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Divine Subtraction and the Glory of God

Rev. Michael Calvert, Ph.D., January 14, 2018
Part of the Great Events in the History of Redemption series.

This coming Lord’s Day morning, as we continue our study of the major characters in the book of Judges, we will take our final look at the man named “Gideon.” And we have arrived at what is, perhaps, the most famous episode from his life—the amazing story of the Lord’s reduction of his army to just a fraction of its original size, from 32,000 to just 300 men, and the ultimate defeat of the Midianites.

But, as we have also observed along the way, the story of Gideon’s life and times is much more than just an interesting and even entertaining episode from the Old testament. It is an example for us. By looking at this story, and all of the others that we find in the Old Testament, we learn something very important about God’s plan of salvation, how He redeems His people, and how they serve Him and His kingdom in this world. This is why we are not at all surprised to find Gideon among those Old Testament men and women of faith mentioned in the Epistle of Hebrews in the New Testament. In the life and times of Gideon we see the one, eternal plan of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ—and the life of Spirit-empowered and God-glorifying service that it inaugurates—unfolding most beautifully before our eyes. And this will be especially true as we investigate this most well-known event recorded in Judges 7. Our focus for Sunday’s sermon will be upon verses 1-9, but you will need to be familiar with the remainder of the story found in 7:10-8:35 to more fully benefit from the message.

The overall theme of this colorful event is discovered in Judges 7:2 where the Lord explains to Gideon why his forces must be significantly downsized before they go and confront the Midianites: “lest Israel become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me.’” I believe you can see the immediate relevance to us and to our salvation in Christ, and the presence of the very same danger we also face as we serve our Lord in this world. So take another good look at this amazing episode from the life of Gideon, and join me in prayer that the Lord will speak to us most powerfully on Sunday.


Judges 7:1-7

1Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley. 2And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me. 3Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand. 4And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go. 5So he brought down the people unto the water: and the LORD said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink. 6And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water. 7And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place. (KJV)