And he divided the 300 men into three companies and put trumpets into the hands of all of them and empty jars, with torches inside the jars. And he said to them, “Look at me, and do likewise.” … Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the jars. They held in their left hands the torches, and in their right hands the trumpets to blow. And they cried out, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” (Judges 7:16–17, 20)
The story of Gideon should be a great encouragement to the church in these last days of ruin. God doesn’t need large numbers or especially gifted leaders to accomplish His purposes. We may not understand His plans, but we can trust His promises. After his army was reduced to just 300 men according to God’s command, Gideon equipped each one with a trumpet to blow, a pitcher to break, and a torch to burn. Strange weapons indeed, but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds (2 Cor. 10:4)!
The trumpets speak of the testimony of the word of God. In Numbers 10:1–10, the Lord told Moses to make two silver trumpets for calling the congregation and for directing the movement of the camps. These trumpets directed the children of Israel in their walk, warfare and worship, just as the word of God directs us in every aspect of our lives. The pitchers represent our own natural bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:6-7 tells us that we have this treasure (the light of life) in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us. Accordingly, the torches picture the light of Jesus or the fire of the Holy Spirit.
Another way to look at it is that the trumpets and torches represent the twofold testimony of our words and our works (Matt. 5:16). The Lord Jesus was a Prophet mighty in deed and word (Lk. 24:19; Acts 1:1), and we should strive to have this same balance in our testimony. Solomon wrote to his son, “I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths” (Prov. 4:11). Paul exhorts that “whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17). Interestingly, the hem of the high priest’s ephod in the Old Testament was encircled with golden bells and different colored pomegranates (Ex. 28:33–34). The sound of the golden bells was in perfect harmony and proportion with the fruit in-between!
The soldiers were to look at Gideon and copy his actions. So we look up to Jesus, the captain of our salvation, and follow His steps (compare with Jn. 13:15). The sound of the blasting trumpets and shattering pottery along with the blazing torchlight caused the enemy to panic. What a picture of victory through brokenness! Only when human instruments are broken — only by humbling ourselves before God (Ps. 51:17); only through the fellowship of His sufferings (2 Cor. 4:8–12; Phil. 3:10); only by dying to self (Gal. 2:20) — can the light of Jesus shine forth through us!
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:17)