Gideon: A very inspiring Bible story!
The Bible story about Gideon is really inspiring for all of us!
How would you feel if you had only 300 men to fight against a great army?
“The Lord is with you, mighty warrior!! Go with your strength and save Israel from the Midianites!” Judges 6:12,14 (NCV). This was said to Gideon by an angel sent from God. It was certainly meant as an encouragement – but Gideon’s first thought seems to have been, “Why me? Isn’t there someone stronger or braver who can do it?”
God’s directions may not always make sense to us. As human beings, we are weak and don’t see what God sees. We fall again and again when we trust in our own strength instead of trying hard to find and do God’s will in our lives. Gideon would experience this in his own life.
An oppressed nation
Because the people of Israel had turned away from God, He allowed the Midianites to terrorise Israel for seven years, destroying their land and livestock. Judges 7:12 (NCV) says about the Midianites that there were “so many of them they seemed like locusts. Their camels could not be counted because they were as many as the grains of sand on the seashore!”
In their need, Israel cried out to God and in His mercy God stepped in and decided that Gideon would lead the miserable, oppressed and fearful Israelites to victory.
When Gideon heard this, he must have thought, “Doesn’t God know how weak and afraid I am?” Of course, God knew this, but He chose Gideon anyway.
God knows our personality and our weaknesses, and how easily we sin. But it’s not a mistake that He has chosen us. Those who see themselves as great and strong and wise will have a hard time hearing God’s voice above their own proud thoughts and opinions. But those who are low in their own eyes, with open hearts, will be able to become men of God, full of courage, ready to do His will.
The uncertain leader
Gideon accepted the task unwillingly. He asked God for signs again and again. First, the angel let fire come out of the rock to burn up the food Gideon had placed there. Another time, Gideon put out some wool asking for the wool to be wet and the ground to be dry, then the next night he asked for the wool to be dry and the ground to be wet.
Was God discouraged by these constant requests? Did He begin to doubt if Gideon was the right choice? No! He let all these signs and wonders happen, to give Gideon the strength and faith he needed! God refused to give up on Gideon, even when Gideon had given up on himself.
A short time later, and newly armed with the spirit of the Lord (Judges 6:34), Gideon was standing at the head of an Israelite army of 32,000 warriors. Now this was a mighty army to be reckoned with! But then came a new order from God: Everyone who was afraid should go home! God knew that Israel would claim the glory of victory for themselves, instead of honouring God who was in command.
Don’t you think that Gideon would have loved to leave right then? To be one of those who was afraid so he didn’t have to face the battle and maybe die? Can you imagine how Gideon must have felt, sending out this new order to his 32,000 soldiers? What kind of leader is this, who willingly tells his soldiers to leave just before the battle?
“There are still too many!”
Overnight, 22,000 of Gideon’s soldiers left. This must have been very hard for Gideon. As leader of 32,000 men he might have thought it was possible to defeat the Midianites. With only 10,000 men, it was nearly impossible!
Then God spoke again: “There are still too many!”
Still too many? This new command went against all human reasoning! And that is exactly how God wanted it.
But Gideon was obedient and took the army to the river to drink, as God had told him. Only those who cupped up the water with their hands and drank up the water with their tongues like a dog, were allowed to stay, while everyone else was sent home. Gideon was left with only 300 men!
300 men against an army
Imagine Gideon’s fear when God said, “Go down and attack the camp of the Midianites, because I will give them to you.” It’s one thing to hear what God wants us to do… but to actually do it can feel like a whole new battle!
Once again God spoke to Gideon. He told Gideon to spy on the camp, and here Gideon heard that the Midianite soldiers were also afraid. One spoke about a dream where a Midianite tent was knocked down by a loaf of barley bread. “Your dream is about the sword of Gideon son of Joash, a man of Israel!” another soldier cried. “God will hand Midian and the whole army over to him!” Judges 7:14 (NCV).
Hearing this renewed Gideon’s faith. With his 300 men armed with nothing more than trumpets, and torches hidden inside empty clay jars, the Israelites crept to the outside of the Midian camp. On the signal, the Israelites broke the clay jars, revealing the torches, and blew their trumpets, shouting: “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!”
Surprised and thinking they were being attacked by a large army, the Midianites panicked, fighting against one another before finally fleeing into the night. Their mighty strength had been overcome by only 300 men led by Gideon, a man of God.
Hear His voice
Listen to God’s guiding voice in your life. As we go from day to day, we may feel like we come up against walls and obstacles that are too great to overcome; moments when we see our “enemy” – the sin that is rooted deeply in us – and we feel afraid that we can’t win this battle, that we can’t overcome.
But God knows who we are and He has chosen us before the beginning of time to overcome the sin that lives in us! When we let God guide our decisions, we will overcome, just as we read in the Bible story about Gideon!