ARCHIVE NUMBER ELEVEN
News Flash: Apr/May 2002
Gideon's Army: A Parable
(all spelling and phraseology is UK English)
Yesterday something strange happened.
I looked into a drawer that is little used, and it was blocked by a couple of folders that I had not used since the early '90s. I decided it was high time for a sort-out. What I found in the folders was amusing, and brought back a lot of memories - amongst a lot of rubbish I also found handwritten tape transcripts; scribbled notes for articles; an outline for a long-forgotten book; and copies of letters (that is how I guessed the date, since everything in the folder was dated 1991).
There was a scrap of torn paper with one phrase pencil-written on it, and the date 15th February 1991. It read: "How glorious is the Lord in all His endeavours". Don't ask me to explain that, but I clearly thought it significant at the time.
However, I found amongst the pile of papers a study titled "Gideon's Army, a Modern Parable". It had sat in that drawer for ten years or more but when I read it I was struck by how relevant it was.
It was written long before the Toronto Blessing or the false revival took hold, yet the subject matter and descriptions could have been those of today. And the conclusion was even more interesting to me, since it touched on things God has been telling me very recently.
Indeed, not a month ago, the Lord impressed on me the verse "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord." And I have spent some weeks gaining a deeper and deeper understanding of what God was saying in that scripture. Imagine my surprise in seeing that the Gideon's Army Parable was prefaced by that very same scripture!
Sometimes, I believe, God shows us things well in advance, even though we are not aware of it at the time. Sometimes, God makes a preparation that He knows He can utilize at a later date.
It is no accident that I decided to look at that folder yesterday. God wanted to remind me (and also you, as I share this parable) of some fundamental truths that are even more important today than they were back in 1991.
So here is the Parable:
(I strongly suggest you read about Gideon's Army in the bible before reading this parable, which is based upon those events. The passage of scripture is found in Judges Chapter Seven.)
(Note: the dream told by a soldier in this parable is in fact my own dream. In the light of events since 1991, it was indeed a very interesting dream!)
GIDEON'S ARMY - A MODERN PARABLE
"Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord."
A great and mighty army gathered in the battlefield, determined to do battle with their nation's enemies. Thirty-two thousand people, all armed to the teeth. With this sort of man-power and weaponry, they said, we can easily defeat our enemy. This was the power and might of the Church before it became riddled with error.
"Just a moment", said the Lord. "If you do defeat the enemy with so strong an army, what glory will I receive? Who will say that I worked a miracle on your behalf? Who will learn of my ability to deliver my people in the face of overwhelming odds? No, they will say that by the power of your own hand you delivered yourselves."
So God set to work. He revealed to the people the subtle dangers of the New Age Movement, and how evil was creeping into the Church. Then several hundred men and women went home in fear and trembling, and others in derision, saying, "I'd rather not know".
Next God opened their eyes to the doctrinal error being preached from pulpits around the land and thousands more left, offended at the "negative and unloving criticism of their leaders".
God stirred up hatred and harsh words and rejection and opposition, and many threw down their weapons and fled back to the comfort of their homes, friends and families.
He allowed some to be cast out of their fellowships and to wander in the dry wilderness, and many despaired of finding living water, and went back to their old dry churches.
Then the Lord looked, and found that only ten thousand remained of His army. "But it remains too strong", He said. "It is still possible for them to claim the glory for themselves".
So he gave the enemy permission to harass, accuse, torment and trouble the remaining stalwarts of the faith.
Some were worn down with all their toil and ministry and decided to do something more relaxing; some developed guilt feelings about being 'too negative', and stopped making a stand for truth; others fell under the burden of sins or ambitions that they could not relinquish.
Now the Lord looked, and He saw that only three hundred remained - less than one hundredth of the original great army. And these three hundred were discouraged and worn out. Yet they were still willing to withstand the enemies of God.
"Now I will make you to conquer", said the Lord. "Have no fear of the great power of the enemy. He is preparing to slaughter you and to wipe your memory off the face of the earth, but you need not fear his threats, nor the great multitude of people that are set against you."
"But one command I have for you", said the Lord. "Put aside your weapons."
"What!!?" they cried. "You let us be reduced in number, harassed and rejected, thrown out and cast down, but still we fought with the weapons you gave us, and we were not defeated. Now this great army has encamped against us, and is set to destroy us utterly, and we have no strength left to resist. And now you ask us to cast our weapons aside?"
"Yes", said the Lord. "I have made you as vessels of clay, but inside you is my great treasure: the burning lamp of the Holy Spirit in your spirits. Up to now, the enemy has not seen this glorious light because your flesh, and the weaponry I provided, have prevailed - for I have been supporting you and helping and protecting you day by day. But now is the time for a great deliverance, and it will not come by might of numbers, nor power of weaponry, but solely by my Spirit.
"At My command, take up the trumpets of your message, and go forth into the darkness of the night, trusting only in Me. Surround the camp of the wicked, waiting for my command, and when I tell you to do so, shatter the last few remnants of your vessels before them. Let them see that you are broken in flesh, but that My strength has been perfected in your weakness. They thought they had utterly crushed you, but they can never crush my Spirit within you. In crushing you, they have only released the perfume of my love, and the flow of the anointing oil.
"At My word, shatter your earthly vessels of clay, and the light of my Spirit will shine forth. You will be consumed by the glory that comes only in the fellowship of sufferings. By my Spirit you will conquer."
"Well", said Gideon's little band, hesitantly, "If you say so, Lord. But we will have to put our total trust and faith in you for this. Because if we few surround this great camp with only trumpets and clay vessels, and the enemy calls our bluff, what hope do we have of coming out alive? We would be mown down like grass. Nevertheless, at your command, we will go."
So, they waited for the day of deliverance.
Meanwhile, in the enemy camp Joel's Army laughed and held a celebration meeting. Guitars and drums sounded loudly as the celebrants danced round their tents; and they raised their hands and voices in shouts of triumph. "What care we for these little heresy-hunters", they cried, "this offscouring of humanity, this dung of the earth? Soon we shall trample them under our feet, for our lord and king gives us authority to rule all the earth. Judgement is ours, they cried, and vengeance is ours, and our reign is being established on the earth for ever, to rule in power and might."
But - "not by power, nor by might, but by my Spirit says the Lord..."
In the darkness, the few remaining soldiers of Gideon's army listened to the music and laughter coming from Joel's Army camp, and they asked themselves, "how shall we prevail? They are so many, and we are so few. They have captured the attention of the media, they have the teaching tapes, the videos and magazines, the TV and radio broadcasts, the huge prestigious meetings and the big name preachers.
"They sound so powerful and brave, and we have so little. Even the few things we once had have been taken from us, and we are universally loathed.
"Once our weapons were prayer meetings, our own church fellowships filled with simple praise and worship, the gospel message, and sound Bible teaching." [Today I would have to add the weaponry of discernment ministries that has developed in the past ten years, and all the newsletters, tapes, books, websites and other informational resources that God provided and that are now being eroded by foolishness, ignorance and pride: idolatry of the tools and methods and personalities involved, fanaticism, hype, competition for popularity, self-interest, ambition, the world's methodologies, in-fighting, idle speculation, flaky theories and various other abuses.]
They continue: "But now God has asked us to forsake even these things, and to stand alone, unprotected against all the might of our foes. Yet, though we have our doubts, and sometimes we quake in our boots at the prospects before us, though we are lonely, scattered and weakened, we still have the Lord. We know the Lord even more deeply that we did before, because we have been forced to abandon our trust in the system and put our trust in Him alone! Yes!" they all agreed, "this experience has taught us to rely totally on the Lord. So let us put our trust in Him once more, and do as he said." Thus they strengthened themselves in the Lord.
Now, during the night, as they slept fitfully, waiting for the call to battle, one of the soldiers had a dream: "I dreamt I was in the Church" the soldier said. "only it was more like a lecture hall. At the front, the Tutor was writing on a blackboard. He was slowly writing just one word: COVENANT. As he wrote, all the students in the hall began to copy him.
"I suddenly realised that he was causing them to covenant with the forces of the antichrist; to enter into agreement with death, as it says of Israel in Isaiah 28:18. To them it seemed so pleasing and worthwhile. But I knew this covenant was the last great delusion, the final push into apostasy, no less than an initiation into the luciferic deception from which there is no retreat.
"Horror and great sadness struck my heart and I tried to speak out", the soldier went on. "I tried to warn them, yet I could not find the words. They were so convinced of the rightness of their actions!
"I was sitting at the back of the hall with one or two other concerned people. There was a dear old man with a well-thumbed black leather-bound bible, the sort of man who has been in an Assembly for fifty years and is the bedrock of that Assembly but is hardly ever taken seriously. He haltingly spoke out but nobody paid him heed.
"And another man, a young man, stood to his feet and gave an eloquent and passionate speech about the evils of this covenant, but they would not listen to him, either.
"Finally, I rose to speak. I said passionately, 'Oh, think, think! If you sign this covenant, you will be doomed!' The lecturer hesitated for one moment, his chalk suspended in the air. He had written as far as C.O.V.E.N.... Then, after a moment's pause, he continued as before.
"Distraught, I walked out into the corridor. There the argument continued, as several women standing by challenged my views.
'Gamaliel! Gamaliel!' I cried out, but they only laughed at me. I knew what I meant by that one word, and I tried to explain, but it came out all confused. I said to them, 'Gamaliel also tried to warn the Church, but they would not listen to him either'."
[See Acts 5:29-40. Gamaliel recommended caution and the authorities at that time heeded his advice. This passage of scripture is now often used by those in the revival to rebuke their critics. Is this a valid argument? Read another article on this site for more details.]
"The women were delighted to have caught me out." The soldier said. "They taunted me with my mistake: 'If you are going to minister, you must have a better understanding of scripture than that!'
"I knew perfectly what I wanted to say. In that lecture Hall we had wanted to cry out and warn them about their course of action; that they were coming against God Himself. But they had silenced us, so that we could not speak; they had ignored and mocked us. All I could do was to walk away, heavy hearted and frustrated.
"And that was my dream", the soldier said. "What could it mean?"
The soldier's companion had opened a copy of the Lord's Word. "Look here!" he said, and pointed to a passage in Acts Chapter Five. "See here that the religious people, the enemies of the truth, HAD tried to silence the apostles, and afterwards were plotting to kill them. A man called Gamaliel gave them wise advice. 'If this move of the Spirit is from God', he had said, 'you will be found to be fighting against God'. And on that occasion the religious leaders accepted Gamaliel's counsel."
"Yet on the basis of my dream", the first soldier said, "It seems that Gamaliel's advice is being rejected today. It seems that the religious leaders have agreed together in a covenant to kill God's remnant, and will no longer listen to reason. That is what this dream tells us", he said.
"Nevertheless, we will put our trust in God", said his fellow soldiers.
"Amen", said the Dreamer.
Next morning, the little band of soldiers received the word from the Lord to go down to the enemy camp. Joel's army were there rejoicing with all their might. "Who can come up against us", they said, "for we have been made invincible. We are the manifestation of the sons of god on earth", they said. "We are Christ! We shall slay our enemies in a great slaughter, and no one shall stand in our way."
Gideon's small faithful band stood silently, not responding to these threats. They held their trumpets tightly. Suddenly, the word of the Lord came: "Blow your trumpets!" Obediently, they blew, and at the same time they allowed their vessels of clay to be utterly shattered as the last remnants of flesh fell away, and their very souls stood naked and seemingly vulnerable and exposed before their enemies. It seemed as if all was now lost and that their defeat was certain.
But all at once a glorious light began to shine! The Holy Spirit shone out more and more powerfully until the darkness was illuminated by His holiness, power and glory.
"No! No!" cried the enemy. "Turn the light away from us!" They were terrified that their deeds were about to be exposed in such a way (for many of them were committing wickedness under cover of the night); they were confused and dismayed; they were unable to offer any explanation of this brightness to their troops.
"How is it these simple people have the anointing of God?" they said. "We thought we had crushed them; we thought they were of no account. How is it that light now shines through them? And If God is with THEM, what about us?"
Then they turned on one another, with hearts full of fear and confusion. "Save us! Prophesy to us!" they cried to their Generals, but their leaders were speechless with dismay and fear. "It's your fault" one accused, "If only you had prayed harder over the city, this would not have happened."
"No, it's your fault", another replied, "for you refused to tithe as I commanded you - if only we'd been able to buy the Prayer Tower..."
The fighting grew fiercer, as each man accused his neighbour, and then they began to pull at one another and rip and tear one another until nothing was left of their fine clothes. Their platforms were broken into splinters beneath them.
Suddenly, out of the blackest part of the night, a noise like the roaring of a mighty fire came rushing towards them. "Listen!" one prominent leader shouted, holding up his hand for silence in the camp. "This is the flaming fire of God that we told you would come to devour our enemies! The fire is falling, the fire is falling!"
But even as he spoke, his words were ripped away from him and lost in the hurricane blast of the wind that knocked him violently to the ground. Terrified, Joel's Army fled in every direction, leaving behind them broken seats, torn literature, musical instruments, overturned racks of books and tapes, money pouches and all the trappings of their ministries. And the litter of their camp covered the ground to the height of a man's thigh.
Left behind, confused and bewildered were many of those who had been coerced into Joel's Army. They were wounded and fearful. Now they came over to Gideon's camp, seeing God's light in them.
And Gideon's troops bound up the wounds of the people, and comforted them.
"Teach us the truth", the people pleaded, "and deliver us from deception".
And so they did, praising God for his wisdom, because: