7:2 The Lord said to Gideon, "You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength. In today's reading, I see a picture of Jesus choosing a faithful few for His mission in this world (fighting evil). By the time He is done whittling down His chosen, there are only 1% of the original warriors left. What happens to them?
7:3 Therefore, tell the people, "Whoever is timid or afraid may leave this [Mount Gilead] and go home." So 22,000 of them went home, leaving only 10,000 who were willing to fight. Fear is crippling, and if we don't constantly focus and meditate on the power of God working in our weakness (Gideon is the perfect example!), we will never allow Him to accomplish anything through us. We will shrink away from the mission in fear. By the way, Gilead is a significant location in the Bible (many references throughout the OT), and appears to be at least part of the future Kingdom.
"I will bring them back from the land of Egypt and gather them from Assyria; And I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon until no room can be found for them." Zechariah 10:10
7:4-8 "There are still too many! ...I will test them to determine who will go with you and who will not."
...Only 300 of the men drank from their hands. All the others got down on their knees and drank with their mouths in the stream. The Lord told Gideon, "With these 300 men I will rescue you and give you victory over the Midianites. Send all the others home." Unpreparedness is another factor that will disqualify us from being chosen. Men who stayed upright, bringing water to their faces were alert, watching, vigilant. There are many warnings in the NT about staying vigilant in battle!
7:9-15 I love God's gentle reassurance once again to Gideon. It's as if God is sensitive to Gideon's insecurities about being so weak in his flesh, and He doesn't want Gideon to go into this huge calling without the inner assurance that God is big enough! Notice that this time, Gideon didn't ask for a sign, but God woke him up and sent him to get a sign of reassurance. It reminds me of a verse in Isaiah:
"A bruised reed He will not break And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish..." Isaiah 42:3
7:13 The man said, "I had this dream, and in my dream a loaf of barley bread came tumbling down into the Midianite camp. It hit [the] tent, turned it over, and knocked it flat! I love that now with our Jewish Harvests and Feast, we can fully understand the meaning of this verse. Jesus was the firstfruits offering to God at His resurrection. The firstfruits harvest is one of three harvests and is the Barley Harvest, which takes place during the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the spring (during the week Jesus was resurrected). So, Jesus, the Bread of Life, the firstfruits/barley loaf, tumbled down into the Midianite camp and knocked it flat! Note that in the other translations, the single tent represented the whole Midianite camp, not just one tent like NLT tried to translate.
7:19 It was just after midnight, after the changing of the guard, when Gideon and the 100 men with him reached the edge of the Midianite camp. Suddenly, they blew the rams' horns and broke their clay jars. I see a powerful picture hidden here that I've never seen before! I don't have the full understanding yet, but these faithful few blew their ram's horns just before breaking into the camp. I checked back and ram's horns are used on the Day of Atonement, which is also the start of Jubilee on the 50th year (the upcoming MK will be a symbolic fulfillment of Jubilee and will likely begin on the actual Day of Atonement after the Day of Trumpets ten days earlier. I think the Day of Trumpets will be the first resurrection). So somehow, this event must have something to do with this day.
7:20 Then all three groups blew their horns and broke their jars. They held the blazing torches in their left hands and the horns in their right hands, and they all shouted, "A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!" They broke their clay jars and held blazing torches. This would go along with the resurrection (breaking of the clay jars) and going forth in resurrected in power (blazing torches coming out of hiding). Perhaps this putting away of the Midianite army is somehow symbolic of the putting away of the kingdom of darkness for the 1,000 year Millennial reign (when Satan and all his followers are bound). Another level of meaning could also be the "sword of the Spirit is the Word of God (Ephesians 6)." The Word of God is Jesus and it is also "light" (John chapter 1).
8:4 Gideon then crossed the Jordan River with his 300 men... Into the Promised Land (MK) the chosen go.
23:13-54 Then Pilate called together the leading priests and other religious leaders, along with the people, and he announced his verdict. "You brought this man to me, accusing him of leading a revolt. I have examined him thoroughly on this point in your presence and find him innocent. Herod came to the same conclusion and sent him back to us. Nothing this man has done calls for the death penalty. Once again, the Lamb is inspected and found without blemish or imperfection.
23:18 Then a mighty roar rose from the crowd, and with one voice they shouted, "Kill him, and release Barabbas to us!" It is important to note that the religious masses have traditionally pursued wrong paths throughout history. We see here that in Jesus' day, the masses of the so-called religious leaders and Torah adherents were the only people He criticized (quite fiercely). These were also the ones whose voices rose together as one, "Crucify Him!" Remember how this week God told Gideon to cut down the Asherah pole (Babylonian idol worship) in the Israelite community, and the Israelites masses wanted to kill him for it. The early Roman Catholic Church led the masses astray by persecuting many sincere believers and Jews who didn't follow their teachings. Through both the Greek and Roman church influence, the order and message of the Bible has been changed in places, pagan holidays have been instituted, and unfortunately, this influence has remained with us today in many of our own religious practices and traditions.
23:34 Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing." Have you ever wondered why Jesus would pray forgiveness for these masses of people who put Him to death? Did He mean it? Did God answer His request? Was His request granted regardless of whether or not they repented? Did it result in any benefit to them (i.e. eternal life)? Did they represent all mankind who put Him to death by their rejection of Him as Savior?
23:43 And Jesus replied, "I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise." Regardless of what we believe about where we go immediately after we die (into the ground awaiting resurrection or immediately into a heavenly holding tank until our bodies are resurrected), Jesus could not have possibly meant that this man would be "with Him TODAY in paradise." Why? Because Jesus Himself wouldn't be in paradise for at least 3 days while He was in the grave, and add to that another 47 days until He returned to His Father at Pentecost. Since Jesus is the firstfruits, He is the first one to be resurrected for all time (John 3:13, 1 Cor. 15:20). What this passage probably means is this: "I tell you the truth today that you will be with me in paradise." There has long been debate as to whether the comma goes before today or after it, and based on Scripture, I'm in favor of after it.
Beautiful Messianic Psalm today! Surprisingly, NLT has watered down the message, so let me print 1-3 out of NASB:
O sing to the LORD a new song, For He has done wonderful things, His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him. The LORD has made known His salvation [Yeshua!]; He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations. He has remembered His lovingkindness and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation [Yeshua] of our God.
And look at the celebration that happens when Jesus comes to judge the world (vs. 4-9):
Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; Break forth and sing for joy and sing praises. Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, With the lyre and the sound of melody. With trumpets and the sound of the horn Shout joyfully before the King, the LORD. Let the sea roar and all it contains, The world and those who dwell in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, Let the mountains sing together for joy Before the LORD, for He is coming to judge the earth; He will judge the world with righteousness And the peoples with equity (fairness).
Questions for reflection:
Is your life controlled by fear to the point that you cannot bring yourself to fully surrender to God's plan for your life?
Are you spending life scooping water or lapping water-are you readying yourself as a warrior for Jesus?
Are you willing to take a detour from the masses when necessary? Of course, not all teachings of the masses are wrong-neither now or in history-but crowd mentality can be a powerful blindfold at times. That is why Jesus called us "sheep." Sheep are all about crowd mentality and being followers instead of independent thinkers who ask "why." Now children have not learned crowd mentality yet, and you will often find children asking "Why?"