THE HIGH COST OF EDUCATION Andy Hollifield 11-8-18
Judges 8:16 And he took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth.
There are a couple different ways to look at this scripture. I had missed the verse above every time I have read through Judges. The story takes place immediately after Gideon’s army of three hundred had defeated the Midianites with the trumpets, pitchers, and lamps in the pitchers. In Judges 8:1 we find a very common thing occurring. People getting jealous and mad and wanting to fuss because they didn’t get their way. Gideon first had to kind of stroke the pouters that were complaining because he hadn’t called them to fight the Midianites. After getting them pacified a little, he continued on with pursuing the princes of Midian. The fact was that Gideon had fought the battle the way God had instructed him and any other way would have spelled defeat.
Gideon encountered more resistance when he reached Succoth. In verse 4, he and his 300 men crossed Jordan and were growing faint. He asked for bread for his army and explained that they were still chasing the kings of Midian. They refused to give him any because he had not yet captured the them. Gideon’s faith was at an entirely different level than before the battle. He told the men of Succoth that he would return and tear their flesh with thorns and briers. He also ran into the same unwillingness to feed his army in Penuel. When they refused, Gideon promised to return and break down the tower that was in the city. If you notice, Gideon said when he returned, not if. He caught up with Zebah and Zalmunna in Karkor. Out of the army of the Midianites, only fifteen thousand remained. One hundred and twenty-two thousand fighting men had fallen. When they fled, Gideon’s army pursued them and captured the kings and utterly defeated their remaining army.
Gideon returned the next morning before daylight and asked a young man what the princes of Succoth looked like. There were 77 elders and princes and in verse 16 he kept his promise and educated the men of Succoth about the perils of refusing to support God’s work. It says that with the thorns and briers he taught the men of Succoth. When he came back to Penuel, he kept his promise there also. He beat down their tower and slew the men of the city. Then he questioned Zebah and Zalmunna about the men they slew at Tabor. They described them to him and told him that they looked like him and each of them resembled the children of a king. Children of a king? Little did they know that Gideon was just a farm boy who obeyed God and allowed God to use him. By his obedience, his men slew 137,000 plus the men of Penuel in only two days. Israel had peace for forty years following those battles.
Just a couple of things I want to mention. Did you notice that Gideon continually obeyed God from the day he met the angel at the winepress when he was threshing wheat? Because of his obedience, God made a mighty warrior out of him. He was no longer the timid farm boy but now was the deliverer and captain of the host of Israel. From the night outside the enemy’s camp when he heard the man’s dream; his faith had continued to skyrocket. He no longer had to ask God to prove himself with a fleece or needed to hear what the enemy thought of him. He just took God at his word. Just think how much more glory God could get out of us if we would only learn to take him at his word.
One other thing I noticed. The part where Zebah and Zalmunna said that Gideon resembled the son of a king. God can use you no matter who or what you are and how scared you may be. He can also transform you to look like a man worthy of honor. Do you know what the one qualification was that Gideon had that made him a warrior for the Lord? He was available and obedient. That’s it! Because one man made himself available and was obedient when God called; God used him to deliver his people from their oppression. Do you think maybe the Lord might make a spiritual warrior out of us and allow us to defeat the devil and help the folks around us to be delivered from their sins and be born again? We don’t have to be talented or even a great soldier of the cross. God can make what he needs out of us. He can educate us beyond our ability. It may even require a high cost on our part or even personal sacrifice. But it will cost a lot more if we refuse. All we have to be is available and obedient. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!