By Julie Gernand
I want to talk about a man by the name of Gideon.
Gideon’s story is found in the book of Judges. This book contains stories of how God used judges or “deliverers” like Gideon to help restore order to the Promised Land by driving out pagan armies.
We find Gideon and his army in Judges chapter 7. He plans to lead his 32,000 men against the Midianite army. However, God told him that he had too many men!
2 The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ 3 Now announce to the army, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained (Judges 7:2-3).
But guess what! 10,000 was still too many for God to send with Gideon:
4 But the Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go” (Judges 7:4).
After God had weaned Gideon’s army down to 300 men, He told Gideon to attack the resting Midianite camp. Sure enough:
19 Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch…The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!”21 While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled (Judges 7: 19-21).
As I read this story, I am reminded of three key ideas:
ONE: God gets the glory. Gideon’s story is a sobering reminder of our powerlessness without our Lord. God used this battle to remind the Israelites that is was not Gideon’s leadership, nor their own strength, that would enable them to drive out their foe. God’s power alone prevailed in this case, just as it does today. What a wonderful reminder it is that each strength and victory we have is a gift from God, who enables us to use the talents he gives us. May all our victorious battles be a testament to God alone.
TWO: Trust is essential. God told Gideon to trust His leading. What a great task this was! If left to this man, his thinking would most likely have been that more men would equal a greater chance of victory. God chose to perform this victory differently. Joe Duncan, who has written a devotional about this story, reminds us:
“So often we see our plans laid out before us into a bright future. Our wishful thinking can blind us from God’s will and cripple our faith. When something unexpected happens, like a car accident, or getting laid off, we tend to lose heart. When our future plans are washed away, we can lose hope, thinking of no way that things could go smoothly. But when we see the world in light of God’s plan, the future is no longer a factor. Placing our trust in God frees us to hope even when things seem dark.”
THREE: Converse with Jesus and find His peace. Talk to God. Daily. Seek Him through prayer, Bible readings, church worship, and fellowship with others. Seek council from your elders when going through a time of difficulty. The Lord uses many facets to speak to our souls. It is through these things that you will receive not only a peace that transcends understanding, but also find assurance for the ways we should walk.
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Dear Jesus, What marvels you accomplish, and how small our faith can be! Forgive us when we doubt your love. Forgive us when we try to figure out our paths and plans without you. Every good thing comes from you, Lord. Help us to remember and meditate daily upon your truths and promises. You alone are worthy of all glory, laud, and honor.
Which of these key ideas is most helpful to you?