WHEN the hosts of the alien were encamped around about the little trembling band of Israel like grasshoppers for multitude, and all human prospect of escape from captivity had fled - the despairing tribes were reduced to the necessity of looking alone to God for deliverance. The manner in which it pleased the Lord to give deliverance and victory to Israel, was the very opposite to what human wisdom would have suggested. The Lord would neither suffer Gideon to go with his thirty-two thousand, nor with his ten thousand men: “Lest Israel should vaunt themselves against the Lord, saying mine own hand hath saved me.” The first work of preparation for the onset was the reduction of the strength of their numbers, and to convince them that the work would be accomplished by the mighty arm of the Lord. How effectually did the Lord stain the pride of men in removing from them all on which they would be inclined to rely! and when they were brought down sufficiently, Gideon was instructed to advance with his three hundred men, divided into three companies,. with directions to take their positions round about the enemy,. without a single implement of war, excepting a trumpet in every man’s right hand - with no weapons, offensive or defensive - no sword, nor shield, nor bow; but relying on the Lord as their Shield and Buckler, their High Tower and their Defence. Every man was to carry his empty pitcher covering, a lighted lamp in his left hand, and to await the signal from their leader, at which every pitcher was broken, the united light of three hundred lamps at once flashed forth upon the surprised enemy, attended with the simultaneous shout of three hundred voices, crying, as in one breath, “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!” How dreadful was the consternation of the Midianites at this display of the arm of the Lord! More dreadful to their ears was the sound of the name of the Lord than all the thunder of the battle clash; and more terrific to their eyes the radiant flame than the glitter of a million spears! The dreadful majesty of the God of Israel shining around them; and the terror of his name, echoing from the trumpets on every side, filled their hearts with dismay and their ranks with confusion.
We are inclined to believe there is something in this figure analogous to the manner in which the Lord is conducting the conflict of his people, at this day, with the host of their opposers. The numerical strength of those who contend for the primitive order of the house of God, is greatly reduced; and they are taught by very many important admonitions, that they are not to rely upon human wisdom nor human might; their pitchers (mere earthen vessels) are empty of themselves, and only to be broken in the contest, while the light of that treasure which our God has committed to earthen vessels, is to shine forth with the united declaration of our sole reliance upon the sword of the Lord and of our glorious leader Jesus Christ, from every one whom God has honored with a place and rank among the very few by himself designated to follow their illustrious Leader into the field. Not the sword of human power, of human wisdom, literature, science or fame; but the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. While the motto of our enemies is, “Attempt great things, expect great things,” which motto truly expresses their confidence in their own skill and perseverance; the confidence of the people whom God has chosen shall be expressed by the shout of Gideon’s little army, whose reliance was restricted to “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon.” And although the sword of the Lord and of our Leader is at this day invisible to the enemies of Zion, as was that sword in the days of Midian; yet its glittering blade shall flash upon them in as unexpected a moment as in the case of their prototype, and shall be as effectual as on that memorable occasion.
A few words, then, of admonition to those who can lap water like dogs, may be seasonable. Brethren, remember the charge that was given to the three hundred men: “And he (their leader, who, in this particular at least, was a figure of the Captain of our salvation,) said unto them, Look on me, and do likewise; and behold when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be, that as I do, so shall ye do; when I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of the camp, and say, The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!
It is of the utmost importance that the little company whom God has preserved from bowing to Baal, should keep their eye fixed upon the Author of their faith, and imitate his divine example. We are to cry, The sword of the Lord! and rest assured that God will use it effectually, in defence of his Israel and the discomfiture of his enemies.
NEW VERNON, N. Y.,
September 1, 1841.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 709 – 711