Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The LORD told Gideon, “With these 300 men I will rescue you and give you victory over the Midianites. Send all the others home.” (Judges 7:7)
Like other the people of Israel, Gideon was in fear of the Midianites, who oppressed the Israelites for seven years. God let the Israelites suffer because they did evil before God by worshipping the idols: Baal and Asherah, instead of the true and living God. Finally, the people cried out to God, and God sent His angel to Gideon, not because Gideon was brave and more powerful than the rest of the Israelites. He was the least of his family, and his family was the weakest among the Israelites. God chose Gideon according to His good will to save the Israelites. God opened Gideon’s eyes, and Gideon realized that he met the angel of God, and He was called by God to rescue the Israelites.
On the same night, God gave the first command to destroy the Baal’s alter and cut down the Asherah pole beside the alter. Gideon destroyed them as God commanded. However, Gideon did it during the night because he feared the people in the town and his family members. Even so, God pleased with Gideon. He did baby step in his faith although he was in fear. Yes, he was still in God’s work-in-progress.
Soon afterward the armies of Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east formed an alliance against Israel and crossed the Jordan, camping in the valley of Jezreel. Then the Spirit of the LORD took possession of Gideon. He blew a ram’s horn as a call to arms, and all of the men of the Israelites responded. Total 33,000 warriors came to Gideon to fight against the armies of Midian and their allies from the east side of the Jordan river.
Gideons saw the power of God with his own eyes. His clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and he was the least in his entire family, but the entire Israel responded to his ram’s horn. The next step for Gideon was to lead them to fight against the armies of Median and the allies. But his heart was not ready. Thus, he came back to God, and authentically opened his heart to God. He asked His help to increase his faith. God, who was merciful, graciously answered his prayers by wetting a wool fleece while the surrounding area was dry, and drying a wool fleece while the surrounding area was wet. Gideon was truly encouraged by God. He immediately took the 33,000 warriors, and marched out to the spring of Harod. Yes, our God is always gracious and full of mercy. He has never rejected our prayer of His help to increase our faith. God answers. This our faith as He answered Gideon’s prayers before going out to fight against the armies of the Midianites and the allies, which were much bigger and stronger than his small army.
The armies of Midian were camped north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. They filled the entire valley, and were as numerous as the sand on the seashore. Gideon and His worries were camped very close to where the armies of Midian to prepare their attack against the armies of Midian. It was a truly brave act to make up mind to fight against the enormous armies of Median and their allies.
Suddenly, God said to Gideon, “You have too many warriors with you.” Initially, what he was told by God did not make sense at all. The 32,000 warriors of Israelites were absolutely not enough to fight against the armies of Midian and their allies, as numerous as the sand on the seashore. Gideon had been worrying about how to fight against the huge enemy with his only 32,000 warriors. He was completely baffled.
Then God explained the reason, “If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength.” God’s real concern was not Gideon’s victory that God had already decided to give, but the Gideon’s prideful heart after he defeated the Midianites. A temptation to give a full credit to oneself is the most subtle and strongest. We love to give all credits to ourselves, not to God, although we know God has made us successful. God knew what Gideon and his warriors would be tempted. Thus, God cared for Gideon, and eliminated the temptation. God must have had really loved Gideon.
God gave a step-by-step instruction, “Therefore, tell the people, ‘Whoever is timid or afraid may leave this mountain and go home.’” Gideon faithfully obeyed God, and told what was given to Gideon by God. Upon hearing Gideon’s recommendation, to Gideon’s surprise 22,000 of them stood up and went home, leaving only 10,000 who continued willing to fight. He lost more than 2/3 of his warriors. His army was reduced down to 10,000 from 32,000. Gideon could not believe what had happened. He thought that most of them were brave and would be with him no matter what happened. He was truly disappointed with those who went home. His heart was in panic, but Gideon remembered the signs that God gave to him using a wool fleece. In faith, Gideon struggled to overcome by making every effort to continue believing God and His goodness. After all, he did not lose his faith after losing 22,000 warriors. Let’s question to ourselves, if we lose 2/3 of what we have, what’s would be our response? Calm like Gideon or panic like a scared rabbit?
Gideon was able to be calm with the 10,000 warriors. In faith, he was about to go out and fight with the 10,000 warriors against the myriads of the armies of Midian. Gideon still had 10,000, and God was with him. He believed that he would win the battle in God’s power. He started making a new attack plan for the reminded 10,000 warriors because the original attack plan would no longer work. It was designed for the 32,000 warriors. It was painful to make a new plan with only 10,000 warriors. It was almost impossible to win the battle. Even so, he was obediently working on the new plan to attack the armies of Midian with the 10,000 warriors.
While Gideon was working on the new battle plan, again God came to Gideon, and told, “There are still too many!” What? 10,000 warrior vs the armies of Midian and their allies, who covered the entire valley. Upon hearing, Gideon immediately stopped working on the new battle plan. By that time, Gideon was a truly obedient man. He waited for God’s next command. God continued, “Bring them down to the spring, and I will test them to determine who will go with you and who will not.” For this time, God did not give any specifics. God just told Gideon: “Do what I say.” This was another opportunity to make Gideon’s faith stronger in God.
Gideon obediently took the 10,000 warriors down to the water. (Gideon’s obedience in faith pleased God.) God again told Gideon, “Divide the men into two groups. In one group put all those who cup water in their hands and lap it up with their tongues like dogs. In the other group put all those who kneel down and drink with their mouths in the stream.” Per God’s instruction, Gideon asked the 10,000 warriors to drink from the stream. Only 300 of the men drank from their hands. All the others got down on their knees and drank with their mouths in the stream.
God told Gideon, “With these 300 men I will rescue you and give you victory over the Midianites. Send all the others home.” It was almost unreal. Gideon was ended up to get only 300 warriors out of 32,000 warriors. This was less than 1% of the warriors originally responded to Gideon’s ram horn (exactly, 0.9375%). Gideon, although he was strong in faith, became nervous. How could he fight against the armies of Midian and their allies? It was so obvious that it was absolutely impossible to fight and defeat the countlessly many armies of Midian and their allies. Even so, in faith, Gideon obediently sent the 9,700 warriors home. He did it in faith in God.
Gideon’s faith grew tremendously. He was hiding from the Midianites and threshing in the winepress. Then he did follow God’s command to destroy the Baal’s alter. However, he could not do in daytime, but did it during the night because of his fear of the people and his family. Even so, God pleased with his baby stepping faith. Then God sent God’s Spirit to took possession of Gideon. Gideon blew a ram’s horn, and 32,000 warriors responded. Gideon, then, bravely took the 32,000 warriors to fight against the huge armies of Midian and their allies covered the entire valley. Gideon and his warriors were encamped near the enemies. Unexpectedly, God asked to send away 22,000 warriors. Gideon did. Only 10,000 warriors were with Gideon. Then God asked again to send away 9,700 warriors. Gideon also did. Gideon was ended up with only 300 warriors. Then it was literally impossible to fight and defeat the countlessly numerous armies of Midian and the allies. Even so, Gideon was ready to fight against the countlessly many armies of Midian and the allies. It was the Gideon’s faith.
God transformed Gideon to one of the most faithful in Bible. He experienced and believed God. Once Gideon met God, he continuously grew into faith in God. When he authentically prayed to God for God’s help, God answered. God helped Gideon when he was weak in his faith. Here is the pattern what Gideon did. Listen to God, pray to God, and do God’s will. Yes, we might not be perfect before God because we are still in fear of the world, but God pleases with us not because we are perfect, but because we did what God commanded despite of our fear and doubt. Therefore, whenever we need His help, just put out our heart, whether it is our fear, pain, sickness, uncertainty of future, a severe financial problem. God hears us. God is always faithful to us, and God wants for us to have a deeper relationship with Him. This is how to grow in faith in God. Baby stepping in our faith is a just first step, then keep listening, praying and doing what God wants. This pleases God, and we grow in faith in Him. Please remember God always loves us only because we are His beloved children and He is our ever-loving Father.
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging. (Psalm 46:1-3)