Gideon was a man who sought peace; he sought to avoid controversy among God’s people. What now happened is interesting. The tribe of Ephraim felt snubbed, insulted because Gideon had not called for their help in the initial battle against Midian. Thus, they sent a delegation to confront Gideon. They complained bitterly, and forcefully challenged his having bypassed them. Why would Ephraim complain against being involved in only “mop-up operations?” Why would this tribe launch a complaint against Gideon for not giving them a part in the initial fight, claiming that they felt snubbed and insulted? It is true that Ephraim was a large, important tribe, second only to Judah. And because of this, they were a proud people who had earlier responded when the call to arms was issued by Ehud and Barak. But note this fact: the Midianites had been oppressing the Israelites for seven long years. If the tribe of Ephraim was sincere, why had they themselves not earlier taken the lead and called all Israel to drive the Midianites out of the promised land? Scripture does not expose the true motive of the Ephraimites. Perhaps they felt they were going to be bypassed in the distribution of the plunder of Midian; or perhaps the Spirit of God led Gideon not to appeal for Ephraim’s help because of their pride. God knew that He was going to reduce the number of fighting men down to 300. And because of Ephraim’s pride and warrior-like nature, most likely the tribe would have rebelled against having its ranks reduced. Whatever the case, note the humble, soft answer of Gideon. He boosted their ego, seeking peace with the tribe of Ephraim and trying to avoid controversy. He praised them for their accomplishment in the mop-up operation and in capturing the two commanders of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb. Note that he used a parable to get the point across: he pointed out that the gleanings of Ephraim’s grapes were far better than the full grape harvest of his small city of Abiezer. Their conquest of the two commanders was a far greater achievement than the initial victory won by his small band of 300 soldiers. Gideon’s humble, soft answer avoided controversy and secured peace between him and the tribe of Ephraim. Their resentment against him subsided; they were no longer angry or upset.
We are to seek peace with all men, seek to avoid controversy among people, especially among God’s people. The spirit of peace is to be cultivated among believers. And peace is to be maintained as much as is possible. When differences, divisions, and strife arise, we are to do all we can to make peace.
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