Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Gideon 300

I continue to marvel at how the Bible remains “new” to me. I have read it cover to cover at least twenty times in my life, but each time through it – indeed, in nearly every day’s reading – I find new and compelling stories. A day almost never goes by that I don’t say – “Hey, I never saw that before.” Mind you, it may be that my memory is eroding more quickly than my reading can compensate for – but I don’t think so.

This week, the story of Gideon’s defeat of the Midianites (Judges 7) stood out to me. Most know the story. Gideon went up to defeat the Midianites with 32,000 men. The men who were afraid were allowed to return to their homes. 22,000 left, leaving only 10,000 men to fight. This was still too many, so God used a small test to winnow the number down to a mere 300. And with that small band of men, Gideon routed the entire Midianite army.

And while this feat in itself is amazing, the part that stood out to me was the reason that God cut back on Gideon’s manpower. It wasn’t just to show how powerful God is, though it is an awesome display of His ability. Rather, verse 2 tells us God did this “in order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her”. God’s concern is with the Israelites themselves – that they will see the rout of the enemy and begin to think that they had something to do with it. Does that seem so crazy? Don’t we often try to take credit, even in a small way, for something that in which we may not have participated? I know it is sometimes a temptation for me.

This gets to the theme I have been writing about lately. I want every aspect of my life, and every minute of it, to be utilized for glorifying God. That is a tall order, but is it too much to strive for? What if I challenged myself to live for one week where every waking moment was spent in the pursuit of godly purpose, in holiness, and in service to Him? Would I be able to do it? What if it were just a concerted effort for one day? Could I do it for one hour?

One thing is certain – this is hard for me. As I’ve written previously, my life is consumed with distractions. I have nineteen tabs open on my Firefox browser at the moment – because I feel I need all of them, I guess – and any one of them could create a diversion for me at any time. This is not to say that all distractions are of an ungodly nature. My children are a constant demand for attention, and I love it. Building them up and spending time with them, helping them prepare to serve the Lord is a worthwhile pursuit. But clearly, not everything in my life is worthy or necessary. Can I start giving up some of these unneeded things?

It is inspiring that God was able to defeat a large army with only 300 men. It is even more motivational to me that God hand-picked these men to pursue His intentions and to bring glory to His name. And I believe with everything in my heart that these 300 soldiers were not just randomly selected to serve. I believe that God picked the best and most worthy of Gideon’s army to be used for His glory. They passed the bravery test in the first round. Ultimately they were most certainly called out for special duty. For me, when God is winnowing His army for service, one thought rises above all the others.

I want to be one of the 300.

1 comment:

Darren Duvall said...

I've always thought that God was messing with Gideon some for all the testing that Gideon put God through in the beginning of their conversation. I particularly liked the last division of the volunteers.

I've heard that the "drinking test" at the river was to pick the people who kept their heads up while drinking, and were therefore more alert. While plausible, it's entirely plausible as well that God was sticking Gideon with the paste-eaters in the crowd. The battle plan was incredibly simple, but I can imagine the difficulties involved (in the form of a Bob Newhart routine):

"Hi, I'm General Gideon, and God has given me this plan. You've all received your trumpet and pot...please, now, stop blowing the trumpets, I'm trying to explain...yes...thank you. As I was saying, God's plan is this: we blow the trumpets and then break the pots to, no, don't break the pots now...get those guys another pot...Hey, look, we don't have an infinite supply of pots! Stop breaking the pots!...Man...You dropped yours? Well, you'll need another pot, can somebody get him...Okay, back to the plan: we blow our trumpets, shout, and break the pots. Not now! No! Stop with the trumpets again...okay...okay...settle down...looks like we're going to need another couple of pots. We're going to do this in the middle of the night, guys...night...N-I-G-H-T...yes, when the sun isn't shining...Okay, WITHOUT breaking a pot or blowing a trumpet, let's review. We sneak up on the bad guys when the sun isn't shining and, we don't blow on the pot...we...blow the trumpet and then break the...Ah, man, did you just break your trumpet? Really?"

And on and on...God is great. :)