1. Our study last week took us through Judges 6, where we first encountered that reluctant hero, Gideon. Three chapters of this great book are devoted to Gideon -- who also came to be known as J __ __ __ __ - B __ __ __ ( "Let Baal Contend," or "Baal-Fighter" ) -- so we are able to learn more about him personally than we are about most of the other 12 judges.
2. Chapter 6 revealed a good bit about Gideon's essential character:
a. He was a completely o __ __ __ __ __ __ __ man, the youngest son of a farmer whose family had become one of many in Israel to be tyrannized and impoverished by the seven- year period of oppression by the M __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __. It appears that there was nothing in Gideon's personal background which would have prepared him for the great military role that God gave to him.
b. He was a bit s __ __ __ __ at first, openly and frankly unimpressed with God's protection of His Chosen People, Israel, against their enemies.
c. His f __ __ __ __ was inconsistent at best. Sometimes, his faith appeared to be downright feeble.
3. In spite of his weaknesses, God chose Gideon to lead Israel into battle against the Midianites. As is always the case with God, He did much more than simply command His servant to undertake a great and difficult task. Three key promises accompanied His call to the son of Joash:
a. You will have s __ __ __ __ __ __ __ sufficient for the task I have set before you.
b. You will have My very p __ __ __ __ __ __ __ in battle with you.
c. You have My absolute guarantee of v __ __ __ __ __ __.
4. After directing Gideon through a "training" mission against a local pagan altar, God was now ready to lead him into a great battle against the vast forces of the Midianites, who had again invaded Israel, occupying a great deal of the countryside while systematically plundering its produce and livestock capital. In preparation for this great confrontation:
a. God provided Gideon with the H __ __ __ S __ __ __ __ __ (6:34);
b. Gideon sent out a call to arms to f __ __ __ of the twelve tribes (6:35); and
c. Gideon "t __ __ __ __ __" God to "make sure" He would keep His promise (6:36-40).
1. As we turn to Judges 7:1-15, we see that Gideon and his army have begun maneuvers toward the great battle. He has amassed a force of some 32,000 men, but they were going to war against a professional enemy army of 135,000 (8:10).
2. Gideon, we may assume, had done all that he could do in preparation for this conflict. God's preparations, however, were by no means complete.
a. First, He prepared Gideon's army -- by reducing its size by 99%! In 7:2-8 we read how God whittled down the number of fighting men to a mere _________.
(1) Much has been made of the drinking water "test" God used in His final sifting-out of many of the Israeli soldiers. Many have stated that only the 300 who drank sitting up, cupping the water to their mouths, had the necessary aptitude to succeed in battle.
(2) Even if it were true that how one drinks water from a stream is a valid indicator of one's military prowess ( highly unlikely, don't you think? ), we must remember that God was not interested in finding the greatest warriors in Gideon's army. He was interested in making sure that the victory He had already promised would not become a source of false pride for them. God Himself was fully engaged in the struggle to win and to keep the hearts of His Chosen People who had been continually unfaithful to Him. He wanted them to rely fully and solely upon Him, and He wanted them to see clearly this example of His mighty power.
b. Next, He further prepared Gideon himself.
(1) He reminds Gideon of His original promise of victory in v.9:
During that night the Lord said to Gideon, "Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands."
(2) He suggests that Gideon sneak into the Midianite camp and listen to the "buzz" among the Midianite soldiers, telling him that what he hears will encourage him. The incident is recorded in v.13-15.
(3) One wonders if God provided Gideon with this extra "peek" into His plan since He knew full well the weakness of Gideon's faith. God does not routinely do this; He sometimes calls us into great, one-sided battles armed with sola fide.