Read: Judges 7:1 – 25
Focus: 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
Gideon was one of the reluctant heroes of the Bible. Looking back at yesterday’s reading and devotional, we’ll see that at first Gideon allowed his fear to hinder his trust in God. In today’s reading, God goes about showing Gideon and all of Israel how mighty He is. The Midianites (along with Israel’s ancient enemy the Amalekites) were especially cruel to God’s people during this time (remember Judges 6:1 where we’re told what caused this: The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight. So the Lord handed them over to the Midianites for seven years.) In Judges 6:2 – 6, we’re told: 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, marauders from Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east would attack Israel, camping in the land and destroying crops as far away as Gaza. They left the Israelites with nothing to eat, taking all the sheep, goats, cattle, and donkeys. These enemy hordes, coming with their livestock and tents, were as thick as locusts; they arrived on droves of camels too numerous to count. And they stayed until the land was stripped bare. So Israel was reduced to starvation by the Midianites.
Based on the description we’re given in Judges 6: 2 – 6, I think it’s safe to say that the Israelites were intimidated by and terrified of the Midianites. They cried out to God, and God provided them with Gideon as their “mighty hero” (Judges 6:12). But God had an even bigger lesson for the Israelites. He wanted them to know that it wasn’t their new hero Gideon or the strength of their own army that would help them, it was God Himself.
It’s estimated that the army the Midianites raised was approximately 15,000 people. We see from today’s reading that when Gideon called the Israelites together to form an army to fight against the Midianites, the Israelite army was over 30,000. With a 2 to 1 advantage in men, the Israelites had pretty good odds to defeat the Midianites based on their own strength. But that wasn’t God’s plan because He wanted to show the Israelites that victory is through Him and Him alone. So through a series of questions and tests, God whittled the Israelite army down to 300 men. 300 Israelites against 15,000??? That’s 50 to 1 in favor of the Midianites. That sounds like a route in the making. Only the direct intervention of God, a miracle, could save the Israelites and make them victorious. As we know, Gideon and the Israelites served a God who is in the business of miracles. God told Gideon before the first arrow was fired or sword swung that He had already won the victory for His people: In Judges 7:9, the Lord said, “Get up! Go down into the Midianite camp, for I have given you victory over them!” You can read the details of the battle in Judges 7:11-25, but suffice it to say, God fought for the Israelites; he instilled panic in the Midianites causing them to fight against each other. Solely because of God’s action, an army of 300 Israelites routed the bully Midianites army of 15,000. It doesn’t say in the reading whether the Israelites were surprised that God fought for them and routed the enemy when the odds were stacked so clearly against them. It makes sense that they wouldn’t be surprised by the outcome because God had promised them that this very thing would happen. As a matter of fact, in Leviticus 26:3-9, God made many promises to Israel if they follow His decrees, including one in which He would make them victorious against their enemies even if the odds were 100 to 1. And one thing we know about God through the ages is that He always fulfills His promises!
How does this apply to us today – the same God who fought for His people in today’s reading will fight for His people today. The same God who worked miracles for and saved the Israelites will do the same for us today – if we will just turn to Him, follow His will and rely on Him as our only salvation (regardless of the battle we find ourselves in). In Philippians 3:3-4, we are told to put no confidence in human effort, instead to rely fully on Christ. As Jesus tells us in John 14:1, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.” I love what David says in Psalm 20:7: Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
I’ll close with the words of Jude, Jesus’ half brother, who wrote the single chapter Book of Jude in the New Testament: 24 Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into His glorious presence without a single fault. 25 All glory to Him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are His before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.
Prayer: Lord, thank You that You are a mighty warrior who fights on behalf of Your children. As I go through the struggles and battles before me, please help me set aside my fear, to not let my heart be troubled, to seek Your will above my own, and to rely fully on You. Please guide me and help me to be obedient to You in all things; where I fall short, please show me and help me to confess and repent quickly. Thank You that You are always there for me. I love You. In Jesus’ name… Amen.