Summary: The story of Gideon’s army has a lot to say for those who would serve in the Lord’s army.
TRUMPETS, LAMPS AND CLAY POTS
In the 6th and 7th chapters of the Book of Judges we find the familiar story of Gideon, who God called “a mighty man of valor”. His story is almost unbelievable simply because Gideon was not a warrior or a great military commander. He was farmer who was hiding his wheat crop from the Midianites who had conquered Israel. He was hiding behind a winepress while threshing his wheat when the angel of the Lord came to him.
Gideon wasn’t prepared to take the reigns of commanding an army. He was leading a simple life, existing from day to day as God provided him the means to do so. He just went about his daily routine, plowing, planting and harvesting and never once thought of becoming a deliverer of his people.
In his own eyes he was less than nothing. He had no power within himself, no knowledge of warfare and tactics, no education in the use of weaponry, and no ability to lead men into battle. In other words, he was just a common citizen trying to make it the best way he knew how.
But God say something in this man Gideon that no one else could see!
God saw that Gideon was nothing in his own eyes as well as the eyes of other men. Gideon was the least likely, of all his brethren, since he even said that he was the least among his tribe, the Tribe of Manasseh, and that his family was poor even among that small, poor tribe.
I am reminded of the words of Paul to the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29, "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 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; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence."
God’s view of who is useful to his Kingdom is so very different from our own! We look for those who have talent. We look for those who are influential. We look for those who are great speakers and those of high education. We look for those who everyone would call, “beautiful people”, because we think that somehow the fleshly appearance and ability will draw the crowds or bring down the Spirit of God in a special way.
Let me tell you that God doesn’t look for what we look for in those that he will use. God looks for a willing vessel, but more than that, God looks for that willing vessel that is broken and powerless without him.
All of us pray to be more like Jesus. All of us have whispered that prayer in some fashion that says to God, “Lord make me what you would have me to be. Let there be less of me and my desires so that more of you may be made manifest through me and let your desires become mine.” Every Christian who truly wants a close walk with Jesus will say that prayer again and again.
I like what Tommy Tenney says in his book God’s Eye View, “Less is Better and Nothing is Best.” What he is saying is that God will only use those vessels that are powerless to take any credit for what God wants to do through their lives. God will not share his glory with any man and no man can say that he did anything to accomplish anything for God.
God will wait and allow us to drain all of our resources, to use all of our abilities, to exhaust our strength, and come to the end of our rope. Then, when we have done all we can do to no avail, and we bow our heads in surrender to Him, that’s when God will take over to move on our behalf to accomplish his will.
God chooses to use these earthen vessels called this body of flesh. It is an imperfect, corrupted body that is destined to return to the earth and yet God will use this flesh to do his will. He has placed His spirit within our hearts, and we are held captive inside an imperfect clay vessel: a perfect Lord living inside an imperfect clay vessel.
Judges 7:16, "And he [Gideon] divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man’s hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers."
Gideon’s army of 300 men was divided and every man was given a trumpet. The trumpets were likely left behind when all the other soldiers had returned home under God’s direction. 300 men blowing a trumpet all at once would be a signal to the enemy that many more would be with each trumpeter. Trumpets, like bugles of the US Cavalry, were used to signal the attack of a large body of men. They were used during the fighting to give all types of signals so the Midianites could just imagine that there were at least 300 companies of soldiers coming down upon them.