We’ve been going through the story of Gideon, and finally we come to the end. Last week we saw Gideon falter yet again, but God revealed Himself through both His patience with Gideon as well as His sovereignty through the dream of the enemy. Finally, Gideon believes that Israel will have the victory – even with only the 300 men – and raises the call to battle. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover today, so let’s just jump right in and finally see how God gives Israel the victory beginning in Judges 7:15-25 ESV:
15 As soon as Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped. And he returned to the camp of Israel and said, “Arise, for the Lord has given the host of Midian into your hand.” 16 And he divided the 300 men into three companies and put trumpets into the hands of all of them and empty jars, with torches inside the jars. 17 And he said to them, “Look at me, and do likewise. When I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do. 18 When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then blow the trumpets also on every side of all the camp and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.’”
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 set the watch. And they blew the trumpets and smashed the jars that were in their hands. 20 Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the jars. They held in their left hands the torches, and in their right hands the trumpets to blow. And they cried out, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” 21 Every man stood in his place around the camp, and all the army ran. They cried out and fled. 22 When they blew the 300 trumpets, the Lord set every man’s sword against his comrade and against all the army. And the army fled as far as Beth-shittah toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel-meholah, by Tabbath. 23 And the men of Israel were called out from Naphtali and from Asher and from all Manasseh, and they pursued after Midian.
24 Gideon sent messengers throughout all the hill country of Ephraim, saying, “Come down against the Midianites and capture the waters against them, as far as Beth-barah, and also the Jordan.” So all the men of Ephraim were called out, and they captured the waters as far as Beth-barah, and also the Jordan. 25 And they captured the two princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb. They killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and Zeeb they killed at the winepress of Zeeb. Then they pursued Midian, and they brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon across the Jordan.
As we look at this portion, there are a couple of key things that we can learn about how to approach battles in our own lives. The first thing Gideon did was get on his knees and worship God. Anytime we face a battle in our lives – maybe it’s the battle of addiction, maybe it’s the battle of temptation, maybe it’s the battle of unforgiveness, maybe it’s a battle completely out of your control, like sickness or a mission God has given you; whatever battle you face – you absolutely must start it on your knees in prayer to God. Paul puts it this way in Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” If something gives you any amount of anxiety or fear, it is a battle, and one that isn’t your job to win. Give it to God and rely on Him to carry you into victory.
After Gideon prays, he goes to the camp and says in v15, “Arise, for the LORD has given the host of Midian into your hand.” The second thing Gideon shows us is to approach the battle from a stance of victory. 1 John 5:4 says, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” God has already overcome the world through the death and resurrection of Jesus; we are heirs of this victory, as children of God. Approach every battle knowing that God has already overcome it, and do what He asks of you, knowing that He has already given the victory into your hands.
Then in v19, we are told that Gideon and the men waited until the beginning of the middle watch to begin their attack. The middle watch was in the middle of the night, would typically start around midnight. So the men beginning the watch would have just woken up, been groggy from little sleep and having to get up in the middle of the night, and probably a bit slow and confused. Waiting until the beginning of this middle shift, maximized the fear and confusion God used to turn the enemy on themselves. So, the third thing we must know, is to approach battle at the right time. So often, we want to jump in and achieve our goal immediately, when God so many times tells us to wait. David tells us repeatedly in the Psalms to wait on the LORD; Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”
God has a perfect time for each goal He gives you. I prayed for 6 years about what God wanted me to do with my life; during that time I graduated college with a bachelor’s degree and began a great career in fitness/sports training and gym management. But the whole time I was working in the fitness and athletics field, I knew that was not where God ultimately wanted me to be – there was a disquiet in my soul, a restlessness, and a knowing that there was more to my life than what I was doing. But God gave me no direction, no hint at what He wanted me to do. After 6 years of praying and waiting, I was driving down the road on my way to work, praying when I audibly heard God say, “Go to seminary.” I was so shocked and moved, I pulled over to the side of the road and may have cried a bit, I praised Him and asked for guidance. That I day I did research, found 2 seminary programs and began the application process. Within a month, I had been accepted to Asbury Seminary for their master’s program, and was registered to begin classes the next month. There are times when God asks for you to wait – and you may have to wait a very long time. But during that time, He is preparing you for the task He will give you. He knew when I began praying, 6 years prior, I was in no way spiritually ready to go to Seminary. It would have been a disaster. He used those 6 years to refine me and prepare me so that when He said, “Go,” I would be ready and excited to start. Many times He is preparing you to go forward during the times of waiting, so that the moment He tells you to “go,” you are able and willing to go without question or delay. So enjoy the time of waiting and be ready to go when God says it is the right time.
The last thing we can learn from Gideon is to take the right weapons into battle. God told Gideon that He would give them the victory so every person in Israel would know that God fought so they didn’t have to. Therefore, they did not surround the camp with swords and bow and arrows; they surrounded it with trumpets, jars, and torches. And God used the great noise and the fire from the torches to confuse the enemy so that they turned on each other and killed each other, without Gideon’s army having to fight a single one. Ephesians 6:14-18 tells us every weapon we will ever need for every battle we will ever face: 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.
We have to know the truth of God, the truth of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the truth of the gospel. If you don’t know that to the bottom of your soul, you have already lost. You have to live righteously; as we talked about the first week – when you live righteously, you avoid so much pain and suffering, so many consequences that could have life-long effects. Living righteously is the best protection you can have when facing any battle. You have to wear shoes of readiness that comes from the peace of the gospel; God’s peace allows you to be ready for whatever comes your way in life – it allows you face each battle with security and victory because you know that you will come out of it with the same peace you carry into it. And faith is the greatest defense you can have against every scheme of Satan; it is your first line of defense, which neutralizes even the worst that the devil can throw at you. The helmet is salvation; because unless you protect your mind with knowing you are saved, you will be completely neutralized in the spiritual battle. If you are constantly questioning whether you are saved, if you constantly live in the shame and guilt of the past, you will never be effective in the battle. You will never fulfill God’s plan for your life because you can’t get yourself past the shame of your former self. You have to put on the helmet of salvation and never again question it. And take up your one and only offensive weapon, the sword of the Spirit, the word of God. You have to be in the Scriptures and you have to know it, write it on your heart. Every victory is won through the truths held in the Word of God – how can you wield your offensive weapon if you don’t even know what it is? Get in the Word and know it. Lastly, pray at all times with supplication and perseverance. These are your weapons; if you want a chance at victory in every battle that comes your way through life – you absolutely must take up the armor of God and strive at all times to keep them strong. It takes work, and it takes practice. The more you practice, the more protected you are and the easier the battle becomes. Approach battle with the right weapons; it is the only way you will come through victorious.
Today is the last day we see Gideon as a victorious hero. In the last portion of the Gideon series, we will watch as Gideon believes the hype about himself and forgets the One who gave the victory in his search for self-glorification. Although it is so sad and discouraging to see the man who fought and finally won such a hard battle of his faith fall into the pit of self-glorification, God is setting us up to see that no person is worthy of our trust and faith other than the One, true Savior – Jesus Christ, our Lord. Today, however, we get to rejoice in the victory God has finally given Israel over her enemies through the judge, Gideon. Rejoice, because we can know that God has already given us the victory as well! And, even better, we are able to trust our leader fully, because He is infallible. Praise you, Jesus, that you are Worthy!!! In your glorious name, Amen.