What would you think about a battlefield commander who carried his forces into a battle outnumbered 400 to 1?
The book of Judges records just such a moment for Gideon. The Lord wanted his people delivered from the sons of the Amalekites and the sons of the east. Gideon was the chosen leader. But it was important for the Israelites to understand that their victory was from God and not from their own abilities.
Take a moment and read the story of Gideon in Judges 7 & 8.
Gideon began with an army of 32,000 fighting men. This represented odds of almost 4:1 against the Israelites. That probably seemed bad enough for the Bible tells us that most of Israel’s fighters were too afraid to go to battle (Judges 7:3). But God wanted his power to be on great display. He told the fearful to go home and thereby dropped the number from 32,000 to 10,000. Now the odds are 12:1.
Still too many! God next has Gideon bring the men to the water and observes how they drink. From this test, God directs the amazed Gideon to send home 9,700 men. He is left with 300 men against 120,000 warriors from the east. In case you’re counting that 400:1 against (Judges 7:6-8)!
The Lord knows his people and he knows that Gideon, for all his faithfulness, he still frightened. God allows Gideon to travel among the camp of the enemy and listen to their conversations. Gideon hears one soldier tell another of a dream in which his tent was destroyed by a loaf of bread. This, his friend replies, is a sign of victory for Israel. Gideon and his servant return and prepare for battle renewed in their faith that God will deliver them.
Now watch carefully what God does next. God instructs Gideon to have each man carry a trumpet and a pitcher with a torch inside (Judges 7:16). At Gideon’s signal, the men surrounded the camp of the enemy, they blew their trumpets and shattered the pitchers. They “held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands” (Judges 7:20). Did you notice that? With a torch in their left hand and a trumpet in their right they had no way to wield a sword! 400:1 against them and no sword in their hands!
This is a grand moment of faith for Israel. These men stood unarmed in the night around a camp of soldiers described as being “as numerous as locusts” (Judges 7:12) and won the victory!
What happens next would be comical if not so tragic. At the sound of the breaking pitchers and the sudden sight of the torches with the sounding trumpets and the shout of the people, the enemy armies run amok and in their confusion began to slay one another (Judges 7:21-22). Israel routs the enemy and pursues the survivors until they are destroyed!
This is a great victory for Israel but it is implications for us today.
God defends and protect his people,
Faith is the victory – not our own abilities,
God way is always better even if it doesn’t make sense to us.
Go forth today in the assurance that God will care for you when you fully and completly obey him. Their is no substitution for faith or for obedience.