Follow the Leader

Judges 7:16-21

16 Dividing the three hundred men into three companies, he placed trumpets and empty jars in the hands of all of them, with torches inside. 17 “Watch me,” he told them. “Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do. 18 When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, then from all around the camp blow yours and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.’”

19 Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands. 20 The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” 21 While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled.

V-shaped Formation

Geese fly in V formation to conserve their energy. Each goose flies slightly above the bird in front to reduce wind resistance. They take turns to be in the lead, and fall back when they get tired. It helps them to fly more hours before they must stop for rest. Flying in V formation, they glide more often which reduces energy expenditure. It also helps them keep track of every bird in the group. Flying in V formation may assist with the communication and coordination within the group. Fighter pilots often use this formation for similar reason.

Following one leader at a time helps the geese cover more distance to reach their destination a lot faster. This natural instinct of following the leader was exhibited by the 300 men when they followed the instruction of Gideon.

1. Instruction

16 Dividing the three hundred men into three companies, he placed trumpets and empty jars in the hands of all of them, with torches inside. 17 “Watch me,” he told them. “Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do. 18 When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, then from all around the camp blow yours and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.’”

When Gideon divided his 300 men and instructed them to follow his lead, it was a very simple instruction, and it was easily implemented. Nobody among the 300 men challenged that such strategy was never done before. Nobody asked why such strategy was important. Nobody suggested a better strategy. Gideon didn’t ask for suggestions.

Such leader and followers collaboration shows God’s work among Israelites when they went to battle. They simply followed a simple instruction of their leader. It’s a not complex yet wonderful picture of God’s activity in the lives of His people. God chose Gideon to lead. He chose 300 men who readily followed Gideon’s instruction.

It is also God’s grace when we follow diligently the instruction of God-chosen leaders. One may ask, “What if leaders give instruction that contradicts the Scripture?”

Image of Gold

King Nebuchadnezzar has warned that those who will not worship his god made of gold will be thrown into the blazing furnace. And, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied in Daniel 3:16-18, 16 “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Such is a picture of firm trust in God. We need not defend ourselves if leaders give instruction that contradicts our faith. God can take care of His church without our help.

The church By-Laws define ‘special discipline’ for office bearers who violate the By-Laws. Pray that the ‘special discipline’ won’t be used. Pray earnestly for our church leaders.

By faith we seek the Holy Spirit to empower us and implement godly instructions. The 300 men that God chose to join Gideon exemplified faith in God when they implemented the instruction of Gideon—God-chosen leader.

2. Implementation

19 Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands. 20 The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” 21 While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled.

God must have let fear to prevail in the hearts of Midianites, even before the battle began. They were cautious and decided to camp on the valley. Fear could be a major factor of their decision. It was easier for them to escape when camped on valley than on the hills. Exactly as they have anticipated, the Midianite ran away. That’s right!

They camped on the valley because they planned to run away just in case Gideon and the Israelites overpower them. How can 300 overpower them? They just created a loud noise out of broken jars, and the Midianites were so scared and fled crying out.

The Israelites implemented the plan Gideon gave them, and it resulted to victory. The 300 men never challenged the instruction of Gideon. It was a very simple strategy but God used it to scare their enemies. God must have filled their hearts with obedience.

When God chose the 300, it was a practical illustration of His declaration in Jeremiah 17:10, 10I the Lord search heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.

The 300 men were chosen because God saw willingness in them to obey simple instructions. Their names may not have been mentioned but for sure, they have a story to tell that the rest of the Israelites cannot claim for themselves. Eventually, there were Israelites who felt bad that they were not included in the 300 men who joined Gideon.

It says in Ephesians 6:12-18, 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Even before we put our trust in Christ as Lord and Saviour, God has chosen us from eternity. By faith, the Lord Himself will help us to be clothed with the full armor of God. The full armor of God is a Christian lifestyle that measures spiritual readiness to obey. Such Christian lifestyle is God’s simple strategy to prepare us for spiritual battle.

Much of our problems in life are influenced by spiritual battle we face daily. We make decision because they are seemingly attractive to us but not necessarily God’s will. How do you normally choose which job you want to apply? How would you decide when you are given two job offers?

How did you decide when you choose the ministry you wish to be involved in the church? How do you sense that you are in the right ministry or right job?

Contrasting Choices

A professional basketball player had been offered two contrasting opportunities by the best team and the worst team in the league. The former team has a better opportunity to be champion team but offered him lower salary. The latter team has the least chance to be a champion team but offered a higher salary.

The player chose the better team. He hoped to be a member of champion team. As playoff approaches, the team waived him. It’s not his decision but team management decision to remove him from the roster for betterment of the team to win the trophy.

Similarly, the Lord has designed what’s best for us and His church. Every Christian is called to join the ministry. Some may join full-time ministry but whatever situation we are in, it’s a ministry opportunity. God also chooses anyone He deems appropriate for a particular ministry. Are you in a ministry God has designed for you?

Many believers would randomly choose their ministry. To join the right ministry appropriate to your spiritual gift, you will experience much joy in your spiritual life. If you fail to join the ministry God has designed for you, you will certainly crave for contentment. God provides contentment in the ministry He designed for us specifically.

God may have designed you to be in the visitation ministry, you would sense contentment if you join visitation ministry or personally visit someone.

If God designed you to be in the worship ministry, you need to be in the worship ministry or you will waste your gift or find no contentment if you don’t practice it.

Frustration or disappointment signals the need to be satisfied or contented.

In the continuation of Gideon’s story, we will find out that there were those who were not chosen but desired to be part of the 300 men who attacked the Midianites. They did not hide their frustration of being left out after the Midianites were defeated.

Gideon and the 300 were victorious because they relied upon the Lord not upon their numbers. Similarly, our spiritual victory should be dependent upon the Lord not on our effort. We need to “listen and obey the instruction of God’s chosen leaders” for to have unified effort and confusion will be avoided in the church.

The Scripture contains God’s instruction for victorious Christian lifestyle.

BIBLE—Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth.

Read it and be guided by the Holy Spirit—the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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