Tuesday, October 30, 2018
Judges 7:9 – 11 9During that night the LORD said to Gideon, “Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands. 10If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah 11and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.”
Sometimes the circumstances of life are overwhelming. The odds seem to be stacked against us. Every piece of human logic and reason gives us no incentive to proceed. Everything points to defeat and loss. Giving up seems to be the best option.
Gideon found himself in exactly that situation. The nation of Israel had been overrun by the Midianites and their allies for the last seven years. God had allowed this because of the sin of His people. Then God called Gideon to lead an army against the Midianites and restore Israel to its rightful place as rulers of the land. The task seemed overwhelming to him. He made lots of excuses to God as to why he would not be able to accomplish the task. He even doubted that God really cared. Listen to what he says when God asks him to take on this task.
When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.” “But sir,” Gideon replied, “if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian.” The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” “But Lord,” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” (Judges 6)
Gideon is totally convinced he cannot do what God is asking him to do. His outlook changes when the angel of the Lord says this: “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.” The English Standard translation of the Bible says, “You will strike down the Midianites as one man.” The Lord is saying to Gideon, “No matter what the odds look like from your perspective, for me it will be as if you are fighting only one man.”
Gideon is convinced enough that he brings an offering to the Lord. God demonstrates His power to him. After Gideon is sure that God is with him, he gathers the armies of Israel – 32,000 men all together. He is feeling pretty good at this point until God says that there are too many. God makes it clear to Gideon that He wants the nation of Israel to take no credit for what is about to happen. God wants the people to be totally dependent upon Him and to give Him all of the glory for the success. He instructs Gideon to send home all the soldiers who are afraid that they will lose the battle, and 22,000 go home. Then he tells Gideon to take the remaining 10,000 men to the river and tests them by watching how they drink water. Only 300 men pass the test by not dropping their guard and putting their face down into the water. These 300 men who knelt and brought the water up to their mouths with their hands would be the army that defeats the Midianites.
Now Gideon is afraid again. God understands his fear and provides an answer to it. He sends him down to the Midianite camp and says, “Listen and you will hear words that encourage you to carry out the mission.” When Gideon overheard the dream of one of the soldiers and how the other soldier interpreted it, He worshipped God and carried out the plan. These soldiers were not followers of Jehovah, but they were convinced that Jehovah God was so powerful that nothing could stop Him from conquering them. The enemy soldiers had no knowledge of the size of Gideon’s army, but they knew the size of Gideon’s God, and they were afraid. Gideon realized that his fears were foolish. He totally trusted God to accomplish His purpose. He woke up the army and implemented God’s plan, and God used the 300 soldiers to totally wipe out the enemy.
What can we learn about encouragement from all of this? First, God understands our fears and our tendency to listen to human reason and logic. He knows we are bent on walking by sight and not by faith. But He does not leave us to the consequences of such living. Instead, He speaks to us words of encouragement to give us faith to fearlessly face the foe. He is constantly assuring us that He is with us and that we can live life from His perspective. Listen! You can hear Him right now giving you the assurance that everything will be fine if you trust Him.
Second, God knows we need visible evidence to substantiate what He is saying to us. Look around and you will see it. You will see God’s presence in other people who are going through more difficult circumstances than you are. You will hear it in people’s conversations as they discuss the power of God and what they have seen Him accomplish. You will be strengthened and encouraged by the stories of God’s victories in other people’s lives. You may even hear non-Christians telling of their respect for God because of what they saw happen in people’s lives. Listen! God is using other people to assure you that everything is in His control.
Third, God knows other people need to be encouraged, and He has called us to speak the words of encouragement to them. We need to hear more stories of God’s victories in people’s lives. We need to be willing to recognize what God is doing in us and then be bold enough to tell others what He has done.
Someone is being told by God right now to “listen, and afterward you will be encouraged to proceed.” Maybe you are the one to whom they are to listen. Speak up! Tell your God stories! Praise Him publicly. There’s a Gideon out there who needs to hear and be encouraged.