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God's Glory His Passion, Part 2

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God’s Glory His Passion, Part 2

3. God’s Pursuit of His Glory in the Preparation of the Army
After Gideon passed the test at home, it is time to move on to the problem of the nation. Verse 33, “All the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East came together, and they crossed the Jordan.” The black cloud of people and camels and livestock swarms across the Jordan river and sets up camp in Israel again.
v. 34, “The Spirit of the LORD clothed Gideon.” This is Good News friends. Not only has God commissioned Gideon to do this massive job of delivering – now He clothes the man with His own presence in the person of the Holy Spirit. If God calls you to do something for His Glory – He will give you the presence you need to get the job done. Sure enough, when the young man blows the trumpet to call for men who will follow him into battle – the response is great: 32,000 men leave home to come and join him – ready for war.
Now, at 32,000 men, Israel’s army is still hugely outnumbered by the Midianites whose camels cannot even be counted. Israel has 32,000 troops; Midian has 135,000. But you know, with God on his side, Gideon just might have a chance.
Oh, but God is not content with Gideon’s army. The practically-minded among us would say – “Right, we aren’t satisfied either. We don’t want to see needless casualties – Gideon should go on another recruiting drive and up the troop levels so he has a fighting chance.” Isn’t that what we so often do when we set our church budgets – or decide on missions projects – or make plans for doing God’s work? “What do we have? Do we have enough?”
But that is NOT why God is dissatisfied. Chapter 7:2 tells us God’s opinion: “The LORD said to Gideon, ‘The people with you are TOO MANY for me to give the Midianites into their hand.”
WAIT A MINUTE! TOO MANY?! “Lord, what are you talking about? Look at the size of the enemy!”
God explains what He means: “…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.’ Here it is, friends – Here is the point in a nutshell – God comes right out with it: “I am passionate about my glory - - And if you go into this battle with this number – I know how twisted your thinking process is – you are going to end up saying - - ‘Look what WE DID!’”
So, v. 3, “Whoever I fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mt. Gilead.” “Okay, so Gideon might lose a couple of hundred men – that’s fine – you don’t need sissies weighing you down anyway.”
22,000 of the people left. That’s more than 2/3 of the army. If Gideon was nervous before – now what is he thinking? But wait, God’s still not finished. V. 4 – “The people are still too many. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there.”
The potential soldiers all walk to the water’s edge for a drink and God tells Gideon to watch how the men drink and separate everyone who laps the water like a dog, from everyone who kneels down to drink. 300 men put their hands to their mouths and lap the water like dogs, everyone else kneels down. V. 7 God says, “With the 300 men who lapped, I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand, let all the others go home.”
Now I heard the same S.S. lesson you did – I saw the flannelgraph pictures of the men and heard the explanation that the men who knelt down to drink would have made bad soldiers – they weren’t paying attention to what was going on around, while the ones who lapped the water had their heads up – that means they were alert and ready for action. That almost sounds convincing – ALMOST. But that lesson on troop selection doesn’t come from the Bible – Remember God’s concern - - He wants the glory! The reason the lappers are chosen is because there are only 300 of them. 9,700 men do it the other way – that’s too many. God will get far more glory from a victory of 300 men that he would with almost 10,000.
So off Gideon goes with his 300 men. Now I want you too see that God pursues His glory with Kindness - - v. 9, “Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hand. But if you are afraid to go down, go down with Purah your servant. And you shall hear what they say, and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go own against the camp.”
Gideon goes down to this camp of 135,000 men and camels that cannot be counted – and out of all the conversations that must be going on in all the tents of the camp – v. 13, Gideon happens to hear one particular soldier talking to another: “Behold, I dreamed a dream and behold a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian and came to the tent and struck it so that it fell and turned it upside down, so that the tent lay flat.’ 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.’”
God knows exactly what his fearful servant needs to hear and so he takes Gideon to precisely the place where he will hear 2 enemy soldiers confirming God’s promise. It is God’s glory to give His people what we need – if discipline – then discipline - if it’s encouragement on the eve of a life and death battle – then that is what he will give.
4. God’s Pursuit of His Glory in the Victory
Gideon, carried by his newfound confidence, goes back to camp. V. 15 he calls the tiny army to attention: “Arise, for the LORD has given the host of Midian into your hand.”
He divides the 300 men into 3 companies – gives every soldier – not a bow and arrow, not a spear but, “a trumpet, a jar and a torch.” The groups surround the camp and on the signal,
v. 20"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!”" (Judges 7:20 , ESV)
Look at what happens – vv. 21-22: "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 Beth-shittah toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel-meholah, by Tabbath." (Judges 7:21-22 , ESV)
See how the victory is won – Gideon’s army cannot claim a grain of credit for itself. The Midianites are startled out of their sleep by the noise of the trumpet and the smashing of the jars and then the hundreds of torches piercing the darkness - - in great chaos – they turn on each other and kill each other.
See God’s glory on display - - from the beginning of this account to the end – God shows that His greatest priority – His great passion – is for HIS glory to be displayed.
Some of you still don’t like the sound of that. If God’s first priority is His own glory – doesn’t that make Him selfish? First commandment: “Have no other God’s before me.” Applies to God – if He placed His greatest affection on anything less than what is ultimately good – He would be an idolater.
You still don’t like that. If God’s first priority is His own glory – then does that mean His love for us shrinks? If that is your concern – let me urge you – look at Gideon’s story - - It is exactly BECAUSE of God’s joyful pursuit of His glory that He sent Jesus Christ - - the only way to vindicate his justice and celebrate His love.
It is BECAUSE of God’s joyful pursuit that He has called you to eternal life through Jesus Christ -
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