Lesson 6 | Sabbath, 8 February 2020
“The leader whom God chose to overthrow the Midianites occupied no prom- inent 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.’ Proverbs 15:33. The Lord can work most effectually through those who are most sensible of their own insuf- ficiency, 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.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 553.
A call to unite and fight the enemies
- Having overrun Israel many times in the past, what had the attackers pre- pared to do? How did the Lord prepare Gideon and the people for the task He assigned to them?
Judges 6:33-35 Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east were gathered together, and went over, and pitched in the valley of Jezreel. 34But the spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him. 35And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh; who also was gathered after him: and he sent messengers unto Asher, and unto Zebulun, and unto Naphtali; and they came up to meet them.
“All thoughts of violence toward Gideon were dismissed; and when he sound- ed the trumpet of war, the men of Ophrah were among the first to gather to his standard. Heralds were dispatched to his own tribe of Manasseh, and also to Ash- er, Zebulum, and Naphtali, and all answered to the call.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 548.
- What did the Lord tell Gideon about the men who came in response to his call? Therefore, what did He tell him to do? How many accepted the offer?
Judges 7:1-3 Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midi- anites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley. 2And 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. 3Now 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.
“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 to- gether, and went over, and pitched in the valley of Jezreel.’ 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 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. 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.’ Those who were unwilling to face danger and hardships, 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….
“Gideon obeyed the Lord’s direction, and with a heavy heart he saw twen- ty-two thousand, or more than two thirds of his entire force, depart for their homes.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 548, 549.
- Next, what did the Lord say about the remaining ten thousand men? What order did He give? What was significant about the test, and what was the result?
Judges 7:4-6 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. 5So 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. 6And 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.
“The people were led down to the waterside, expecting to make an immediate advance upon the enemy. A few hastily took a little water in the hand and sucked it up as they went on; but nearly all bowed upon their knees, and leisurely drank from the surface of the stream. Those who took of the water in their hands were but three hundred out of ten thousand; yet these were selected; all the rest were permitted to return to their homes.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 549.
Victory depends on faith
- What did the Lord say to Gideon about his tiny army, and what plan did He give him to carry out? What was significant about the chosen men? How does God work similarly now?
Judges 7:7-9 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. 8So 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. 9And 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.
“By the simplest means character is often tested. Those who in time of peril were intent upon supplying their own wants were not the men to be trusted in an emergency. The Lord has no place in His work for the indolent and self-indulgent. The men of His choice were the few who would not permit their own wants to delay them in the discharge of duty.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 549.
- How did the Scriptures describe the enemies’ army? What did the Lord use to give His servant more courage and confidence?
Judges 7:12-14 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. 13And 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 Midi- an, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along. 14And 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.
“Gideon trembled as he thought of the conflict of the morrow. But the Lord spoke to him in the night season and bade him, with Phurah his attendant, go down to the camp of the Midianites, intimating that he would there hear some- thing for his encouragement. He went, and, waiting in the darkness and silence, he heard a soldier relating a dream to his companion…. Gideon recognized the voice of God speaking to him through those Midianitish strangers. Returning to the few men under his command, he said, ‘Arise; for the Lord hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian.’” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 550.
The Lord uses a faithful few
- What did the Lord do to cause confusion and panic in the enemy camp? What caused the Midianites to flee without God’s people having to engage in violence?
Judges 7:19-22 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. 20And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitch- ers, 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. 21And they stood every man in his place round about the camp: and all the host ran, and cried, and fled. 22And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the Lord set every man’s sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host: and the host fled to Beth- shittah in Zererath, and to the border of Abelmeholah, unto Tabbath.
“By divine direction a plan of attack was suggested to him, which he imme- diately set out to execute. The three hundred men were divided into three com- panies. 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 night, at a signal from Gideon’s war horn, the three companies sounded 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!’
“The sleeping army was suddenly aroused. Upon every side was seen the light of the flaming torches. In every direction was heard the sound of trumpets, with the cry of the assailants.
“Believing themselves at the mercy of an overwhelming force, the Midianites were panic-stricken. With wild cries of alarm they fled for life, and, mistaking their own companions for enemies, they slew one another.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, 550-553.
- What is possible when God’s people are fully confident in His wisdom and in His guidance of their affairs?
1 Samuel 14:6 And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the Lord will work for us: for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few.
Zechariah 4:6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.
“The three hundred chosen men not only possessed courage and self-control, but they were men of faith. They had not defiled themselves with idolatry. 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 those who serve Him.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 549, 550.
For additional study
“If they would cherish true humility, the Lord could do much more for His peo- ple; but there are few who can be trusted with any large measure of responsibil- ity 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.
“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 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….” –Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 553, 554.