Archive for June, 2016

THE GIDEON COMPANY (Pt. 8)

THE GIDEON COMPANY(Pt. 8)

“…Go with Purah your servant down to the camp, and you will hear what they say; and afterward your hands will be strengthened that you may go down against the camp.” So he went with Purah his servant down to the outposts of the army that was in the camp.”(‭‭Judges‬ ‭7:10b-11‬ ‭NASB‬‬)DOWN TO THE ENEMY’S CAMP

Gideon has watched the LORD dismiss over 31,000 fighters from his army. He is left with only 300 men. What is God’s strategic plan with so few? He instructs Gideon to go down under the cover of night into the enemy ‘s camp to discover the nature of his enemy. God knows his servant and is aware of Gideon’s reluctance to engage into battle. The LORD says, “If you are afraid…take Purah with you”(Judges 7:10a).

Gideon’s servant was Purah. His name means, “bough, shoot or branch”. It is suggestive of his 

servant’s character. He was probably his “armor bearer” and a loyal friend. He was to go along with Gideon (like Pancho the faithful companion in the classic tale of “Don Quiote”) to strengthen his courage and resolve.  

TWO BY TWO

We each know the value of a few loyal companions; those true friends. Further, as someone has said. “If you’re going to war, you want to know whose in the foxhole with you?”.   

The wise Solomon wrote, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up”(Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).

The Lord Jesus affirms this as he is training his apostles to advance the kingdom of heaven into new regions. “After this the Lord chose another 72 men and sent them out two by two, to go on ahead of him to every town and place where he himself was about to go”( Luke 10:1 GNB).

The “two by two” principle sending forth was a strategic kingdom plan. It would provide companionship along the way of challenges, threats and unexpected adventures. Their new opportunities and strategic battles would be shared as well as their joys of victory celebrated.

God was not sending Gideon down into the enemy’s camp to be captured nor defeated. But He wanted to further inspire him regarding his divine assignment. Gideon would hear what the enemy was saying regarding himself and be fortified, knowing he was more than a conqueror for his day of battle. “Your hands will be strengthened that you may go down into the enemy’s camp”(Judges 7:10). 

“When Gideon arrives, he hears a man telling a friend about a dream he had the night before. He relayed, “I dreamt that a loaf of barley bread rolled into our camp and hit a tent. The tent collapsed and lay flat on the ground.” His friend replied, “It’s the sword of the Israelite, Gideon son of Joash! It can’t mean anything else! God has given him victory over Midian and our whole army!” When Gideon heard about the man’s dream and what it meant, he fell to his knees and worshipped the Lord. Then he went back to the Israelite camp and said, “Get up! The Lord is giving you victory over the Midianite army!”(‭‭Judges‬ ‭7:13-15‬ ‭GNB‬‬).

Dreams and their interpretation come from the LORD God of Israel. God gave the enemy the dream and He gave the enemy the interpretation of his own defeat at the hand of “Gideon son of Joash”. God has your name in mind for victory!

Later, in the Gospel of Luke, the Lord Jesus explained to the disciples the true cause of rejoicing after their recent ministry conquest over the enemy. 

“The 72 men came back in great joy. “Lord,” they said, “even the demons obeyed us when we gave them a command in your name!” Jesus answered them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Listen! I have given you authority, so that you can walk on snakes and scorpions and overcome all the power of the Enemy, and nothing will hurt you. But don’t be glad because the evil spirits obey you; rather be glad because your names are written in heaven”(Luke‬ ‭10:17-20‬ ‭GNB‬‬)

Yes. Jesus teaches us that when we are sent into spiritual battle to fulfill our God assignments, the enemy must eventually bow, knowing our names are written in  heaven. God knows us by name when we use His Son’s Name in our struggles against our opponent. Further, our adversary knows that there is coming a day when “every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord”(See 1 John 4:3-4; Philippians 2:9-11).     What a day of rejoicing that will be.

(C) Copyright 2016, Walter Fletcher, Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be shared free of charge provided that it is not altered in anyway from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

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THE GIDEON COMPANY (Pt. 7)

“And the LORD God said to GIDEON, ‘The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands lest Israel become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me'”(Judges 7:2 NASB).

God’s ways are often quite different than our natural way of doing things. Gideon had 32,000 men who answered the call to battle. But the LORD was not impressed with their numbers. In the kingdom of God the majority may not always be right.

“YOU GOT TOO MANY”
The LORD God was the ultimate Captain of Israel’s army. He announced to Gideon, “You have got too many”men. “Why?” No doubt was Gideon’s consternation. God knew that for that many men going to war there was the real potential for the Israelites to enter into boastful pride. “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall”(Proverbs 16:18). Israel might conclude that a victory over their enemies, the Midianites, was because of their great numbers. What did God require of GIDEON? He must test them to see who was fit to fight. In other words God, who looks at the heart, knew that many of these men didn’t meet His spiritual qualifications.
Who are disqualified for battle?
In addition to those who believe “It’s all about me”; the ego-self. They somehow believe that they are sufficient in their own strength of numbers to defeat their enemies. The scriptures reminds us, “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble”(1 Peter 5:5). Secondly, God singles out those who are fearful of battle. Unchecked fear is like a disease. If you are not inoculated against it… FEAR is contagious. It will spread in the midst of the camp like a plague. Amy Carmichael, the great missionary saint who was used of the Lord to rescue hundreds of children from child prostitution in India, wrote, “Fear hamstrings the soul”.  Perhaps this is why over 360 times in the Bible we are commanded, “Do not fear”.
The LORD says,“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. “All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you”(Isaiah‬ ‭41:10-13‬ ‭NIV‬‬).
FINAL TEST
Gideon is left with 10,000 strong men to fight Israel’s enemies. But wait a minute. The LORD God said to Gideon, “You still have too many”(Judges 7:4a). There was one final test. “Bring them down to the water and I will test them for you”(Judges 7:4b).
Waters in the Word of God have often been used as a place of SEPERATION. For example, Israel was separated from the slavery & bondage of the Egyptians by the parting of the waters. While God made a way for His people to go through to safety, the Egyptian Army was decimated, drowning in the Sea.
Again, after the death of Moses, Joshua led a new generation across the waters of the Jordan River, which the LORD God parted. Thus a new generation was separated from an unbelieving and unfaithful generation which wandered for forty years, dying in the wilderness.

The waters of separation can also be waters of PREPARATION. Recall that David as a young man headed for the waters of the brook nearby before he faced Goliath on the field of battle(See 1 Samuel 17:40). Why? He needed to retrieve five smooth stones from the flowing waters. He knew that they were polished and best suited to hit their target when let loose from his slingshot!
We,too,can be likened unto “polished stones” sent from the Lord,our Shepherd’s pouch(1 Samuel 17:40,49) if we have stayed under the influence of the brook of His Word. The apostle Paul reminds us that God prepares, polishes and perfects us “by the washing of water of His Word”(Ephesians 5:26).
Back to Gideon. The LORD commanded that the 10,000 men be brought “down to the water” and observed as they drank. All who knelt down with their face in the water were sent home. All who cupped the water with their hands and drank as a dog laps water were to remain. What a suggestive image and a spiritual lesson for us today. Bringing them “down” suggest the way “Up”. In other words, humility proceeds honor. If we humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand, He will exalt and promote us in due season.
What about their position while drinking the water? Those who knelt with their face in the water were inattentive. And they could only see a reflection of themselves in the water.Suggesting that those who have a carnal mindset are easy prey for the enemy; they have no outward focus or vision.  On the other hand, those who take the water into their hands to drink are alert, aware of potential lurking danger. They are battle-minded; able to face any surprise attack. “To be carnally-minded is death. To be spiritually minded is life and peace”(Romans 8:2). Furthermore, the apostle Peter admonishes us, ““Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith”(1Peter‬ ‭5:6-9‬a NIV).

A BAND OF BROTHERS

After the LORD had separated the men, Gideon is left with a band of only 300 men! But he need not become dismayed. “Little is much when God is in it”. Their description gives us the insight into their being fully qualified to take on the enemy.
“So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites home but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others. Now the camp of Midian lay below him in the valley”(‭‭Judges‬ ‭7:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬).
These were equipped, like Gideon, to enter into the battle against the enemy. They had “gained the high ground” and were now above their enemies. We,too,like Gideon and his 300, have been called to the higher ground in God. Never forget, “Your position (in God) will always determine your condition” over all the power of the enemy. Those who have learned this secret are confident in their calling and consecrated for this Final Day of Battle. Our Lord Jesus assured His disciples, as He does us, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom”(‭‭Luke‬ ‭12:32‬ ‭NIV‬‬).

(C) Copyright 2016, Walter Fletcher, Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be shared free of charge provided that it is not altered in anyway from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com