When Gideon saw the opposition I’m sure he would have wished to amass the largest army on record; a least a two to one majority. Once he had blown his trumpet and saw the response, I’m equally sure that whilst he was amazed at the number who responded, he was disappointed that there weren’t more.
The enemy had some many camels that they couldn’t be counted so how ever many men were there? Nevertheless, with 32,000 fighting men there was a semblance of an army, which for those times was indeed a miracle. He must have felt some comfort but not totally sure of victory.
I wonder how the Midianites felt. I wonder if they looked across at the Israeli recruits and laughed, thinking that they could destroy the 32,000 in an afternoon. (Or as we say – eat them for breakfast!)
Their mirth and scorn, however, would have turned to incredulity very shortly as God told Gideon to release all those who were afraid to fight – 22,000 returned home. That left Gideon and Israel with an army of just 10,000 men. Hardly enough to make a dent in the gathered enemy throng.
However, God hadn’t finished His work on the Israeli army. He told Gideon to take the remaining 10,000 men to the river for a drink and He would cull some more. 9,700 men got down on their knees and drank vigorously from the water. 300, on the other hand, remained alert and on guard by scooping some water in the cup of their hand, and quenched their thirst that way.
God told Gideon to dispatch the 9,700 and to keep the 300. From 32,000 to 300 in just so short a time. How could 300 stand against the enemy, let alone be ready to attack – it looked desperate and nonsensical. Probably both to Gideon and the Midianites.
I like the way we are told the 300 took over the trumpets and provisions of the 9,700 who were released.
God had yet another trick up His sleeve in order to help Gideon’s faith to grow. God remembered the incident with the fleece and wanted to share something else, which would add confirmation of the victory to come. He told Gideon to take his servant Purah and to go down to the entrance to the enemy’s camp.
On arrival Gideon heard one of the men recounting his dream. A barley bun had rolled down the hill and hit a tent so it collapsed. His friend remarked that it must have been a sign that Gideon and the Israelites were about to win a mighty victory.
On hearing this Gideon ran back to the Israeli Camp and aroused everyone for battle. However, their offensive weapons were somewhat strange. No swords or guns; just a torch, a large pottery jar and a trumpet. They were to divide into 3 groups and spread out. On Gideon’s signal they broke the jars, lifted up their flaming torches and blew their trumpets and then shouted out: “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!”
The Midianites saw the lights and heard the sounds and fled. Many killed each other – a blue on blue is nothing new. A massive Israeli victory ensued with the enemy leaders all killed.
Gideon and his men prepared for battle but the victory was all God’s. He planned it, He orchestrated it and He delivered it. When we are surrounded by threats and challenges, it is a good idea to hand it over to the Lord, seek His face and follow His directions.