Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode 614 · 2 months ago

The Book of Judges #11

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Judges 7:1-18

We come to God's word tonight and now again, our Lord, we come to you because, Lord, this is your word that you have given to us, and Lord, we need you to illuminate it and enlighten it to our eyes. Oh God, we pray indeed that we will see wondrous things out of your law. We thank you for it, Lord, we thank you for giving it has something that we can use as a guide in our life that is there and that really is eternal and infinite. Lord, we can never come to the end of it, no matter how much we read and study it. We're always learning new things, and so tonight, Lord, we asked that you would indeed show us new things from your law that perhaps we haven't seen before. Your word doesn't change and, Lord, your word is truth, and so we ask you to bless the reading of it to your people, as well as the hearing of it in Jesus name. Amen, if you want to turn in your bibles to the book of judges, as we read God's word tonight, and again, I want to remind you what I'm reading is indeed the very word of God. Then Jerobabo, that is Gideon, and all the people who were with him rose early and in camp behind the spring of beyond, beside the spring of Herod, and the camp of Midian was north of them, by the hill of Mora in the valley. The Lord said the Gideon, the people with you are too many for me to give the media knights into their hand. Let's Israel boast over me, saying my own hand to save me. No, therefore proclaiming the ears of the people, saying whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead. Then twenty two thou of the people returned and ten thousand remained. And the Lord said, the Gideon, the people are still too many, taking down to the water and I'll test them for you there. And anyone of whom I say to you this one shall go with you, she'll go with you, and anyone whom I say to you, this one shall not go with you, shall not go. So he brought the people down of the water and the Lord said to Gideon, everyone who laps the water with his tongue as a dog laps you, shall set by himself. Likewise, everyone who kneels down to drink, and the number of those who lap putting their hands to their mouths were three hundred men, but all the rest of the people knelt down to drink water. And the Lord said to Gideon, with the three hundred men who laped, I will save you and give the Media Knights into your hand. Let all the others go, every man who was home. So the people took provisions in their hands and the trumpets, and he said all the rest of Israel, every man to his tent, retained the three hundred men. The camp of Midian was below him in the valley. That same night the Lord said to him, arise, go down against the camp, or I've given it into your hand. But if you're afraid to go down, go down to the camp, but pure your servant, and you shall hear what they say and afterwards your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp. Then he went down with pure's servant to the outpost of the armed men who were in the camp, and the median nights and the amalekites and all the pepole of the East ly along the valley like locusts and abundance, and the camels were without number, as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance. When Gideon came. Behold, a man was telling a dream to his comrade, and he said, behold, I dreamed a dream, and behold, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian and came to the tent and struck it, so it fell and turned it upside down, and so the tent lay flat. And his comrade answered, this is no other than the sort of Gideon, the son of Joash, a man of Israel. God has given into his hand midian and all the camp. As soon as Gideon heard them telling of the dream and his 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. And he divided the three men into three companies and put trumpets into the hands of all of them and empty jars with torches inside the jars, and he said to them, look at me and do likewise. When I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do. When I blowed the trumpet, I and All who are with me then blowed the trumpets also on every side of all the camp...

...and shout for the Lord and for Gideons and the reading of God's word. Please be seated. So tonight I want to pick up the story of Gideon. We left it off last time at the end of chapter six, so I'm picking it up, of course, at the beginning here of Chapter Seven. We ended last week with the famous story of Gideon and his fleecees, and so tonight we come to the preparation of the battle between Gideon's forces and the media nights and the AMALEKITES. Now, as one of the curiosities that happened every once in a while in life, I'm going to refer tonight, as I mentioned this morning, to some similarities that happened in our text that also are very similar to things that happened in the text of the Shakespeare play that we read on Friday night. And I bring that up partially to give you something that I came across years ago. That one of the oddest things I've ever came across in God's word. You may you know this, you may not, but I've always found it very curious, although I cannot explain it, but I want to give it to you before I really get into the text this evening. You may know that the King James Version was published in sixteen eleven and that one of the debates that goes on is whether or not William Shakespeare actually had anything to do with the translating of the King James Bible. Well, in Sixteen Eleven William Shakespeare was forty six years old. If you go in your bibles, and you don't have to do this tonight, but you have to have a King James Bible, but if you go into the King James Bible and turned to psalm, forty six because Shakespeare was forty six years old, and you count from the first word in the psalm forty six words, the word is shake. If you count backwards from the palm, ignoring the Sila, and you go forty six words back, the word back is spears. So Shakespeare. Now you can take my word for it, but you can also go home and check that out. But it's a very, very, I think, interesting thing and I don't quite know what to do with it. But anyway, we're going to go to the text to night, beginning with versus one through eight. So at the beginning of the Chapter Gideon begins with an Army of thirty two thousand men and if we look ahead to chapter eight, it appears the enemy had a force of about a hundred and thirty five thousand men. So Gideon is already beginning with a great disadvantage and a victory with those odds, which is four to one odds, would be a very great victory. But Gideon has a mass this army, and it has been said that the only thing necessary to be a leader is to have people follow you. So Gideon now meets that criteria. And we see in verse one that the armies of Gideon are camp by a spring, which is a good idea and a good military strategy, because one of the things, of course it can happen in battle, is that men can become very thirsty and the heated battle, and so you want to be by water so that they can continue to fight. And it also appears that they are camped above the media nights, and if you've studied any kind of military strategy through the years, you understand that the high ground is very, very important. I remember reading in several accounts of the civil war of different battles where that high ground was was very important and the objective of the people was to make sure they had that high ground. So what that tells us is, even though God is promising that Gideon is going to win the battle, doesn't mean that you put all military strategy out of the picture. I've met people like that in my life, Christians who, rightly or wrongly, that say God has promised that he's going to do something in their life, and so they immediately began to cast all common sense to the wind and begin to act a certain way because, after all, God has told me this...

...is going to happen. And so God has told me he's going to meet my financial need, my debt that I have, so I'm going to go ahead and buy this boat Um and so people do those kind of things. But Gideon Does Not Dismiss Military Strategy and in verse three, God begins the first purging of Gideon's army and a suns. This is a very practical test and it results in a tremendous lessening of the forces. The qualification to leave is very simple. If you're afraid of going into battle, go home now. I was never in the military and uh, therefore, of course I was never in combat. So I greatly respect those of you who were in the military and uh, I know there's several in this church, but from those who served in combat I've heard various things. Some have said they were very afraid the night before the battle to go into battle and others have seemed to have no fear at all. And that appears is to be the case here in Gideon's army, that there's kind of a division of in fact many more who are afraid to go into battle and others who appear not to be afraid at all. And I know myself well enough to know that when Gideon said whoever is fearful, I'd have been out the door. I wouldn't even waited to hear the rest of it. I had just said I'm heading home and I know how I am and I and I wouldn't be waiting. Thomas Fuller says after this test there were fewer people, but not fewer men. so Um that that's how he looked at it. So you think that losing two thirds of your army would be enough and in verse four God Says No, people are still too many. And so again God has another winnowing tests that he's going to do. And so God tells Gideon to take the people down to the water and that he will do a test there. Now, the text is really hard here, I'll tell you that. And nobody is I shouldn't say no, but very few people are in agreement here exactly what happens. Now you perhaps, like me, have hurt through the years that the whole test was about people who would get down there and and uh, you know, some would just stick their head in the water and lap like dogs or whatever. Someone do that, or others would raise their uh, put the water in and then bring it up so that they could be alert and look around. And that was the reason for the test. The text isn't clear. I know it might be clear in your version, but if you grab another version you might say, well, wait a minute, this is saying the opposite Um. So we're not exactly clear what the reasoning was behind this Um. But Um, the point is here not that we have to figure out a military reason for the test, but this is God's test. CANNA end up with three men, I don't think it really matters if they're people that look around when they're drinking water. I don't think that's going to be the thing that changes everything. So so we don't really know, and we don't have to. We could just say that this is the test that God chose. This is God's way of eliminating the army that he wanted to. In fact, I could make an argument the other way. They say that God's actually leaving those who are maybe the least alert so that the glory of the battle would all go to him. But we'll leave the point undecided at this point. But God has done when he's purposed. He's brought Gideon's army down to a mere three hundred people. Matthew Henry notes here. We often find God bringing great things to pass by a few hands, but this was the only time that he purposely made them fewer. As I'm reading this, I was reminded of the words of Jonathan Uh to the young man that carried his armor in vers semi fourteen. He said, come, let us go to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few. And you know that they wrought a great battle that day. So first nine we come to the night or the battle. Now again,...

I've never been in military combat, but I've heard from others that it can be very unsettling. The night before battle can be tough for many soldiers to sleep, and it might be that way with Gideon. I know, I'm sure your pastor is aware of this as well, that when issues come up in the church, it's oftentimes at night time that those things begin to bother you very much and cause you not to be able to sleep at night because you're thinking about those things. But God, in verses nine to eleven, is going to give Gideon assurance. And note in verse ten that God acknowledges Gideon's fear. He says he knows that he has a fear. Is a natural response. Now it might be that others don't have it, but it is a natural response to going into a battle where you're facing an enemy that is much more uh numerous than you are. And God doesn't condemned Gideon for his fear, but instead he's going to show him something else, which all he's already done several things, but he's going to show him something else to try to allay that that fear. And here I make the first allusion to the play that we read on Friday night, because you remember in the play Henry goes down to the troops, the soldiers disguise so that people do not know who he is. And now Gideon is going down. Now the difference, of course, is Gideon's going into the enemy's camp and Henry went into his own soldiers. But yet I thought that there was something there. It was interesting that both of these come up the same week, that that I'm part of those kind of things, and so um and so he goes in and then the first thing, when God says go down, the first thing Gideon sees is really not very comforting. He sees two very distressing things. He sees that the enemy were like locust for an army, for a host. They were they were just everywhere. And I know if I would have been Gideon, I'd have thought, Lord, if this is supposed to comfort me, it's not working. Uh this, this doesn't seem too good. And the second thing that's very frightening is he sees how many camels that they have. It's like sand upon the seashore. It's like Abraham's seed that Gideon sees. Camels were a huge advantage in warfare in the desert. Very advantageous to have them and Gideon didn't have them. And again this is not a comfort. But then, in verse thirteen, Gideon happens to come upon a couple of people talking and he overhears something about the battle. Someone's telling a comrade a dream that he had and apparently at least one of the soldiers has been able to sleep before the battle because he's had a dream and maybe he's not afraid because he knows the median nights, the Amalekites, the people of the East, have a tremendous advantage over Gideon and his army. But the dream he has is troubling. It's a dream of a cake of barley bread coming into the host of the media nights and coming and smashing the tent. Now it's a very uh strange dream. Barley cake cannot smash tents and things like that, but nonetheless, the other fellow of the Fellas, seeming to have the gift of interpretation, says this cake is a sort of Gideon and this represents that God has given the median nights into his hand. And so in verses fifteenth to eighteen, we have the response of Gideon to what he has heard and the first thing that he does is something all of us should do right away when that as clear to us that God is going to deliver us. It says he worships. When the people of Israel got to the other side of the Red Sea and Pharaoh's army had been drowned, they saying,...

I will sing unto the Lord, for He is triumph gloriously the horse and rider thrown into the sea. But the second thing he does is to go and tell his troops when God is revealed, and it appears after this episode and Gideon Worshiping, he's now a new man. He's a different kind of leader. Now he is confident that God is going to defeat these armies. And so in Verse Sixteen we have, I would say, one of the strangest military strategies ever used in an army battle, and divides the three men into three different companies. I assume. I don't know, but I assume the companies were of a hundred men each, and he equips them all with, the course, those very potent weapons that you're going to use in a military battle, trumpets and empty jars, and that's what he gives them, although at least they're going to put a torch inside the empty jars. Now, amazingly, we don't read about a single soldier saying uh, Gideon, I don't know how much you've read about military battles, but trumpets and lamps are really not the weapons of choice. But nobody says that. When I was a teenager we put on a Spaghetti dinner our youth group did for our Church and we did a bunch of skits that we had written and Um, something that we had stolen. But I remember one of the things we talked about was one of the soldiers of the Media Knights being interviewed after the battle where they had been defeated. And he said Yeah, he said sure, we were at he said if you ever heard Gideon, soldiers play trumpets, they're terrible. So I don't know if that's exactly what happened. The scripture doesn't tell us that, but the scripture does Dallas that they fled. And so, in versus seventeen and eighteen, Gideon tells the army to do exactly as he does. He's now taking his place as the leader of the army. He's playing the game of Simon, says, and he says you do what I do, and he said when we go into the camp, I'm going to blow my trumpet and the rest of the army, you also blow your trumpet and instead of saying for King and country, they are going to shout out for the Lord and for Gideon. Well, what do you think? It's a strategy gonna work? You don't know because we haven't read that far. Come back next week I'll tell you whether or not it works. Well, let's make applications. This evening. As I said, after worshiping God, Gideon is a new man and the first thing he does is he gives all glory to God. He says the Lord has given the host of Midian into your hand. The Lord has given, he understands it's all of God, but not only to describe glory to God. He he says it in the past, asked tense. The Lord not will give. The Lord has given the media nights into your hand. No, I'm not trying to tell you some word of faith doctrine or something along that but there are times then, when that happens, when faith in God calls those things which are not as though they were. God called Abraham and said you're now going to be a father of of of a multitude. So I'm changing your name to Abraham, and Abraham says, well, you know, I I've got Ishmael and that's pretty much yet. But God called him a father of a multitude. There have been some times in my life, and perhaps you can uh agree with me or or say the same thing has happened to you. There have been times in my life. There have been few, but there have been times where God assured me in my heart that something was going to happen and he was going to do it and I knew beyond the chef out...

...of a doubt, that God would come through and there was never any question in my mind. I wish that happened all the time, but it doesn't. But some of those times are very inspiring to me. To know that God is going to do it improves his faithfulness. So why do you think God reduced Gideon's army to the size that he did? As I said, the initial odds were already great. They were already four to one. And I said after the first leaning there were only ten thousand Israelites lead, which now the odds are about thirteen to one, which, with by my public school math that that's even worse odds than than four to one. But then when God trimmed the army to three now, or, excuse me, to Gideon's army, the three D now, the odds are approximately three hundred to one. At this rate it is basically impossible to attribute victory to military strategy. In preparing for this sermon, I I looked up military victims or victims victories in histories against great odds and there were very impressive victories. And one again we read about in the Shakespeare play on Friday night when we read about Henry at Agincourt, and they're the odds were perhaps three or four to one against. But none of the battles that I looked at where the odds is great as the odds at Gideon was facing in this. But we know that God could have, if he wanted to, taking the army down to one and still won the battle. So why does God reduce Gideon's army? God does things to show us at whatever progress we have made, whatever success we have, it's all of him and all of Greece. In reducing the armies to three D God leaves no room for doubt that the battle and the victory belonged to him. Even with ten thousand troops against a hundred and thirty five thousand troops, there was room to believe that. Still perhaps the battle would have belonged and given credit to Gideon's Army for Superior Strategy. But with only three hundred nobody could make that claim. God is saying, when this is done, I am the only one. We should receive glory and credit for this battle. From the size of the army at first Gideon's army has been reduced. That's that's more than our current inflation rate digit. That's so, that's that's a lot. But not only should Gideon, in this current Army of Three d think about that, but what about those who got redacted? What about those who were declared redundant? What would they ever say? What right would they have the glory? And again, back to Henry, the fifth right, he said to them, he said to the truth. One day you look back on this day, when when the holiday comes around, and you will be glad that you can say I was in that battle, I fought in that battle. But these members of Gideon's army couldn't do anything of the of the sort they had nothing to bring about. They weren't there, they didn't even fight. They would say they won the battle, but I wasn't even a part of it, and so they would have to say again the victory is all of God. The application is easy, isn't it? We're works driven people, aren't we? I'll tell you that's something I struggle with all the time. I know it's not true. I know it's all of God. And people said, well, well, come on past, we can talk about the triumph of grace. WE'RE gonna sing amazing grace. We've we've talked about grace tonight in the various elements of worship and and...

...all of that. And and I say yes, yes, yes, and I'll probably walk away from this pulp and say, oh, that was a good sermon. But to see, that's because we're just works driven and often wrong. Even the Great Apostle Paul face the temptation to be driven by works in Second Corinthians Twelve, seven to nine, a very familiar passage. He says so to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, that thorn was given me in the flesh a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me, but he said my grace is sufficient for you, from my powers made perfect and weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, or the power of Christ may rest upon me. What's his temptation to become conceited? Why? Because he's receiving revelations, even in writing this book that he's writing right here. He's REC even revelation from God and he could say yes, yes, it's me. God chose me. I must be something special because he gave me all of these revelations. And God says you need to realize it's not of you, Paul, it's all of grace. Earlier, in chapter eleven of the same epistle, he spoke about all of the different things he had gone through and and he could boast in those things and and the temptation was was there to boast and he talked about boasting and his weaknesses and and I don't know if there was some kind of struggle at all that maybe he's thinking, well, maybe I shouldn't be boasting and these things. I don't know. But again we all have to realize what the Apostle said earlier and the earlier epistles to the Corinthians where he said, what do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? But we do, we still boast about it. We have to keep learning. And let me say if there's one problem I could bring out of the text you to day that Gideon had, and I would say the Gideon's problem, it was a lack of assurance. That told you. He's already laid out fleeces. He's already asked God. God's answered him several times, several ways. He answered him in the two fleeces that were miraculous. He's assured him again and again and he's told him he's going to do it. But Still Gideon is not convinced, and so God gives him one more sign by having him be in the right place at the right time to hear a dream. Gideon. They think, Oh that Gideon, what a Maroon. I mean God keeps telling him and he's not convinced. But wait a minute, is that one finger pointing at Gideon, hiding three that are pointing back at us. How many times has God assured us? How many times have we read, I will never, never, leave you or forsake you? How many times have we read? WHO shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or distress or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? Has It as written, for your Sake, we're being killed all day long. We're regarded asleep shape to be slaughtered, knowing all these things were more than conquerors to him who loved us. For I'm sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God, in Christ Jesus, Our Lord. Is that a lot? Is that enough? Let me give you another one. No temptation has overtaken you. That is not common to man. God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he'll provide a way of escape that you may be able to endure it. We're saying it tonight. I love this verse for some reason, and to him. NOO that I grew up with. This verse was not in that Song, but it's my favorite verse. The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose. I will not, I will not desert to its...

...foes, that soul, to all hell should endeavor to shake. I'll never, no, never, no, never, forsake they say. Well, pastor, you don't know my sin. No, I don't, but God does, and I know that. God says we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all on righteousness. So if you're like Gideon, as I close, lacking assurance tonight, if you're under a guilt of sin, it makes you think God has forsaken you. If your heart cries out to God tonight, if your desires to him, he will forgive. He will not forsake you. Another Hyman, our song book says, I came to Jesus as I was weary and worn and sad. I thought owned in him a resting place, and he has made me glad. Come on to me, our Lord said, all Ye that Labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Received the comfort of the Lord Tonight. I know that God will never forsake you. Cling to him. Trust in Christ, who is our only hope in this sad, sad world that we live in. Trust in him. Can We pray, Lord, we thank you tonight for your word and the promise that we read, as we see in Gideon, and we understand, Lord, that he needed to learn the lesson of grace. And many of us tonight still struggle with our own works as to what part of plays in our salvation. But, Lord, may we trust fully in your grace, your amazing grace that is beyond the power of our tongue to tell. Lord, I pray, speak to your people tonight and if any lack assurance in their hearts tonight, if any are struggling because of some sin or reoccurring sin in their life, let them tonight receive of your grace and no God, that you love your people and you're never gonna let them go. We pray this all in Christ name. Amen.

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