The moment we have all been waiting for has finally arrived! The moment Gideon’s name is forever cemented as a warrior of the one, true God! It’s a pretty enthralling moment to see the hero finally come to form. It’s the peak of his origin story and a moment that will have a rippling effect not only throughout the surrounding lands, but throughout history. Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s check out the text for this week starting in verse 19 of Chapter 7:
“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 posted the watch; and they blew the trumpets and smashed the pitchers that were in their hands. When the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers, they held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands for blowing, and cried, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” Each stood in his place around the camp; and all the army ran, crying out as they fled. When they blew 300 trumpets, the LORD set the sword of one against another even throughout the whole army; and the army fled as far as Beth-shittah toward Zererah, as far as the edge of Abel-meholah, by Tabbath.” (NASB Judges 7:19-22)
After reading the text for today, there is such a uniqueness to how God does things versus how we do things. I mean, just imagine being a soldier in Gideon’s army hearing your orders on how to take out the opposing enemy army. “You want me to blow this trumpet as loud as I can, smash this pitcher as loud as I can, then take my torch and trumpet to make more noise as loud as I can, so that we can defeat our enemies? What is this Gideon? Some type of joke?” That’s what I would be thinking, but it’s actually a genius plan for multiple reasons.
For starters, it completely points to how great God is. I mean, who else could “set the sword of one against the other” besides God? It speaks volumes as to how powerful God truly is and what He is capable of doing. It shows how God can use anything to accomplish His ultimate will in life, whether with or without our participation. Even if that participation is so small like doing what Gideon’s army did and playing Nickelback’s greatest hits live. I mean, clashing and smashing stuff.
Secondly, God’s plan kills pride. Think about it. How could Gideon or anyone of his soldiers take pride in the way this battle played out? They had two options: if they lost, then they were humbled by the might of men. If they won, they were humbled by the grace of God. Which of course they did win and were praising God in humility. God’s ways are always higher above our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). Hence, we are always humbled by His great works in our lives.
Lastly, this plan made it loud and clear who defeated the Midianites: the God of Israel. The Hebrew 300 literally shouted “For the LORD and for Gideon” before the Midianite soldiers unintentionally killed each other in the confusion of it all. It was their anthem of triumph over their enemies as God made them His footstool. It was a declaration on both Gideon and God’s part: let my people go. And let go the Midianites did, as a matter of fact they fled in fear. Talk about a reversal!
The battle took place during “the beginning of the middle watch” and middle watch is from 12am to 4am. So around that time frame, Gideon’s men attacked the enemy camp and awoke them in their sleep as they bellowed downward from the hills those deafening noises as they were instructed. The enemy army fleeing to “Beth-shittah toward Zererah” with some going even farther to “the edge of Abel-meholah, by Tabbath.” This was not a good day for the Midianites or anyone opposing Israel for that matter. They just showed how a couple kids from band class missing a couple keys can take out an entire army under God’s guidance. Things will never be the same from this pivotal point onward.
This moment in history is what has made Gideon such a popular figure of reverence in military history, since this great battle. In the 12th-century Prefatio de Almeria, the author describes a Count Ponce de Cabrera as
“the leader of the troops of Extremadura, is said to have possessed the strength of Samson and the sword of Gideon and he is compared to Jonathan. He was a leader of the stature of Hector, strong and truthful like the invincible Ajax, fearless in battle and as wise as Solomon, but nevertheless humble enough to serve his knights at table. ” (http://deremilitari.org/2014/01/from-tyrants-to-soldiers-of-christ-the-nobility-of-twelfth-century-leon-castile-and-the-struggle-against-islam/) PA, vv. 176-98.
Quite the description of a military leader campaigning against the evils of 12th-century Islamic expansion. Although, this is just one occasion where Gideon’s name is associated with something war-related. There are others like the 16th-century Swiss poet Benedikt Gletting wrote that the Swedish need the “Sword of Gideon” in his work, Song of Warning for the Confederacy, in wake of the Swedish Reformation and is the 1934 edition created by Hanns In der Gand (Ladislaus Krupski). Then there is the British-led special forces group nicknamed “the Gideon Force” who were primarily stationed in East Africa and the surrounding area during World War II. Nowadays, the name evokes a sense of victory in the hearts of soldiers familiar with the legend-like status of Gideon. Next week, we will see the ramifications of Gideon’s bold act of faith in God that resulted in the fleeing of the so-called great Midianites. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!