A Victory Dedicated to Jehovah’s Honor
“They cried, The sword of Jehovah and of Gideon. And they stood every man in his place round about the camp.”—Judg. 7:20, 21, Am. Stan. Ver.
1. When, particularly, is wisdom better than war weapons?
JEHOVAH is a God of war who knows no defeat. No single enemy or combination of conspirators can put into the field of battle enough power to match his. No opposer in all the universe can outgeneral him in war strategy. So unparalleled is his wisdom that with forces so insignificant as to be laughable he can put mighty armies to rout. Because of his wisdom in outmaneuvering his enemies, he does not have to call upon his almighty power to gain victories. When from above, “Wisdom is better than weapons of war.”—Eccl. 9:18.
2. Why can Jehovah’s witnesses vouch for the fact that wisdom is better than weapons or strength?
2 The true Christians known as Jehovah’s witnesses can vouch for this truth. Guided by the wisdom that comes down from above, their string of victories over worldly nations that bristle with the latest war weapons runs on unbroken. They can apply Paul’s words to themselves: “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.” (Jas. 3:17; 2 Cor. 10:4) They may suffer battle casualties in opposing “this present evil world” that “lieth in the evil one”, Satan the Devil; but they win out against the persecutions and mobs, the imprisonments and government bans, even triumph over the execution of death sentences, for their service work prospers, their numbers soar, and their life rights in a new world are sure. (Gal. 1:4; 1 John 5:19; Rev. 2:10, Am. Stan. Ver.) For this they honor God, because it is his protection and guiding wisdom that bring the victory. As they pit their small numbers against an armed world, they appreciate the words of Ecclesiastes 9:14-16: “There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it: now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man. Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength.” The world remembers and idolizes its war heroes; its preservation would be more sure if it did not brush aside and forget the wisdom from above.—Eccl. 7:12.
3. At what point do we resume consideration of the drama involving Gideon and the three hundred? and what is the result of his reconnoitering?
3 The principle that “wisdom is better than weapons of war” finds vindication in the prophetic drama involving Gideon and his three hundred fighters. From our preceding issue you will recall that they had ousted from mind ensnaring Baal worship, and purged from their numbers the fearful and selfishly lazy. Now, with ranks whittled down to a mere three hundred, they confronted an opposing force of at least 135,000 enemy swordsmen. The situation called for strategy. In obedience to Jehovah’s command, Gideon goes on a reconnoitering trip among the outposts of the Midianite camp, and overhears two of the enemy. One tells a dream about a barley cake tumbling into the camp and overturning a tent, and the other interprets: “This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: into his hand God hath delivered Midian, and all the host.” Gideon returned to his own camp and cried out: “Arise; for Jehovah hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian.”—Judg. 7:9-15, Am. Stan. Ver.
4. What do Christians today learn by scouting enemy positions? and what do they sometimes hear from the enemy’s own mouth?
4 A cake of barley bread is not much, but it bowled over a tent. Gideon’s three hundred were greatly outnumbered, but they were told by God through this dream that they would rout Midian. The anointed witnesses today are comparatively few, but Jehovah opens their eyes to the weaknesses of this world’s systems. As Christians reconnoiter the enemy positions, they discern the false stand of Christendom’s religions, the corruptness of her politics, the greed of her commerce, the lust for power that burns within her militarism. Men on the inside of world affairs can be heard frequently lamenting the sorry state of worldly religion, politics, commerce and militarism, all of which seem itching for a third world war. Out of their own mouths enemy worldlings can be heard condemning themselves, and sometimes lauding Jehovah’s witnesses for their uprightness as a group and for their zeal as Christians. Not that they favor Jehovah’s witnesses, but the facts force these admissions from unwilling lips and pry eyes open to the handwriting on the wall. (Dan. 5:5, 25-28; Luke 19:22) Like the Midianite’s dream, unfaltering Christian courage is a twofold sign: destruction for the enemy and deliverance for the godly servant. “Never for a moment falter before your opponents, for your fearlessness will be a sure sign for them of their coming destruction, but to you it will be an omen, from God himself, of your deliverance.”—Phil. 1:28, An Amer. Trans.
THE STRATEGY, AND THE ATTACK
5. How and with what equipment does Gideon launch the attack?
5 Up! Arise! Prepare for battle! Gideon returns from his nighttime reconnoitering and rouses his little band to fighting zeal. He divides his force into three companies of one hundred each, and deploys them into the night’s blackness for action. Down from the heights of Mount Gilboa they file, a silent line of figures that finally encircles the sleeping Midianite camp that sprawls in the valley of Jezreel, at the foot of the hill of Moreh to the north. Well armed, these three hundred? No, not militarily speaking; they would draw scornful laughter and ridicule from haughty militarists. Each one had a trumpet, a pitcher, and a torch within the pitcher. Each one knew the instructions, had his assigned place in the thin line that stretched round about the camp, and looked to Gideon’s location for the cue. At the given signal each one blew mightily upon his trumpet, broke his pitcher, held aloft the firebrand thus uncovered, and shouted, “The sword of Jehovah and of Gideon!”—Judg. 7:1, 15-20, Am. Stan. Ver.
6, 7. How effective against the Midianites was this strangely conducted attack?
6 A scene of wildest confusion and terror broke loose in the Midianite host. The night’s silence shattered by the blasts of three hundred trumpets, its stillness broken by the shouts from three hundred throats, its darkness pierced by the eerie flames from three hundred torches, and added to this the frightened stampeding of Midianite livestock, the unnerved terror of the invaders is understandable. The shouts and blasts rolled across the camp to strike the sides of Moreh, only to bounce back over the confused scene and bump into Mount Gilboa’s bluff, and as the noise was magnified and the echoes answered back, it seemed that the very hills awoke and took up the cry against Midian. The reverberating echoes converged upon the enemy, and as they stumbled from their tents sleep-filled eyes widened in startled fright at the leaping flames that highlighted shadowy shapes and fired superstitious imaginations. Believing the trumpets were of a numerous army that had penetrated their camp, the Midianites supposed their enemies were among them and turned their swords against every man they met, against their own numbers. They were confused and rattled, and rushed about wildly, and added to the din by their own cries, till they could straighten out their aimless dashing and take flight toward the fords of Jordan and their own land. The war of nerves had shattered their control and they flew at one another before finally breaking into headlong flight. The fear that was catching spread like a plague, and terror gave wings to the rout. (Deut. 20:8) No strategem was ever better laid, better executed, or more completely successful. Judges 7:20-22 reads:
7 “The three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the torches in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands wherewith to blow; and they cried, The sword of Jehovah and of Gideon. And they stood every man in his place round about the camp; and all the host ran; and they shouted, and put them to flight. And they blew the three hundred trumpets, and Jehovah set every man’s sword against his fellow, and against all the host; and the host fled.”—Am. Stan. Ver.
8. Why was this strategy so effective in terrorizing the Midianites and their allies? and what was their condition at the battle’s end?
8 By following the strategy given by Jehovah through Gideon, and by God’s maneuvering the addled enemy to commit self-slaughter, the three hundred Israelites gained the victory without carnal weapons. “Wisdom is better than weapons of war.” Shouts and trumpet blasts preceded attacks: “God is gone up [against the enemy] with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.” “If ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets.’ (Num. 10:9; Ps. 47:5) Usually a trumpet heralds the advance of a company, so by each of the three hundred having trumpets it seemed to the Midianites that they were overrun by three hundred companies of troops instead of only three. By the end of that battle so spectacularly launched, the oppressing Midianites and their fellow conspirators were dead, and Israel was free of their cruel overlordship.
9. What claim do antitypical oppressors make? but how and when was it disputed?
9 The modern-day Midianites and their allies, the visible agents of Satan that rule over and oppress the peoples of earth, and especially seek to crush those who serve Jehovah, claim to be the “higher powers” mentioned at Romans 13:1. But the antitypical three hundred, the anointed remnant of Christ’s body-members under the command of the Greater Gideon Christ Jesus, dispute that claim. On August 5, 1928, in a resolution entitled “Declaration Against Satan and for Jehovah”, which was adopted by 12,000 witnesses assembled in Detroit, Michigan, and which was later printed in several languages and distributed by the millions, the statement was made: “Henceforth our battle cry shall be, THE SWORD OF JEHOVAH AND OF HIS ANOINTED! The whole tenor of this Declaration and the public talk “Ruler for the People” that accompanied it, both of which were at that time broadcast over a chain of more than 100 radio stations, in America and Canada, was that Satan was the god of this world and national leaders were his representatives and no earthly nation had Jehovah as its God. The truth that Jehovah God and Christ Jesus, and not worldly politicians, are the Higher Powers of Romans 13:1 was made clearer and given wider publicity from and after 1929, especially by the June 1 and June 15 Watchtowers of that year.
10. How are Jehovah’s witnesses of today backed up in this position by the course of Jesus and early Christians?
10 The apostles did not view worldly politicians as the “higher powers”, else they would never have said to them: “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29; 4:19) Nor did Jesus, who exposed and spoiled the “principalities and powers” of commerce and politics and false religion, and invisible demon powers as well. (Matt. 4:8-10; 6:19-21; 19:23, 24; 21:12, 13; 23:1-33; Luke 13:31, 32; John 8:44; 18:36; 19:10, 11; Col. 2:14-17) To early Christians the power of such men became as dead as the firstborn of Egypt at the time of the tenth plague, which pictured the death of worldly rulers as the “higher powers”. The deadness of the antitypical firstborn (”the beginning [or chief] of his strength”) shows up when Jehovah’s witnesses say before worldly courts and authorities: “We ought to obey God rather than men.”—Deut. 21:17.
11. How does this truth free Christians and rout modern-day Midianites?
11 Hence it was with this truth about the true ‘higher powers” that Jehovah’s witnesses attacked the modern-day Midianites, from and after 1928, and with it they snapped the bonds that once improperly tied them in subjection to world rulers even in matters of worship, when they thought such rulers were “ordained of God”. The knowledge that God and Christ are the Higher Powers put to rout and destroyed the power of worldly authorities over Christians relative to the worship of Jehovah. Since appreciating this truth they boldly shout their battle-cry: “The sword of Jehovah and of his Anointed!”
12. In spite of their comparatively few numbers, why do Jehovah’s witnesses seem like multitudes to the enemy?
12 This old world and its leaders are in darkness as deep as that which settled over Egypt during the ninth plague, and surrounding and infiltrating into this world camp are the comparatively sparse numbers of Jehovah’s witnesses. But to the enemy the witnesses seem like multitudes, because Theocratic organization makes the best use of the small band, each keeping his assigned place, just as Gideon’s three hundred remained “every man in his place round about the camp”. They are schooled in the best methods and strategies of Christian warfare, and when the Greater Gideon flashes and trumpets forth truth from the temple they quickly start reflecting that light, letting it shine throughout the bedarkened world, lifting up their voices like a trumpet of praise to God, making sure that the blast is clear and certain, shouting with zeal the truths that make men free of harsh oppressors. The anointed are likened to earthen vessels in which is stored the treasured light, and to let this light shine they willingly consume and use up their bodily strength and even allow it to be broken in death like shattered clay pitchers. But their exemplary course shines on and the light increases.—Gen. 4:10; Ps. 47:1; 69:9; 119:105; 150:3; Isa. 58:1; 60:1, 2; Jer. 50:15; Matt. 5:14-16; 1 Cor. 14:8, 9; 2 Cor. 4:6, 7; Heb. 11:4.
13. Why might worldlings think Jehovah’s witnesses poorly equipped for Theocratic warfare? but what result proves otherwise when the battle is joined?
13 Worldlings may think that Jehovah’s witnesses are as poorly equipped for ministerial service as soldiers armed with torches and pitchers and horns would be for carnal war. They are not equipped with the orthodox religious teaching, nor armed with a diploma from some theological seminary. They do not use orthodox methods, such as sitting back in church buildings waiting for a congregation to come to them, or reviewing worldly books and prattling politics or supplanting the Bible with creed and ritual, or sponsoring church socials and bingo gambling. But when the witnesses begin speaking and let the Bible light shine, the enemy is confused and rattled and unable to stand against the truths declared. (John 7:15; Acts 4:13) The Bible light is too strong for enemies long sleeping in darkness, so they grope in blindness, addled by a message strange to them. Unable to make a stand on the Bible, they flee to tradition, to creed, to custom, to ritual and ceremony and formalism, till in full rout from the land of Jehovah’s true worship.—Isa. 29:13, 14; Matt. 15:1-9; 23:5; Col. 2:8.
14. What shows enemy confusion and the impossibility of their being the “higher powers”? and to whom are they dead?
14 Unable to get together on a unified charge against God’s witnesses, enemies in one land call them communists, in another imperialists, one year accuse them as nazis, the next brand them Reds. The world leaders clash among themselves, quarreling and fighting and killing one another. Their own actions show they could not be the “higher powers”; their own confused, internal strife helps kill their claim as such. Divided religiously, commercially, politically and militarily, they cannot stand, but fall, blasted from their false position by the message of truth and by their own un-Christian conduct. To enlightened Bible-believers these leaders of Christendom supposedly representing God are seen to have only dead faith, a faith unfounded on knowledge and unenlivened by Scriptural works. To God they are dead in willing trespasses and sins, and they are as good as dead to Christians, who no longer look upon them as “higher powers” “ordained of God”. (Matt. 8:22; 12:25; Eph. 2:1; Heb. 11:1; Jas. 2:26) Isaiah describes their “death” thus: “O LORD our God, other lords beside thee have had dominion over us: but by thee only will we make mention of thy name. They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise: therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish.”—Isa 26:13, 14.
OTHERS RALLY TO THE BATTLE
15, 16. How did other Israelites respond when the Midianites were routed? and what contention between Israelites was peacefully settled?
15 In the ancient drama the fearless onslaught by Gideon’s three hundred swept the terrified enemy toward Jordan in full rout, and this amazing success fed courage into the veins of other Israelites and stirred them to rally to the pursuit. The report of that and of what followed is given at Judges 7:23-25 and Jg 8:1-3:
16 “And the men of Israel were gathered together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and pursued after Midian. And Gideon sent messengers throughout all the hill-country of Ephraim, saying, Come down against Midian, and take before them the waters, as far as Beth-barah, even the Jordan. So all the men of Ephraim were gathered together, and took the waters as far as Beth-barah, even the Jordan. And they took the two princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb; and they slew Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and Zeeb they slew at the winepress of Zeeb, and pursued Midian: and they brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon beyond the Jordan. And the men of Ephraim said unto him, Why hast thou served us thus, that thou calledst us not, when thou wentest to fight with Midian? And they did chide with him sharply. And he said unto them, What have I now done in comparison with you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer? God hath delivered into your hand the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb: and what was I able to do in comparison with you? Then their anger was abated toward him, when he had said that.”—Am. Stan. Ver.
17, 18. What ones joined in the running battle in Gideon’s day? and in fulfillment how are these various ones manifested, to form what class?
17 After the initial attack the fight developed into a running battle, and as it streamed toward Jordan and beyond reinforcements from Israel swept in to join the pursuing three hundred. The first ones to spontaneously join in the battle were from Naphtali and Asher and Manasseh, tribes from which had originally come the 32,000 but whose ranks were thinned down to the three hundred finally used, as a result of tests to weed out the fearful and selfish. Doubtless some who now came forward to fight had been among the 31,700 previously sent home. Others, such as the Ephraimites, received the call to action after the rout was going full tilt.
18 In the fulfillment, the anointed remnant underwent temple cleansing and purging to fit them for godly combat, and when they were finally equipped with sufficient truth to rout Satan’s visible representatives from their squatting in Jehovah’s territory as “higher powers”, the anointed launched the attack. From the Bible the witnesses proved that world leaders had invaded a place belonging to God and Christ, and their boldness in the exposure, and the enemy’s inability to answer back and maintain its position, caused other observers to see that Satan’s agents could not stand their ground as the “higher powers”. Hence as “higher powers” these world leaders became dead in the sight of the observers, who told others, who in turn told still more persons this truth that punctured as by a swordthrust the “higher powers” fable of oppressing rulers. Some of the first ones to rally to the side of the anointed remnant in the early 1930’s had previously known of the witnesses and attended meetings, but, like the selfish prodigal son of the parable, had drifted off in their own pleasurable ways of least resistance. (Luke 15:11-32) Now they return to the worship of the Father, along with ever-increasing numbers of others who receive for the first time the invitation to join in Christian warfare. These added numbers being gathered in are the Lord’s “other sheep”, who will eventually form a great multitude from all nations, peoples, kindreds and tongues.—Rev. 7:9-17.
19. Since when has the “other sheep” class flocked forward, due to what widespread publicity?
19 Was it not after the death of the firstborn in Egypt that the mixed multitude is shown marching with Israel? (Ex. 12:38) And after the killing of Midianite power by the rout that large reinforcements joined the three hundred? So it is after the antitypical tenth plague and rout begins that the “other sheep” class flock forward. The truth concerning the “higher powers” as being God and Christ was made clear in 1928 and 1929, and since then that pointed truth has been repeatedly wielded as an important part of the sword of the spirit. It has been a part of the continuing, running fight down through the years, gaining widespread and attention-attracting publicity by thousands of court cases involving clashes with worldly authorities over rights to preach, saluting of flags, heiling of men, military service, etc. The more the light of truth shone; the more the shouts and trumpetings of praise reverberated, that much more did men of good-will rally to the ranks of Jehovah’s witnesses.
20. In type and antitype, who rose to cut off enemy retreat, and why are their efforts so telling?
20 The Midianites and their allies had invaded the land supposed to be occupied by true worshipers, had polluted and looted it, impoverished it, left it wasted and fruitless. But when they were routed by revived and strengthened Israelites, and fled toward their own land to escape, they found new forces had come out to cut off their retreat. These new troops, the Ephraimites, wreaked havoc on the Midianites, even slaughtering their two princes, Oreb and Zeeb. So today from out of their own organizations the retreating enemies are met by surprise forces that loom up suddenly from their very ranks, and the enemies know not which way to flee. As the message penetrates to new lands thousands more take up the fight, showing that this world is a dead thing to them, void of any life hopes. Like the Ephraimites, they take the battle stations assigned them by the organizational head of the antitypical three hundred. There is where the efforts are telling, where the organization puts us, where unity of action against the enemy will result.
21. How may some of the “other sheep” feel when first learning of their privilege to preach? but appreciation of what facts clarifies matters for them?
21 But what about the complaint voiced by the Ephraimites at not being called earlier? Back there in the type it was God’s purpose to use a limited number in the initial assault, that credit for the Victory might properly go to Jehovah. (Judg. 7:2-4) Similarly, the triumph over the modern-day Midianites is not by force of numbers, and no flesh is to glory in God’s sight. The victory must be to Jehovah’s honor. He needs no creatures to rout the enemy; he could preach the truth by making the stones cry out. (Luke 19:40; 1 Cor. 1:29) He did, however, choose to use a “little flock”, an anointed remnant, to do the work of putting the enemy to flight. Later, as more and more of the “other sheep” class are taken into the fighting ranks, some may lament that they were not informed sooner about these Bible truths, that they could have had a fuller share in the gospel-preaching work. But they appreciate the reason for what seemed to them a tardy call to service, when they learn of Jehovah’s purpose to first gather and test, sift and judge an anointed remnant.—John 10:16; 1 Pet. 4:17.
22. How did Gideon answer, and what Scriptural principles did he apply, in settling internal strife?
22 By a soft and tactful answer Gideon turned away the wrath of the Ephraimites. He applied principles expressed centuries later: “In honour preferring one another”; “In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Prov. 15:1; Rom. 12:10; Phil. 2:3) It was no time for internal strife, so he abated their anger by pointing out the rich share they had had in clinching the victory, even adding generously, “What was I able to do in comparison with you?” “Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer?” he queries.
23. In fulfillment, how can it be logically said that the anointed remnant did harvesting on the enemy “vine’ and the “other sheep” only gleaning, yet that gleaning contributes heavily to victory?
23 “Abiezer” stood for Gideon’s house, and in this drama would point to the anointed remnant of Christ’s body-members. Satan’s earthly organization is known as “the vine of the earth”, and as far as the visible warfare between it and Jehovah’s witnesses is concerned it is the anointed remnant that first proclaims the truth that starts the battle. (Rev. 14:18-20) It is the remnant’s fearless preaching that routs the enemy and puts it on the run toward complete defeat. By the time the “other sheep” join the fray most of the doctrinal fruits of the enemy “vine” have been harvested as falsehoods, with only gleanings left. Yet the “other sheep” come into the conflict at the crucial time to perform a vital service, just as Ephraim’s gleanings in the ancient battle, the trapping and slaughtering of the routed Midianites and the picking off of the stragglers, made a heavy contribution to the final victory.
24. Why do the “other sheep” now have no cause to chide anyone because of their slow start in Theocratic warfare, but are satisfied and rejoice in the gleaning work that falls to their lot?
24 This Gideon acknowledged, even as the anointed remnant today gladly state that the “other sheep” now perform a major share in chasing and cornering and killing the doctrinal and ideological fruitage of Satan’s visible organization. The “other sheep” class has no cause to chide anyone because of their slow start. The Ephraimites must have known the Midianites were in the land, that Gideon was gathering forces to combat them, and that they could have at least offered their services without being formally invited. Similarly, many now comprising the “other sheep” previously knew of the work of the remnant and could have associated with them. It is true that they were not invited to take part in the service very much during the 1920’s, the invitation being extended to them later on, just as in the type it came later to the Ephraimites. After instruction, the “other sheep” appreciate why their ingathering had to wait, that it was Jehovah’s purpose to fully gather in the “little flock” first, and they are satisfied with Jehovah’s arrangement of matters and overjoyed by the service privileges they now possess, even as the Ephraimites were placated after being instructed by Gideon. So it is that now the “other sheep” come in on the tail-end of the gospel-preaching work, after it has been going on for nineteen centuries, after the death of the antitypical firstborn, and they rejoice that the closing gleaning work they do is so amazingly fruitful and contributes so heavily to the ingathering of those who will make up the great multitude of Revelation 7:9.
MOPPING UP OPERATIONS
25. What was Gideon’s experience with the men of Succoth and Penuel?
25 The account of the final stages of the typical battle continues. “And Gideon came to Jordan, and passed over, he, and the three hundred men that were with him, faint, yet pursuing them. And he said unto the men of Succoth, Give, I pray you, loaves of bread unto the people that follow me; for they be faint, and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian. And the princes of Succoth said, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thine army? “ Gideon moved on, and voiced the same request to the men of Penuel, and got the same answer. Gideon pronounced judgment against both Succoth and Penuel, and continued the pursuit of the enemy.—Judg. 8:4-9.
26. Who accord similar treatment to the “faint, yet pursuing” remnant?
26 The anointed remnant have been pressing on in the battle of truth against lies for many years now, but, though aging and nearing exhaustion, they do not give in to weariness of the flesh but keep up the chase of the enemy, “faint, yet pursuing them.” Frequently they could use such assistance as that symbolized by “bread” or “a cup of cold water”. Those who refuse to assist Christ’s brethren are adversely judged by the King, who says to them: “I was hungry, and ye did not give me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink . . . Go away into eternal punishment.” (Matt. 25:42, 46; 10:42, Am. Stan. Ver.) Such ones were prefigured by the men of Succoth and Penuel, and will suffer a like fate.
27. What view of matters did the men of Succoth and Penuel adopt? and how did they so well prefigure the “goat” and “evil servant” classes of today?
27 Those of Succoth and Penuel still thought the Midianites might win, and feared reprisals if they helped Gideon’s band. The fleeing enemy now holed up at Karkor numbered 15,000, enjoying odds of 50 to 1 in their favor, and to the men of little faith who looked on outward appearances, blind to the power of Jehovah that backs up his people, victory by Gideon would still seem a dim prospect. The men of Succoth and Penuel still looked upon their oppressors as having the rule over them, as being higher powers to be in subjection to. How like the “goat” and “evil servant” classes of today, who refuse aid to the anointed remnant, unable to see that behind these brethren of the Lord are Christ and Jehovah, and are still fearful of the world leaders, consorting with them and viewing them as the “higher powers”! Such goatish ones think that this world organization under Satan is all right, think that it will continue on as the controlling power, and they cast their lot with it. Hence in both type and antitype it is seen that the rout and running battle divided the peoples, some coming out and joining in the fight against satanic oppressors, others siding with the doomed invaders of Jehovah’s field of worship.—Matt. 25:31, 32.
28. With the recording of what events does the prophetic drama end?
28 The record of the typical struggle continues: “Now Zebah and Zalmunna were at Karkor, and their army with them, about fifteen thousand men, all that remained of all the Kedemite army, since the fallen numbered one hundred and twenty thousand swordsmen. So Gideon went up the caravan route, east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and attacked the camp as it lay off its guard. Zebah and Zalmunna fled, but he pursued them, and captured Midian’s two kings, Zebah and Zalmunna, and struck panic into the whole army.” (Judg. 8:10-12, An Amer. Trans.) As he returned victoriously along the way of pursuit, Gideon meted out appropriate punishment for the men of Succoth and Penuel, uncovered the fact that it was the Midianite kings Zebah and Zalmunna that had slain his brothers, and justly put them to death.—Judg. 8:13-21.
29. What should the “other sheep” keep in mind, and why?
29 It was Gideon and his three hundred that started the battle under Jehovah’s direction; it was they who finished it by his grace. So it is the anointed remnant that plays the principal role in the visible Christian warfare against Satan’s agents, being used to start it and finish it so far as it relates to these “last days”. The Ephraimites may have had the privilege of capturing and slaying the Midianite princes Oreb and Zeeb, but it fell to Gideon’s lot to take and destroy the two kings of Midian. It is necessary for the “other sheep” to keep such things in mind, that they may always appreciate their relationship to the remnant, to the organization, and to Christ Jesus and Jehovah God. The fact that by weight of numbers they now perform the bulk of the witness work should only make them humble in their precious privilege; never should it cause them to exalt themselves against the anointed remnant, under whose immediate direction they work. By so maintaining the proper mental attitude, they will never be abased and destroyed with the antitypical goatish men of Succoth and Penuel.—Matt. 23:12.
30, 31. In carnal warfare and Christian warfare, what resemblances and contrasts are there as to possessing power and being mobilized and organized?
30 Thus it was that God’s people in the days of Gideon were liberated from Midianite bondage, by a battle running its course, from initial attack to mopping up operations. Gideon followed through to the end. To impress upon ministers the importance of follow through in the wake of door-to-door preaching, consider the resemblance in steps taken, but the contrast in results produced, by modern carnal warfare and Christian warfare.
31 Men of this going old world hold in their hand the power to kill millions, by the grace of the Devil. They have their bacteria bombs and A-bombs and look to potent H-bombs. Men of the coming new world hold in their hand the power to show the path of life to millions, by the grace of God. They have and understand God’s Word, which overflows with waters of life. The old world is mobilized to produce death, by feeding raw materials into factory assembly lines to turn out shells and bombs and poisonous gases. New world servants are mobilized to produce the life-giving message, by maintaining printing plants that heap up stocks of Bibles and Bible helps. The old world is organized to distribute its killers, by recruiting armies to man the tanks and ships and planes that deliver death to the battlefields. The new world workers are organized in companies to distribute the message of life, by making door-to-door visits and doing street-witnessing in the preaching fields world-wide. Both old world and new world forces follow through with mopping up operations, but what a contrast in results!
32. (a) Contrast the mopping up operations of old world and new world forces. (b) Show by illustration the necessity of conducting back-calls and home Bible studies.
32 When the old world mops up in the wake of victorious armies, it sends in occupation forces, loots and oppresses, demands reparations, and sets up slave labor camps and prison camps. After Kingdom publishers distribute Bible literature they follow through by calling back on the obtainers, to answer questions, to conduct home Bible studies, to show interested ones how to preach, to spring them from the bondage of this old world into the prospects of freedom in a new world of righteousness. Theocratic ministers know that the truth of the Bible is likened to water, and that it may be said that within the covers of a Bible help is a reservoir of such water. Moreover, when water remains dammed up and motionless it becomes stale, stagnant; it must flow like a stream to be clear and sparkling. So ministers call back, encourage obtainers to open the publications, let the message on the page free to flow through the eye into the mind and fill the heart. If the truth waters have been befouled and polluted by lying modern-day Midianites, the back-calling minister can settle the dirt peddled by mudslingers and clear up the water and get it streaming to the listener in sparkling clarity. (Ezek. 34:18, 19; Rev. 22:1, 17) So ministers must call back, not only to teach pure truth but also to mop up on any dirty smears or falsehoods left by those still posing as representatives of Christ or as “higher powers” “ordained of God”. Such Theocratic mopping up operations are necessary to completely free the oppressed and to eliminate any straggling oppressors.
FRUITS OF VICTORY DEDICATED TO GOD
33, 34. What confirms the view that with the defeat of Midian the prophetic significance of the drama ends? yet what events followed that contain general instruction?
33 It appears that with the total defeat of the Midianites the drama ends its prophetic significance. As confirmation of this view, note that immediately after final victory the people wished to make Gideon king over them, and his offspring after him. (Judg. 8:22, 23) This could hardly have antitypical significance, since in the fulfillment the Greater Gideon Christ Jesus was enthroned as King before the anointed remnant were gathered against the modern-day Midianites, nor will Christ have any successor sons to reign in his stead on the throne, as was proposed in Gideon’s case. After Gideon refused kingship for himself and his sons, he made an alternate proposal, which was accepted and led to certain events. But the prophetic drama had ended, so these happenings also are weighted with no antitypical significance. However, they do disclose a general principle and an object lesson that are instructive in their broad outlines. The account relates:
34 “Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) And they answered, We will willingly give them. And they spread a garment, and did cast therein every man the earrings of his prey. And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was a thousand and seven hundred shekels of gold; beside ornaments, and collars, and purple raiment that was on the kings of Midian, and beside the chains that were about their camels’ necks. And Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house.”—Judg. 8:24-27.
35. What facts stand out?
35 These facts stand out: The loot from the victory did not go to the enrichment of any individual, but was pooled to make an ephod. This was not an idol, but was a priestly garment used in God’s service. (Ex. 28:6-14) In making the ephod the loot was used to make something honoring and recognizing Jehovah. The case was similar to the time when the Israelites spoiled the Egyptians before the exodus, and later when in the wilderness it was from this gold and precious materials that the people contributed for the building of the tabernacle, including ephods. (Ex. 11:2; 12:36; 35:5, 21-29; 36:5-7, Am. Stan. Ver.) Israel committed spiritual whoredom with the ephod Gideon made, by worshiping it, and it became a snare to Gideon and his house. However, Gideon certainly did not make the ephod for idolatrous purposes; for Jehovah’s honor he had refused the kingship for himself and instead focused attention on the ephod as representative of God. But the people wrongly worshiped the ephod rather than what it represented, as similarly happened with a bronze serpent Moses had properly made, but which was later idolized. (Num. 21:9; 2 Ki. 18:4) The ephod did not serve the purpose for which it was made, and even “proved a danger to Gideon and his house”; but the record does not say Gideon worshiped it. (Judg. 8:27, Moffatt) Gideon died approved, and Baal worship was not practiced in Israel any more during his life.—Judg. 8:33; Heb. 11:32.
36. What general principle is shown by Gideon’s course? and how do Jehovah’s witnesses today apply that principle?
36 The general principle shown is that any fruits from Theocratic victories should go to Jehovah’s honor, and not to the exaltation of any individual or organization. The Israelites stripped the Midianites of their fine raiment and jewelry; so the truth declared against the world leaders, whether religious or political, commercial or military, strips them of the “higher powers” claim in which they clothe themselves, removes them from their exalted position, plunders the prestige and adoration they once enjoyed, and they lose the flattering titles that allowed them to glitter and shine. Any treasures of service they might have enjoyed are gone, because they used their offices to make a show of themselves. These attention-grabbing things are not transferred to truth-telling witnesses, but are lumped together and given over for Jehovah’s honor. As men of good-will learn the truth they strip these formerly honored ones of their improper titles and adornments and give all praise to Jehovah, and attribute to God and Christ all honoring titles, such as “Father” and “Higher Powers”.—Job 32:21, 22; Ps. 150:6; Isa. 42:8; Matt. 23:9.
37. What object lesson is contained in the ancient happenings? and what should it make Christians today aware of?
37 The object lesson in the ancient happenings that followed the prophetic part of the drama is that the fruits of victory should never be idolized. Any increases or gains in numbers of publishers that come from the work of gospel-preaching should never be credited to men or to a visible organization, nor should the volume of work accomplished be a cause for creature boasting; all of this is due to Jehovah God and Christ Jesus and should be dedicated to them and to the vindication of Jehovah’s name. To illustrate, a farmer sows seed and waters and cultivates, but does he make the seed sprout and grow and eventually bear fruit? Is not credit for the growth due to the Creator? The apostle Paul deflated those looking to creatures as responsible for organizational increases by such an illustration, saying: “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” (1 Cor. 3:6, 7) Ministers may plant the seed of truth and water it by back-calling and conducting home Bible studies, but it is God who gathers in new ones to give growth and increase to the visible organization of preachers.
38. What should be remembered concerning worldly organizations? but why will Jehovah’s present visible organization never be so ensnared?
38 There is this to remember concerning organizations generally. When young and growing, fighting their way up, zeal is strong and evangelistic; but when they have won their place and become strong and wealthy and respected they often lose their virile strength and become lax, fat, sluggish, and point with pride to their size, and put their directives above God’s commands. That has happened to the organizations of the big and prosperous, orthodox churches of Christendom. The organization is served and worshiped instead of the one it claims to represent, namely Jehovah God. But this snare will never catch Jehovah’s cleansed people today; the glowing visible organization does not fill them with the pride that precedes falls, but serves to remind them that Jehovah is directing and blessing the work, that it is his seasonal time for gathering in the fruits of gospel-preaching.—Prov. 16:18.
39. In former times, how have organizations seeking or claiming to serve God been ensnared?
39 However, it is well for all to remember the snare that visible organizations can be. Did not some Israelites think too highly of a visible setup when they lamented that the new temple being rebuilt after Babylonish captivity failed to measure up to the glories of Solomon’s temple? (Hag. 2:3) In Jesus’ day and thereafter certain Jews took excessive pride in the visible temple and attributed too much to it; they were forcefully reminded that God does not dwell in temples made with men’s hands. (Matt. 23:18-22; 24:1, 2; Acts 7:48; 17:24) The early Christian organization sprang up as fruitage to the ministry of Christ Jesus, but it became apostate, worldly, powerful, with only a remnant holding true to God. (Acts 20:29; 2 Pet. 2:1) Surely the Roman Catholic Church that grew out of that apostasy has been snared, boasting of its size and wealth and power, and worshiping itself and its traditions and doctrines and clerical leaders instead of Jehovah God. Again, when Christ came to the temple for judgment in 1918 a great number of those in line for the Kingdom were purged out, mainly because they held in worshipful esteem the Elijah-period organization and its practices and personnel, which esteem, stubbornly clung to despite increasing light, displeased God. They were snared; they were cast from Jehovah’s service.—Zech. 13:8, 9; Matt. 24:48-51.
40. Paralleling the increase of Gideon’s band up to the time of attack on Midian, how much did the anointed remnant increase in numbers?
40 But the visible organization that now grows and prospers has been cleansed, purged of such ensnaring practices as creature worship. The increase is credited to Jehovah God; it comes not by human might or power, but by His spirit. (Zech. 4:6) In the ancient drama Gideon started alone, then worked with ten associates to throw down Baal’s altar, and when thousands flocked to him they were screened down to three hundred for use against Midian; so his force grew from one to eleven to three hundred and one. (Judg. 6:11, 27; 7:7) Similarly from the time temple judgment started till the opening blast began unseating world rulers as “higher powers” the anointed remnant increased in numbers. In 1918 there were on an average 3,868 publishers per month; in 1928, 23,988.
41. As the modern-day rout has gained momentum, what increases have come, and why such increase?
41 Thereafter the rout of the modern-day Midianites gained momentum, and during the 1930’s the “other sheep” joined in the fight, to bring the publisher figure up to 47,143 in 1938. In ever-increasing numbers they came during the next ten years, till in 1948 there were 230,532 reporting service regularly. In 1949 the figure climbed to 279,421, with a peak for one month of 317,877. For all of this prosperity Jehovah’s witnesses thank God, and give credit therefor to no visible agencies. Jehovah God foretold this abundant increase coming from all nations, like flocks, like clouds of doves that darken the sky for multitude. Into Jehovah’s organizational arrangement they come, and the gates are open to receive them, shut neither day nor night. And why the ever-increasing tempo of ingathering now? Is it due to any brilliant human minds in the visible organization? or to efficient methods or procedures practiced? No; the “other sheep” of the Lord now flock in abundantly because it is God’s time to hasten their coming: “The little one shall become a thousand, and the small one a strong nation: I, Jehovah, will hasten it in its time.”—Isa. 60:1-22, Am. Stan. Ver.
42. To what is the increase dedicated? and how are new ones fitted therefor?
42 As the visible organization increases, the new strength of numbers is dedicated to Jehovah’s honor. They are not held under as a laity class to bear up and support a clergy class. There are no class distinctions or discriminations or respect of persons shown in the visible organization; all are under God and Christ. (Matt. 23:8; Acts 10:34) Like the anointed remnant before them, the incoming “other sheep” study God’s Word privately and in groups, to purge their mind of false religious contaminations. They heed the counsel in the Bible, and welcome instruction from the visible organization. Then as they take places in the ranks of field publishers, marching shoulder to shoulder with the anointed remnant, they take comfort from these words: “Blessed be Jehovah my rock, who teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight: my loving-kindness, and my fortress, my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I take refuge.”—Ps. 144:1, 2, Am. Stan. Ver.
43. What will all Jehovah’s ministers on earth now say and do? and what will their battle-cry advertise?
43 So taught from above, all Jehovah’s ministers on earth can say: “Wisdom is better than strength”; “Wisdom is better than weapons of war.” Without carnal weapons they will encircle this religionized old world that lies in darkness, and loves it. (John 3:19-21) They will let the truth torch shine, lift up their voice like a trumpet, shout out the praises of God and courageously wield the “sword of the spirit, which is the word of God”. (Eph. 6:17) Their place is not with the 22,000 scared ones who went home, is not with the 9,700 greedy and lazy ones who were indifferent to the fight. Their place is with the three hundred faithful fighters and the reinforcements that joined them in pursuing the routed enemy. And as they press on in the warfare their battle-cry advertises the ones to whom the victory is dedicated: “For Jehovah and for the Greater Gideon Christ Jesus!”