Wednesday, July 03, 2019

2019.07.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ Judges 7

Read Judges 7
Questions for Littles: South of whom did Gideon and his men encamp in Judges 7:1? What was Yahweh’s complaint about Gideon’s men in Judges 7:2a? Of what does such a number put them in danger (verse 2b)? What is Gideon told to announce in Judges 7:3? How many leave and how many stay? What does Yahweh think of this number (Judges 7:4)? Where does He tell Gideon to bring them? Who will choose who stays and who goes? Into what two groups does Yahweh say to divide them (Judges 7:5)? How many lap the water like a dog (Judges 7:6)? How many would that have left in the other group? Which group does Yahweh choose (Judges 7:7)? Whom does He say will do the saving? What did these three hundred bring with them (Judges 7:8)? Where was the Midianite camp? What does Yahweh tell Gideon to do in Judges 7:9? What additional option does he give him in Judges 7:10-11a? Which option does Gideon choose (verse 11b)? How many soldiers were in the Midianite camp (Judges 7:12)? What destroyed the tent of men in the dream that Gideon overheard in Judges 7:13? What does the other guy say about this in Judges 7:14? What is the first thing that Gideon does when he hears this (Judges 7:15)? Then what does he tell the camp of Israel? Into how many companies does Gideon divide his men (Judges 7:16)? What does he put into every man’s hands? What does he tell them to do (Judges 7:17)? What are they all going to do (Judges 7:18)? Whose sword does Gideon tell them to shout about? What did Gideon and his 100 men do in Judges 7:19? What do all three companies do (Judges 7:20)? How does the Midianite camp respond (Judges 7:21)? How many of them respond this way? What does Yahweh cause them to do to one another (Judges 7:22)? Who gather in Judges 7:23? What do they do? Whom does Gideon send into all the mountains of Ephraim (Judges 7:24)? Why were they in the mountains (cf. Judges 6:2)? Whom do they capture in Judges 7:25? What do they do with their heads?
God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. That is to say that God’s strength expresses itself most clearly and displays itself most spectacularly against the backdrop of our weakness.

The big story of Judges 7 is that God intentionally chose to save by a weak contingent and a weak leader, in order that it would be plain that all of the strength was His own.

Against an army that numbered as the sand on the seashore (Judges 7:12), Gideon had only mustered 32,000, but this was still too many. Yahweh’s supervised enforcement of Deuteronomy 20:8 cuts it down to 10,000, but that’s still too many. The Lord splits them into a group of 9,700 and a group of 300; and, God chooses the group of 300.

But it’s not just the mustering numbers that are weak. It is Gideon himself. Notice in Judges 7:9 that the Lord tells Gideon to go ahead and attack, because He has delivered the Midianite camp into his hand. Then, He does something curious. He offers Gideon a “fleece” (to borrow language from Gideon’s already-demonstrated, wishy-washy unbelief in Judges 6:36-40). “If you are afraid…,” God says.

And of course, Gideon is afraid! The Lord stoops down to Gideon’s weakness, and Gideon jumps at the chance. It turns out that, by all rights, Gideon should have gone home with the 22,000. God is patient and forbearing with His fickle and unbelieving servant.

This is what makes Judges 7:20 so offensive. Yahweh had said that the number reduction was “lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me by saying, ‘my own hand has saved me’” (Judges 7:2). And fearful fleece-man Gideon has the army shout, “A sword for Yahweh and for Gideon!” He quite literally puts himself in the same sentence as Yahweh.

When we come to a passage like this, we need to see the great power of our God, how easily He can save by many or by few. But we also need to see the great danger of our pride—how prone we are to adding ourselves in with Him as recipients of some of the credit. Let us resolve ourselves against this and trust and praise God alone!
What situations of weakness has God given you to remind you to trust and praise Him alone?
Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge” or TPH46C “God Is Our Refuge”

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