Preaching Gideon Vs. Midian As A Paradigm For Salvation


If and when you preach through Judges, you will discover that God spent a lot of biblical real estate on the Gideon narrative. God gives tons of detail on Gideon versus Midian, probably because that contest functions as a paradigm for our salvation. Gideon is a highly unlikely military leader; his victory over the Midianites was a highly unlikely victory. That’s the point.

You’re familiar with how unsure Gideon was about God’s plan and how he asked God more than once to confirm the plan with a miracle (“the fleece”). Where’s his faith anyway?! It’s comforting to see how God did not chastise Gideon for his doubts. No lecturing; just confirming. Of course, Gideon’s example is not instruction for us to “go and do likewise.”

But the key to the narrative and its theology is God’s instruction to Gideon to whittle down his army, “lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.'” (cf. Judges 7:2). This is one of those examples of how the narrative provides a huge clue to meaning.

And be careful how you explain the Lord’s way of decreasing the size of Gideon’s army. God doesn’t tell us why the “lappers” are chosen, but not the “kneelers.” Whatever God’s reason, His intention was to take away any cause for Israel to boast in their strength. So contrary to many preachers’ explanations, the 300 who are selected are a sign of weakness, not strength. Plus, note that they take “trumpets” (v. 8, 22), not spears or bows. The soldiers were turned into fierce instrumentalists!

But God gives His people the victory over the Midianites. And it’s a great reminder of the fact that our salvation is all of God and none of us. We have a strong Savior who continually delivers us from overpowering forces that threaten to undue us. He graciously saves and sanctifies us. He does it all by Himself so we can only boast in the cross of Christ.

Preach well for sake of His reputation in the Church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).


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Your thoughts?

4 thoughts on “Preaching Gideon Vs. Midian As A Paradigm For Salvation

  1. I always thought the reason God chose the “lappers” was pretty obvious… only 300 men did that, versus the huge number who did the opposite. God chose the smallest number so He could receive the greatest glory, and no man could claim glory. It seems obvious to me that God was wanting to trim the numbers to the most absolute minimum. 🙂

    Oh, and I love the “fierce instrumentalists” bit!

    Thanks again!

    • It’s good to hear from you again. It’s amazing how often I’ve heard preachers describe the 300 in terms of their attitude/actions that made them better warriors. As you said, the narrative presents theology in another direction. I hope you’re doing well.

      • Doing well? Hm. Well, considering that since April, we’ve flown something like 15,000 miles, driven 20,000 through 22 different states, and visited two different countries, I think we’re doing well for our age. 😉

        re: the warriors. I know what you mean. I’ve heard that since I was a child, but never understood the thinking behind it. On the other hand, it is common for us to try to find a hidden, deeper meaning in every vague passage of Scripture. 😉 I guess it’s human nature. But thinking still further, in situations like this, it’s almost like there is something in human nature that wants to have man play some role in his own redemption, hence the “better warriors” bit. I dunno…

        • Thanks, Jon! Wow! You’ve been a busy Polish beaver! If you’re describing home assignment duties, it makes me even sadder that the Church has created such a method. I know it has it’s pluses too. Keep up the good work of faith.