Gideon, the unlikely hero, had stepped out on faith to fight the large and powerful army of Midian. About 32,000 Israelite warriors had responded to his call to arms. Even though there were vastly outnumbered, the Lord told Gideon that his militia was too large. God was out to prove an important point in this battle: He can do great things with a committed few. In fact, God gets greater glory when He demonstrates His power through the weak and the few.
Reducing the number of warriors was easy. Gideon said, “Any man who is afraid, go home now.” Immediately 22,000 returned home, leaving 10,000. But God wanted to make deeper cuts, so He ordered an unusual test: “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink” (v.5). 10,000 went down to drink. 9,700 of them got down on their hands and knees, put their faces in the water and slurped the water up. Only 300 were vigilant enough to bend down with their sword in one hand, looking around for the enemy while drinking the water. The Lord said, “With the 300 who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand.” And just like that, Gideon was left with less than one percent of his original force. It was going to take a miracle to overcome the impossible odds.
That night Gideon snuck into the Midianite camp and overheard one warrior telling another about his dream of a “cake of barley” rolling into the camp and flattening his tent. Through his bunkmate’s interpretation, God prophesied Gideon’s victory (v.13-14). That was all Gideon needed to hear. Sneaking back to his men with fresh courage, he outlined a most unconventional battle plan.
In the middle of the night, the 300 Israelite commandos surrounded the Midianite army, who were all asleep. Each man had a clay jar, a lit torch, and a trumpet. All at once the men blew their trumpets, waking the entire camp. Since armies in that day normally had one trumpeter for 1,000 soldiers, the Midianites must have thought they were surrounded by an army of 300,000! Then Gideon’s men all broke the jars which were shielding the light of the torches — imagine that sound! As the startled Midianites looked around, they saw torches on every side. In a panic, they drew their swords, swinging them recklessly, and mistakenly killed each other. God caused the enemy to eliminate itself!
Someone has said that Gideon’s trumpets represent boldness. We ought to be bold for the Lord. The clay jars represent brokenness. God cannot use us until our hearts are broken over sin and our will is broken and replaced with surrender. The torches represent the brightness of Christ in us, “the light of the world.” Until we are broken the world around us cannot see Him. Let’s be bold and broken and bright for Jesus today!