In the last post, I mentioned that Gideon received a huge response to his request for warriors - 32,000 men to be exact. Well to you and I, that would make us confident, we would start devising plans and strategizing, all with victory in mind. But God said, "It's too much, your army is too large. If you win, you will think it was because of your strength and not my divine intervention." (Judges 7:2-3) Though Gideon had such a huge turnout, it appeared that many of these men were afraid. With God's guidance, Gideon simply said "If you're afraid, you don't have to fight," and 22,000 men went home. Can you imagine, more than half of his initial army were afraid? It's good to ask questions of people to see where your team stands - you might be surprised yet relieved at the response.
The remaining 10,000 were still too many, so God instructed Gideon to use another creative way to separate them - those who drank water from their hands or those who drank straight from the source. It can be viewed as moderation vs. indulgence. Those that were indulgent were sent home, 9700 and the 300 who lapped the water from their hands were Gideon's army. These 300 passed all the tests - they were not afraid and they were careful - just who you want to fight with you. (Judges 7:1-7)
With this army of 300 Gideon wreaked havoc and defeated the Midianites - but first, before the fighting started he needed one more confirmation. God told him if he's afraid (wasn't Gideon always afraid?) to listen in at the edge of the Midianite camp with his servant. His servant, Purah, was a witness who could also confirm God's plan for Gideon. Gideon heard two of the Midianites talking; they were talking about a dream and its meaning. One man told the other the dream meant that Gideon would defeat them. Judges 7:9-14. Have you ever overheard someone saying good things about you? Or things you didn't even recognize about yourself? It is usually a confidence booster, just like it was for Gideon. When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed in worship before the Lord. Then he returned to the Israelite camp and shouted, “Get up! For the Lord has given you victory over the Midianite hordes!” (Judges 7:15)
And just as it was in the interpretation of the dream, it became a reality. Gideon used his army of 300 to create confusion in the Midianites camp - for the fighting started at an unexpected time, in the middle watch, which was between 10:00 pm and 2:00 am. The Midianites were so startled by the blowing of the horns that they attacked each other while also trying to escape. Though they were few, the Israelites used strategy to outsmart the Midianites because they were prepared and the Midianites were not; they also had God on their side. (Judges 7:16-23)
In all of this, Gideon became the mighty hero that God said he would be. He had some missteps along the way - he took revenge against those who wouldn't assist him (Judges 8:1-21), made priestly garments that didn't serve a priestly purpose which ended up leading the Israelites astray(Judges 8:22-28), and he was a womanizer - he had many wives and one on the side (Judges 8:29-31). But in spite of his flaws God used him and his faith is noted in the book of Hebrews. For the remainder of Gideon's life - about 40 years, the Israelites had peace in the land.
Like Gideon's initial army - sometimes we're too much or we have too much. Too many smarts, too much money, too much pride, too much knowledge. And God is telling us we have to scale back so that he can use us mightily. Or like Gideon also, we're too afraid and God keeps telling us that we don't need to be afraid; I got this!
I see attributes of Gideon in myself. I have to be willing to listen to God to ensure that I have the right people in my corner - my 300, to do what He has called me to do. Sometimes I'm afraid to trust God, but when I am afraid I know that I can rely on Him. I know this without a doubt and it banishes my fear at the moment. It almost does not matter who we are, as long as we believe in God and exhibit the faith in Him that He requires of us.
The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Psalm 37:23
Are you realizing that you don't need to remain afraid? Do you need to scale back so that God can move mightily? Who should be in your 300? What else can you learn from Gideon's life?
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