[Shofetim 7 Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)]

1 Then Jerubbaal [Yerubaal], who is [Gid'on] [ Gid'on], and all the people [ kol haAm] that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod [encamped by Ein Charod;]: so that the host of the Midianites [Machaneh Midyan]were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.

2 And Yahweh said unto [Gid'on], The people that are with thee are too many [rav] for Me to give the Midianites [Midyan] into their hands, lest Israel [Yisroel] vaunt themselves against Me, saying, Mine own hand [yad] hath saved me.

First 'pruning'

3 Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people [oznei haAm], saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead [Har HaGil'ad]. And there returned of the people 22 000; and there remained 10 000.

More than half the fighting men were afraid! With reduced numbers the 10 000 were depleted, further testing their courage.

32 000 Israelites, responding to the trumpet call of [Gid'on], mustered at the well of Harod on the north edge of the Jezreel valley with the object of overthrowing and driving out the enemy from Yahweh's land.

This theatre of battle is where Barak and Deborah had smashed Sisera and the northern confederacy of Canaanites and their 900 chariots (Jdg 4,5), and 'great will be the day of Jezreel' when Yahweh will avenge the blood of Jezreel' (Hos 1; Eze 38,39).

20 000 departed from the battle being fearful and afraid. Faith casteth our fear. In the truth courage and fortitude are necessary in contending against diabolos. Yahweh had no need of such numbers, lest the numerical odds caused them to boast in their own arm of the flesh. *

4 And Yahweh said unto [Gid'on], 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.

Faith, courage and vigilance characterised the remnant.

The people were still too many after the first pruning (Matt 7). A further refining process was necessary. Many are called but few are chosen. Our probation is our proving ground. We are sifted like wheat, to separate finally the wheat from the chaff.

* The Apocalyptic Messenger, Sept 2019

God said to Gideon, the people are too many for me to deliver by. Let all the fearful and fainthearted go away. Two-thirds of the host left, and 10,000 remained. And God said again, there are yet too many. And finally the number was brought down to 300 - just 1% of the original host. 99% went home. And God said, by this 300, I will save you - three hundred who drank of the water differently from the majority.

How natural it is to be influenced by numbers and by the opinions of others, particularly by those who have an appearance of position and prestige. But all the Scriptures teach the lesson to the contrary.

"He hath no form nor comelines;, and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him."

Nothing to attract the eye of the flesh or the natural man. This simple, homeless, unschooled carpenter - this wandering, unsettled creature with his few ignorant followers! What a stumbling block he was to those who judged by external appearances!

"How many of the rulers and the Pharisees have believed on him?"

they asked in derision. And that, to them, was conclusive. But this one despised man, forsaken at the end by even his few friends, single-handedly, this one despised man by the help and power of God turned the world's eternal future from darkness to light - one man.

"My strength," said God, "is made perfect in weakness." " God hath chosen the weak things of this world to confound the mighty."

"Be of good cheer," he said, "I have overcome the world." What a fantastic statement for a condemned criminal, just a few hours from death, to make.

"I have overcome the world." "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

And the timeless, changeless comfort of his eternal peace he pours out freely upon his friends.

As one man single-handedly wrought this victory over the world, and thereby established the whole future course of history, we remember that John wept when the revelation was opened to him, because there was no man to unloose the seals. All those glorious things to be developed and no man to break the seal that held them back, until the Lamb came forth. And they said,

"Weep not, for the Lamb has been found worthy to open the book."

Bro growcott - Fullness of time

7 And Yahweh 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.

THE smallness of the number of those who are known as 'Christadelphians' is often a subject of contemptuous allusion. It is perfectly natural it should be so. The importance of a community, in all ordinary human calculations, is measurable by numbers. It has never been so in Divine directions. The multitude has always been in an unacceptable attitude towards God, and He has always spoken disparagingly of the stress that men put on numbers.

Men incline to glory in numbers, and this is always offensive to God. Gideon had to reduce his 32,000 to 300 before God would deliver Israel by his hand, 'Lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me' (Jud. vi. 2). David sinned grievously in numbering Israel for the glory of the thing (2 Sam. xxiv. 10).

When people have asked a census of the Christadelphians, we have always felt the powerful objections arising out of these considerations. 'How many are we?' Leave that alone. Our position does not depend on that, and might even be destroyed by that.

'He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.'"

Bro Roberts