Judges 7-8

Little Is Much When God Is In It.

“The LORD said to Gideon, ‘You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength.‘” ­– Judges 7:2 NLT

God works in mysterious ways. He doesn’t do things the way we would. He accomplished His victories in ways that we never could have dreamed up. Take a look at the story of Gideon. We’ve seen the seriousness of the situation. We’ve seen the fear and doubt in Gideon. There are 135,000 enemy troops amassed (Judges 7:10) against Israel and Gideon has only 32,000 soldiers – that’s more than 4 to 1 – bad odds – and bad odds can lead to some seriously big doubt. We already know Gideon struggles with doubt. Now he finds himself in a difficult situation and yet God has promised to deliver the Midianites into his hands. But as Gideon takes a look at the situation, he has to conclude that the odds are NOT in his favor. He does not have enough troops. But bad odds are great for revealing just how big our God is. In fact, Gideon was going to learn something about his God, and he was going to learn something about himself. He was going to learn that this battle was God’s battle. The odds didn’t matter to God. In fact, God was going to even the playing field and make the odds even worse! Why? So that when the victory came, only He could get the glory.

So God tells Gideon he has too many men. In doing so, God is telling Gideon that this isn’t about Gideon’s strength, but His! God has Gideon send home everyone who is afraid, so 22,000 men take up Gideon on his offer, leaving only 10,000 men. Now the odds are more than 13 to 1. But God is not done. He tells Gideon he still has too many men and has Gideon take his men to the spring to drink. One group kneels to drink, the other laps the water like a dog. God tells Gideon to send home all the kneelers. We don’t know why. The passage doesn’t tell us. I think it was an arbitrary decision. God was going to use the lesser group to accomplish His will. So 7,000 more men are sent home. That leaves Gideon with just 300 men to fight a force of 135,000. The odds just got worse – 450 to 1. But God is not limited by our limits. He tells Gideon, “With these three hundred men I will rescue you and give you victory over the Midinates.” (Judges 7:7).

Then God tells Gideon to march against the camp of the Midianites – 300 against 135,000. But God knows Gideon and He knows that Gideon still has doubts and fears. So He tells Gideon to take his servant and go sneak into the Midianite camp at night. Gideon has no way of knowing what this little trip will bring about. But when he arrives at the edge of the enemy encampment, he discovers that the armies of the Midianites are like locusts, their camels like grains of sand on the seashore. There are so many of them, that they are too many to count! But while he is there, Gideon overhears two Midianite soldiers talking. One is sharing a dream he had had that night. It involved a loaf of bread rolling into a tent and knocking it down. Immediately, this guy’s buddy informs him that he knows the meaning! “Your dream can only mean one thing – God has given Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite, victory over all the armies united with Midian!” (Judges 7:14).

God had preordained this encounter. He had arranged for this enemy soldier to have this dream and for him to relate it to his friend. Then God had given this other soldier the exact meaning of the dream. All so Gideon could overhear it and be assured of God’s upcoming victory. Gideon takes it as a sign from God and immediately worships God. Then he goes back and organizes his “troops”. God used this simple dream to mobilize the Israelites and demoralize the Midianites. No doubt this dream and its interpretation spread like wild fire through the Midianite camp and caused all kinds of doubt and fear among them. Which probably explains their bizarre and erratic behavior when the “battle” took place.

You know the rest of the story. Gideon takes 300 men armed with little more than a  dream, clay pots, torches and rams horns, and goes up against the 135,000 Midianites. They blew their trumpets, broke the pots and held up their torches and screamed, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon” (Judges 7:20). Then all the Israelites had to do was stand and watch. They didn’t have to swing a sword or throw a spear. God did it all!

When the three hundred Israelites blew their horns, the LORD caused the warriors in the camp to fight against each other with their swords. Those who were not killed fled to places as far away as Beth–shittah near Zererah and to the border of Abel–meholah near Tabbath.– Vs 22

God made it look easy. When we let God fight the battle, it’s always a whole lot easier. Because His ways are not our ways. God is the God of the impossible. He is the God of the improbable. He uses the weak, foolish, and powerless to accomplish His will. “God deliberately chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose those who are powerless to shame those who are powerful” (1 Corinthians 1:27 NLT).

God wanted Gideon to come to grips with his weakness and God’s strength. He wanted him to realize that the victory is always the Lord’s. God doesn’t want to know how strong you are, He wants to prove how strong He is.

The horse is prepared for the day of battle, But victory belongs to the LORD. – Proverbs 21:31 NASB

For the king trusts in the LORD, And through the lovingkindness of the Most High he will not be shaken.– Psalm 20:7 NASB

Who is the King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle. – Psalm 24:8 NASB

O Sovereign LORD, my strong savior, you protected me on the day of battle. – Psalm 140:7 NLT

And everyone will know that the LORD does not need weapons to rescue his people. It is his battle, not ours. The LORD will give you to us! – 1 Samuel 17:47 NLT

So what do we learn? God is the hero of this story – and of ours. God’s salvation doesn’t come to the strong, but the weak. God is God alone, and there is no other. In the heat of battle is where God so often reveals Himself. God’s ways are not our ways. Less is more when God is involved.

Father, help me learn these lessons. Help me to see your strength in the midst of my weakness. The odds mean nothing to You. The greater the odds, the greater my God. You want to prove Yourself strong in my life and You regularly do. But I still doubt and fear. Help me to learn to trust You more and more with each passing day. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men