"Before I formed you in the belly, I knew you."
Apart from those divinely assigned to journey through life with us, as it pertains to calling and purpose, a number usually measurable on one hand, there are times when God intentionally thins out our support groups. These times are most uncomfortable as they often trigger a personalization of events, generating such questions as, “Was I the cause of any offense?” Continuing our focus on the warrior hero in Judges 7 will perhaps reveal deeper truths surrounding the There are Too Many Season!
"The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength” (2 NLT).
The moment Gideon gathers an army against the enemy, whose mission is to annihilate them, God announces, “There are too many!” To the human the "thinning out process" almost always occurs at a time when support and true friendship are greatly needed and desired! I imagine Gideon wanting to scream out, "Lord, don't worry, I'll make sure they know it was You! Just please don't take anyone away! We really need to win this!”
Yet, I submit, that there are established principles that govern these seasons of There are Too Many. First, God is always working according to his good pleasure, to advance His kingdom agenda, as seen in both the Old and New Testaments: “You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail” (Proverbs 19:21 NLT). “Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan” (Ehpesians 1:11 NLT).
Second, God refuses to share his glory as in Isaiah 48 (NLT), "I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to anyone else, nor share my praise with carved idols" (8). "Let the whole world glorify the Lord; let it sing his praise" (12).
It’s difficult for us to understand how a loving God, who demonstrated unconditional love by granting salvation through the sacrifice of His only begotten Son, be provoked to jealousy, as depicted when his glory and worship are lavished on another, whether animate or inanimate (Exodus 20:5, 34:14, Deuteronomy 4:24, 5:9, 32:16, Joshua 24:19, Psalm 78:58, 79:5). Yet, God describes Himself as jealous!
David, who gave God glory for his victories, had the right perspective, as a champion giant-killer in his own right. “You come to me with sword, spear and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies-the god of the armies of Israel, who you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head…and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!” (1 Samuel 17:45-47 NLT)
The truth is that God alone is the Bible’s hero, and He seeks those whose worship results in the surrendering of their very lives to Him for service, partnering in His kingdom efforts. This requires the ability to relinquish one’s claim to fame, glory and praise.
Third, God is so committed to His redemptive plan for His earth and its contents, including you and I, that as sovereign King, He guards and keeps it from all that would oppose His purposes. "It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure" (Psalm 18:32 NIV). Isaiah 62:6,7 depicts watchmen who are appointed and assigned until God’s plan concerning Jerusalem prevails.
In the Jerubbaal narrative (Judges 7), God is portrayed as One orchestrating things behind the scenes to bring about His good pleasure. Those who were fearful were initially disqualified, followed by those overtaken and distracted by their personal needs, revealed by the manner in which they drank water from the brook. What remained was a remnant of warriors who were boldly courageous and super focused. God said with these 300, meaning few in Bible language, I will deliver the Midianites into your hands. With this He insured His glory and His victory!
May you find comfort and clarity in the season of There are Too Many and celebrate its significance! We WIN folks! #eshetchayil
Isn't it remarkable how human beings approach God as if He doesn't see and know all? How ironic it is to ask God if He is sure! In Judges 6, in spite of Gideon’s stark fear and strong feelings of inadequacy, the Lord reaffirms that Gideon is indeed the warrior-hero chosen to defeat the Midianites and save Israel.
Though hesitant and doubtful, Gideon is depicted as knowing the identity of his visitor, referring to the angel as Lord, asking for a sign, and even preparing to offer sacrifices. After the sign is granted Gideon has clarity, “I’m doomed, for I have seen God face to face!” God’s amazing grace moved Gideon from worry to worship, and he built an altar and named it exactly what Israel needed to be reminded of, The Lord is Peace.
Certainly one can understand Gideon feeling unqualified for this particular task of delivering Israel. However, God had assured Gideon that he would be with him, activating the DNA of the warrior, causing him to fight as if fighting against one man. God had also proven His presence to Gideon by devouring the offering, but for Gideon it simply wasn't enough, revealed by his constant requests and fleecing. Why is it that other voices often appear to drown out God’s voice? “I’m the least of the weakest…” One can only discover their true identity by dwelling in the presence of the One who created them and hearing revealed purpose.
Gideon isn't coddled but undergoes divine training in the greatest act of obedience of all time, standing against family tradition to create an entrance for Light. Gideon was to tear down his father’s altar to Baal and erect an altar to YHWH, the Lord his God. His ministry as a canceler of darkness was to begin right at home! Ministry at home is never easy, Jesus said in Matthew 13:57 (NIV), “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.” Gideon’s first mission, to defy the false god of his day amongst familiar people, required great courage. Through his fear he completed his assignment! For those having divine assignments, the demand and pull of God’s Kingdom must be stronger than the dictates of fear in all its forms!
When the people found out that Gideon was to blame they called for his death. Gideon’s father Joash, now transformed by Light challenged, if Baal is a God, let him defend himself. Gideon’s with God DNA triggered a behavior, indicative of his true identity, which resulted in a covenant name change fit for a warrior-hero, Jerub-Baal, meaning “let Baal contend against him.”
The same Gideon who had been hiding, struggling with insecurity and fear, who had repeatedly requested proof that the Lord was God, and that He would do what He said He would do, having encountered God, was transformed into a deliverer to establish God’s order, build an altar to God, and organize Israel for victory, “…the Spirit of the Lord took possession of Gideon” (34, NRSV) and he sounded the trumpet call to gather the troops.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Cor 5:17KJV).
In order to live out your life’s assignment, you must draw from your new DNA!
Father, hear your people as we cry, "Holy Spirit take possession of us!"