will treat Israel, as the fleece different than the world around them, represented by the Midianites and their horde.
The laws of nature and warfare will be different for Israel than they will be for the world around them. They will truly be in the world but NOT OF the world.
16“They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18“As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19“And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. (John 17:16-19 (NKJV))
Now Gideon is ready, but God is not through with preparing Gideon. He wants to not just win a battle but win the hearts of His people! So, He deals with their hearts:
2And the LORD said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ 3“Now therefore, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him turn and depart at once from Mount Gilead.’” And twenty-two thousand of the people returned, and ten thousand remained. (Judges 7:2-3 (NKJV))
God reduces the number by 2/3 by dealing with the issue of fear. Twenty-two thousand depart.
Ten-thousand remain. Yet this is not a sufficient reduction for God. He is about to do something so supernatural that there will be no questions remaining about who He is.
4But 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. Then it will be, that of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ the same shall go with you; and of whomever I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ the same shall not go.” 5So he brought the people down to the water. And the LORD said to Gideon, “Everyone who laps from the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set apart by himself; likewise everyone who gets down on his knees to drink.” 6And the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was three hundred men; but all the rest of the people got down on their knees to drink water. 7Then the LORD said to Gideon, “By the three hundred men who lapped I will save you, and deliver the Midianites into your hand. Let all the other people go, every man to his place.” 8So the people took provisions and their trumpets in their hands. And he sent away all the rest of Israel, every man to his tent, and retained those three hundred men. Now the camp of Midian was below him in the valley. (Judges 7:4-8 (NKJV))
Many commentators try to make something out of how the men drank the water. I don’t think that is the issue here. All that matters is that God made a separation and selected a number, 300. Now 300 against the armies of Midian is an impossibility. The battle of the Lord is NOT about what is possible but what God will do!
God knows that Gideon still needs and encouragement to act as His vessel. Let’s read on:
10“But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant, 11“and you shall hear what they say; and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp.” Then he went down with Purah his servant to the outpost of the armed men who were in the camp. 12Now the Midianites and Amalekites, all the people of the East, were lying in the valley as numerous as locusts; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the seashore in multitude. 13And when Gideon had come, there was a man telling a dream to his companion. He said, “I have had a dream: To my surprise, a loaf of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian; it came to a tent and struck it so that it fell and overturned, and the tent collapsed.” 14Then his companion answered and said, “This is nothing else but the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel! Into his hand God has delivered Midian and the whole camp.” (Judges 7:10-14 (NKJV))
This is how you want a battle to start. When your enemy has a dream which they interpret as you defeat them, you have already won the war in the heart realm.