Gideon gave to each man a lamp, a pitcher, and a trumpet, and told the men exactly what to do with them. The lamp was lit, but was placed inside the pitcher, so that it could not be seen. He divided his men into three companies, and very quietly led them down the mountain in the middle of the night, and arranged them all in order around the camp of the Midianites.
Then all at once, a great shout rang out in the darkness, "The sword of the Lord and of Gideon," and after it came a crash of breaking pitchers, and then a flash of light in every direction. The three hundred men had given the shout, and broken their pitchers, so that on every side of the camp, lights were shining. The men blew their trumpets with a mighty noise; and the Midianites were roused from sleep, to see enemies completely surrounding them. All they could see was lights beaming and swords flashing, while the sharp sound of the trumpets was blasting.
They were filled with sudden terror, and thought only of escape, not of fighting. Wherever they turned, their enemies seemed to be standing with swords drawn. They trampled each other to death in flight from the Israelites. Their own land was in the east, across the river Jordan, and they fled in that direction.
Preparations made: No men or talent wasted
Gideon had been concerned that the Midianites would turn toward their land that Israel still occupied, but he had already prepared to cut off their flight. The 10,000 men he had placed on the sides of the valley. There they slew many of the Midianites as they fled down the steep pass toward the river.
He had also sent the men of the tribe of Ephraim, who had taken no part in the war thus far, to hold the only place at the river where men could wade through the water. The Midianites who had escaped from Gideon's men on either side of the valley were now met by the Ephraimites at the river, and many more were slain. Among the slain were two of the princes of the Midianites, named Oreb and Zeeb.
A small part of the Midianite army was able to get across the river and continued their flight toward the desert. Gideon and his brave three hundred men (sounds like the Spartans) followed them closely, fought another battle, completely destroying them. He captured their two kings, Zebah and Zalmunna, whom he killed. After this great victory the Israelites were freed forever from the Midianites. The Midianites never made war on the tribes of Israel again.
After this, Gideon ruled as Judge in Israel. The people wanted him to make himself a king. "Rule over us as king," they said, "and let your son be king after you, and his son king after him."
But Gideon said: "No, you have a king already; for the Lord God is the King of Israel. No one but God shall be king over these tribes."
There are few important lessons we can garner from Gideon's story.
First: Be yourself. Know who you are and what you can contribute.
One of my mentors has a saying, "Stay in your lane," which I think is apropos to this situation. Gideon had won a great battle. However, if you go back to the beginning of this story, he never saw himself as a great warrior or leader. He has delivered, with God's help and is ready to get back to what he is good at.
Second: Be prepared. You can't step up or move forward if you don't prepare. Prepare for the best case scenarion and worst case scenario.
Third: Don't (necessarily) believe the hype. This relates to number one. Don't let other peoples ambitions for themselves and for you cloud your judgment.
Too often we buy into the accolades and praises of others, and lose our focus and all too often, our way. Gideon had the ability step up and do what was needed, but he didn't let it go to his head. He was not consumed with the need or desire to be "large and in-charge." Gideon had done a great service for the Nation of Israel, and they wanted to repay him and may him leader. He was ready to get back to his "real life" now that the threat was gone.
We may be good at a certain aspects of our job, but that doesn't necessarily translate into replacing our boss. I would contend that we need to strive to be the most excellent "US" we can be. We can learn a great deal from other people, but we do not need to become them.
Fourth: We can each do extraordinary things in extraordinary times. Never sell yourself short. Step up.
I can do all things....
[We'll finish up tomorrow.]