Titles of the Father – Warrior

Titles of the Father – Warrior

Titles of the Father – Warrior.

Then Manoah, father of Samson, asked the Angel of Yahweh, ‘What is your name, so that we may honor you when your words come true?’ The Angel of Yahweh replied, ‘Why do you ask my name? It is a name of wonder. It is unknowable, and too wonderful for you to understand!’” (Judges 13:18).

Trying to determine a list of God’s titles in the Hebrew Bible can be a tricky business, a daunting task. For one thing, the differences between a name and a title are unclear and they often overlap. There are times, too, when one is tempted to consider a common noun or adjective or metaphor to be a title if it happens to reference God. And there are plenty of times when we read of a character description of God, or a unique ability of God, and we find ourselves turning them into titles. So the titles of the Father that I will highlight in this series is a list, not the list. For all I know, there may not even be a definitive list of God’s titles. I aim to provide varied glimpses of God the Father in the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament… who He is, what He can do, what He represents, what He has done. Most importantly, I pray the readers of these titles are able to maintain the Jewish tradition of using God’s titles as ways of addressing the Almighty. As we address God in prayer and worship, may we feel free to put a capital letter at the beginning of each title, making the title an aspect of His identity. In that way each title could be another way to honor God and recognize His greatness.

“Yahweh is a warrior!” (Exodus 15:3); Hebrew word is ish milhamah, which means man of war, warrior, champion, hero, fighter; mighty man.

“The Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty Savior, a warrior who brings triumph. He will rejoice over you, taking delight in you with gladness. He will quiet you with His love, renewing you, soothing you, and calming your fears. He will exult over you, dancing with joyful songs as in the day of festival.”  (Zephaniah 3:17).

The final messianic era in human history will be characterized by great joy and the ultimate triumph of our Warrior-King. There will be singing, our hearts bursting with gladness. This Savior of ours will pour out so much love that we will be silenced, we will all enjoy a peaceful spirit in our being forgiven and released from all fears. God Himself will be silent, refusing to mention or recall any of our former sins. We will be like a weaned child who has calmed and quieted his soul (Ps. 131). There will be a hush of peaceful rapture all over the world.

“Lord Yahweh goes forth like a warrior; like a fighter He will stir His zeal. With a shout He will raise a battle cry; like a hero, He charges upon His enemies and will triumph over them.” (Isaiah 42:13).

Isaiah’s word here is a prophecy about the final Judgment. The Lord in His righteous indignation and His hatred of sin will defeat the spiritual enemies in a divine show of power and act of vengeance. The foes here are spiritual, the demonic forces of Satan and Satan himself, and the front line of battle was the Cross. The final battle for all time will be on Judgment Day, when all forces of evil will be defeated and thrown into the lake of fire, specially prepared for them. Isaiah provides an interesting picture of the conquering Warrior in 54:17. “And He put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head. And He put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle.”

“The Lord Yahweh is with me like a dread champion, a violent warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble, and not prevail. They will be utterly ashamed because they have not acted wisely.” (Jeremiah 20:11). 

Jeremiah declares his firm trust in the Lord, based on God’s earlier promises that He would protect him throughout his prophetic calling. Even if it looks like his detractors would attack him from every direction, they would not overcome him in the end. “They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you, says Yahweh, to deliver you.” (Jer. 1:19). So the prophet Jeremiah has come to see his God as a warrior for him, a might soldier, who will protect him and help him when battles arise. Jeremiah certainly had his ups and downs throughout his ministry after his calling from the Lord in Jerusalem. But he  reminds himself that Yahweh is a fighter, a warrior, and would be there to protect him as a shield.

“Who is the King of glory? Yahweh strong and mighty, Yahweh mighty in battle! Lift up your heads, O gates, and lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in! Who is this King of glory? Yahweh-Sabaoth, the Lord of the Angel Armies, He is the King of glory!” (Psalm 24:8-10).

Psalm 24 is the coronation song crowning Christ as Lord of all. It is a celebration of the Lord’s glorious entrance into the heavenly sanctuary and royal court.” (Father Reardon). The Ascension, when Jesus was taken up into heaven in bodily form. He was then received by the angels in the glory of God’s Kingdom. In this act, Jesus united earth and heaven, and through this event, the Father verified the successful accomplishment of Jesus’ earthly mission… the victory over Satan and the forces of evil, the conquering of death, the salvation of the world from the consequences of sin through the Cross and the Resurrection.

“Holy, holy, holy is Yahweh-sabaoth. His glory fills the whole earth.”  (Isaiah 6:1).

Yahweh-sabaoth = LORD of Hosts; LORD of the Angel Armies; Commander of Heaven’s Armies; Leader of Angelic Warriors; a host of angelic forces massing together for battle at the command of the LORD. This name of God is the most frequently used compound name for God in the Hebrew Bible. It is used over 280 times, most of them found in the biblical Prophets, especially JeremiahIsaiah, and in many of the Psalms. A prayer to honor His holy Name: We salute you, Lord of the Angel Armies. For you go forth like a great warrior, and your voice rings out at the head of your troops. Your angels of protection encamp around those who fear you, Lord, and as the mountains surround Jerusalem, so you surround your people with fierce protection both now and forever. You are at our side like a mighty hero, and our opponents will stumble and be vanquished, for our struggles are not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. No weapon forged against you will succeed, for you do not give victory by means of sword and spear, O Lord of Hosts. You are the victorious King, leading your heavenly warriors. O God of renown, and your deliverance will be forever, your salvation to all generations. We kneel before you, Heaven’s Commander, Yahweh-Sabaoth, and we worship your holy name. Amen.

Creative Battle Plans from our Great Warrior.

(1.)  Marching around the City? “Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man was standing opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand, and Joshua went to Him and said to Him, ‘Are you with us or for our enemies?’ And He said, ‘No, rather I indeed come now as Captain of the host of Yahweh.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to Him, ‘What has my Lord to say to His servant?’ And the Captain of Yahweh’s host said to Joshua, ‘Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.’ And Joshua did so.” (Joshua 5:13-15). 

In Joshua 5, the first big test for Joshua and the Israelites was the gateway city to the Promised Land, Jericho. Jericho was perhaps the oldest and best fortified city in the ancient world, with walls as high as 30 feet and as thick as 12 feet made of sun-dried bricks. In fact, it was the first walled city in recorded history. Jericho was considered to be invincible, because its walls were strengthened with at least one massive stone tower. Jericho was not, though, a huge city. The city’s population was around 3,000 people, and it was only about 9 acres. It only took about 30 minutes to march around its perimeter. Joshua was commander of the Israelite army, and was waiting for his marching orders from Yahweh. While camping near the city, Joshua was confronted by a mysterious Man, who stood there with a sword drawn in His hand. (5:13-15). This Man identified Himself as the Commander of Yahweh’s army. Joshua immediately fell on his face before Him and worshiped Him. Joshua asked this Commander what He had to say to him, and the first thing this Man said was to take off his sandals, for they were standing on holy ground. By no means was this a typical angel. Joshua wouldn’t have worshiped an angel, and the angel wouldn’t have allowed that to happen. Holy ground only occurs in the presence of God Himself. This Commander was indeed Jesus Christ, ready to give the unusual battle plans to Joshua.

As their conversation continued, “Yahweh said to Joshua, ‘See, I have given Jericho into your hand!” (6:2). And then the divine Commander Jesus, the Messenger of Yahweh, proceeded to lay out the head-scratching strategy for taking over Jericho. Joshua, filled with faith in this heavenly Commander, followed these instructions to the letter. With its dependence on the number 7, this is evidently the perfect battle plan:

… Have 7 priests, each bearing a shofar, march in front of the Ark of the Covenant, representing God’s presence. March around the city, continuously blowing the shofars, once a day for 6 days;

… On the 7th day, march around the city 7 times, with the priests blowing their shofars;

… At the 7th circuit around the city, Joshua will yell SHOUT!, and all the people will shout at the top of their lungs, and the walls will fall flat.

And the rest is history, biblical history. Jericho was routed, Joshua and his people defeated the once invincible city. Joshua the human commander had the faith needed to submit to the divine Commander. And the battle was won. As far as history is concerned, the ancient ruins of Jericho have been excavated, and the archeologists have commented that it appears the walls fell straight down into the ground. It’s as if the walls were pushed from above downward from some powerful force. Interesting.

(2.)  Stand Still and Watch God Fight! “But Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today, you will never see them again forever. The Lord Yahweh will fight for you while you keep silent’… And the Angel of God who has been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them. So it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel; and there was the cloud along with the darkness, and yet it gave light at night. Thus the one did not come near the other all night there at the shore of the Red Sea.” (Exodus 4:13-20).

God provided a tangible sign of His presence to the Hebrews right from the start of their escape from Egypt, as they were attempting to escape from the Egyptian army. God gave them a pillar of cloud and fire to protect them when the Israelites found themselves at a dead end at the Red Sea. The heavenly pillar was placed between the army and the runaway slaves and kept the Egyptians from attacking them. The fire gave light to the Hebrews, but somehow the accompanying cloud kept the Egyptians in the dark (Ex. 14:20). The fearsome pillar allowed the Hebrews to cross the Red Sea into freedom. That wasn’t the last they would see of that pillar… that was only the beginning of the celestial pillar of cloud and fire. “The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire did not depart from before the people.” (Ex. 13:21-22)This pillar that seemed to change when day gave way to night, from cloud to fire, was a gift of Almighty God. The pillar was a constant reminder of God’s presence with them, His direct aid to guide and to reassure them of His help in the wilderness.

(3.)  Parting the Red Sea! “Moses told the people, ‘Don’t be afraid! Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.’”  (Exodus 14:13).

So after 400 years of slavery in Egypt, the Israelites have been released by the Pharaoh to worship the Lord elsewhere in freedom. They got as far as the Red Sea, and by this time Pharaoh had changed his mind. He sent his horses, chariots and soldiers to pursue the Israelites and overtake them them as they walk through the Egyptian desert. And soon the Israelites were trapped. On the one side they have the impassable Red Sea. On the other side is the fearsome Egyptian army. The people were terrified and started complaining to Moses and Yahweh. They said that they might as well have stayed in Egypt, that they would rather be slaves in Egypt than die in the wilderness. Moses tried to calm their fears. Instead of fighting for their survival, Moses told them to stand still. Stand still! That piece of advice is the last thing the people expected. As they voiced their fears, Moses told them to be quiet and watch God work. Moses assured them that Yahweh will do the fighting for them, and they will be delivered from the Egyptians once and for all. The rest is history… Moses lifted his staff over the Red Sea, strong winds blew over the Sea all night, the waters of the Sea parted, and the Israelites walked to the other side on dry ground. As the Egyptian forces pursued the Israelites into the parted waters, Moses stretched out his arms once again over the Red Sea, and the waters returned to their full depth, drowning the entire Egyptian army. In the coming days and years, sometimes the Israelites fought to overcome a fearsome challenge, and sometimes they stood still and let God do the fighting. Most of the time, though, the Israelites still had a part to play. Back at the Red Sea, God didn’t magically pick them all up and transport them to the other side of the Sea. They had to trust that God would hold those waters back as they walked across. They had to gather their courage and walk themselves to the other side through walls of water. Certainly this miracle showed God to the  rescue, but the people needed to cooperate to complete their deliverance.

(4.)  Making Some Mud. “The stars fought from heaven, from their courses they fought against Sisera. The torrent of Kishon swept them away, the ancient torrent, the torrent of Kishon. O my soul, march on with strength.” (Judges 5:21-22).

The roller-coaster ride of the Israelites in the Promised Land is highlighted in the book of Judges. Israel’s spiritual weaknesses would cause them to fall into apostasy and immorality, then the Lord would call a judge to help lead them back to obedience to Yahweh. And then, after a few years of peace and obedience, Israel would fall again, and the patient Lord would raise up another righteous and valiant judge. And so on it goes. Deborah finds herself called to be another judge during twenty years of oppression under the Canaanite king Jabin of Hazor, which was situated north of Galilee. These pagans were known for their ruthless and well-equipped military, which included 900 iron chariots, weapons of mass destruction if there was ever such things in the ancient world. Their military was led by a bloodthirsty general named Sisera, and he was a formidable enemy of Israel. God told Deborah to engage in battle with Sisera in order to free the Israelites from their oppression. She confidently turned to her general Barak and told him what the Lord has said… Get 10,ooo Hebrew soldiers and go to war with Sisera and his army, and the Lord will bring certain victory. As it turns out, after Deborah’s personal involvement and her inspiration of Barak into action, the Lord did indeed bring victory. The Song of Deborah in Judges 5 was written to celebrate this amazing triumph over the Canaanites. The song was unabashed about rejoicing in the Lord. The composer wanted to “praise the Lord,” “sing to the Lord,” and “make music to the Lord, the God of Israel.” The song gives full credit to Yahweh, His character, His power, His faithfulness. Verses 21-22 highlight the turning point of the great battle between Deborah’s forces and the Canaanites. God sent a torrential rain to the battlefield area, which caused the main river to rise. This led to Sisera’s defeat, because the overrun river caused all 900 of those famous chariots and horses to get stuck in the mud. Sisera’s army panicked, and was then routed by the more nimble Israelites.

(5.)  Marching at the Tops of the Trees? “Then the Philistines went up once again and deployed themselves in the Valley of Rephaim. Therefore David inquired of the Lord, and He said, ‘You shall not go up; circle around behind them, and come upon them in front of the mulberry trees. And it shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, then you shall advance quickly. For then the Lord will go in front of you to strike the camp of the Philistines.’ And David so, as the Lord commanded him; and David drove back the Philistines…”  (2 Samuel 5:22-25).

Clearly, this battle against the Philistines was getting special attention from Yahweh, complete with unique battle plans for David and his army. When the sounds of marching feet at the tops of these trees were heard by David, says the Lord, he was to attack immediately. What were these marching sounds at the top of these trees? Were they the miraculous advancing footsteps of Yahweh, the Almighty God who has no feet? Was it the wind of the Holy Spirit blowing through the trees at the direction of the Lord, producing those rustling sounds? Were those marching sounds the warrior angels called into action by Yahweh-sabaoth, the Lord of the Angel Armies, preparing for battle and led by the Lord? Whomever or whatever produced these sounds, we can trust that it actually happened. And once again, trees were in the middle of all the action.

(6.)  Hailstones and Halting the Sun and Moon! And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands; not one of them shall stand before you.’ And it came about that as they fled from before Israel, the Lord Yahweh threw large stones from heaven on them, and they died. There were more who died from the hailstones than those whom the sons of Israel killed with the sword… Then Joshua spoke to the Lord Yahweh in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, ‘Sun, stand still over Gibeon; and moon, in the valley of Ayalon.’ So the sun stood still and the moon stopped, until the people had revenge upon their enemies. So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. And there has been no day like that, before or after it, that the Lord Yahweh heeded the voice of a man.” (Joshua 10:12-14). 

The most famous battle in the valley of Ayalon involved the Israelite army led by Joshua against the coalition of five Amorite kingdoms. The Amorites wanted to destroy the city of Gibeon because the Gibeonites struck a peace treaty with Joshua. When the Amorites attacked and besieged Gibeon, Joshua had no choice but to respond. Joshua rode his men hard through the night on their midnight march to rescue Gibeon, which lay just on the outskirts of the valley of Ayalon. During their twenty-mile march, when they first met up with some Amorites, God sent huge hailstones down upon the Amorites, hailstones from heaven they were called, and the hailstorm ended up killing more Amorite soldiers than were killed by the Israelite army. The miracle with the hailstorm was an unexpected and dramatic battle plan from God, and the hailstones were termed by one scholar as “the artillery of heaven.” Joshua wanted to finish off the Amorites right then and there in Gibeon, so Joshua made his outlandish request of the Lord…. “Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and moon over the valley of Ayalon.” Astoundingly, the day was lengthened by additional sunlight, as Joshua’s forces succeeded in completing the rout of the Amorite enemy.

(7.)  Victory Through Music and Worship? “Give thanks to the Lord Yahweh, for His mercy and lovingkindness endure forever.” (2 Chronicles 20:21). King Jehoshaphat was one of the most faithful and devoted God-followers in the royal history of Israel. He led a national revival and “brought the people back to the Lord God of their fathers.” (2 Chron. 19:4). At one point he was faced with a threatening coalition of powerful Canaanite forces. It was abundantly clear to everyone that the forces of Judah were vastly outnumbered by this coalition of warriors, that they were helpless against what the Bible called “a multitude, a vast horde” of enemies. Jehoshaphat’s response to this threat was to declare a fast throughout the nation, to seek the help of Yahweh. He stood in the Temple in Jerusalem, and he humbly uttered a prayer that has inspired countless readers ever since. Some of his prayer’s’ highlights: “O Yahweh God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You?… If disaster comes upon us – sword, judgment, pestilence, famine – we will stand before this Temple and in Your presence, and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save… O our God, will You not judge our enemies? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us, nor do we know what to do. But our eyes are upon You.” (2 Chronicles 20:6-12). Jehoshaphat offered these memorable words to God in the presence of the people of Judah. We could all stand to memorize his words… If we meet with affliction, we will cry out to you, Lord, and you will hear us and save us. We don’t know what to do, Father God, but we look to you for help.

After a trusted prophet of Yahweh assured them that the battle was the Lord’s and that He would defeat their enemy, King Jehoshaphat gathered the people again and declared, “Believe in Yahweh your God and you will be able to stand firm! Believe in the Lord’s prophets and you will succeed!” (v. 20).  And now comes God’s unique battle plan: In preparation for battle, Jehoshaphat first appointed a choir, a choir of all things, to approach the battle lines and sing to Yahweh. This choir was to shout their praises and sing to “the beauty of holiness.” (v.21). That phrase has two different translations, depending on the version of the Bible. One version translates it as meaning, to praise the splendor of His holiness, to exalt Him in His beauty, to worship the One majestic in holiness. Or the other translation would be, to worship Him in holy attire, in sacred vestments, in clothing that sets them apart from everyone else in service to God. There is, however, no controversy of the Hebrew word for “praise” in this passage (yadah). To praise Yahweh here means to worship the Lord with hands extended. Setting the stage here in the valley before battle, if you were an enemy of Israel and waiting for the war to begin, what is the first thing you would see on the front lines? Instead of soldiers breathing fire, you would see a marching choir out in front, wearing priestly clothing, with arms extended outward, singing and shouting and praising their God Yahweh! It would seem that the enemies of Judah would be dumbfounded, to say the least. Music on the battlefield? On the first line of defense, the front lines? Actually, what would inspire the troops better than music lifting up the power and love of their God Yahweh? And what was the choir singing about as they confidently walked into battle against a fierce foe? What was the most important thing they could think about at that particular time? Yes, they sang what has been called the eternal song of the saints. They lifted their voices and triumphantly sang about Mercy. God’s Mercy. And the rout was on. The enemy didn’t have a chance.

(8.)  Hold Your Arms High with that Pole! “Moses said to Joshua, Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.’ So it came about when Moses held his hand up that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed… So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.'” (Exodus 17:9-15).

The Hebrews early on in the wilderness were unexpectedly attacked by the Amalekites, a fierce nomadic tribe living in the desert regions of Canaan. They were a vicious group of raiders and killers who were feared for always attacking the stragglers in a group first, the old, the sick, the lame, the children. They always attacked the vulnerable first, which made them a much-hated tribe. Naturally, the Hebrews just escaped a life of slavery and were no match for these professional soldiers with no scruples. The irony here is that the Amalekites were descended from Esau and the Edomites, which means they have some Hebrew blood in their genealogy. Moses quickly assigns his best soldier Joshua to scrape up any fighters he can find to fight off the approaching Amalekites. Moses took his brother Aaron and a man named Hur to the top of nearby hill to view the fighting. While on the hill, the fighters below could clearly see Moses. When Moses held his staff high in plain view, the Hebrew fighters took the advantage. When Moses’ arms grew weary and he let the staff down, the Amalekites immediately started to win. When the fighting Hebrews saw the staff, they were reminded of Yahweh and how He powerfully led them to victory over the Egyptians. And they remembered when He parted the Red Sea. And  that staff also reminded them of the recent miracle involving water gushing out of a rock. That staff carried a lot of spiritual weight. The Hebrews rallied when the Name of Yahweh was raised, when the symbol of the LORD’s power was lifted high for all to see. Moses continued to grow weary, though, so Aaron and Hur found a small boulder Moses could sit on, and they went on each side of Moses to help him lift that staff in the air. This battle turned out to be an all-day affair, so no doubt Aaron and Hur grew tired as well as Moses, holding his arms continuously in the air. Finally at sunset, the Hebrews routed their enemy. It was a miracle victory. And because of the Amalekites preference for attacking the stragglers first, the Amalekites became a permanent enemy of Yahweh for generations. Another example of the LORD defending the weak and helpless. As was often the case, Moses decided to celebrate this dramatic victory by building an altar at that spot. He named it Yahweh-Nissi, LORD-my-banner. Moses’ staff was the battle-pole that represented Yahweh. And when the Name of Yahweh is raised like a battle-flag, no matter the battle, the route is on. Many believe that Moses was raising his arms in prayer and worship. As long as he was interceding for the Hebrews and praising Yahweh, God was enabling the Hebrews to be victorious. Moses here is a clear picture of a prayer warrior, a leader engaging in intercessory prayer and adoration. This is a striking example of the prayers of a righteous person availing much.

(9.)  Too Many Troops? “And the Lord said to Gideon, ‘The people who are with you are too many for me to give Midian into their hands, lest Israel become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me.” (Judges 7:2).

In Judges 7, we see the ingenious way Gideon assembled the troops to fight while listening to the Lord’s instructions. Gideon’s battle cry on his horn was an excellent way to gather his warriors. The problem was, Yahweh thought Gideon did too good of a job. There are too many troops, says the Lord. This is a holy war, the troops shouldn’t get the credit for the eventual victory. People might claim the glory due to Me. That’s not good. I want everyone to acknowledge that the Lord secured the triumph. This was not man’s doing. So Gideon is instructed to winnow out the men. If any of the troops are even a little fearful or timid, tell them to go home. So 22,000 troops left, while 10,000 remained. There are still too many troops! People might think they have earned the victory without God’s help. So continue to sift the troops in your brigade, Yahweh tells Gideon. The troops were taken to a nearby stream to get a drink of water. Now notice all those troops who get down on their knees and drink with their mouths directly in the stream. Those warriors are excused. Tell them to go home. And all those fighters who cup water in their hands and lap it up with their tongues, they remain to fight. That is the way to fight effectively, ready to engage in combat if an enemy should come up behind them while drinking. These are my fighters, says the Lord. Gideon ended up with only 300 troops against the many thousands of the Midianites. Now I know, says Yahweh, that no one will boast about saving themselves by their own strength and numbers. The fighting troop was reduced from 32,000 to 300 men. There will be no doubt that the victory was from God. God’s strength does not lie in numbers. Sometimes God reveals His power in the unimpressive. The one God will always outnumber the countless enemy.

It didn’t matter that the Midianite horde looked like a swarm of locusts there in the Valley of Jezreel, or that their camels were past counting, like grains of sand on the seashore. The Midianites grew fearful because of the Lord speaking to one of them in a dream. and they were ready to flee. They were afraid of Gideon’s troops, even though they didn’t know a thing about them. Gideon gave each soldier a horn and an empty jar with a lit torch inside the jar. At the signal, everyone was supposed to blow their horns and shout, “For God and for Gideon!” When Gideon’s fighters came to the edge of the camp, they blew their horns, then smashed their jars, revealing the torches in the night. They were all stationed around the camp, so it looked like the enemy camp was surrounded. The enemy panicked and ran for their lives, even killing themselves in the process. Gideon’s clever strategy made the enemy think there were more troops than there actually were. The enemy was routed, and the victory was the Lord’s. A miracle, and the Israelites did not have to fight. The glory goes to Yahweh.

(10.) Swarms of Hornets! “I will send my terror ahead of you, and throw into confusion all the people among whom you come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you and run away. And I will send hornets ahead of you, that they may drive out the Canaanites before you. For I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you will drive them out before you.”  (Exodus 23:27-28, 31).

When Yahweh promised the Israelites at Mt. Sinai that He would be an enemy to their enemies, and would oppose those who opposed them (Ex. 23:22), it wasn’t long before He made good on His word. A rather unexpected battle plan of the Lord’s was to send a swarm of vicious hornets into Canaan to drive out some of the pagan peoples in the area. The Hebrew word used for hornets (has sirah) is the literal vocabulary word for hornet or stinging wasp. Many biblical scholars claim that we should take that idea figuratively, and that hornet in this case might be a symbol for another “terror of God,” or a plague, or perhaps even a symbol for pharaoh and the forces of Egypt. Many other scholars claim that we would be perfectly reasonable to take this idea of hornets literally. In that hot climate, huge swarms of stinging hornets are known to drive whole villages away when they get organized and aggressive. And we do know from Joshua 24:12 that hornets were literally used by God to drive out the two kings of the Amorites. So it would make sense to think of the hornets as one of those creative battle plans of Yahweh in support of His Chosen People. After all, if God could see fit to send a plague of insects that covered the land of Egypt, whether they were gnats or lice, why is it so difficult to accept God sending a plague of hornets to Canaan?