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The Sword for the Lord and Gideon

This is a follow up article to 'The Kings Men'.

A call for repentance. - G300 Warfare,Worship & Intercession

Judges 6;1 The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. 2 Because the power of Midianites was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. 3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. 4 They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. 5 They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. 6 Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.

7 When the Israelites cried out to the Lord because of Midian, 8 he sent them a prophet…..

Does this opening paragraph stir up your thoughts on what is happening in our nation today and do I need to expound on this?

Let us look at this passage in Deuteronomy 28.

28:42 Swarms of locusts will take over all your trees and the crops of your land.

43 The foreigners who reside among you will rise above you higher and higher, but you will sink lower and lower. 44 They will lend to you, but you will not lend to them. They will be the head, but you will be the tail.

45 All these curses will come on you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the Lord your God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you. 46 They will be a sign and a wonder to you and your descendants forever. 47 Because you did not serve the Lord your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, 48 therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the Lord sends against you. He will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you.

49 The Lord will bring a nation against you from far away, from the ends of the earth, like an eagle swooping down, a nation whose language you will not understand, 50 a fierce-looking nation without respect for the old or pity for the young. 51 They will devour the young of your livestock and the crops of your land until you are destroyed. They will leave you no grain, new wine or olive oil, nor any calves of your herds or lambs of your flocks until you are ruined. 52 They will lay siege to all the cities throughout your land until the high fortified walls in which you trust fall down. They will besiege all the cities throughout the land the Lord your God is giving you.

53 Because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege, you will eat the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters the Lord your God has given you. 54 Even the most gentle and sensitive man among you will have no compassion on his own brother or the wife he loves or his surviving children, 55 and he will not give to one of them any of the flesh of his children that he is eating.

This introduction to the call of Gideon shows us the level to which the society had been overcome by their Midianite masters.

God had handed over the Israelites to be subdued by a thoroughly pagan nation.

Judges 6:1 The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. 6 The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites.

The story of Gideon reaches over three short chapters. 

After seven years of Midianite domination, the people question why God has abandoned them. In response to this cry, the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon. We note that it was the angel of the Lord. This manifestation is not identified as ‘an angel’, but as ‘the angel’. It is considered to be Yeshua.

13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

The people had found their existence under the occupation as difficult as it was perplexing. Gideon’s encounter with the angel of the Lord, all seems quite matter-of-fact. Could it be that Gideon was unaware of to whom he was addressing as he does not seem shocked? After a brief conversation with the angel, and once convinced that he can complete his commission, Gideon asks the Lord to stay, whilst he makes Him a meal. The preparation of the meal was not a quick affair. Graciously the Lord waited.

The meal, however,  goes uneaten as the Lord commands Gideon to build an altar and to lay the food upon it. The angel of God then sets the altar and the offering ablaze.

This chapter reveals to us a great number of things as it lays out the foundation of the message. 

We must remind ourselves that Gideon’s father worshipped Baal and Asherah. It was these altars that Gideon destroyed.

Despite the Lord’s assurance of being with Gideon throughout Gideon’s mission,  Gideon is afraid of demolishing the pagan altars during the daytime.  Notice, that Gideon takes ten servants to do the task. Is this symbolic of the Ephraim returning to the Lord as the nations are regathered in the end?

The group takes along with them seven-year-old bull. This bull it would seem, is the same age as the period of captivity, but why this particular seven-year-old bull? One thought is that it was being prepared as a sacrifice to Baal. Ancient cultures practised the offerings of bulls as sacrifices. 

Gideon and his family had status within the town. The townspeople, having eventually found out who did the deed, ask for Gideon to be brought out. His father remarks, ‘cannot Baal defend himself?’ It is proven, of course, that he can’t. 

Gideon is given a new name, ‘Jerub-Baal’. Which in essence means the ‘contest of Baal’ or ‘ Let Baal contend with him’.

We note that after this event, v33 ..the Midianites, the Amalekites, and the people of the east assembled together; and they crossed over and camped in the Valley of Jezreel. 

Interestingly, the valley of Jezreel is also called the ‘valley of Megiddo’ is this significant?

Gideon then musters the clan of his father and the tribes of Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali.

Let me draw our attention to some thoughts.

The Israelites are subdued by the pagan Midianite people for seven years. God answers their cries and commissions Gideon, who is working, threshing in the winepress. God tells Gideon to destroy the altar of Baal and the pole of Asherah, which coincidentally is used as the wood to burn the sacrifice. 

Is this significant? Some years ago, in studying the sacrifice of our saviour, and the symbolism of the cross, I focused on the terminology of ‘the tree or ‘the stake’ and guess what, they are a pole. I believe that what God is showing to us as we look up to the cross, is also the victory of the sacrifice over the powers of Baal and Asherah.

The sacrifice of the bull is also significant because it represents the sin offering. Gideon’s offering was also significant in that it was done in the presence of the Lord. In brief, the sin offering cleansed the people. Gideon was also being cleansed and made ready for his ministry.

The fleece episode is further proof to Gideon that God would be with Him. Did Gideon ask for a sign because he was unsure of his encounter with the divine?

For further consideration, we know very little about Gideon and why God called him. What was Gideon’s qualification for example? In addition, we see that God does not ask for any religious observance only that Gideon’s meal offering is burned.

As we enter chapter seven our attention is drawn to the number of men now gathered with Gideon. It is a formidable force indeed.

God needs to reduce the numbers because He does not want the people to boast of their own power. From twenty-two thousand men, twelve thousand left the number presumably because of fear. Of the ten thousand that remained, God reduced the force down to 300 by a process of elimination.

7:4 Then the Lord said to Gideon, “The people are still too many; bring them down to the water and I will test them for you there. So it shall be that he of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go with you; but everyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.” 5 So he brought the people down to the water. Then the Lord said to Gideon, “You shall put everyone who laps the water with his tongue as a dog laps in one group, and everyone who kneels down to drink in another.” 6 Now the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was three hundred men; but all the rest of the people kneeled down to drink water. 7 And the Lord said to Gideon, “I will save you with the three hundred men who lapped, and will hand the Midianites over to you; so have all the other people go, each man to his home.” 8 So the three hundred men took the people’s provisions and their trumpets in their hands. And Gideon dismissed all the other men of Israel, each to his tent, but retained the three hundred men; and the camp of Midian was below him in the valley.

Pay attention to those men that God lapped. Can you see how these men are drinking? The attitudes of the body of the two groups are different. There is an argument that the men who knelt could drink and be aware of things around them. Would God choose these? It would seem not. This would add even greater gravitas to God’s power. Perhaps you can look at this.

V9-15 tells of the dream overheard in the Midianite’s camp.

Gideon splits up his troop into three sections. It was Gideon’s troop who blew the signal causing all the tranche to blow their shofars and break their pitchers.

The cry went out ‘“A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” 21 And each stood in his place around the camp; and all the army ran, crying out as they fled.

The story continues to relate to the capture and execution of the Midianite leaders.

Chapter 8. We begin with the argument between Gideon and the Ephraimites. A little put out by not being invited to take part in the battle, Gideon settles the storm by explaining to the Ephraimites how they handled the capturing of the Midianite leaders Zeeb and Oreb at Beth Sarah was a great accomplishment, in comprise to his deeds.

Gideon then proceeds with his 300 men to capture Zebah and Zalmunna . Gideon executes the leaders and is called on by Israel to rule over them. In a distinctive move, Gideon refuses the honour, declaring that it will only be God who rules.

40 years of peace ensued until the Israelites rebelled against God. The rule of Israel went to Abimelech.

Let’s recap. 

We see Israel had, because of their rebellion against God, been given over to a foreign nation. This nation was of great size and forced the Israelites to worship the Midianite gods. The Israelites began to cry out and the Lord God chose Gideon on a personal visit. Manifest as the angel of the Lord, He visited him.

Gideon had doubts and asked God for a sign, but the Lord told him that He would be with him throughout his task. Gideon asked his visitor to wait whilst a meal was prepared. The meal offering was consumed by fire through the staff of the Lord. Was this meal offering a sin offering and marked the anointing of Gideon?

Gideon’s father worshipped the Midianite deities Baal and Asherah

Gideon offered the 7-year-old bull from his father’s flock upon the altar made from a pole of Asherah which he destroyed along with the altar of Baal.  

Gideon took with him 10 servants to complete the task. Is this number 10 significant of or a foreshadowing of the ten tribes of Ephraim whom God will call from the nations in Ezekiel’s and Zechariah’s account for the great battle to come?

Gideon’s name is changed, to Jerub-babel.

God calls Gideon to gather men for an army to come against their Midianite oppressors.

God then reduces the gathered number from 22000 to 10,000 by allowing those who were fearful of the battle to go home.

From 10,000 men, God chooses 300.

Those who lapped at the water like dogs were the men God would choose. 

Notice, That Gideon calls the men but God chooses the army.

We know the remaining outcome of the battles so this is where we rest from the main narrative. 

The Lord pressed heavily upon my heart, to gather men to pray and cry out as Israel prayed. These men must become like those who lapped like dogs. The worship of these men will be like the offering of Gideon - a meal offering for sin.

He showed me that when we cease from our busyness we lay things down. The motion of the arms fall and the hands become empty. When we surrender, the motion of the arms extends to a raised position. This is the same attitude as the arms of those who worship. This offering will be acceptable and thus will be consumed by the Lord.

As God calls this specific task force, He will require the intercessors. This will be the role of women as they cry, calling the men into the battle. However, the army of the intercessors will also be made up of the saints.

These women will be the prayer support battalion. Together with the men, a worshipping army will come forth and the power of God will be released over the enemy that now exerts his power over our nations. The altars and worship of the foreign Gods must be destroyed. Remember in the line-up, 12,000 troops returned because they were afraid. 10,000 thought they could fight but God knew the attitude of their hearts. 

This is the start. 

Bear with me for a moment. If the seven years of Midianite rule signifies the seven-year tribulation, we see that this will be the time of the engagement of the army of God for this end-time battle. If this is a foreshadow then the ‘shadow is close, because the sun is nearly overhead. Note, this is the time when the shadow cast is the shortest.’

Some are to be chosen for this operation. Gideon broke his troops up into three sections. What is the significance of this? 

We see one section went with Gideon. This section gave the signal for the other two to respond. I believe that these remaining two sections take on the role of the intercessors and the saints. 

God is waiting for the men to respond, and the women are calling out to see the men take their places. Is this the cry of the birth pains for this priesthood, this holy nation?

Please note that there is no longer any need to offer the sacrifice for sin. All we need do, as we are in Christ, is to repent and continue to walk in righteousness. 

Deep repentance is indeed needed in this hour. It is with reverence, clean hands and a solemn and contrite heart that our worship is acceptable.

The call to repentance and to worship is what releases God’s response.

God is choosing an army to answer this call. As with Gideon, many were called but few were chosen. Will you be in the number?

Read the whole of Isaiah 66:1-24 

1 “Heaven is my throne,    and the earth is my footstool.Where is the house you will build for me?    Where will my resting place be? 

2 Has not my hand made all these things,    and so they came into being?”declares the Lord. “These are the ones I look on with favour:    those who are humble and contrite in spirit,    and who tremble at my word…….

9 “I will set a sign among them, and I will send some of those who survive to the nations—to Tarshish, to the Libyans and Lydians (famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory among the nations. 20 And they will bring all your people, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the Lord—on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels,” says the Lord. “They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the Lord in ceremonially clean vessels. 21 And I will select some of them also to be priests and Levites,” says the Lord.

Let us take a little delve into the story of Jonah. Does his story of Jonah link to that of Gideon? 

Did Jonah conclude that God’s big ask of him, was superfluous? He felt that God would not, in the end, judge the wicked souls of Ninevah and thus decided to run from his commission.

Some may argue that Jonah felt a degree of fear too, this was understandable as many prophets, unless they spoke words of blessing, were not welcome and often killed. But did Jonah have grounds for this fear? Surely it would be better to fear the anger and discipline of the Lord than the anger of men.

Maybe Jonah should have taken courage from this psalm.

Psalm 118:6-7 KJV

The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: What can man do unto me? The LORD taketh my part with them that help me: Therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me.

We are encouraged in Matt 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul, but rather be afraid of Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

What does the text give for his reason for running away?

4:2 And he prayed unto the Lord, and said, I pray thee, O Lord, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.

Jonah’s heart wanted God to pour out his wrath on this wicked nation. Sometimes we must admit that we want God to react in this way too. But His mercies and compassion know no bounds.

Whether the story of Jonah is true or not, we must nonetheless, find the messages within the narrative. Once again, as with Gideon, we are introduced to a man who seems to have no background or even any specific aforementioned qualifications.

He is, however,  written within the book of the twelve prophets. 

The belly of the whale is likened to being in the Sheol.

2:3“For You cast me into the deep,Into the [deep] heart of the seas,And the currents surrounded and engulfed me;All Your breakers and billowing waves passed over me.

4 “Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight.Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple.’

5 “The waters surrounded me, to the point of death.The great deep engulfed me,Seaweed was wrapped around my head.

6 “I descended to the [very] roots of the mountains.The earth with its bars closed behind me [bolting me in] forever,Yet You have brought up my life from the pit (death), O Lord my God. AMP

These words echo those of David. Psalm 139:7-12

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?    Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,    if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me,    your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me    and the light become night around me,”

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;    the night will shine like the day,    for darkness is as light to you.

We must understand that there is nowhere to hide from God. It would seem that once God has His designs on you to fulfil a purpose, you have to go for it because His divine purposes and plans are personal.

Jeremiah 1.

4 The word of the Lord came to me, saying,

5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew[a] you,    before you were born I set you apart;    I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Jeremiah 29:11

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

We often think, that if a person does not stand up to the task, God will choose someone else. This may or may not be the case. In Jonah’s case, he could not run far away.

When it comes to being chosen for specific tasks or positions, we must as willing servants, be open to the will of God. Abraham, Noah, Moses, Saul, David, and the prophets and kings all had divine callings in their lives, and so we must not look to creating side steps in trying to direct God’s hand toward another person or to a stand-in.

God spoke to Jonah twice but it took Jonah to repent of his disobedience first to hear God’s voice the second time. We may all at some time feel that we are in the darkest of places, but we must realise that we are there for a reason. Could it be that we need to repent because we are refusing to listen to God’s voice and direction too?

Ninevah was a great city in Assyria. Israel had been under Assyrian rule before they came into the Babylonian exile. Was this the reason that Jonah had to go and preach the message of repentance? God’s message of repentance is far-reaching not only in geographical terms but throughout time. 

During my recent devotions with the Lord, I believe that there is a great commission going out and the call of a worshipping army is being raised. This army will be made up of men like those called to be part of Gideon’s troop. The intercessory cry of the saints, in particular the women, - their calls for the men, will encourage the men to stop running away from their divine positions and callings and to raise a gathering leadership to discharge the spearhead of worship into the spiritual realm. But first, before we can offer this sacrifice of praise,  the offering must be acceptable before the Lord.  Gideon’s meal offered to the Lord was an acceptable one because it was consumed by fire. Repentance makes the offering acceptable, and thus we must come before the Lord with broken and contrite hearts if we are to return to Him.

As a result, there will be spiritual suits of armour, these priestly robes, given to those whose hands are cleansed and whose hearts have been purified. The songs of ascent and repentance will rise to the Lord. His response will be to bless the land that we cry out for and to remove every kingdom that rises against Him. His people will dwell in peace and the sounds of joy filling the streets will ensue. This is the promise of the Lord.

Come down to the water’s edge my friends and brothers, and see what the Lord will do.

But fast and pray before you come.


Grant Marshall

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