9 September 2018: Gideon
I learned two new things today.
In our church’s continuing series on Old Testament heroes we have reached the story of Gideon. Judges 7:1-8 and 16-23 was read at all four services. These verses describe the defeat of the Midianites by the Israelites under the leadership of Gideon.
They come after the account of Gideon’s call by God to lead the Israelites against the persecution they are suffering at the Midianites’ hands. Gideon’s initial response can be summed as “Who? Me? I’m the least of the least in Israel.” This fits in with a continuing theme in the story, that God can succeed where His chosen instruments could not do so using their own strength. To remind yourself of the whole story, read Judges 6.
Gideon calls the men of Israel to join him to form an army to fight the Midianites. 32,000 respond but God tells Gideon that is too many and he sends home all who are frightened. (I can’t help feeling that it must have taken some courage to admit to being frightened!)
10,000 remain. God tells Gideon that is still too many and gets him to send all 10,000 down to water to drink. God then tells him to send home all those who scoop up the water with their hands and retain only those who lap like dogs, who number just 300. Our Rector, who preached at the traditional 10:30 service, made the point that has long intrigued me: You would have thought it would have been better to retain those who scooped up the water because they would be more alert. Her answer was that God wanted to prove His strength by using only the weakest.
Gideon gets all his 300 remaining men to surround the Midianite camp at night with torches hidden in jars and with trumpets. At the signal they break the jars so that the torches shine out and they blow the trumpets. This throws the Midianites into complete confusion so that they are easily overcome.
Our Rector told us the first new thing I learned. Apparently in those days only an army’s officers carried torches. When they saw the torches surrounding them the Midianites thought they were being attacked by 300 companies of soldiers and not a mere 300.
The Lay Minister who preached at our 4:30 service gave me the second new fact. The logo of Gideons International, who distribute the Gideon Bibles, is a jar containing a flaming torch. (See above.)