An old Testament Story of Faith, found in Judges 6-7
Who was Gideon? He was a frightened man threshing wheat in a winepress to hide from the Midianites. The Angel of God greeted him, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” Startled, Gideon ignored the “mighty warrior” designation and whined in the winepress. “If the Lord is with us, why is all this bad stuff happening? Where are all His wonders that our ancestors told us about?”
The Lord ignored Gideon’s complaint, and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
“In the strength I have? I think you have the wrong guy!” Gideon protested. “My clan is the weakest one in the area, and I’m no hero.”
“I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive,” the Lord told him.
Gideon tried again to avoid this assignment. “Sorry, sir, but I need you to prove to me who you really are first. I’ll prepare an offering for you. Don’t go away, please.”
The Lord waited under an oak tree while Gideon killed and cooked a young goat and baked unleavened bread. When he placed the food on a rock and poured broth over it, fire flared from the angel’s staff until all the food was gone. Then the angel of the Lord disappeared.
Gideon trembled with fear until the Lord’s voice assured him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.”
Assured, Gideon built an altar there and praised God. Afterward the Lord told him, “Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and its accompanying Asherah pole and replace it with an altar to me.” Old patterns are hard to break, and while Gideon did what God asked, he waited until night to cover his actions with darkness. When the townspeople discovered his deed and gathered to demand punishment, Gideon once again hid, this time behind his father who faced down the hostile crowd.
How fearful was Gideon the next time God came calling? An army of 135,000 soldiers set up camp nearby preparing to make war on Israel. The Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon, so he blew a battle call on his trumpet. As recruits gathered, fear barricaded Gideon from his faith in God. Again, he asked God for evidence of His presence, not just once, but twice:
Then Gideon said to God, “If you are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as you promised,prove it to me in this way. I will put a wool fleece on the threshing floor tonight. If the fleece is wet with dew in the morning but the ground is dry, then I will know that you are going to help me rescue Israel as you promised.” And that is just what happened. When Gideon got up early the next morning, he squeezed the fleece and wrung out a whole bowlful of water. (Judges 6:36-38, NLT)
The next night Gideon asked to wake up to a dry fleece surrounded by dew-covered ground. Once again God supplied the proof Gideon needed.
Gideon’s volunteer army of 32,000 men set up camp just south of the enemy. The Lord knew that such a large army would cause the Israelites to brag that victory was won in their own power, so He instructed Gideon to send away those who were afraid. 22,000 relieved men hurried toward home.
Now the odds were four enemies to one Israelite, but God ordered yet another reduction by watching the men drink from the spring. Most of the 10,000 remaining soldiers got down on their knees to drink, while only 300 men cupped water in their hands and lapped the water with their tongues.
The Lord told Gideon, “Keep only the 300 lappers with you. I will save you with this tiny army and give the Midianites into your hands.” So, Gideon dismissed 9,700 more fighters who went home, leaving their provisions and trumpets for the remaining 300 soldiers.
Who was Gideon when the odds were 450 to 1? Very afraid, but God didn’t tell him to “man up.” Instead, the Lord repeated His promise of victory and, unasked, offered another sign. To receive it, Gideon and his servant had to sneak down to the enemy camp—a dangerous excursion. In spite of his terror, Gideon obeyed God.
Trembling in the shadows of enemy tents, the two Israelites heard an enemy soldier talking about his terrifying dream:“A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into our camp and struck the tent with such force that it collapsed.”
“Barley bread is poor man’s food,” responded his companion. “The bread must be Gideon, son of Joash, the Israelite—he’s as poor as they come. I think your dream means that God has given the Midianites and our whole camp into his hands.”
Who was Gideon when he heard this conversation? God had brought this fearful man to just the right spot to overhear the prophetic dream of an enemy soldier and its interpretation. Gideon bowed down immediately and silently praised God, and as he did, he felt the full heat of his flaming faith.
Gideon returned to camp fully focused on God and the promised victory so that he could be the “mighty warrior” God desired—not in the power of his own bravery, but filled to overflowing with faith in God’s power. He told his remnant army of 300 to follow his lead. “Watch me, and do exactly what I do. When I blow my trumpet, then from all around the camp blow yours and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.’”
The tiny army fought the battle by praising God with a loud shout, a form of praise known in Hebrew as shâbach. God did the rest.
Gideon and his men shouted their praise to God, and their faith ignited and roared into life. And God gave them the victory in a way they could never imagine, against 450 to 1 odds.
It was not their strength, but God’s.
They did not rely on their own prowess or power, but instead acted in faith-filled confidence that somehow God would bring the victory He had promised.
The content for this blog is taken from Strike the Match, Light the Fire by Kathleen Evenhouse. It is available for sale at http://www.kathleensevenhouse.com/bookstore
You can also purchase it or order it at your local book store: ISBN #978-1-7375-955-0-2