The Signs of the Times


July 14, 1881

Victory at Last


When Gideon stood at the head of thirty thousand men to make war against the Midianites, he felt that unless God should work for Israel, their cause would be hopeless. At the divine command the Hebrew force had been reduced by successive tests, until there remained with him, only three hundred men to oppose that countless multitude. What wonder that his heart sunk within him as he thought of the conflict of the morrow. ST July 14, 1881, par. 1

But the Lord did not leave his faithful servant to despair. He spoke to Gideon in the night season, and bade him, with Phurah, his trusty attendant, go down to the camp of the Midianites, intimating that he would there hear matter for his encouragement. He went, and waiting there in darkness and silence, he heard one soldier, just awakened, relate a dream to his companion: “Lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it that the tent lay along.” ST July 14, 1881, par. 2

The other answered in words that stirred the heart of that unseen listener, “This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; for into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host.” ST July 14, 1881, par. 3

Gideon recognized the voice of God speaking to him through the words of these Midianitish strangers. His faith and courage were greatly strengthened, and he rejoiced that Israel's God could work through the humblest means to abase the pride of men. With confidence and hope, he returned to the few men under his command, saying, “Arise, for the Lord hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian.” ST July 14, 1881, par. 4

The apparently powerless condition of that little company of Israelites, compared with the vast host of the enemy, was fitly represented by the cake of barley bread. But as that loaf overthrew the tent upon which it fell, so would the handful of Israelites destroy their numerous and powerful enemies. The Lord himself directed Gideon's mind in the adoption of a plan which the latter immediately set out to execute. He divided his three hundred men into three companies. To every man was given a trumpet, and a pitcher containing a lighted lamp. He then stationed his men in such a manner that they surrounded the entire camp of Midian. They had been previously instructed how to proceed, and at midnight, at a signal from Gideon, all the three companies blew their trumpets, uncovered their lamps, and broke the pitchers, at the same time shouting, “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!” The light of three hundred lamps, piercing the midnight darkness, and that mighty shout from three hundred voices, suddenly aroused the sleeping army. Believing themselves at the mercy of an overwhelming force, the Midianites were panic-stricken. A terrible scene of confusion ensued. In their fright they fled in all directions, and mistaking their own companions for enemies they slew one another. ST July 14, 1881, par. 5

As the news of Israel's victory spread, many who had been sent to their homes returned, and joined in the pursuit of their fleeing enemies. Gideon also sent messengers to the Ephraimites, requesting them to seize the fords of the Jordan that the fugitives might not escape eastward. ST July 14, 1881, par. 6

In this terrible overthrow, not less than one hundred and twenty thousand of the invaders were slain, and so completely were the Midianites subdued that they were never again able to make war upon Israel. A remnant of fifteen thousand who managed to escape across the river, were pursued by Gideon and his faithful three hundred, and utterly defeated, and Zebah and Zalmunna, two Midianite princes, were slain. ST July 14, 1881, par. 7

Nothing can happen in any part of the universe without the knowledge of Him who is omnipresent. Not a single event of human life is unknown to our Maker. While Satan is constantly devising evil, the Lord our God overrules all, so that it will not harm his obedient, trusting children. The same power that controls the boisterous waves of the ocean can hold in check all the power of rebellion and of crime. God says to one as to the other, “Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther.” ST July 14, 1881, par. 8

What lessons of humility and faith may we not learn as we trace the dealings of God with his creatures. The Lord can do but little for the children of men, because they are so full of pride and vain glory. They exalt self, magnifying their own strength, learning, and wisdom. It is necessary for God to disappoint their hopes and frustrate their plans, that they may learn to trust in him alone. All our powers are from God; we can do nothing independent of the strength which he has given us. Where is the man or woman or child that God does not sustain? Where is the desolate place which God does not fill? Where is the want that any but God can supply? ST July 14, 1881, par. 9

The psalmist represents the presence of the Infinite One as pervading the universe. “If I ascend up into Heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.” We can never find a solitude where God is not. The ever watchful eye of Omniscience is upon all our works, and although he can marshal the armies of Heaven to do his will, he condescends to accept the services of frail, erring mortals. ST July 14, 1881, par. 10

Because of the pride and ambition of the children of men, God has chosen to perform his mighty works by the most simple and humble means. It is not the men whom the world honors as great, talented, or brilliant, that God selects. He chooses those who will work in meekness and simplicity, acknowledging him as their leader and their source of strength. He would have us make him our protector and our guide in all the duties and affairs of life. ST July 14, 1881, par. 11

His care for the works of his creation is unwearied and incessant. When men go forth to their daily toil, as when they engage in prayer; when they lie down at night, and when they rise in the morning; when the rich man feasts in his palace, when the poor man gathers his children about the scanty board, each is tenderly watched by his Heavenly Father. No tears can be shed that God does not notice. There is no smile that he does not mark. Those to whom he has committed important trusts he regards with vigilance. All their actions and most secret motives must pass his scrutiny. He has bestowed upon them all their talents and abilities, and he will hold them to a strict account for the improvement of these gifts. If they attain success, it is because the God of wisdom has prospered them. ST July 14, 1881, par. 12

The Majesty of Heaven works by whom he will. His providence sometimes selects the humblest instruments to do the greatest work; for his power is revealed through the weakness of men. We have our standard of reckoning, and by it we pronounce one thing great, and another small; but God estimates not according to the standard of men; he does not graduate his scale by theirs. We are not to suppose that what is great to us must be great to God, and what is small to us must be small to him. ST July 14, 1881, par. 13

He who upholds the unnumbered worlds throughout immensity, at the same time cares for the wants of the little brown sparrow that sings its humble song without a fear. He cares for everything and sustains everything throughout the universe that he has created. ST July 14, 1881, par. 14

If we would but fully believe this, all undue anxieties would be dismissed. With humble prayer and trusting faith, we would seek counsel from God in all our plans and purposes of life. Then all our acts would be governed by discretion, our energies would be rightly directed. Then our lives would not be so filled with disappointment as now; for everything, small or great, would be left in the hands of God, who is not perplexed by the multiplicity of cares, nor overwhelmed by their weight. We should then enjoy a rest of soul to which many have long been strangers. ST July 14, 1881, par. 15