God’s Glory Revealed Through Gideon
Text: Judges 6:33-7:2
Intro: In First Corinthians 10:31, Paul exhorts us with these words: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” This familiar passage of scripture sums up the purpose of every Christian’s life: to bring glory to God. It almost goes without saying that we all fail miserably in this area. But that does not change the fact that glorifying God should be our ultimate goal in life.
Too often however, Christians have the mistaken idea that they must be “somebody,” possess great abilities or talents in order to bring glory to God. The truth is that God isn’t looking for ability, but availability. God is looking for those who will submit themselves wholly to God, so that He can use them for His purposes and plans.
When God first approached Gideon about being His instrument of Israel’s deliverance from the Midianites, he protested, saying that he could not possibly save his people from bondage, since he and his family were insignificant. But God wasn’t looking for a significant man, just a submitted man—a man whose life was surrendered to God.
You see folks; God doesn’t use those who are significant in their own eyes to bring glory to His great name. Gideon was nothing and had nothing. However, that was all God required, because He is everything. God only needed an insignificant instrument through which to demonstrate His power. Paul brought out this very idea when he said: “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;” (I Cor. 1: 27).
The story of Gideon is an amazing account of a man whom God called to be the instrument of His glory, in an impossible and hopeless situation. And in spite of insurmountable odds, God promised Gideon the victory. “Why would God do a thing like that?” you might ask. It was because when all the smoke cleared, the only explanation for the victory of God’s people over their enemies would be God Himself. Only God would receive the glory.
Folks, God wants to show Himself strong in the difficulties of our lives, not only to teach us how to trust and follow Him, but also to bring glory to his matchless name. God’s Word says:
“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him…” (2 Chron. 16:9a).
“I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images” (Isa. 42:8).
Is your life revealing the glory of God? That should be the goal of every child of God’s life. As God’s glory was reveal through Gideon, He can reveal His glory through you.
Theme: God revealed His glory through:
I. GIDEON’S ARMY
A. These Soldiers Were Not To Be Fearful.
Judges 7:2 “And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people 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 hath saved me.
3 Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.”
NOTE:  The words Gideon heard from the Lord were probably not what he was hoping for. Without a doubt, from a human standpoint, even 32,000 men were insufficient for the monumental task at hand. After all, the Midianites and Amalekites had what appeared to be an innumerable host at their disposal.
[1a] In spite of the fact that Gideon’s army was obviously outnumbered, God said, “Gideon, you’ve got too many soldiers. If I give you the victory with 32,000 men, Israel will boast that they accomplished the feat on their own.”
According to a story in the Grand Rapids Press, the owner of a small foreign car had begun to irritate his friends by bragging incessantly about his gas mileage. So they decided on a way to get some humor out of his tireless boasting, as well as bring it to an end.
Every day one of them would sneak into the parking lot where the man kept his car and pour a few gallons of gas into the tank. Soon the braggart was recording absolutely phenomenal mileage. He was boasting of getting as much as 90 miles per gallon, and the pranksters took secret delight in his exasperation as he tried to convince people of the truthfulness of his claims. It was even more fun to watch his reaction when they stopped refilling the tank. The poor fellow couldn’t figure out what had happened to his car.1
[1b] Folks, God’s greatness and glory are more clearly seen against the backdrop of human impossibility. With this situation, God was seeking to reveal His glory to His people, and thereby instill in them faith and reliance toward God.
Ps. 72:18 “Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things.”
 God told Gideon to weed out some of his soldiers. The method by which this would be accomplished would be the “fear test.” God said, “Gideon, you tell everybody who is scared to pack up and go home. I can’t use them.”
During World War II, a military governor met with General George Patton in Sicily. When he praised Patton highly for his courage and bravery, the general replied, “Sir, I am not a brave man . . . The truth is, I am an utter craven coward. I have never been within the sound of gunshot or in sight of battle in my whole life that I wasn’t so scared that I had sweat in the palms of my hands.”
Years later, when Patton’s autobiography was published, it contained this significant statement by the general: “I learned very early in my life never to take counsel of my fears.”2
[2a] The word translated “afraid” in Judges 7:3, means, “to shudder with terror.”3
[Five]-year old Johnny was in the kitchen as his mother made supper. She asked him to go into the pantry and get her a can of tomato soup, but he didn’t want to go in alone.
“It’s dark in there and I’m scared.”
She asked again, and he persisted. Finally she said, “It’s OK—Jesus will be in there with you.”
Johnny walked hesitantly to the door and slowly opened it. He peeked inside, saw it was dark, and started to leave when all at once an idea came, and he said: “Jesus, if you’re in there, would you hand me that can of tomato soup?”4
[2b] The implication here is that the 22,000 men who were culled out, were not merely anxious; they were terror-stricken. They were not simply having a bout with fear; they were bound by it. In other words, terror had become their mindset.
[2c] Paul warns Christians against having a fearful mindset when he says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7). The word translated “spirit” in this verse, refers to a “mental disposition.”5 Paul was not saying that Christians should never be afraid, but that fear was not to be their base of operations—their mindset. The reason for this exhortation is obvious. Whenever we are walking in fear, we are not walking in faith. And “…whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23b). Faith toward God is the secret to victory on the battlefield of life. We must walk in faith, not in fear.
B. These Soldiers Were To Be Focused.
Judges 7:4 “And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and 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 say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.
5 So he brought down the people unto the water: and the Lord said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink.
6 And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water.”
NOTE:  Can you believe it? Good logic would have told anyone that to expect 32,000 soldiers to gain the victory over an innumerable foe was foolhardy at best. But God told Gideon that he still had too many for the mission at hand. Why would God do such a thing? Because folks, the coming battle wasn’t about the strength of Gideon’s Band, but about the power of Gideon’s God. This battle would not be about Israel’s superior force, but about their spiritual faith in Almighty God. This same principle is found in the words of Paul when he said, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13).
 God gave Gideon a second test by which to weed out his soldiers. This was simply a test of alertness, or focus.
[2a] Those that laid down their weapons, got down on their knees, and used both their hands to drink, were put in a group by themselves. These guys were focused on one thing—quenching their thirst. They were more concerned with personal needs than with watching for the enemy. Many Christian soldiers of our day are not spiritually alert. They seem to forget that Satan does not take time off. Peter said, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour:” (1 Pet. 5:8).
During the Revolutionary War, a loyalist spy appeared at the headquarters of Hessian commander Colonel Johann Rall, carrying an urgent message. General George Washington and his Continental [A]rmy had secretly crossed the Delaware River that morning and were advancing on Trenton, New Jersey where the Hessians were encamped.
The spy was denied an audience with the commander and instead wrote his message on a piece of paper. A porter took the note to the Hessian colonel, but because Rall was involved in a poker game he stuffed the unread note into his pocket. When the guards at the Hessian camp began firing their muskets in a futile attempt to stop Washington’s army, Rall was still playing cards.
Without time to organize, the Hessian army was captured. The battle occurred the day after Christmas, 1776, giving the colonists a late present—their first major victory of the war.6
[2b] Likewise, those men who were alert, drinking water with one hand, and keeping their weapons at the ready with the other, while scanning the horizon for the enemy, were placed in a separate group. These men were focused. They knew it would take but a moment of preoccupation with matters other than the battle to be wounded, or even killed by the enemy. Jesus Himself exhorted His disciples to, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41). The focus of Gideon’s soldiers would be crucial to a successful campaign against the enemy, for later he would command them, “…Look on me, and do likewise…” (Judges 7:17a). Likewise, the saints are to keep their eyes on Christ and emulate Him. Paul said, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son…” (Rom. 8:29a). To the Ephesians Paul said, “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;” (Eph. 5:1).
C. These Soldiers Would Be Few.
Judges 7:7 “And the Lord said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place.
8 So the people took victuals in their hand, and their trumpets: and he sent all the rest of Israel every man unto his tent, and retained those three hundred men: and the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley.”
NOTE:  As a matter of passing observation, if Gideon had been a pastor, what do you think would have been said about him at the next associational meeting? I can imagine some pompous brother saying, “Oh, did you hear about Bro. Gideon? His congregation went from 32,000 to 300 in one day. He must not be doing something right. Well, I guess he’s got it down to where he can work with it now. Haw! Haw! Haw!”
 I want this church to grow as large as the Lord wants it. But we should never allow the size of our church to be the measuring stick of our success or spirituality. Bigger isn’t always better. The question is, “Are you on the battlefield with Christ—are your eyes on Him—are you following Him?”
II. GIDEON’S ASSURANCE
A. He Was Assured That Victory Was A Human Impossibility.
Judges 7:9 “And it came to pass the same night, that the Lord said unto him, Arise, get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered it into thine hand.
12 And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the sea side for multitude.”
B. He Was Assured Of His Human Insignificance.
Judges 7:13 “And when Gideon was come, behold, there was a man that told a dream unto his fellow, and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along.”
NOTE:  Notice how Gideon is symbolized in this enemy soldier’s dream: “a cake of barley bread.” According to one commentator, “Barley was the cheapest grain in Palestine.”7 But as the rest of the dream indicated, Gideon, though insignificant by human standards, would be used by God to flatten the forces of the Midianites and Amalekites. As the old song says, “Little is much, when God is in it.”
 Most people would have quit right here. But in the words of Bishop Hall, as quoted in the Cambridge Bible, “‘To heare himselfe but a Barley cake, troubled him not. It matters not how base wee be thought, so wee be victorious.’”8
C. Gideon Was Assured That Victory Was A Heavenly Inevitability.
Judges 7:14 “And his fellow answered and said, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: for into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host.”
NOTE: What an encouragement this verse is! It vividly points out once again the basis of our faith—the revealed will and word of God (Rom. 4:13-21). The victory was spoken of in the past tense (Judges 7:9 & 14). As far as God was concerned, the defeat of Midian was a settled fact of history. I can imagine a broad smile spreading across Gideon’s face as the truth of God, spoken through this heathen soldier’s dream, struck home to his heart. You see folks; faith is simply believing what God said He would do. Faith is the victory. If God said it, you can count on it. Our problem is that we only want to believe what we can see.
The African impala can jump to a height of over 10 feet and cover a distance of greater than 30 feet. Yet these magnificent creatures can be kept in an enclosure in any zoo with a 3-foot wall. The animals will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will fall. Faith is the ability to trust what we cannot see, and with faith we are freed from the flimsy enclosures of life that only fear allows to entrap us.9
III. GIDEON’S ATTACK
A. Gideon Encouraged His Army By Faith.
Judges 7:15 “And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the Lord hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian.”
NOTE:  When Gideon heard the interpretation of the enemy soldier’s dream, “he worshipped.” As the truth began to dawn upon his heart, he could not help but thank and praise God for what He was about to do. Gideon, like Abraham before him, was now “fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform” (Rom. 4:21).
 Fortified by faith, Gideon slips back into Israel’s camp and said to his little band of 300, “Fellahs, there’s good news. The enemy is defeated.” About that time one sharp individual must have piped up and said, “But Gideon, we haven’t even gone to battle yet.” “Yes,” Gideon replied, “but you see, I’ve received a report from God tonight, and He says the enemy is defeated.” Folks, the Bible says, “Now faith is the substance (ground or confidence) of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). By faith Gideon was convinced of the victory, and claimed it.
 Sometimes, when things get rough, we need some encouragement. God encouraged Gideon by sending him down to the host, to let him hear the enemy testify to the fact that God had already given Israel the victory over the Midianites.
During quail season in Georgia, an Atlanta journalist met an old farmer hunting with an ancient pointer at his side. Twice the dog ran rheumatically ahead and pointed. Twice his master fired into the open air. When the journalist saw no birds rise, he asked the farmer for an explanation.
“Shucks,” grinned the old man, “I knew there weren’t no birds in that grass. Spot’s nose ain’t what it used to be. But him and me have had some wonderful times together. He’s still doing the best he can—and it’d be mighty mean of me to call him a liar at this stage of the game!”10
B. Gideon Equipped His Army With Strange Weapons For Fighting.
Judges 7:16 “And he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man’s hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps with the pitchers.
17 And he said unto them, Look on me, and do likewise: and, behold, when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so shalt ye do.
18 When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon.”
NOTE:  Can you imagine the looks on these guy’s faces as Gideon started passing out trumpets, empty pitchers, and torches? I can almost hear some guy say, “Uh, Gideon, sir. You remember when you said earlier, that anyone who was afraid should go home? Well, I wasn’t afraid then, but I’m really, really, scared all of sudden. Can I go home now!!!?” All of this must have looked very foolish to many of those anxious men. But that’s not unusual, for God’s Word says that, “…the foolishness of God is wiser than men” (1 Cor. 1:25a). God’s Word also says, “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise” (1 Cor. 1:27a). However, God’s plan will always work if we work God’s plan.
 From a practical standpoint, the military strategy laid down by Gideon, was an excellent one. It was actually a type of psychological warfare.
[2a] Gideon deployed his men in such a way as to give the impression of a simultaneous attack on three sides.
[2b] The blast of the trumpets would have implied a signal to charge and engage the enemy. To a bunch of men being startled out of a dead sleep this would be psychologically devastating.
[2c] The breaking of the pitchers would have sounded a lot like the clash of swords. The startled Midianites awakened thinking that the battle was already upon them.
[2d] One can only imagine the panic created by the sudden trumpet blasts, followed by the breaking of the pitchers: first Gideon and his one hundred men, and then the other two companies of one hundred men. Then suddenly, flashes of light sliced through the eerie darkness that clung to the valley that night. The impression would be that a much larger force than what was really there was attacking them.
C. Gideon Engaged His Adversaries And Put Them To Flight.
1. Notice the timing of the attack.
Judges 7:19 “So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers that were in their hands.”
NOTE: According to one commentator, “The night was divided into three watches of four hours each, the first beginning at 6:00 p.m.”11 That being so, the second (middle) watch would have begun around 10:00 p.m.
2. Notice the terror of the adversary.
Judges 7:20 “And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon.
21b …and all the host ran, and cried, and fled.”
NOTE:  There’s a significant thought to be considered here. It is conceivable to me that Gideon and his men could have blown those trumpets all night long and still have lost the battle. The victory came when the vessels were broken and the light within allowed to shine forth.
 God often uses the battles and trials of life to break the hardness of our hearts, so that the flame of God’s holiness and purity can be seen. It is then that we begin to experience victory in our Christian walk.
3. Notice the triumph of God Almighty.
Judges 7:21 “And they stood every man in his place round about the camp: and all the host ran, and cried, and fled.
22a And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the Lord set every man’s sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host…”
NOTE: “…Every man stood in his place” (Judges 7:21a). I like that. But what can we draw from this? What was every man’s place?
 It was the Place of Faith—If Gideon and his men had not been willing to trust God, they would never have gone out to battle. However, because of their faith in God, “…they stood every man in his place…” (Judges 7:21a)—they stood on the ground of faith.
 It was the Place of Obedience—When Gideon told his band to go into battle, trusting only his word that God had promised the victory, they did (Judges 7:15 & 19). When they were told to watch Gideon, and do as he did, they obeyed (Judges 7:17-19b).
 It was the Place of Victory—As every man stood in his place, God routed their enemies. Paul exhorts us to be, “…stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord…” (1 Cor.15:58). We must be careful to stand in our place. Only then will God be glorified.
Theme: God revealed His glory through:
I. GIDEON’S ARMY
II. GIDEON’S ASSURANCE
III. GIDEON’S ATTACK
1. Source unknown.
2. Source unknown.
3. James Strong, S.T.D., LL.D., Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance Of The Bible, published by MacDonald Publishing Company, McLean, Virginia 22101; #2729 of the Hebrew And Chaldee Dictionary, pg. 43.
4. Charles Allen, Victory in the Valleys.
5. James Strong, S.T.D., LL.D., Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance Of The Bible, published by MacDonald Publishing Company, McLean, Virginia 22101; #4151 of the Hebrew And Chaldee Dictionary, pg. 58.
6. Today in the Word, MBI, October, 1991, p. 21.
7. Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison, Editors, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, published by Moody Press, Chicago, Illinois; pg. 247.
8. The Amplified Bible, copyright 1965 by Zondervan Publishing House; The Amplified Old Testament, pg. 297.
9. John Emmons.
10. Bits & Pieces, August 20, 1992, pp. 15-16
11. Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison, Editors, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, published by Moody Press, Chicago, Illinois; pg. 248.