Friday Morning Manna
April 3, 2020
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How God Chose Gideon’s Elite Force of Three Hundred Men
“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me.” Ezekiel 3: 17, vs 18-21; cf. 33: 1-20.
The gospel-prophet said: “His watchmen are blind, they are all ignorant; they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yes, they are greedy dogs which never have enough. And they are shepherds who cannot understand; they all look to their own way, everyone for his own gain, from his own territory.” Isa. 56: 10, 11, NKJV.
The counterfeit watchmen are the unfaithful, cowering, self-serving religious shepherds of the flock “who cannot understand,” spiritual guardians of the people, pastors, ministers who are not proclaiming God’s warning messages today. God further describes them as “dumb dogs that cannot bark,” “lazy and greedy dogs which never have enough.” If ever!
Now See Judges chapters 6, 7 and Patriarchs and Prophets, pp, 546-554:
Gideon, meaning, “hewer or ‘feller,” “was the son of Joash, a tribe of Manasseh. The division to which this family belonged held no leading position, but the household of Joash was distinguished for courage and integrity. Of his brave sons it is said, ‘Each one resembled the children of a king.’ Judges 8: 18. All but one had fallen but one in the struggles against the Midianites [who were like a revengeful, opportunistic ‘devouring plague’ spreading over all the country, from the river Jordan to the Philistine plain’], and he had caused his name to be feared by the invaders.
“To Gideon came the divine call to deliver his people.” As he labored in secrecy and silence, pondering upon the condition of Israel, thinking how the oppressive yoke might be broken off his people, “suddenly the “Angel of the Lord’ appeared, and addressed him with the words, ‘Jehovah is with thee, thou mighty man of valor.’ ‘O my Lord,’ was his answer, ‘If the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? And where be all His miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt? But now the Lord has forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.’ The Messenger of the covenant replied, ‘Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites; have I not sent thee?’ Then Gideon asked for signs to physically confirm this commission and all were provided by the same Messenger of the covenant.
Then came the selection of the men who would fight with this mighty man of valor. “Thus encouraged, Gideon led out his forces to give battle to the invaders. ‘All the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the East were gathered together . . .[But] the entire force under Gideon’s command numbered only thirty-two thousand men; but with the vast host of the enemy spread out before him, the word of the Lord came to him; ‘The people [people’s army] that are with thee are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against Me, saying, Mine own hand has saved us [claim credit due to numbers].
‘Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return [to their homes] and depart early from Mount Gilead.’ Verse__. Those who were unwilling to face danger and hardship, or whose worldly interests would draw their hearts from the work of God, would add no strength to the armies of Israel. Their presence would prove only a cause of weakness. It had been made a law in Israel that before they went to battle, the following proclamations should be made throughout the army: ‘What men is there that hath built a new house, and has not dedicated it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man dedicate it. And what man is he that hath planted a vineyard, and hath not yet eaten of it? Let him also go and return into his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man eat of it. And what man is there that hath betrothed a wife and hath not taken her? Let him go an return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man take her.’ And the officers were to speak further to the people, saying, ‘What man that is fearful and faint-hearted? Let him go and return to his house, lest his brethren’s heart, faint as well as his heart.’ (Deut. 90: 5-8).
“Because his numbers were so few [thirty-two thousand] compared with those of the enemy, Gideon had refrained from making the usual proclamation. He was filled with amazement [not fear or discouragement] at the declaration that his army was too large. But the Lord saw the pride and unbelief existing in the hearts of his people. Aroused by the stirring appeals Gideon, they had readily enlisted; but many were filled with fear when they saw the multitudes of the Midianites. Yet had Israel triumphed, those very ones would have taken the glory [the credit] to themselves instead of ascribing the victory to God. [Of such are the soldiers of the ‘People’s Army’!]
“Gideon obeyed the Lord’s direction, and with a heavy heart he saw twenty-two thousand, or more than two-thirds of his entire force, depart for their homes. Again the word of the Lord came to him: ‘The people [this time down to ten-thousand] are yet too many; bring them down to the water, and I will try them for thee there; for it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I will say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.’
“The people were led down to the water-side, expecting to make an immediate advance upon the enemy, A few hastily took a little water in their [cupped] hand, and sucked it [lapped it up like a dog] as they went on; but nearly all bowed upon their knees, and leisurely drank from the surface of the stream. Those who took up the water in their [cupped] hands [and lapped it up like dogs do] were but three hundred out of ten thousand; yet they were selected; all the rest were permitted to their homes. [Right now, we are not yet ‘homeward-bound,’ but battle-bound].
“By the simplest means [note when God takes the reins of the work in His hands], character is often tested. Those who in time of peril [aren’t we in such a time of this COVID-19 global crisis?] were intent upon supplying their own wants [panic-buying and hoarding], were not to be the me trusted in an emergency. [The first “twenty-two thousand”]. The Lord has no place in His work for the indolent and self-indulgent [the “ten-thousand”]. The men of His choice were the few who would not permit their own wants to delay them in their discharge of their duty.
“The three hundred chosen men not only possessed courage and self-control, but were men of faith. They had not defiled themselves with idolatry. [the last idol worshipped is the “idol-sabbath]. God could direct them, and through them he could work deliverance for Israel. Success does not depend upon numbers. God can deliver by few as well as by many. He is honored not so much by the great numbers as by the character of them who serve Him.” Ibid, 550.
The plan of attack resembles the three-pronged three angels’ messages: trumpets and torches and earthen pitchers/vessels. – “By divine direction, a plan of attack was suggested to him, which he immediately set out to execute. The three hundred men were divided into three companies. To every man were given a trumpet, and a torch concealed in an earthen pitcher. The men were stationed in such a manner as to approach the Midianite camp from different directions. In the dead of the night [we are approaching the “midnight of earth’s history” and the “midnight cry-loud cry of fourth angel is soon to sound], at the signal from Gideon’s war horn, the three companies sounder their trumpets; then, breaking their pitchers, and displaying the blazing torches, they rushed upon the enemy with the terrible war cry, ‘The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon?” – Ibid, p. 550.
NOTE: The “sword” in the “whole armor of God,” is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” verse 17 of Eph. 6: 10-18].- Ibid, p. 550. The signal victory was won in God’s way—no weapons of man were used but only that of God’s unchanging strategy and winning method while clad with the whole armor of God. Our battle cry is, “The sword of the Lord!” It is Written!
“In this signal defeat [of the Midianites], not less than one hundred and twenty thousand of the invaders perished. . . . The leader whom God chose to overthrow the Midianites, occupied not prominent position in Israel. He was not a ruler, a priest, or a Levite. He thought himself the least in his father’s house. But God saw in him a man of courage and integrity. He was distrustful of himself, and willing to follow the guidance of the Lord. God does not always choose, for His work, men of the greatest talents; but He selects those whom He can best use. ‘Before honor is humility.’ (Prov. 15: 33). The Lord can work most effectively through those who are most sensible of their own insufficiency, and who will rely upon Him as their leader and source of strength. He will make them strong by uniting their weakness to His might, and wise by connecting their ignorance with His wisdom.
“If they would cherish true humility, the Lord could do much more for His people; but there are few who can be trusted with any large measure of responsibility or success without becoming self-confident, and forgetful of their dependence upon God. This is why, in choosing the instruments for His work, the Lord passes by those whom the world honors as great, talented, and brilliant. They are too often proud and self-sufficient. They feel competent to act without counsel from God.”
NOTE: Aren’t we witnessing this in global full view where all the “wise men” and “great men of the earth” were caught by surprise and dumbfounded, scrambling to understand what and where the COVID-19 is and came from, and have been merely (though bravely) reacting and desperately trying to cope, as in “mitigate, mitigate, mitigate”—not defeat, defeat, defeat, not really knowing up to this moment how and when it will be brought under full control. But God who is “good all the time” had all the answers, all the time “but they would not seek Him.” God’s people should, all the time.
Faith, trust, obedience then confidence, not fear. “The simple act of blowing a blast upon the trumpet by the army of Joshua around Jericho, and by Gideon’s little band about the hosts of Midian, was made effectual, through the power of God, to overthrow the might of His enemies. The most complete system that men have ever devised, apart from the power and wisdom of God, will prove a failure, while the most unpromising methods will succeed when divinely appointed, and entered upon with humility and faith. Trust in God, and obedience to His will, are as essential to the Christian in the spiritual warfare as to Gideon and Joshua in their battles with the Canaanites. By the repeated manifestations of His power in behalf of Israel, God would lead them to have faith in Him,–with confidence to seek His help in every emergency [such as this very moment].
“He is just as willing to work with the efforts of His people NOW, and to accomplish great things through weak instrumentalities [ earthen pitchers/vessels]. All heaven awaits our demand upon its wisdom and strength. God is ‘able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think’ (Eph. 3: 20).” – Ibid, p. 554.
Not when or where but HOW have you been drinking the “water” of God’s word? “Lapping it up like a dog” from cupped hands,” ready to go? or “on your knees”—allowing your own wants to delay you from discharging your duty to God and to men (See Eccl. 12: 13, 14)?
God “changeth not.” His methods don’t as well. As He hand-picked Gideon’s elite force of “three hundred,” He is doing the same thing now in antitypical application. He is now separating the boys from the men down to only “three hundred soldiers” who are willing “to fight the battles of the Lord where the champions are few.” The victory is guaranteed, not by a human iron-clad warranty but by Christ’s armor-clad righteousness that is impenetrable to the “fiery darts of the wicked” (Eph. 6:10-17).
It should be our heart’s desire to be numbered among Gideon’s “little band.” But we must know what it takes to cut it. It is no child’s play, not even a man’s bruising games but a soldier’s courageous sense of duty and preparedness to do battle as minuteman. It’s the time to sing, “Onward Christian soldiers.” Are you ready? The powers of the Godhead will empower you. The angels that excel in strength have your backs! What else are you waiting for?
(To be continued next week, God willing)