"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."
God had a battle plan against the Midianites. It didn’t involve larger armies with greater armaments. !n God’s inevitable way of doing things, He makes His obedient people to be part of His victory, yet He leaves no room for us to boast.
A careful reading of the account in Judges beginning with chapter 6, verse 25, shows Gideon to be a rightfully uncertain man. When destroying the altar of Baal, verse 27 says:
"…because he feared his father’s household, and the men of the city, that he could not do it by day, that he did it by night."
As it was, Joash, the father of Gideon, stood for his son and renounced Baal. Yet, even when the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and God told him he was to be used to command the forces, he was uncertain. Gideon implored God for a sign, the sign of the fleece, and God answered with a sign. However, one sign was not enough; Gideon asked God to do it again.
When Gideon finally went to war, he had a formidable host of 32,000 men. Yet, God did not want such a large army. All who were fearful were excused from the battle, but still there were too many. Finally, God narrowed down the forces He would use to 300, and at that, they were to be unarmed. In their left hands they carried an empty jug, and in their right hands, a trumpet. God had a strategy; it was to let the enemy defeat himself. The small host had a battle cry: "The sword of the Lord and of Gideon." However, there was no tempered steel blade with which to cut down the Midianites. The sword of the Lord was to be the Word of God. Through that phrase, they won the battle because they followed God’s strategy.
Satan is an imitator of the Lord’s strategy, but twists it for his own use. He sows the kind of confusion which results in the people of the camp turning against each other. He longs to give us defeat through our own confusion. The evil one often has the church fighting against itself.
Oh, that mission boards and evangelistic agencies today could be like Gideon’s band; not struggling with each other in confusion, but together as an army following God’s plan; not thinking in terms of superior numbers, but following a superior God! In the battle with the Midianites, God used the natural confusion of men to secure a victory as the Midianites defeated themselves. How sad that, too often, the Church ends up defeating itself as it battles in confusion for numbers or victories.
The Scripture points out that:
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast."
− Ephesians 2:8, 9
It is not by the works of man that we shall defeat the evil one. Most Bible believers will insist that they know they are saved by grace and not by works. Yet, some are very insistent that all people must conform to their notions of the Biblical religion. The demand to conform to such standards infers that trusting in the shed blood of Christ is not enough. The demand for conformity to style and special understandings of Scripture by some Christians has us fighting like Midianites destroying one another.
Those who have their own battle plan of how the "good fight" of Christian living should be fought have their own targets and objectives. What they say and do is logical, but they would do well to remember that God’s strength is seen in our weakness.
Surely Gideon’s 300 had nothing of which to boast. No general in his right mind would have planned such a battle. They could not say they defeated the host of Midian in combat. Rather, they had to confess that God alone gave the strategy. God alone gave the victory, and with hearts inclined toward Him, they could rejoice that the victory was theirs.
Let’s not boast one against another that we are saved, sanctified and superior. Let us bear the cross by which we are saved, knowing this is God’s strategy, and God’s instrument of our victory.