Gideon and his 300 men go into battle against the Midianite hoard. Their armament is not the standard for battle. They are each carrying a trumpet in one hand and a torch covered by a jug in the other.
We left our little band of warriors the last time we were together as they were reading for war. Their forces had been reduced from 32,000 to 300. God was NOT going to share the credit for this victory. Those cut from the forces had gone home but we will see them again in a little while. Gideon has handed out the ‘battle armament’ to his people. We are not told if they have swords strapped to their waists but their hands are too full to use them. Let’s join them and see the wonders God is about to do with them.
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Gideon reaches the outskirts of the camp while it is still dark. Their torches didn’t provide much light or alert the enemy to their presence as they were contained within the jars. The Midianites are mostly asleep except for the sentries who are keeping watch. Gideon motions for his men to spread out. He knows that the other two groups are doing the same on two other sides of the camp. He gives them a little time to get into place.
Enough time has passed. Gideon looks to his right and left ensuring his men are ready. He takes a deep breath and offers one more silent prayer. Gideon puts his lips to his trumpet and blows as long and hard as he can. Then he smashes the gar that is covering his torch and holds the torch high in the air. As soon as the first note was heard from his trumpet 299 other trumpets broke out around the camp. Within seconds lights wink on around the perimeter. A loud cry breaks forth from all directions “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” (verse 20b).
Shouts are heard as the guards rouse the camp. “We are surrounded! Get up! Get up!” Blankets are thrown off and soldiers are scrambling to their feet. In terror those in the camp run into one another and expecting it is an enemy attacking they strike out with their sword, killing their own comrades. Screams of pain and terror reverberate throughout the whole camp.
Another long note of trumpets sounds and those that remain in the camp make haste for a gap in the lights surrounding them. Gideon has positioned his men on three sides with the only ‘escape route’ being toward the Jordan.
As the remaining army pushes its way over itself to freedom Gideon calls to the men on his side of the camp. “I need runners! The fastest we have! Send word to Naphtali and Asher and Manasseh to join us. It’s time to run these dogs to ground! Send word to Ephraim and have them hold the boundary from Beth-barah to the Jordan. We are going to trap them between us and see the hand of the Lord in action!”
Men in all stages of battle readiness come pouring in to help run the Midianites down. Men from Naphtali, Asher and Manasseh who had gone home had remained ready. Some were more ready than others. “I KNEW we would get in on the activity! I’m glad they we made camp nearby.” “Me too brother. I wouldn’t want to miss this for anything.”
The people from Ephraim are also quick to respond. They set up their perimeter and the Midianites are trapped. Defenders in front and attackers in the rear. Frantic army in between. Swords are flashing and the three groups meet. Within the group are two men who stand out. Their manner of dress gives them away. They are the two princes of Midian; Oreb and Zeeb.
Battle sounds abound. The slapping of leather, clanging of swords, shouts of frustration, cries of pain, and orders being relayed fill the air. Gideon calls out to those around him, “Grab the princes! We have plans for them.” It takes little time to subdue the two princes and they are dragged from the fray of battle.
Detachments form from Gideon’s original forces; one for each prince. Each prince is transported to a location specific to them. Oreb is taken to a rock named after himself. Zeeb is taken to one of his own threshing floors.
Gideon is in the detachment bringing Oreb to his final destination. Initially Oreb was struggling, trying to break free but after a short while he seems resigned to his fate until they approach the rock which bears his name.
“My god will strike you dead if you don’t turn me lose! My people will kill you for this! You will NEVER be safe! But if you free me I will personally reward you.”
Gideon laughs as he hears Oreb’s words. “MY God gave your whole army into my hands. HE has freed us from your people. And this day your head will be separated from your shoulders and you will be a threat NO MORE!”
Oreb is thrown to the ground and in one swift stroke his head falls away from his body. Shouts of victory fill the air. Gideon snatches up Oreb’s head and puts it on top of a spear. Oreb’s body is left for the birds to deal with; he deserves nothing better. Gideon and his detachment make their way back to the main body of soldiers. Gideon sees the detachment who meted out the same fate to Zeeb approaching as they near the battle field.
Both princes’ heads are raised high and another battle cry goes up! Israel is fired up and Midian pushes through the front lines to make their way across the Jordan. Israel pursues hot on their tails! Few escape from their pursuers. Those who do will carry the message of the Lord’s deliverance of Israel.
Finally the sounds of battle fade and men begin to gather again. What’s heard now are stories of individual encounters. Stories that will be sung about for generations to come.
But one group isn’t happy. The leaders of Ephraim gather and are determined to have a word with Gideon.
(To be continued)
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Father God, I LOVE hearing Your stories! Gideon got one of those miracles he had only heard about. He had a few to share with his children and grandchildren. I am SO GRATEFUL for the messages that You send that give me strength for what is to come; like You did with Gideon. There was NO WAY he could have affected the deliverance of Israel on his own. You made SURE he knew that going in. You also made SURE he knew that YOU were going to finish the job.
I just realized how much of a miracle it was for all the troops for the second part of the battle to be available just when Gideon needed them. All the men were sent home. They didn’t have radio or telephones to alert everyone. Even the men from Ephraim were a miracle. Gideon’s people had to get in front of the fleeing army, alert the people, and allow them time to set up their defenses. THAT was another MIRACLE! You are FULL of them Father!
Thank you for all the miracles You have given me and my family this week. Personal safety from the fires as well as safety of their property. Thank You for the safety of the first responders. Very few had any injuries during the fires we faced. I know there are fires raging in other places but our community if finally finding relief. I pray for those who lost loved ones during this time and those who lost property. I also pray for those who are still battling the flames raging out of control. Protect those fighting on the front lines Lord. Give peace to those who have to stand and wait. Thank You again for the mercy You poured down on us!