Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. … (Judges 7:2)
Gideon was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. The Israelites did evil in the LORD’s sight. So the LORD, our God, handed them over to the Midianites for seven years. The Midianites were so cruel that the Israelites made hiding places for themselves in the mountains, caves, and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites came and forcefully took the crops. They left the Israelites with nothing to eat, taking all the sheep, goats, cattle, and donkeys. Gideon did hide thrashing wheat from the sight of the Midianites. By going through this hardship, Israelites realized their sins, and cried out help to God. God sent an angel to Gideon to save the Israelites from their suffering under the Midianites.
God appeared to Gideon, and gave His word, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” When Gideon was hesitant, God told again, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.” Following the word of the God, Gideon demolished the alter of Baal, and cut down the Asherah pole beside it, where were the idols of the Midianites. Then using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer a bull as a burnt offering. When the Midianites demanded Gideon, but Joash, Gideon’s father, replied, “Let Baal contend with him.”
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 the men of the clan of Abiezer came to him. He also sent messengers throughout the Israel, summoning their warriors, and all of them responded. So Gideon and his army got up early and went as far as the spring of Harod. The armies of Midian were camped north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. They confronted at the huge armies of Midian and its allies. By the numbers, there is no way to win the battle, but Gideon and his army were fully ready to fight.
Suddenly, God said to Gideon, “You have too many men.” It must a real surprise to Gideon and his army. If we were Gideon, what would be our response? Let’s see the fact: we were totally outnumbered by the enemy, and with courage and faith, we were ready to fight against the huge enemy without fear of getting killed. Then why did God stop the courageous Gideon and his army?
Bible continues: I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ (Judges 7:2) This is the answer. God surely would be with Gideon, and give them a victory over the huge armies of the enemy. However, God focused on the sinful and prideful human hearts. The God’s victory that be about to be given to Gideon and his army would make them boast against God due to sinful nature of human beings. He already knew this. Without God’s help, they would surely praise their own courage, their faith, their well-coordinated plan, Gideon’s leadership, and others what they did, not what God actually did for them. Human eyes could be really easy to be deceived. The great number of the Gideon’s army (although they are far smaller than the enemy) would easily give a false confidence on their own might, wisdom and courage. God truly loved Gideon and his army as parents love their children. As parents clear a path before a toddler so that he/she can be safe from being hurt by falling, God took away all dangers and obstacles before Gideon and his army before the battle began.
Let’s look back our lives. Have we ever been putting our focus on what we did rather than what God actually made happen, when we successfully serve God’s work as an individual, a group, as a church, a big Christian organization or as a nation?
Thus, God, who dearly loved Gideon and his army, decided to reduce the size of the army. How do you think? How small should the size of the Gideon’s army be to complete get rid of even a slightest possibility of giving credit to them instead of God? Half of what they thought enough? One third? Even one tenth?
Let’s continue following what God said to Gideon: Now announce to the army, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’ (Judges 7:3) After hearing this, twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained. The Gideon’s army was reduced to less than one third.
Should the remaining ten thousand be small enough to eliminate all of human pride of Gideon and his army? Let’s face it. It would be a real miracle: the small army defeated the huge allied armies with less than one third of what they originally estimated.
God truly loved the Israelites. God told Gideon, “There are still too many! Bring them down to the spring, and I will test them to determine who will go with you and who will not.” (Judges 7:4) Following the God’s command, Gideon took the remaining ten thousand warriors to the water. God’s plan was to divide them 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. God told Gideon to separate the first group from the second. Only 300 of the men remained because they drank from their hands. The number is less than 1% (0.9375% exact) of the original army who came with great courage and faith to fight for God against the much bigger enemy.
Then God 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) Bible describes the enemy: they had settle in the valley like a swarm of locusts. Their camels were like grains of sand on the seashore. They were too many to count! In the human’s eyes, there was absolutely no chance for the minuscule mere 300 army to win the battle against the enemy that was too many to count. Yes, God plainly made visible this chilling fact to the small Gideon’s army. God really wanted for them to completely rely on him with an absolute trust and faith in Him.
Bible continues. Each of the three hundred just took a jar and a torch hidden in the jar on one hand, and a horn on the other hand. Please note that no hand left to carry weapons. Nobody questioned except moving forward with faith. It was just after midnight, after the changing of the guard, they reached the edge of the Midianite camp. Suddenly, they blew the rams’ horns and broke their clay jars, and all shouted in faith. When the three Israelites blew their rams’ horns, God caused the warriors in the camp to fight against each other with their swords (Judges 7:22). God, not Gideon’s army, utterly destroyed the countlessly many enemies with His might hand.
Praise the Lord, our almighty Father, who truly cares for Gideon and his army. The same God loves us as He cared for Gideon and his army. He continuously prunes our lives not to boast ourselves. If not, He cannot do His miracle in our lives, or we would boast against God.
The LORD said to Gideon, “ You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ (Judges 7:2)