Chapter 5: The Showdown





If the Mideast situation were to play out to its logical conclusion wherein God is not relevant to our modern world, Israel as a nation would cease to exist in a few more years. The hostile people who surround that tiny nation greatly outnumber them, and weaponry continues to pour into the hands of Israel’s adversaries. Even more ominous is the attitude of the rest of the world. Within the opulent ambiance of the United Nations, the Muslim-dominated proceedings reek of unreasoning hatred toward Israel. Even the United States, long a treasured ally of Israel, appears to be backing off from its previous commitments. Israel is truly becoming completely friendless.


This situation appears to be precisely the way God wants it to be. One can almost hear God challenging the world to “bring it on”. Scripture plainly tells us that when Israel’s doom is imminent, when Israel’s only hope of salvation will be God, that will be the time that God will act.


There is a passage in the Bible that is particularly relevant to the present controversy over Israel. It is the well-known story of Gideon, as presented in Chapter 6 of the Book of Judges:


“And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years. And the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel; and because of the Midianites, the children of Israel made themselves the dens which are in the mountains, and caves, and strongholds. And so it was, when Israel had sown, that the Midianites came up, and the Amalekites, and the children of the east, even they came up against them; and they encamped against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth, till thou come up to Gaza, and left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass. For they came up with their cattle and their tents, and they came as grasshoppers for multitude; for both they and their camels were without number: and they entered into the land to destroy it. And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites; and the children of Israel cried unto the Lord. And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord because of the Midianites, the the Lord sent a prophet unto the children of Israel, who said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage; and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out from before you, and gave you their land; and I said unto you, I am the Lord your God; fear not the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell; but ye have not obeyed my voice.


“And there came an angel of the Lord, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash, the Abiezrite: and his son, Gideon, threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valor.”


I love that passage. I can picture the angel as a man sitting down with his back leaning against a gnarled old oak tree, a stalk of wheat dangling from between his front teeth. In my mind’s eye I see kind of a silly grin on his face as he hails Gideon as a mighty man of valor, knowing full well that Gideon is plagued with fears for his life and is anything but a man of might and valor. I picture Gideon with that same realization, pointing to his own chest and replying, “Who, me?”


“And Gideon said unto him, O my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? And where are all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt? But now the Lord hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.”


Evidently those Israelites who had maintained a shred of faith suffered from the same Santa-Claus mentality that plagues a good many modern Christians who expect gifts from God without regard for their own personal responsibility with respect to him. They had just been visited by a prophet, who had explained exactly why they were in such a fix, but apparently nobody had listened to him. The mercy that God was about to show Israel in the face of this apathy toward him demonstrates a love that is above our own.


“And the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have not I sent thee? And [Gideon] said unto him, O my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? Behold, my family is poor in Manassah, and I am the least in my father’s house. And the Lord said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man. And [Gideon] said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then show me a sign that thou talkest with me. Depart not from here, I pray thee, until I come unto thee, and bring forth my present, and set it before thee. And he said, I will tarry until thou come again. And Gideon went in, and made ready a kid, and unleavened cakes of an ephah of flour. The flesh he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot, and brought it out unto him under the oak, and presented it. And the angel of God said unto him, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and lay them upon this rock, and pour out the broth. And he did so. Then the angel of the Lord put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the Lord departed out of his sight. And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the Lord, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord God! For I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face. And the Lord said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die. Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovah-shalom; unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.


Gideon was then commanded by God to tear down his father’s altar to Baal, which he did, and for which he put his life in danger. But he wasn’t yet the man of faith that God could use to rid the Israelites of the Midianites. Moving down to verse 36, we come upon the famous test of fleece:


“And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, behold, I will put a fleece of wool on the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside it, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said. And it was so; for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wrung the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water. And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once more with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew. And God did so that night; for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.


“Then Jerubaal, who is Gideon, and all the people who were with him, rose up early, and encamped beside the well of Harod, so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley. And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people who 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. Now, therefore, go, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from Mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand. And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many. Bring them down unto the water, and I will test them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go. So he brought down the people unto the water: and the Lord said unto Gideon, Everyone who lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise everyone who boweth down upon his knees to drink. And the number of them who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men; but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water. And the Lord said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men who lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand; and let all the other people go every man unto his place. So 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 these three hundred men; and the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley.


“And it came to pass the same night, that the Lord said unto him, Arise, get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered it into thine hand. . .And he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet into every man’s hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers. And he said unto them, Look unto me, and do likewise; and, behold, when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so shall ye 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. So Gideon, and the hundred men who were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and broke the pitchers that were in their hands. And the three companies blew the trumpets, and broke the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands with which to blow; and they cried, The Sword of the Lord, and of Gideon. And they stood every man in his place round about the camp; and all the host ran, and cried, and fled. And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the Lord set every man’s sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host, and the host fled to Beth-shittah in Zererah, and to the border of Abelmeholah, unto Tabbath.


Gideon pursued the fleeing Midianites, along with the three hundred and the men of three tribes, and killed their kings Oreb and Zeeb. In doing so, they took back the waters of the Jordan and the region of Bethbarah (Bethabara), the locale of Jesus’ baptism.



[to be continued]


























Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: