I need a Hero! (part 2)
April 19, 2016 | by: Angela Karum | 1 Comments
Posted in: Identity
The stakes were high.
Word had come to Gideon that the kings of Midian had made an alliance with the kings of Amalek and other nations to the east. Marching on Israel with combined forces 135,000 strong, they had crossed the Jordan River and were camped in the Valley of Jezreel, ready to attack. Gideon’s army of 32,000 men were outnumbered 4 to 1. Once again, Gideon finds himself wrestling with doubt. Is he really the one to lead the army? Will God really give them a victory over such a great enemy?
How does God make a hero?
God confirms the mission.
Gideon takes his doubts to God and asks for reassurance in a very audacious way. He sets a wool fleece outside and asks God to let the dew fall only on the fleece and not on the ground around it. The next morning the fleece is drenched with dew but the ground is dry. But Gideon is still doubtful. He asks that this time the dew fall on the ground but leave the fleece dry. Once again, God circumvents nature and answers his request. Reassured, Gideon marches his small army out to meet the Midianites and makes camp by the spring of Harod.
God raises the stakes – He takes their chances of victory from slim to impossible.
He tells Gideon that his army is too big, and they may boast that they won by their own strength instead of giving credit to God. He instructs Gideon to send home anyone who is afraid. And 22,000 men leave. But God says there are still too many men. Leading his remaining 10,000 down to the spring to drink, Gideon follows God’s instructions and sends home anyone that lapped the water like a dog, leaving a mere 300 men.
How can a band of 300 defeat an army of 135,000? It’s impossible – unless God is fighting for you.
God goes to great lengths to encourage His hero.
That night, God reminds Gideon that He is giving him the victory. But if he is still afraid, to take his servant and go down to the enemy camp and listen to what is being said. So in the dark, Gideon sneaks down to the outskirts of the army and overhears a strange conversation. An enemy soldier is telling his friend about his dream that a loaf of barley had tumbled down the mountain into the camp and knocked over a tent. His friend immediately exclaims, “This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon, son of Joash, the Israelite! God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.” Judges 7:14
What?? Gideon just happens to eavesdrop outside the tent of a man waking up from a bizarre dream, and his friend, upon hearing the dream, immediately interprets it to mean they are doomed because Gideon and his God are coming to destroy the whole camp? Who orchestrates this kind of thing? Only God.
Gideon is in awe, realizing that God has prepared the way for victory. Worshipping God, he returns to his men, encouraging them that the battle is already won. He divides them into 3 groups and gives each man a ram’s horn and a clay jar with a torch inside. They spread out along the ridges overlooking the camp and wait in the dark for Gideon’s signal.
After midnight, when the enemy camp is sound asleep, Gideon and his men blow the horns, smash the jars and yell their battle cry, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” The enemy army wakes up terrified and confused, and begins fighting each other. Running for their lives, they flee toward the Jordan River with Gideon and his 300 in pursuit. Gideon sends word to the men in the region to come join the pursuit and together they wipe out the entire armies of Midian and Amalek.
It is a resounding victory! God has kept His promise to Gideon. For the rest of Gideon’s lifetime, the country enjoys peace.
God doesn’t need anything we have to offer to accomplish His wonders. In fact, He will often reduce our resources to almost nothing. Throughout the story, Gideon is consistently fearful and doubting. But he keeps taking his fears and doubts to God, rather than letting them harden into unbelief. God patiently responds with encouragement and reassurance.
The most important thing about Gideon is that he is a humble man who obeys God, even when he is afraid. He keeps moving forward in the faith and strength he has even when it gets harder and more daunting. In the end, his trust in God results in a huge victory for Israel, freedom from the oppression of their cruel enemies and 40 years of peace and prosperity throughout the land.
God wants to make Himself known, not just to us, but to the people around us. He chooses us in our weakness and insignificance. The one thing He asks is that we trust Him and keep moving forward with what He has asked us to do. When we face discouragement and doubt, uncertainty about our mission and purpose, when we falter in our confidence and trust in God, our greatest need is to take those thoughts and feelings to Him. He delights in encouraging us, giving our hearts peace and strength to keep going. God wants to show Himself strong on our behalf. God wants to be the real hero.
“For who is God besides the LORD?
And who is the Rock except our God?
It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights.
He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me.
You stoop down to make me great.” Psalm 18:31-35
Angela Karum, mother of two teenagers and Florida resident since 2008, fills her free time hunting treasures in used book stores and sipping Nutella lattes with friends. Her compassionate heart and ready smile belie an adventurous spirit cultivated during her childhood in the Amazon jungle.