163 people attended VBS last night. This is our biggest VBS crowd this year. We are trying to break 175 tonight -- come and join us.
This morning I am thrilled to report that at the battle for the fertile valley, Gideon's army defeated the Midianites saving Israel from 7 years of oppression.
For seven long years the army of Midian and the armies of the east would march through the valley, destroying crops and killing livestock. So devastating were the raids that them people of Ephraim of Israel would take to the hills and hide in caves while the enemy destroyed their livelihood. They felt powerless and cried out to God.
God answered by sending a warrior judge named Gideon. Gideon gathers 32,000 men of war to go against Midian. God is not impressed. God does not what Gideon and Israel to think their show of force has anything to do with victory. Pride had previously and repeatedly led Israel to sin and not trust God. This is why they suffered their current crisis. God tells Gideon to release from duty all who are afraid to go to war. 22,000 desert and go home. 22,000 realize that Midian is a strong foe and do not want to risk their lives for the good of the nation. Gideon and God survey the remaining force of 10,000.
Too many for God. He has Gideon take them to the brook to drink. Those that put their faces in the water like an animal are sent home. Those that apparently cup their hands and pull a drink to their mouth are told to stay. 9,700 go home, leaving Gideon and army of 300. (I heard one preacher suggest that these were 300 hundred who had something to prove, they did not leave when they had the chance, and they were not very bright -- they thought they could hold water in their hands.) I am not sure why God chose this particular 300, but He did.
The battle plan is simple. Three groups of 100 divide and take sides around the enemy camp. Each carries a horn, an empty pitcher, and a torch. At Gideon's command each is to break the pitcher, blow the horn, shout "The sword of the Lord and Gideon!" while revealing their torches.
This maneuver confuses the enemy who must think they are surrounded. When they flee the scene the men of Ephraim come down from their hiding in the hills and help in the battle. Israel is again victorious.
What are the lessons:
1. When I am on God's side I am not alone, because God is with me.
2. When a few stand up for God, others will follow their example to fight the foe.
What are some other lessons from Gideon?