Who has heard of a general going to battle but deciding his army was too large? In the book of Judges, God told Gideon to send most of his army home before a battle. Why would He do that?

ROBERT >> An army too large?

Whoever heard of such a thing?

But that’s what we read about in Judges chapter 7. Stay tuned. We’ll be back in just a moment.

SINGING>> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth,
speaking the truth, speaking the truth in love.

ROBERT >> Yes, in Judges chapter 7 we read about an army too large. It was when god’s people Israel were being oppressed by the great Midianite army of over 120,000 people. It was at that time that God’s people cried out for his deliverance from this oppression that had been coming upon them for some seven years now. God called and raised up a man by the name of Gideon to deliver his people. Gideon had an army of 32,000, but it was an army too large.

Let’s see what we learn from this story and how it can help us and how we can see that whatever battles, whatever struggles, whatever oppression, whatever is going on in our life, that the battle belongs to the Lord, that it’s God who is going to deliver us, it’s he that can and will give us the victory.

I want you to notice in Judges 7:1, where we begin reading about this story. “Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the people who were with him rose early and encamped beside the well of Harod, so that the camp of the Midianites was on the north side of them by the hill of Moreh in the valley. And the Lord said to Gideon, The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, Mine own hand has saved me.”

You see, it was an army too large because there can be no boasting in God’s army. If the Israelites with their 32,000 had gone against the Midianites and defeated them, they might begin to think that they’d done that on their own strength, by their own power, because they were so smart, because they were so strong. And they would receive the credit and the praise and the glory instead of God. The people would fail to realize that they could do nothing on their own, that it is God who gives us the victory, that the battle belongs to the Lord. And this is a lesson that every one of us needs to understand, that we need to see.

When it comes to the salvation of our soul, we need to realize, “For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” We cannot boast about what we’ve done, as though anything we could do could pay the price for our sins; but it’s because of what Jesus did at the cross that our sins could be forgiven. He’s the one that paid the price. He’s the one that redeemed us. And it’s only because of what he did there that God could possibly forgive us of our sins. All the good works that we could ever do could never make up for even one sin, could never pay the price for even one sin. All the good works that we could ever do in our life could never take away our sins. It cost the blood of Jesus Christ. It was of God’s grace. It was by the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ on that third day. We need to recognize that we have victory over Satan, over sin, over death through Jesus Christ, and without him, we’d all still be miserably lost. And so there’s no place for boasting. Just because we have been saved from our sins, we need to recognize that that is because of what Jesus did for us.

I notice in this passage here that God was not telling them they didn’t have to go to war, that they didn’t have to do anything, that they didn’t have to fight. We’re going to see that he gave them very specific instructions so that they could win that war and they could have the victory. But it was God’s power, it was God’s power that enabled them to be victorious over their enemy. Without believing in him, without trusting in him, without following his commandments, they could have never been victorious. And so it is with the salvation of our souls. If we’ll hear him, if we’ll believe him, if we’ll obey him, then God will grant us our salvation. He’ll grant us our forgiveness that Jesus paid for at the cross.

The Bible says in Acts the 2nd chapter to those who wanted to know what to do to be saved, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” That was in verse 38.

But as Peter continued to preach to them that day, it tells us in verse 41 that about 3,000 of them, having heard that word and received it gladly, were baptized. And so we see that it is in our faith response, in our obedience to that gospel that we can be saved from our sins, that we can have victory over sin and over Satan. And that’s true as we continue in our spiritual lives as Christians.

We need to recognize that there’ll be many battles that we’re going to have to war. There will be those battles against temptation and against sin. Each day of our life, Satan is like that “roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” in 1 Peter 5:8, and we’ve got to watch out.

We’ve got to keep listening to God’s word so that we might have that faith that comes from hearing the word of God, Romans 10:17.

We’ve got to resist the devil so he’ll flee from us in James 4:7 and draw near to God so he’ll draw near to us in verse 8.

We’ve got to remain faithful unto death, in the very face of death, in the very hour of death, Jesus said, and I’ll give you the crown of life. But you see, if we go out there and we fight those battles in obedience to God’s commandments, he will give us the victory.

So many times I think that we think we’re too good and we’re too great and we’re so strong, and we begin to boast about how wonderful we are, and we forget who it is that gives us the victory, who provides the power, who provides the strength so that we can truly be victorious.

All the glory belongs to God. There can be no boasting in God’s army. Now I want you to notice something else here in Judges chapter 7.

Notice verse 3. Now therefore, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying,” Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him turn and depart at once from Mount Gilead.”

And 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained. Do you see how God pared this army down from 32,000 to just 10,000? It was because there were some who were fearful. And there can be no fear in God’s army. That’s why it was an army too large. The fearful do not belong in God’s army. The fearful will not be victorious against the enemy. We need to realize that if we’re afraid to know that God will be with us and to put our trust in him, if we want to be victorious in our spiritual life, we’ve got to get rid of that fear. And God wants us to know that he’ll be with us so that we don’t have to be afraid.

I remember the words of Jesus himself as he sent out his apostles in that great commission to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them. Do you remember the promise that he gave to them in verse 20 of Matthew 28?

“I’ll be with you always, even to the end of the world.”

He wanted his apostles to know that though they would face great persecution and trial and suffering for the preaching of the gospel, for standing with him, for being Christians, that he would be with them every step of the way. In everything, they could know that Jesus was with them. And this is the very thing that God wanted to remind Gideon and his army. Don’t be afraid. I’m going to be with you.

Do you remember what the psalmist said in that great Psalm of comfort in Psalm 23?

Do you remember, The Lord is my shepherd?

And do you remember the promise that we read about there in verse 4, where he says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

You see, the psalmist could say I’m not afraid. And why could he say that? Because he knew that the shepherd was with him. His rod, his staff was there to comfort him, to guide him, to lead him, to defend him, to protect him, to take care of him, and so he was not afraid. And neither should we be. If we are walking with the Lord, if we’re carrying out his will for our life, if we’re looking to him and trusting in him, there’s no need for us to be afraid. We will be victorious. No matter how difficult, no matter how dark the trial, no matter how great a problem we may have to experience in following Jesus Christ, we can know he says I’ll be with you. In fact, in the letter to the Hebrews, we have this wonderful promise from the Old Testament scriptures quoted and applied to those of us who are following Jesus today.

Look here in Hebrews chapter 13 beginning in verse 5, where he says, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you. So we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

Let us remember that with God on our side, we don’t have to worry about anything. It doesn’t matter how great the obstacle, how difficult the problem. We can overcome with God’s help. We don’t ever have to be afraid. We can have good courage in every situation and circumstance of life if we’re following Jesus Christ.

Look at this great passage in Romans the 8th chapter where the apostle Paul seeks to encourage those suffering Christians of the first century, and he reminds them of this very point.

In Romans 8:31 he asks,” What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

What about all of these sufferings?

What do we say?

We’re groaning, we’re suffering, we’re in great turmoil and misery, and there’s heartache and there’s sorrow, there’s difficult times; but he says, If God is for us, who can be against us?

You see, it really doesn’t matter. It didn’t matter to Gideon and his small army if there were 120,000 Midianites, because God was on their side. They were on God’s side. And if God is for us, it doesn’t matter who’s against us. It doesn’t matter how great the numbers. The only thing that matters is that we are standing with God, because God is able to make us more than conquerors.

Look at Romans 8:37. “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

We’re superconquerors, we’re superheroes, not because of what we’ve done, but because of what he is able to do through us and in us and for us. So it was an army too large because there can be no boasting in God’s army and because there can be no fear in God’s army.

But now I want you to notice another point here from Judges chapter 7. As we read on, read with me here in verse 4. “But the Lord said to Gideon, The people are still too many.”

Can you imagine this now?

Here there were 120,000 Midianites down in the valley, Gideon and his army had been taken down from 32,000 to now just 10,000, and God says, The people are still too many?

How could it still be an army too large?

Well, let’s notice what God said here to Gideon as we read on in verse 4. “ Bring them down to the water, and I will test them for you there. Then it will be, that of whom I say to you, This one shall go with you, the same shall go with you; and of whomever I say to you, This one shall not go with you, the same shall not go.”

God is telling Gideon here, I’m going to pick, I’m going to choose who will go to battle and who will not, because the battle belongs to the Lord.

And look what it then says in verse 5. “So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, Everyone who laps from the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set apart by himself; likewise everyone who gets down on his knees to drink. And the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was 300 men; but all the rest of the people got down on their knees to drink water.”

Now, this is seemingly quite unusual. Why is it that God would pick some and not the others?

Some have suggested that those who would get down on their knees and lap like a dog the water, these were those who were not ready, who were not prepared, who were not alert. They had settled down there to get that drink. But those who might stoop and just scoop up the water to their mouth with their hand and lap in that way, they were alert, and they were ready for battle. And these were the ones that God chose on that day.

Whatever the understanding of this particular test, the point seems to be clear: That it was an army too large by God’s choice. God chose who would be in his army and who would not be in his army. And they ended up with 300 men to go against the 120,000 Midianites in the valley.

Now it’s very clear, isn’t it, that if they won the victory, it would not be of their own strength, it would be of God’s power?

And is it not very clear here that there’s no boasting that they could ever give on their part? And do you see here why we couldn’t have anyone who would be afraid in God’s army?

Because there’s just 300.

What we learn here is that numbers are not so important, but God’s choice, and whether or not we’re standing with God. You know, throughout the Bible we see it’s always just been a few that God has chosen, that stand with God, and that are rewarded and blessed by him.

I remember during the days of Noah where just eight souls out of the entire generation of people were saved in the ark from the destruction of this world. Just a very few. And you might remember Israel when God brought them out of their Egyptian bondage, brought them through the Red Sea. Pharaoh’s army was destroyed.

He brought them out into the wilderness to go into the promised land. But how many of that generation actually went into the promised land? You remember most of them fell in the wilderness because of their unbelief. Only two, only two had enough faith. Only two trusted God and were obedient to the end and survived the next generation and were able to go in, Joshua and Caleb, into the promised land. We read about that in Numbers the 13th and 14th chapter, where they had sent spies into the land, and they came back and gave an evil report, talked about the great giants in the land and the fortified cities. But there were two of those spies, Joshua and Caleb, who said we are able to overcome. But the people didn’t listen to those two. They listened to the others. And they wanted to go back to Egypt.

They wanted to go back where they came from instead of going into the promised land. They forgot that the battle belongs to the Lord and with God’s power they could be victorious, even if it was just something that seemingly was impossible, to go against these great giants and these fortified cities.

But we are reminded that nothing is impossible with the Lord, according to Matthew 19:26. “We’re reminded that God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or imagine according to the power that works in us,” Ephesians 3:20.

Yes, God is able when we are not able.

In Philippians 2:12-13, the apostle Paul was commending the church there for their obedience not only in his presence, but also in his absence. And he encouraged them to go on and to “work out their own salvation with fear and with trembling.”

And then he said, It’s God who works in us, both to will and to do of His good pleasure.

Yes, you see, when we work out, when we exercise godliness, when we listen to God’s word and we read it and we study it and we believe it and we obey it, when we put his word to work in our life, when we act on faith and not just react, when we truly stand with Christ and follow him, when we’re working out, God is working in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

No, it’s not of our own strength, it’s not of our own power, but it’s God working in us. We will, we make the decision. And we do, we do the work. But God gives us the strength. God gives us the power. He wins the victory. He works the victory for us. The apostle Paul so often spoke of the faith that we need in the power of God not only in Romans 8 there and Philippians 2 and Ephesians 3:20, but also in Ephesians 3:16, when he spoke of how the Spirit strengthens us.

You see, God will not ask us to do something that we’re not able to do. He’ll provide the power and he’ll provide the strength. In the story of Judges chapter 9, we see God took those chosen ones, that 300. He gave them instructions. You take pitchers and you take torches and you take trumpets, and you 300, you surround the valley of the Midianites where they sat. And at my signal, you break those pitchers, you wave those torches, you blow the trumpets, and you shout the shout, The sword of the Lord and of Gideon! And they did that in faith. These chosen ones, they raised their torches and they gave that great shout with the trumpets blasting. And the people were confused and the people were in chaos below, and they began to slay each other with their swords. The Israelites came upon them and pursued them to the very end.

God tells us, you want to be saved from your sins, you want victory in your life?

You listen to my words, you believe it, you obey it. I’ll give you the victory. No matter how great the enemy, you can be delivered and you can overcome through my power.

I love what Paul said in Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

I hope that you’ll know that strength and that power in your life by giving yourself to Jesus Christ in obedience to the gospel. Believe on him, turn from your sins, confess him as the Lord and the savior, and be immersed with him in the waters of baptism to be raised up to walk in newness of life, an empowered life, a life of victory. And may all of my brothers and sisters continue in the power of God to the very end, remembering that the battle belongs to the Lord.

SINGING>> I know that my redeemer lives and ever prays for me.
I know eternal life he gives from sin and sorrow free.
I know, I know that my redeemer lives.
I know, I know eternal life he gives.
I know, I know that my redeemer lives.
I know that over yonder stands a place prepared for me, a home,
a house not made with hands, most wonderful to see.
I know, I know that my redeemer lives. I know, I know eternal life he gives.
I know, I know that my redeemer lives.

SINGING>> All hail the power of Jesus’ name, let angels prostrate fall.
Bring forth the royal diadem and crown him Lord of all.
Bring forth the royal diadem and crown him Lord of all.
Oh, that with yonder sacred throng we at his feet may fall.
We’ll join the everlasting song and crown him Lord of all.
We’ll join the everlasting song and crown him Lord of all.

ROBERT >> I want to thank you for watching our program today. If you have any questions, comments, or requests, if you would like a personal home Bible study or special prayers, if you would like more information about the lesson today, or if you would like to order today’s lesson or any other lesson on CD, DVD, or in manuscript form, let me encourage you to write The Truth In Love at P.O. Box 865, Hurst, Texas 76053.

You may e-mail us at requests@ttil.tv.

Or call our toll-free number, 800-819-2966.

And also, please visit our web site at www.ttil.tv.

All our materials and services are absolutely free of charge. We just want to do what we can to help us all towards heaven. So let us know how we can help you, and please join us next time right here on The Truth In Love.

SINGING>> Sing to me of heaven, sing that song of peace.
From the toils that bind me it will bring release.
Burdens will be lifted that are pressing so,
showers of great blessing o’er my heart will flow.
Sing to me of heaven, let me fondly dream
of its golden glory, of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall,
sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all.
Sing to me of heaven tenderly and low
till the shadows o’er me rise and swiftly go.
When my heart is weary, when the day is long,
sing to me of heaven, sing that old, sweet song.
Sing to me of heaven, let me fondly dream
of its golden glory, of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall,
sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all.

%d bloggers like this: