Thank you for praying with us each Wednesday for our prodigals and for revival. As we continue to pray, we rest in the truth that our God is faithful.
The preparation of an army is not an easy task. There are many things that need to be considered, like the place of battle, the size, strength, and tactics of the enemy, the weather conditions at the time of engagement, along with the conditioning and preparation of those being sent, etc. The purpose of the planners is to out-think, out-maneuver, and overpower the enemy being fought. These are all necessary factors in warfare unless the captain is God, then everything changes!
In Judges seven, the people of Israel were miserable because of the oppression of the Midianites. Over and over throughout the book of Judges, the Israelites spiraled downward in cycles of unbelief, which led to oppression and bondage. “The people of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord gave them into the hand of Midian seven years” (Judges 6:1). Midian, who was first mentioned in Genesis 25:1, was one of the sons of Abraham from his concubine Keturah, and by Numbers twenty-five, Midian had become a nation that opposed God’s purpose and His people. The meaning of the name Midian is “strife.” This nation, along with the Amalekites, were attacking Israel, taking their crops, and causing them to hide in the dens of the mountains. The Midianites and Amalekites came like locusts in number, so many they could not be numbered. They afflicted God’s people and caused devastation and destruction. True to its name, strife is a destroyer. It will produce famine in our hearts and isolation from others we love. It was this condition that precipitated Israel crying out to the Lord for help because of their need for an army (Judges 6:6).
Significant to this story of oppression and warfare is the man that God chose. The angel of the LORD was sitting under the terebinth at Ophrah, where Gideon was beating out the wheat in secret (Judges 6:11). The angel called him a “mighty man of valor” (Judges 6:12). This was the person God had chosen to deliver His people from Midian. Despite the fact that he saw himself as weak and the least of the least, Gideon was the one God wanted to use (Judges 6:15). God called him mighty and courageous because that what God was going to make him. It is not surprising that God used a person like this, for He greatly values humility. Whatever the time-period, whatever the task, regardless of gender, God needs a humble heart to get His work done.
Not only is God’s choice of a leader extraordinary, so is the means He uses. When Gideon went looking for men to fight, he selected thirty-three thousand. God told Gideon this was too many because when they won, they would boast of their accomplishments instead of giving God the glory (Judges 7:2). God told him to send the fearful ones home, and twenty-two thousand returned. That left ten thousand to fight, but God said that it was still too many and so Gideon sent them to the water to drink. Most bent down to drink, but a few, three hundred, scooped the water up in their hands and drank. It was these three hundred that became God’s army. Three hundred Israelites against an innumerable number of men doesn’t seem realistic, but the three hundred had God on their side. Isaiah’s words help us understand the importance of trusting God’s ways, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). If God is going to get the glory from the victory, then the battle must be fought God’s way.
Through the account of Gideon’s victory over the Midianites, God conveys a vital message: true victory is not about human strength and size; true victory comes from obedience and dependence upon God. “Oh grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man! With God we shall do valiantly; it is He who will tread down our foes” (Psalm 108:12-13). Let us seek His help today.
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel