God wanted to make sure that the Israelites did not take credit for the victory that God was going to give Gideon. Therefore, he had Gideon reduce his force of 32,000 men by two orders of magnitude to a force of 300. 22,000 of the men left when they were told they could,
Therefore, tell the people, ‘Whoever is timid or afraid may leave this mountain and go home.’” So 22,000 of them went home, leaving only 10,000 who were willing to fight.To get rid of the last 9700, God had Gideon divide the troops based on how they drank water from a stream,
When Gideon took his warriors down to the water, the Lord told him, “Divide the men into two groups. In one group put all those who cup water in their hands and lap it up with their tongues like dogs. In the other group put all those who kneel down and drink with their mouths in the stream.” 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.I suppose that is as good an arbitrary division of people as any.
Before Gideon attacked, he surveyed the enemy camp and learned that some Midianite had a dream that the Israelites would defeat them (well, it was actually about bread and tents, but that's what it meant). From this, Gideon concluded that his victory must be certain and attacked.
Of course the Israelites defeated the enemies at their camp. Once the enemies were fleeing, Gideon called for help, and they chased down and defeated all the enemy. But not without a little drama. The officials of the towns of Succoth and Peniel refused to give Gideon and his men food, so Gideon said he would get his revenge on them after he was victorious. I think that is a bit unfair of him. Gideon is attacking the powerful army that has been subjecting the area. Of course the people in that area do not want to be perceived as helping him until they are certain it won't cost them their town.
Of course, those townspeople did not account for the fact that the Israelites, or Gideon at least, could also be pretty cruel. After he won,
Gideon then returned to Succoth and said to the leaders, “Here are Zebah and Zalmunna. When we were here before, you taunted me, saying, ‘Catch Zebah and Zalmunna first, and then we will feed your exhausted army.’” Then Gideon took the elders of the town and taught them a lesson, punishing them with thorns and briers from the wilderness. He also tore down the tower of Peniel and killed all the men in the town.At least he only killed all the men in the town instead of killing everyone and their livestock before burning the town to the ground.
Pilate tries to set Jesus free. The crowd claims they want him crucified. As I pointed out one of the other times we read about Jesus' trial, it seems awfully odd that the religious leaders were so afraid of the people yet all we hear from the people at Jesus' trial is "Crucify him! Crucify him!”
The soldiers crucify Jesus. People mock him. Then we read about the people crucified with Jesus. In Matthew and Mark we read that Jesus was crucified with two criminals who both ridiculed and insulted him. In Luke's version of the story, one criminal ridicules Jesus, the other acknowledges him as Lord.
Psalms and Proverbs
Exciting imagery in the first of today's two psalms!
Dark clouds surround him.
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire spreads ahead of him
and burns up all his foes.
His lightning flashes out across the world.
The earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
before the Lord of all the earth.