Scripture Read: Judges 7:20-25 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!” 21 Each stood in his place around the camp; and all the army ran, crying out as they fled. 22 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. 23 The men of Israel were summoned from Naphtali and Asher and all Manasseh, and they pursued Midian. 24 Gideon sent messengers throughout all the hill country of Ephraim, saying, “Come down against Midian and take the waters before them, as far as Beth-barah and the Jordan.” So all the men of Ephraim were summoned and they took the waters as far as Beth-barah and the Jordan. 25 They captured the two leaders of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb, and they killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and they killed Zeeb at the wine press of Zeeb, while they pursued Midian; and they brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon from across the Jordan.
Application: God has been working with Gideon, maturing his faith in order to prepare him for a tremendous task. As we read the climax of this journey that Gideon is on, we need to deal with some important issues that for the most part many of us are uncomfortable about. First, we find it uncomfortable to face the fact that someone other than ourselves can control us. That is exactly Who God is if we are honest. This does not mean that God treats us as pawns on a chessboard. However, it is important for us to remember that because God is God, at any point if He wants to He can make us do whatever His desire is. Gideon and his army have the enemy surrounded, when they blow the trumpets and show their torches the Lord confused the mind of the enemy and they turned on each other. It is too simplistic to just chalk this up as a natural reaction of men of war mistakenly turning on each other. There's no doubt that the strategy the Lord had given Gideon would enhance the idea that God also placed in the minds of the enemy. When they awoke to the noise, surrounded by torches, they would be startled and they might even strike out in error, but it's hard to believe the entire army would do that. These are trained warriors, so even though it is uncomfortable for us, we need to deal with the reality of a sovereign God intervening in a very direct and deliberate way. For ourselves, we need to remember that for the most part, as history in Scripture shows, God allows much freedom in the choices we make. Yet there are times where God will step in personally and make things happen. This should be comforting and frightening at the same time. Comforting, because no matter what the situation is or how big the enemy's army is, if God wants something to happen, it will happen and we need to only believe and rely on him. Frightening, because in our fallen state sometimes we do things that are very dangerous to ourselves and insulting to God, and at some point God may decide to take direct action and not leave what's going to happen up to us. Examples are:
Nadab and Abihu
Leviticus 10:1–3 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. 3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “It is what the Lord spoke, saying, ‘By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, And before all the people I will be honored.’ ” So Aaron, therefore, kept silent.
Ananias and Sapphira
Acts 5:1–10 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? 4 “While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it. 6 The young men got up and covered him up, and after carrying him out, they buried him. 7 Now there elapsed an interval of about three hours, and his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter responded to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?” And she said, “Yes, that was the price.” 9 Then Peter said to her, “Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out as well.” 10 And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.
The believers in the church at Corinth that were abusing the Lord's table.
1 Corinthians 11:26–30 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. 27 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. 28 But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. 30 For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.
We also find this passage uncomfortable because of the harshness that is portrayed that is a reality of war. For most, the Christian life is one that moves away from carnal strife, though there are believers that have to deal with this, i.e. police officers, military and such. However, most of us do not work in those vocations and so the only violence that we usually have to deal with is that which comes from wanting to defend our rights or to take vengeance on someone that has hurt us. We know the Scriptures teach us to do otherwise, so in our lifestyle we do not think in ways that men of war must think. Still, there is an important principle in this story. Our enemy may not be an army of men; it may be a habit, or weakness in our life. When God calls us to face the enemy and war against it, like Gideon, we need to pursue that enemy and not fear to engage it in battle. We must ask God to strengthen us to trust Him as we battle the enemies in our life. No matter what we perceive the odds to be, we must keep our eyes focused on our Lord, Who will battle for us, so we then can live in the victory that God had intended.
Meditation Questions: Do you struggle with thoughts of God over ruling your decisions? What do you do about that? When you see a sin in your life what are the steps you take to confront it? Have you ever experienced when God intervened personally into a situation and left you no choice? How did you handle that? What about when God’s sovereign hand allowed something you did not want like a sickness, financial loss or death? Did you see His hand in it? Why? Why not? When things are out of your control, what do you do? Why?