Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A Trumpet, a Vessel and a Lamp (2)

I love Gideon because any one of us could fill his shoes. He was a shy, less-than courageous, self-confessed nobody! Until God called him.
Then his 'dis-advantages' became his 'advantages'.

Because he was not courageous, he waited until he was sure of God's voice. I love how God was patient with him and it seems to me that God was even pleased that Gideon did not want to rush ahead in his own confidence. When he asked for confirmation that God had indeed spoken, God answered him, not once but twice and then when Gideon was too shy to ask again....God, knowing the fear still lingered in his heart, said, "Gideon, I know you are still afraid, I will give you another sign." Do you notice how God's sign is much more convincing than the sign Gideon asked for? Gideon asked for the dew to be on his fleece and not on the ground -- God sent him down to the enemy's camp to listen to two men talking in their tent about how one of their dreams meant that God had given Gideon victory over them!

Because Gideon considered himself a nobody, he recognized the fact that except for God's power working through him , he would utterly fail!
Once he was convinced that God had indeed called him to save his people from the tyranny of the enemy, he was ready and willing to follow God's command.

His first task was completed under cover of night, secretly. He destroyed the idolatrous place of worship that the Israelites had set up.
Then he called together the largest army he could, all the available men of Israel. Because God wanted there to be no mistake about whose power it was that won the victory, He pared Gideon's army down to 300 men.
Not only does he strip them of strength in number but he gives them the most unusual weapons. Each man is given a trumpet and a pitcher with a lamp inside.
I think it is surprising that Gideon was able to convince 300 men with a lantern to go face a formidable foe that had kept them oppressed for seven years. But they go and on the command of Gideon, according to the instructions he had been given..... they blow their trumpets, break their vessels and shout, "The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!"
The enemy, startled awake from their sleep, see themselves surrounded by blazing lights! In their terror and confusion they destroy themselves from within.
The victory belongs to the God of Israel and His people are free !!

It is an amazing story... read it again for yourself in Judges 6 and 7.

It is the historical account of a physical people held in physical bondage by a physical foe that is defeated in a physical battle.
But... if we view the story from our side of the CROSS ( if you didn't read my previous post you may want to do that before you continue) it becomes a picture of how we are to do spiritual battle against a spiritual enemy who desires to defeat us spiritually.
Where do we find the code to unlock the spiritual meaning? In the New Testament.

First we need to identify the enemy. Who is our oppressor? Who has the power to hold us in bondage and fear? Satan, of course. I Peter 5:8, "Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."

Gideon's humble attitude is easy to understand in a Christian context. We are truly nothing in ourselves but only as we are in Christ do we find our worth. "For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works." ( Eph. 2:10) We have nothing to boast of because the gift of salvation is free..."For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.. not of works lest anyone should boast." ( Eph. 2:8,9)
And even his self-image of being the least of the least is an attitude we are encouraged to embrace, "in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself." ( Phil. 2:3)
And truly we see pictured in Gideon's life the truth of James 4:10, "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up!"

Some may think that Gideon's reluctance to believe God's word and testing Him to make sure is a sign of Gideon's lack of faith, but I think it is rather a sign of wisdom. We are admonished in
I John 4:1 to not "believe every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of
God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. " God is not offended by us making sure that it is really His voice we are hearing. Asking God to confirm to us what we feel He is saying is what we are encouraged to do in James 1:5 "If any of you lacks wisdom let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally..."

Gideon sent messages everywhere throughout the land for men to come help him fight the Midianites, but God stripped his army to the bare minimum.
Do we not also do as Gideon did? If we have a battle to fight we grasp for every help available to us... we look for help in the flesh, in the natural. But God wants the glory for Himself and often waits until we have found the fleshly help futile and only when we are ready to depend upon God alone does He act. "For we ...rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh." ( Phil 3:4) If we trust in earthly things, we trust in things that at best are temporal and will always in the end fail us.

Our attitude toward God is important to be victorious over the enemy, but we must also destroy the footholds he has in our lives. Just as Gideon went out in the dark of the night to destroy the high places of idolatry, so also we must look into the private darkness of our own hearts and repent of the things that stand between us and God. II Cor. 10:3-6 talks about how important it is to 'pull down' , just as Gideon did, the 'high places' that we have exalted against God. And where is this accomplished? in the secret places of our minds, "arguments, thoughts, disobedience,"

Then we are ready to do battle. What were the weapons given to Gideon's soldier? A trumpet, a pitcher and a lamp. We don't have to guess at their midden meaning, the code words are revealed in the scripture.
A trumpet throughout the bible is always symbolic of God's voice. The apostle John describes God's voice in Rev. 1:10, "I .. heard a loud voice, as a trumpet." As Gideon's army all blew their trumpets and shouted , "The sword of the Lord ! and of Gideon!", the symbolism is clear. Eph. 6:17 tells us the the sword is the 'word of God."
To fight a winning battle against Satan we must make God's Word, the scriptures so familiar that we have it readily in our mouth.

What about the pitchers? The pitcher would have been a clay or earthen vessel. The code is in II Cor. 4:7 "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels." The earthen vessels are your body and mine, created from the dust of the earth!!
And the lamp in the vessels? Jesus is the Light of this world and James 1:17 calls God the "Father of lights". If we have Christ, the light of the world within us, then we "shine as lights in the world." ( Phil.2:15)

Gideon commanded his army to shatter their pitchers. Our body, the earthly self, is also referred to as our flesh, and the New Testament teaches that we need to 'put it off'. ( Col.3:9)
It is only as we put off the flesh ,or the old man, that the light of Christ can shine forth from our lives, "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts." (Rom. 13:14)

One more point, Gideon's army did not actually fight, did you notice? They were only commanded to 'stand'. Read Eph. 6:11-18 and you will see that in resisting the devil all we have to do is STAND. The word is repeated four times in this passage. "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to STAND against the wiles of the devil." We don't have to fight him... if we 'stand' in our faith, God will Himself defeat the enemy on our behalf. Is that not what He did for Gideon?

I am sorry this post is a bit long, I did try to cut it short - there is so much more to be said... but hopefully I have whetted your appetite enough to encourage you to go and study this wonderful story and lesson for yourself.
Tomorrow? understanding the battles of the Old Testament

3 comments:

Yokoso~ said...

Thanks Julie! Yes you wettened my appetite, unfortuanetly my eyes are too tired to read more now...BUT somethign that came to mind while reading this:

"What about the pitchers? The pitcher would have been a clay or earthen vessel. The code is in II Cor. 4:7 "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels." The earthen vessels are your body and mine, created from the dust of the earth!!
And the lamp in the vessels? Jesus is the Light of this world and James 1:17 calls God the "Father of lights". If we have Christ, the light of the world within us, then we "shine as lights in the world." ( Phil.2:15)"


I thought our bodies are those vessels too...and the new testament's code for this is found in what was it now (it's dark here in our room and Jeff is sleeping...so I don't want to look it up.) But I believe it's in Corinthians...about how our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, perhaps we get this from the story of Gidean too, just a thought I was thinking while reading BUT then you said we need to "put it off" and I too believe that too though...I just thought it was ironic that while I was reading I thought "vessel that's our body" then "we are to put off our body? ridding ourselves of the sin that so easily entangles us...? But this I guess the Holy Spirit helps us with as we are His home right?"

I also love the fact that you make a really GOOD POINT about facing the enemy...all we need do is stand? Love it!

Thanks for your insight...and I'm sorry for the long winded overflowing bucket here...haha I love your new WELCOME message too...so sweet!

Check ya later,
You're Friendly E-Pest...haha JK

Lovella said...

Thanks Julie, my appetite is whetted.
I had never thought about the fact that they were just asked to Stand. Very interesting.
I'll be back tomorrow.

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

The Old Testament is so delicious in giving us pictures to illustrate New Testament truths.

It gets even wilder when you start studying it in Hebrew. God just puts layers and layers in every jot and tittle!
Thanks for the lesson!