Title: Judges 7. Gideon, part 21: Reducing the army. Fear and carelessness cannot perform in God's war.
Gideon is one in a long line of Judges as Elijah is one in a long line of prophets as Paul and the apostles are ones in a long line of Christians. What remains on earth consistently to the end is the work of God, which He allows to be picked up by one generation after the next. We each have a plan to live and no matter what we do, the work of God will go on without us by those who come after us. Our privilege is to be a part of that work and as spiritual creatures in Christ, we will do it, if we follow Him in faith and fellowship with Him in faith.
JDG 7:1 Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the people who were with him, rose early and camped beside the spring of Harod; and the camp of Midian was on the north side of them by the hill of Moreh in the valley.
Gideon tested God twice and now God will test him twice.
JDG 7:2 And the Lord 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.'
JDG 7:3 "Now therefore come, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, 'Whoever is afraid and trembling, let him return and depart from Mount Gilead [scribal error: Gilboa].'" So 22,000 people returned, but 10,000 remained.
JDG 7:4 Then the Lord said to Gideon, "The people are still too many; bring them down to the water and I will test them for you there. Therefore it shall be that he of whom I say to you, 'This one shall go with you,' he shall go with you; but everyone of whom I say to you, 'This one shall not go with you,' he shall not go."
JDG 7:5 So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, "You shall separate everyone who laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, as well as everyone who kneels to drink."
JDG 7:6 Now the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was 300 men; but all the rest of the people kneeled to drink water.
The test in verses 5 and 6 is not always understood. The second clause, "everyone who kneels to drink," explains the first clause, "everyone who laps the water with his tongue." These are not two different groups, but one group. When these men go down to the stream to drink, they will have to get down on their knees since it is not possible to drink any other way. The issue is not who kneels and who stands, but who will cup his hands and bring water to his mouth, and who will not.
Those who bowed down on their knees to drink, but did not cup their hands to bring the water into their mouth, but put their faces into the water, were sent home.
These are careless. The Midianites are close by and a small group of them could easily sneak up on the Israelites to ambush them. Sticking your face in the water would make you unable to see around you and you would be unaware of imminent danger. This reveals that they are either immature, ignorant, or that they just don't care about Israel's victory. Either way, they are careless.
Those who lapped with their tongues as a dog laps, stayed. These would become Gideon's special forces since they were always alert.
Those who were kept appeared to be the ones who bowed on their knees, but cupped their hands to bring up and drink the water from their hands, showing they were ready for any sudden attack.
Those who put their faces down into the stream showed that they were not alert. Israel knew that Midian knew that they were there, and even though it might seem out of the question that Midian would ambush them seeing that they now outnumbered them 13 to 1, it was still a slight possibility. Three hundred of the men knew this and they wouldn't take their eyes off the horizon, even to drink water for a few seconds.
Do we take our eyes off our tasks for a while and as such take our eyes off the plan of God for a while? Do you find yourself not alert, procrastinating, doing your job half-way, letting the details of the task go undone, whether on your job, at home, or in the church?
In this way the book of Judges is very challenging because it admits our position and in assuming that we already know that, it moves on to the actual living function of that position.
However, caution must be exercised when a Christian sets out to perform any work. The Christian is not called to simply be busy. He is not called to exercise power no matter what its source. He is not called to be about any cause or any mission that seems right or seems like it is a "good cause."
The Christian is to be about the work of one cause and not any "good cause." He must be able to discern God's will and he must only do that which God has empowered him to do.
In the plan of God, the end never justifies the means. The Christian may find himself about God's work completely alone and without support or he may find that he has support and sometimes, but not often, he has a lot of support. God does His work with or without us. He obviously does not need numbers.
God can easily, and will certainly, provide for the carrying on of His own work. We can do nothing apart from Christ. We must first and foremost be spiritual.
The work of God is not about having the most people in the congregation, or witnessing the greatest number, or raising the greatest amount of money, or producing the greatest amount of materials, or having the greatest amount of missionaries, or any measurable thing.
The work of God is about His will alone, which cannot be measured by any number, amount, popularity, or support.
Some Christians want all study and prayer and no work, deeds, service, giving, sacrifice, etc. Some Christians want all deeds and service and no study. It is neither of these. We are called to do, but we cannot know what to do or how to do it if we are not first and foremost spiritual through study and maturity and personal communion with the Lord of glory. His glory must first be revealed through the Holy Spirit within us and this is the person of the heart coming to know, love, and personally and privately worship the Lord.
Spirituality is not zeal and sincerity when these are misdirected.
Spirituality is not overt, but in the soul. It is a transaction between God and the human heart. Only such a heart will see God's will for works.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.