Gideon's Victory: Jehovah-Shalom  —  the Lord Send Peace: No. 3

Judges 7:8  •  12 min. read  •  grade level: 6
We now come to Gideon's victory. "And the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley." (Judg. 7:88So 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. (Judges 7:8).) It is important for the man of faith to know that, however vast the host of the enemy may be, it is "beneath him in the valley." We must not expect victory unless we know our dead and risen position in Christ. Greatly increased was the host of Midian. "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." Great the power and ever increasing the worldliness of Christendom. But all were beneath Gideon in the valley. What is your stand-point? Are you in the worldliness, like Lot in Sodom? Or are you consciously in Christ, and the world beneath you, like Abraham, when he looked down on the doomed plains beneath him? and like Gideon, as he looked down on the hosts below? It is written, " For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."
The faith of Gideon was in God. In himself there was great weakness; it is so with us. The first step must be according to his position.
The Lord said unto him, " Arise, get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered it into thine hand."
How important, then, it is to be in our right place. How can we get down, if we are down? If of the world, how can we be used in testimony, any more than Lot was? Had he not to be pulled out of it? How little is real separation to Christ understood in this day? And perhaps quite as little the true place of the believer, as dead and risen with Christ.
"Get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered it into thy hand/' Now mark the secret of the Lord. Not by might, nor by power. There lay the vast hosts of the enemy. Gideon was bidden to go down, and hear what they say. " And 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 Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell.....And 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." This is God's way -His principle. "God hath chosen the weak things of this world to confound the things which are mighty." It was not the thunder of an eighty-ton gun that affrighted the hosts of Midian. It was "a cake of barley bread."
Was it not so when destructive famine was about to devastate Egypt and the countries around? A cake of barley bread was placed in the court of Pharaoh. A poor despised young man, forgotten and cruelly wronged, lay in one of Egypt's prisons. That was the cake of barley bread whom God made lord of all Egypt—the deliverer, Joseph. In a later day, when the children of Israel groaned in bitter bondage, a little helpless babe was heard crying in a basket of rushes, exposed on the banks of the Nile. That little babe was the cake of barley bread tumbled again into the court of Pharaoh. That little babe was the chosen instrument by which God overthrew the hosts of Egypt, and delivered His people. Again, when Philistine hosts defied the trembling armies of Israel, a ruddy youth was tending his father's sheep. This young David was the cake of barley bread tumbled into the valley of Elah. David was the chosen deliverer of God's people. Again, who is that cake of barley bread in the mighty court of Assyria? Daniel, the captive of Judah. But all these disappear when we contemplate the lowly path of the Eternal Son of God made flesh. Though God over all, blessed for evermore, yet He made Himself of no reputation. The perfect expression of humility and dependence. Not one atom of Satan's usurped world would He accept.
And when He had accomplished redemption^ risen from among the dead, ascended to glory and sent down the Holy Ghost, who were the men chosen, and sent forth as His ambassadors into the world? Again, it is still the cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian. Poor fishermen, who had no artillery but the sword of the Spirit, the word of God. What a picture of this was Gideon's little army! "And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that lie worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the Lord hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian." Beloved reader, is this the effect on you? If the Spirit give you the interpretation thereof, you will see that it is not by outward show, by numbers, by learned books, learned scholastic lectures, or by great and learned men; but that God is glorified in using the feeblest instruments, the nobodies. Does the interpretation thereof bow our hearts in worship? It is no question with Gideon as to numbers: the little company of three hundred are to faith the host of Israel. The Lord hath delivered; this was enough for faith. Strong in faith, "he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man's hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers." Every eye was then to be fixed on himself—as he did, so were they to do. "When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, The sword of the Lord and of Gideon."
Thus they brake the pitchers, and held their lamps, and they cried, The sword of the Lord and of Gideon. "And they stood every man in his place.' In the judgment of man nothing could be more contemptible. Yes, these three hundred are a striking picture of the chosen servants of the Lord Jesus Christ, of that ministry and testimony which is truly of God. The apostle says," For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord..... For God, who commandeth the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." (2 Cor. 4:5-75For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. 6For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. (2 Corinthians 4:5‑7).) Now is this our position, gathered to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, like they were to Gideon? Are our eyes fixed on Him, not of the world, even as He is not of the world? Are we as separate from this world as they were separate from Midian? Are we every man in his place? Are you in yours, am I in mine? Not of a tribe or sect of our own choosing, are you sure you are where God has placed you? Each believer was so in the church as the Holy Ghost formed it, (1 Cor. 12)
We would call special attention to these words, u For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord." That devoted servant of Christ, Paul, could thus speak, satisfied to be less than nobody. But what Gideon's pitchers were on that dark night, and as he commanded the light to shine from those broken pitchers, those earthen vessels; so now, in this dark world, are we, who have this treasure in earthen vessels. What a treasure, what a light in a dark place—the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. And the power of this testimony is the Holy Ghost dwelling in us. What a picture this is of the utter weakness of man and the mighty power of God! A broken earthen vessel. But the light shines, the trumpet sounds. The victory was complete; "and all the host ran, and cried? and fled."
From the days of the apostles to this moment, it will be found, that the spiritual power of the church, or the remnant out of what arrogantly calls itself the church, has been in proportion to its weakness. The barley cake in the host of Midian has ever been repeated. What a path was that of Paul's! A broken earthen vessel. In stripes, in labors, in prisons, in deaths oft; beaten, stoned, shipwrecked. And what perils, what weariness and painfulness, what watchings, hunger, thirst, fastings, cold, nakedness. (2 Cor. 11) And in history how God did use the poor men of Lyons, as they were called—the poor sufferers of the valleys; and in this country, when Wycliff sent out the poor priests to preach Christ through the length and breadth of the country.
Surely we are in great danger at this time in forgetting the cake of barley bread. It is evident, just as we seek to be, and become prominent, we fail in the testimony of God. Let God decide as to numbers, the question for each soul is this, Do I answer to these devoted three hundred? Am I in my place, gathered to Christ, my eye fixed on Him, seeking to walk as He walked? Have I the light in the pitcher, oil in the vessel? No wonder, where persons take the place of profession, like the foolish virgins without oil, without Christ, that they should become one with Midian. Surely this is the closing scene of the dark night of a worldly Christianity. Now, are you a light in this dark place? Oh, let us awake, for "the night is far spent, the day is at hand."
What is the watchword of victory? "The sword of the Lord and of Gideon." If we are truly gathered to Christ, what have we? The sword of the Spirit; that is, the word of God and the Holy Ghost.
Gideon pursued the host to Jordan, the well-known figure of death and judgment. This is the great principle of the Christian's victory over the world, and every lust of the flesh. "Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him in baptism unto death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even we also should walk in newness of life." This is the true killing-place of the lusts of the flesh, and all the worldliness that has come in. Whatever temptation may assail, pursue it to Jordan. No prince or king lust must be spared; death to it. For sin has been judged on the cross. Our very sin has been forever judged in the person of Christ on the cross. Shall we live, then, in that which has been put to death on the cross? But we are not only reckoned dead with Christ, but we are also risen with Christ. "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness which is idolatry." (Col. 3:1-51If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. 5Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: (Colossians 3:1‑5).)
Though, as we see, this principle of death is our very profession in baptism, yet how little it is owned in practice! The Lord give us grace to judge everything inconsistent with our place, as dead and risen with Christ. What can be so offensive to God as to take this place, and then follow the fashion and practices of the world? Jordan was the place of Gideon's victory. Death is the Christian's victory. Dead to sin, dead to law, dead to the world; crucified with Christ, risen with Christ. Header, there must be reality in all this. These are the last days. There must be decision for Christ, our true Gideon, our true center.
Gideon failed after all this in the matter of the ear-rings. The Captain of our salvation never tails. We may fail, He never fails. Twenty thousand of us may fail, and go back—ah, and ten thousand more; but God's word remains the same. Christ is the same. Like Gideon's army numbers may have to be less, but as they all looked at Gideon, and did as he did, so may we have our eyes fastened on Christ, God over all blessed for evermore. Yes, what a path of humiliation! " He made himself of no reputation." Can we be doing as He did if we seek the opposite of this? Have we not done so? Instead of taking the lowest place, yea, of being nothing, have we not assumed to be important, and in various ways sought prominence? Blessed be God for coming in to humble us. Oh, to be the barley cake again. If each believer was like one of the lamp-bearers in his place- everyone in his place—what an effect it would have! If each who professes to be in the testimony of God were so, what an effect it would have in this dark night! "Among whom ye shine [or shine ye] as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life." Do we hear this word from the Lord? He expects each one to be a light-bearer,, and to shine in the world. The darker the night, the brighter the light. Only, not self, but Christ I Gideon's victory was blessing and peace for all Israel. Let us never forget this: though called to take the most decided stand for Christ and with Christ, like Gideon's little army, yet it is that the heart of Christ may flow out in its infinite love to the whole church of God. Thus keep us, dear Lord, and thus use the least of Thy saints, in Thy boundless love to all. And thus grant that we may be as separate from the world, and all its ways, as Gideon's little army was separate from the host of Midian! What a thought, that He desires each believer to be a light in this dark night!