The positioning of the verses caught my attention. Almost like something a fight night emcee might announce. “Ladies and gentlemen . . . welcome to tonight’s main event . . . the battle in the valley. In this corner weighing in at hoards of militia men, like locusts in abundance, with camels beyond number, the people of the East. And in that corner, there’s . . . um . . . well, 300 guys . . . led by some guy named Gideon . . . don’t really know what they’re thinking.” Well, not quite like that . . . here’s what I read . . here’s how the Scriptures announced the combatants . . .
Now all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East came together, and they crossed the Jordan and encamped in the Valley of Jezreel. But the Spirit of the LORD clothed Gideon, and he sounded the trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called out to follow him. (Judges 6:33-34 ESV)
All the people of the East came together . . . but the Spirit of the LORD clothed Gideon.
Game . . . set . . . match!
All that’s left are the fine details of how the victory would be won. Details that involved 32,000 men responding to Gideon’s call. Only to be reduced to 10,000 fighters when Gideon gave them a way out with the offer, “Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home” (7:3). But even 10,000 men were too many lest, says the LORD, “. . . lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me'” (7:2). So God filters the fighting force further . . . and Gideon ends up with an army of 300 men . . . 300 men with candles in empty jars and with trumpets . . . to fight against “all the people of the East.” Doesn’t seem like a fair fight does it? But Gideon is clothed with the Spirit of God.
Most of the other translations say that the Spirit “came upon” Gideon . . . the ESV goes with the more literal translation, that Gideon was “wrapped” in the Spirit . . . “arrayed” with the Third Person of the Triune God . . . that he was “clothed” with the Spirit of the LORD. That was the X-factor . . . three hundred men with cracked pots would rise up and defeat a hoard of fighting men with camels beyond number because their leader’s battle armor was the Spirit of the living God.
And I can’t help but think that Jesus was the “greater Gideon.” Fighting the greater battle . . . against greater forces . . . while clothed in the same Spirit.
He was one Man against “the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). The legions of angels He commanded as LORD of hosts, were sent home, as He came to earth divested of His heavenly glory. The enemy would possess the forces of hostile governments and vain, blind, religious leaders to do battle . . . Jesus would bring a cross. But the Spirit of the LORD clothed Jesus.
And when Jesus was baptized, immediately He went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on Him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17 ESV)
Gideon, clothed in the Spirit, won the battle providing freedom for the people of God for a season . . . until their defective hearts again led them astray from the living God and back into the bondage of their enemies. Jesus, one with the Spirit, secured a victory providing freedom for all who believe for eternity . . . their hearts of stone recast as hearts of flesh . . . their only master being the risen Christ . . . their only desire, to bring Him glory as they boast in His finished work.
We’re approaching our Easter remembrance. O that we might glory in the Promises of the Father . . . the Person of the Son . . . and the Power of the Spirit.
If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:11 ESV)
Clothed . . . by His grace . . . for His glory . . .