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For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (I Corinthians 1:25)
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#342, 26th April 2018
Hi, Friend,
Welcome to your newsletter and Family Movie Night. In this issue you'll find a wonderful teaching by Peter Wade that we've entitled, Gideon's 301: The Movie. The text was lifted from one of Peter's pending books, You and God Incorporated. In this section, Peter cites some examples of working with God (Judges, chapter 7) with the story of Gideon and the Median army, and mentions what a marvelous movie or television special it would make. Well, we looked and found a few already available, but not the way God tells us the story! (You can do your own research.) Therefore we've made a much more accurate, albeit an imaginary movie, from Peter Wade's teaching, and divided it into two sections with an intermission! We know that his teaching will bless you and touch your own imagination as you see just how creative our God is!  
 

        

"Suddenly 301 trumpets blast out, loud enough to wake the dead, and then the sound of piercing crashes of crockery breaking on the ground surrounds the camp!"
                                                                                   
The Preview
It so often seems that in the Bible, as well as in everyday life, the things God uses to take care of situations that we need fixed are often unusual, out of the ordinary. You and I would not normally choose these ways in which to solve a problem, but our God does and He’s a great big wonderful God.

For example, if I had been Samson, I might not have chosen to pick up the jaw of an ass and win that victory. If I had been David, I wouldn’t have picked up five little stones from a brook to kill a giant. Had I been Moses, I wouldn’t have held up my rod to part the Red Sea—I would have thought about constructing barges to get the people across. If I had been Joshua, I certainly wouldn’t have marched around the walls of Jericho, once a day for six days and seven times and expected the city to give in to me. If it had been me, I would have missed that glorious victory.

God uses unusual and different things in life in order to bring glory to Himself and to make the victory a memorable one. “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (I Corinthians 1:25).

The Foreshadowing
In the book of Judges, chapter 7, we have the record of Gideon, a man that we hear very little of prior to this incident. In the previous chapter God had sent an angel to Gideon to inform him that he had been  chosen to deliver the nation of Israel. At the time they were under siege by the Midian army, and Gideon wasn’t sure about God’s commission. Gideon told the angel that he was not a great man, not good with words, not a general of the army, and eventually he ran out of excuses. But the angel told Gideon, in essence, that God was going to use him, that he should do what God tells him to do, and promised him victory. Gideon gathered together an army of 32,000 to face an enemy numbering 15,000 men—that’s better than a 2 to 1 advantage.

The Tests
Then God sent him another message. “The Lord said to Gideon, ‘The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, “My own hand has saved me.” Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, “Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead.”’ Then 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained. (Judges 7:2-3)

Prior to this, the nation had turned its back on God, and He wanted to make certain that the credit for the victory would be His. That the bulk of the army did not have a strong faith in God is clear, for 22,000 men, “fearful and trembling,” went home. To co-operate in a victory with God, you must totally believe in Him. Gideon is now down to an army of 10,000 and that’s 2 to 3 against. Now I would have thought that ratio would have proved the point, but God thought otherwise. Ten thousand men with God on your side is a waste of resources, so another test was called for.

And the Lord said to Gideon, ‘The people are still too many. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there, and anyone of whom I say to you, “This one shall go with you,” shall go with you, and anyone of whom I say to you, “This one shall not go with you,” shall not go.’ So Gideon brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, ‘Every one who laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set by himself. Likewise, every one who kneels down to drink.’

"And the number of those who lapped, putting their hands to their mouths, was 300 men, but all the rest of the people knelt down to drink water. And the Lord said to Gideon, ‘With the 300 men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand, and let all the others go every man to his home.’ So the people took provisions in their hands, and their trumpets. And he sent all the rest of Israel every man to his tent, but retained the 300 men. And the camp of Midian was below him in the valley
.” (Judges 7:4-8).

 
I think this test was created because when a man gets on his knees to drink the water straight out of the stream, he is vulnerable to attack. The one that gets the water up in his hands is looking around and is aware of his circumstances. Only 300 men passed the test. Now, how’s that for odds—166 against 1? But God thought that was a sufficient number.

The Plot
Let’s look at the strategic plan that God used. “That same night the Lord said to him, ‘Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hand. But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant. And you shall hear what they say, and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp.’

You see, God knew that Gideon was fearful of the situation. This man, who had never been a general, had seen his army reduced from 32,000 men to 300. I think I would have asked the Lord for reinforcements!

The Lord told Gideon to spy on the enemy and see what they were talking about. Gideon and his servant heard a soldier tell of his dream, and then they were astonished when the soldier’s friend interpreted the dream. “And his comrade answered, ‘This is no other than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given into his hand Midian and all the camp.’ As soon as Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped. And he returned to the camp of Israel and said, ‘Arise, for the Lord has given the host of Midian into your hand’” (Judges 7:14-15).

When Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he probably just said under his breath, “Well, praise God!” He returned to his army and boldly declared that God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into their hands. That was a powerful statement of faith. I’m sure God inspired that dream, the interpretation of it, and it just so happened that it took place in the tent outside of which Gideon and his servant were listening. The old hymn says “God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform!” (William Cowper, 1773)

The Weapons
Now let’s look at the weapons they used. “And he divided the 300 men into three companies and put trumpets into the hands of all of them and empty jars, with torches inside the jars” (Judges 7:16). What unusual weapons! “And he said to them, ‘Look at me, and do likewise. When I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do. When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then blow the trumpets also on every side of all the camp and shout, “For the Lord and for Gideon”’” (Judges 7:17-18 ESV).

I’d love to have heard those trumpets, wouldn’t you? I remember that song from The Music Man, “76 Trombones.” I wonder, what would 301 trumpets have sounded like blasting out in the middle of the night? I wish I’d been there to see such a great show! Even though 15,000 people attended that performance, we know that they didn’t enjoy it.


                              

 

Home Fellowship or Bible Study Topics You Will Find Easy To Use!

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The weapons that God gave to Gideon to use are symbolic of the weapons that God has given to help us fight our battles. First of all, each man was given a trumpet. Now the trumpet in the Bible is often used as a symbol for the voice of God. For example, in the book of Revelation, John says, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet” (Revelation 1:10). He is speaking of the voice of God. You have that same privilege of having the voice of God to guide you in the conquests in which you are involved. “And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left” (Isaiah30:21).

God wants to guide His people, but do you know what the problem is? The problem is not with God, it’s with us—our deaf ears. We so often tune out the commercials on radio and television, tune out the wife or the husband when they talk, that we also tune out the voice of God. We should stop and get quiet and say, “Father, which way is it?” The voice of God is available to you and to me. If we will but listen and apply God’s direction, we’ll win the battle. So the trumpet has significance—it’s the voice of God guiding and directing us in the battle.

Every man also had a lamp in his hand. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105). We have God’s Word, we know what God’s plan for our lives, and we know that God wants only health, wealth and happiness for us. We also know that between us and that goal there are always Midianites, the challenges and opportunities that we have to handle before we can enjoy the blessing. We need to rely on God’s Word to guide us.

So here are the weapons: the trumpet—the voice of God, and the lamp—the Word of God. However, notice that the lamp was inside a clay jar. Clay in the Bible talks about humanity. We are but clay, we are made from the dust, and we are just “mud babies” as my friend Steve Heefner says. So what does the jar signify? We’ll see that graphically in the next few verses.

So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outskirts of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, when they had just set the watch. And they blew the trumpets and smashed the jars that were in their hands. Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the jars. They held in their left hands the torches, and in their right hands the trumpets to blow. And they cried out, ‘A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!’ Every man stood in his place around the camp, and all the army ran. They cried out and fled. When they blew the 300 trumpets, the Lord set every man’s sword against his comrade and against all the army. And the army fled as far as Bethshittah toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abelmeholah, by Tabbat” (Judges 7:19-22).

Why did they smash the jars? They were broken so that the light could shine forth. Ralph Waldo Emerson put it well when he said that we should “release the imprisoned splendor.” We are to show to the world the Christ within. Many of us haven’t yet allowed the splendor to shine forth. We have yet to get our mind aligned with God’s strategy of victory.

I’m not teaching the concept of self-denial and brokenness, or the religious concept of doing things to show humility, the ashes-and-sackcloth routine, but I am saying that we must not allow our humanity to get in the way of God’s design for our lives. We excuse it and we rationalize it by saying, “Well, I’m only human, of course.” But that is an error. You are not only human; you have divinity within you; you have Christ in you the hope of glory. You are human and divine, and it’s the human part of you that stops the divine part from showing. That’s why they broke the jars and let the light shine forth upon the enemy.

I would love to have been there! I would like to see this battle produced as a television special or movie. Just picture it! In the middle of a quiet night, the Midianites and the entire camp comfortable in their tents, not expecting any action. Suddenly 301 trumpets blast out, loud enough to wake the dead, and then the sound of piercing crashes of crockery breaking on the ground surrounds the camp. When the men poke their heads out of the tent flap, they see a ring of light surrounding the camp. I think I would have done exactly the same as the Midianites did. I would have bounded out of bed, and still in my pajamas, I would have run. And that’s exactly what they did. They became so confused they started killing each other, for they couldn’t distinguish who the enemy was or wasn’t. What remained of the army fled through various towns right to the Jordan River. What a scene! What special effects! What a soundtrack!

What can we learn from this great record? How do we win using God’s weapons? We use the trumpet, listening for the voice of God. We use the lamp, the Word of God, steadfast and sure. We have Christ within, permanently and with potential, and we release the imprisoned splendor. 166 to 1 against were the odds, but with God on their side they won.

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