As soon as Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped. And he returned to the camp of Israel and said, “Arise, for the Lord has given the host of Midian into your hand.” 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. When I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do. When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then blow the trumpets also on every side of all the camp and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.’”
So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outskirts of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, when they had just set the watch. And they blew the trumpets and smashed the jars that were in their hands. 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!” Every man stood in his place around the camp, and all the army ran. They cried out and fled. When they blew the 300 trumpets, the Lord set every man’s sword against his comrade and against all the army. And the army fled . . . Judges 7:15-22a ESV
And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” Mark 15:33-39 ESV
Have you ever seen the painting called “Washington Crossing the Delaware?” This painting shows George Washington and a few of his men rowing over the Delaware River in the cold and dark of a winter night. They were on their way to make a surprise night attack on the Hessian and British soldiers who were camped on the other side. Things had not been going well for the American army in the War for Independence. They were outnumbered and undersupplied. As the American soldiers marched in the snow that night, some didn’t even have shoes to wear, and they left bloody footprints in the snow. But their surprise attack in the darkness worked, and the American army won the Battle of Trenton. It was a big turning point in the war.
Gideon and his army were also greatly outnumbered, but God gave Gideon a similar battle plan. They attacked the Midianite camp by surprise in the darkness. They didn’t even have to do much fighting. They simply blew trumpets, crashed pottery jars, and when the jars broke, they suddenly revealed the light of torches around the camp. This sudden noise and light scared the Midianites so badly that they ran away, fighting and killing each other as they ran. That’s how God helped Gideon defeat the Midianites.
They greatest victory that was won by surprise in the darkness was when Jesus died on the cross. As he hung on the cross, weak and dying, darkness covered the land even though it was the middle of the afternoon. It looked like it was the end of Jesus and that he had lost to the forces of darkness. But at the end, Jesus gave a loud cry of triumph as he died. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, and the way back to God was opened for all people. Even the Roman soldier in charge of the crucifixion could see that Jesus’ death was not an ordinary death. Jesus’ death was a victory over sin and death, and showed that he was the Almighty Son of God and the world’s Savior. For us who belong to Jesus, his victory is ours now and forever.
Dear Jesus, thank you for winning the victory over the powers of darkness for us. Amen.