Gideon’s 4 Steps to Overcoming Strife

I’ve always been fascinated by the story of Gideon in Judges 6 and 7. Partly I think, because he seems so human; he doubts God on several occasions, and even thinks of himself as the weakest, poorest choice of all the people God might have picked. Despite these things, Gideon was God’s chosen instrument to bring about deliverance for the people of Israel from the Midianites.

The name ‘Midian’ means strife, and knowing that brings the story alive and gives us a personal application. If you’re dealing with strife, fear, anxiety, distress; you name it, this passage will give us  keys to overcoming those foes.

Speaking of strife, God chose this specific point in the Bible to reveal Himself as Jehovah-Shalom, “The-Lord-Is-Peace” (Judges 6:24). Think that’s significant? Definitely. God doesn’t do anything by chance or accident.

When God wants to deal with situations in our lives, please note that He does not select a huge army to do so. In Judges 7:2, we read:

And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.

God didn’t want the people to have even the faintest chance of claiming the victory in their own strength (Ephesians 2:8-9), so He deliberately thinned the army down to just 300 men.

300 is an interesting number. Noah’s ark was 300 cubits long (Gen 6:15), Samson turned 300 foxes loose on the Philistines with their tails on fire (Judges 15:4), and Benjamin had 300 pieces of silver in his pouch from Joseph (Gen 45:22). Silver is refined in the fire, and happens to be mentioned 300 times in the Hebrew, and a further 18 times in the Greek. 318 men born in Abraham’s household overcame the kings (Gen 14:14), thus representing the overcomers of Jesus’ household… An interesting relationship between 300 and 318, but we’ll save that for another day.

So the number 300 has to do with deliverance, and more specifically, corporate deliverance. Noah’s ark delivered all inside (all humanity actually). Benjamin’s silver was part of the package that signified the deliverance of Jacob’s household (the Israelites) from the famine.

Let’s get back to Gideon. I’ll save the corporate implications of this story for a separate post. There are four things his little army “did” to bring about deliverance:

1. Blow the Trumpet

Firstly, in Judges 7:18, Gideon instructs the 300 men to blow the trumpet. What is the significance of trumpets? God instituted the Feast of Trumpets, which was part of the Feast of Tabernacles, back in Numbers 29:1-7:

1 And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you. 2 And ye shall offer a burnt offering for a sweet savour unto the LORD; one young bullock, one ram, and seven lambs of the first year without blemish: 3 And their meat offering shall be of flour mingled with oil, three tenth deals for a bullock, and two tenth deals for a ram, 4 And one tenth deal for one lamb, throughout the seven lambs: 5 And one kid of the goats for a sin offering, to make an atonement for you: 6 Beside the burnt offering of the month, and his meat offering, and the daily burnt offering, and his meat offering, and their drink offerings, according unto their manner, for a sweet savour, a sacrifice made by fire unto the LORD. 7 And ye shall have on the tenth day of this seventh month an holy convocation; and ye shall afflict your souls: ye shall not do any work therein:

This is also mentioned in Leviticus 23:23-27, but it establishes a link between the trumpets and repentance (afflicting your souls). Essentially, the sounding of the trumpets is a call to repentance. In a battle situation, when the nation is in trouble, it is because of sin. God made that fairly clear in the law. The trumpets are sounded, warning of trouble, but calling the people to repentance, because their salvation is of the Lord. Checkout Isaiah 58:1:

Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.

Again, there’s a link between the trumpets and sin (transgression). In 2 Chronicles 15:12-15 we find the people vowing to seek the Lord, and sealing that vow with trumpets:

12 And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul; 13 That whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. 14 And they sware unto the LORD with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets. 15 And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them: and the LORD gave them rest round about.

The first step in warfare, especially when it involves strife, is to repent. We’ve left the peace that Jesus has given us (Jn 14:27), and subsequently find ourselves in fear or self-strength, which is sin. Repenting, and thanking Him for forgiving us – forgiveness is immediate and guaranteed – places us back inside Christ.

2. Shout

Shouting is important. The walls of Jericho came down with a shout. But even if it isn’t a shout, per se, you have to speak! Romans 10:10 says with the mouth confession is made unto salvation! Salvation there can be referring to deliverance in any situation you find yourself in, not just our initial salvation. God is building an “amen people” who will perfectly agree with Him in spirit and truth, and who will declare that agreement in the earth. Jesus Himself is “the Amen, the faithful and true witness” (Rev 3:14).

You cannot be a witness without speaking, and more to the point, you cannot defeat the demonic powers with your thoughts. You must speak. Take authority over them in the name of Jesus Christ and tell them to be loosed from you.

Speaking provides a double witness to our souls of what is going on. Thinking it is one thing, but speaking allows you to hear it as well, which is a powerful combination. When you’re depressed or discouraged, speak out loud and praise the Lord over that situation; you will find it begins to release faith to your soul immediately. If you’re embarrassed at the sound of your own voice, then practice while you’re home alone, or while you’re driving alone in the car. Learn to raise a shout of praise and victory to your Saviour!

3. Break the pitchers, reveal the light

Paul, in 2 Corinthians 4:3-7 speaks of the light of the gospel:

3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

The light is the gospel of Christ, which is the treasure, hidden in earthen vessels (our bodies). It is of Christ, that we may know the power is of God, and not of us. Moses’ face was shining when he came down the mountain, because of being in the presence of the glory of the Lord, and I believe that’s what Gideon’s torch bearers are a picture of. Christ shining through us.

In practical terms, once we repent, and agree with Christ, then His light shines forth into our situation. At that point, all that is left is to stand.

4. Stand

The final thing Gideon’s men did was stand still. They didn’t go running in to attack the enemy, they didn’t go looking for a spiritual fight. They just stood there. That’s exactly what Paul tells us to do in Ephesians 6:10-14.

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness…

Paul tells them to stand no less than four times. This is fitting, because he also name four types of enemies: principalities, powers, rulers, spiritual wickedness.

Standing is simply remaining in faith, continuing to declare His praises despite what may still be happening. Gideon’s army was still in the middle of an epic battle raging around, and they stood firm. I’m sure it took a little while for things to play out and come to a full conclusion, and during that time, they just stood.

Although I believe internal peace is available to us immediately in any situation, in Christ Jesus, I don’t believe that necessarily means that our circumstances are going to be immediately peaceful. Jesus said in this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

Oftentimes we like to think that we need our surroundings to be peaceful, and then we can finally find peace. The problem with that perspective is we end up taking matters into our own hands to control the situation. That’s not the way to approach it in the spirit. Our surroundings can be raging, yet if we are truly found in Christ, then internally we can find peace. Remember, Jesus was sleeping in the middle of the storm, until His disciples woke him.

The biggest thing is to first recognize when we’re in strife. There will be fear, anger, discouragement, self-works, control, or any number of other things, but most of all, there is an absence of peace. John 14:27 says He has given us His peace, and He’ll never take it away. When our peace is gone, it isn’t because God took it. It is because we’ve left the shelter of His presence, our refuge of faith. Get back into Jehovah-Shalom, and you will find peace once more.