Now therefore come, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is afraid and trembling, let him return and depart from Mount Gilead.’” So 22,000 people returned, but 10,000 remained. – Judges 7:3
This was actually Law. Deuteronomy 20:8 ordered the officers to give permission for men to leave the battlefield if they were afraid “so that he might not make his brothers’ hearts melt like his heart.” Not only was God dwindling the army so that He may be glorified, but He was strengthening the mental health of this group. God knew that fear can become toxic. The spiritual enemy uses fear as a weapon to derail the plans that God puts on our heart. By making the group smaller, God purged the camp of toxicity so that the group that was left would trust Him and obey with confidence. 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.”
By the numbers there simply is no way. We look at the odds, we realize the deck is stacked against us, and we wilt in the face of the enemy.
And the Lord says,
I am the Lord, who opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea. Isaiah 43:16
As God whittled down Gideon’s number of warriors, God’s victory was never in question. Deliverance was as certain as the rising sun. It didn’t matter the number of warriors, one or a million, God’s victory was sure. He is the way maker; he makes a dry path through the sea.
“The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me.’”
Israel seems to be in a place (spiritually) where they have humbly surrendered to the Lord and His strength and power. After all, 32,000 of them were willing (albeit most with fear and trembling) to gather in the army to fight against a formidable enemy. God is keenly aware of the tendency of the human heart to rob Him of His glory- selfish, greedy, insecure. He will confront it and expose it. Otherwise, even the most spiritually mature and humble hearted of us, will fall into this trap.
Praise God, for His wisdom and patience with us all. We need Him more than we even know. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2
It is important who we surround ourselves with. Even heroes rarely act by themselves. Having an iron-sharpening-iron friend is vital to the success of every believer. For Gideon, the person closest to him was Purah, his servant. The name Purah means ‘fruitful branch.’ Purah’s name likely reveals his character. For Gideon, Purah’s presence was enough to overcome his fear of visiting the Midianite’s camp. Gideon was a better, obedient servant of God when accompanied by Purah.
Who is in your life that spurs you to serve God better and encourages you to walk uprightly before Him? Is there a Purah in your life that gives courage and commitment to you to be a better servant of God? Are you that person to someone else? If the answer is ‘no one’, ask God to bring someone into your life that sharpens your walk with Him! God never intended for us to face life alone…a strand of three cords is stronger!
The Bible says, in various ways and repeatedly, “You have more resources than you think you do.” Elisha told his servant, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” The Israelites in the desert learned that “the one who gathered little did not have too little.” A little money amounted to an extravagant gift. A shockingly low word count from a political prisoner signaled to Pilate that he was dealing with somebody who knew a different source of authority than he had ever encountered. These are some examples. There are many more. Gideon could discharge thousands of soldiers and yet grow stronger. The Bible is consistent: What you think is mighty hardly ever is, and what you think is weakness is stronger than you’ve realized.
The Lord said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me.’ vs. 2
We don’t often get insight into what God is thinking when he commands or creates, but in this instance we have a glimpse into his perfect understanding of human nature. Think about it 300 men who lap water like a dog is generally not how you would advertise for a group about to overthrow your enemies. God also understands that we need nothing confusing our reading of the situation: we can do nothing apart from God. Has God surprised you lately? Has he done something that you would have done differently? Perfect, then you know that God is still in control. Trust him in all things.
My initial reaction to this passage is to ridicule Gideon. How could he doubt God after everything God has already done? He has already asked God prove Himself by performing a miracle (17-22) then Gideon asks for another miracle, not once, but twice! Isn’t this the type of mentality that Jesus addressed in the Pharisees? “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” Matthew 16:4
Then my wife said to me, “Isn’t it cool how patient God is with Gideon?!”
I realized in that moment that I am Gideon. I may not demand signs, but time and time again I act as if God hasn’t miraculously provided for me. I continually doubt His plan and try to do it my own way. God is patient with me and waits for me to see His plan. Because of that patience I get to experience His love in a whole new way.
So, that night God did as Gideon asked. Judges 6:40
God doesn’t punish doubt, he nurtures faith.
Gideon was on a hero’s journey, one that required a growing faith in God. Along the way, we see God graciously nurture his faith in midst of uncertainty and doubt. God could have ignored Gideon’s request, or chastised him for his lack of faith, but he didn’t. He profoundly and graciously did what Gideon asked.
Now, we know that doesn’t mean God will always do what we ask, but what it does mean is God is eager to nudge our faith along. We all are at different places on our journey of faith. Rest assured God wants to help you, not hurt you.
Jesus said, “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find…” (Matthew 7:7)
God’s answer to Gideon, is what I think Jesus meant. So, when facing doubt, don’t be hesitant to go to God out of fear you are disappointing him. He wants to reassure you and nudge you along your journey.
“Then Gideon said to God, “If You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken,”
Can you see the trust and faith forming?Gideon is understanding God’s word more and more. Now, he’s beginning to apply it to his life. Gideon is connecting the dots between understanding and application. And, he’s asking the Lord to help.
What have you learned recently from God’s word?New direction, new insight, conviction, correction, new facet of God’s character?Now, it’s time for application.The hardest step- Where spiritual growth culminates. Will you ask the Lord to help?