Gideon is instructed by God to lead God’s army, but he is having doubts. Two key stories. Gideon tests God out. He is not convinced, he is nervous. He saw the mighty army that you couldn’t count and it seemed too much for him. He wanted proof that God was with him. It is easy to be quick to speak of his unbelief and cowardice. But the commentator is writing that in a study, it is not really fair! You are not facing the Midianites while you are thinking of the Hebrew verbs. Gideon is facing a superpower without much military experience or force. Maybe we should learn form God’s example. God is very patient with this man! It would be easy to say “Gideon you have had hours of counseling, you should be free by now!” God’s example teaches us to be patient, and observe the processes. God can take longer with people than we think he should: you are proof of that! “Bible study is about learning about what happened to you when you became a Christian” RT Kendall.
God is always so gracious to us, and he gives time and lets us go through processes of change. Conferences are not processes. They are full of crises. You can have that encounter with God that changes everything forever. It can happen like that, but crisis without process is fruitless. We need to go back to the trench-points of ministry where no one is watching and you do not have a strong sense of the presence of God. There is a healthy mixture of encounters with the gradual maturation. Preparation for the extraordinary task ahead. Don’t assume that because we aren’t getting through that is the end of the game. Don’t give up on people, or yourself. Don’t just say “that’s just me!” No, we need to stop it and see genuine transformation. Doesn’t come by avoidance it comes by pressing into peoples’ lives.
The filtering of the army. Chapter 7 God says there are too many people. Goes from 32,000 down to 300. Two different reasons. 1. To do with strength 2. To do with weakness.
Why did God do it at all? Was it because God likes thing small? In some circles in church, smallness is seen as beautiful of itself. Not so! God wants obedience. There are plenty of very big armies in the Bible!
God calls forth strength. He wants to bring strength to the surface. The fearful have a chance to go away. 2/3rds go home. God wants people on the battlefield who want to be there. Who are crossing lines and saying I am in. This is demanding, it inspires fear, but God wants a heart response that says this is where I want to be. Leadership is not glamorous. When you taste leadership you realize that it is challenging in the extreme. The fearful wont help you Gideon, they might harm you. Gideon needs the people who know what the game is and are on the pitch for the right reasons. We need to put challenges before people. The right people rise to the challenge of leadership. People need something to give their life to.
Livingstone wrote back to his supporters “Please don’t send anybody who will only come when the roads are ready.” Calling forth strength is important. People are not to be benched forever. We wont promote people at the expense of the work of God in their lives. Paul said of Timothy he is his “proven son.” There is a time for risk taking in leadership, but there is also a need to trust to someone who has been tested.
The next test God calls forth weakness. Still too many. The ones who lapped, putting their hands to the mouth were 300. The test seems pretty random. All 10,000 were the brave guys who wanted to fight. 9,700 of those men have to be told they cant play because of their lack of sipping skills. Gideon was made strong in weakness. God didn’t contradict Gideon’s low self esteem. He didn’t say “no you aren’t the weakest.” He just said that “I will be with you.” Some people self-deprecate themselves dishonestly. In Gideons case it was genuine. It is like the angel said to Gideon, “I don’t know why he chose you either, but I will be with you.” God is determined to do things through weakness. Jesus was the ultimate weak victor who defeated the devil through death. God has a habit of using the least likely. When he chooses gifted people he spends years getting it into them that they haven’t got it.
Took God 40 years to get Moses to the point where he would say “I can’t do it!” Don’t let it take 40 years to learn that you are weak! You can’t do this! The things God has called you to do you will never do on your own. So many of us try and suggest that we are strong enough, that we can cope. Peter said “I will be there to the end!” but he is the most famous denier. God levels him. He wept bitterly, but he got it though! We are on a journey of discovering just how needy we are, but just how sufficient God is! If we want the power of Christ to dwell in us, we must be weak. Paul boasts in his weakness. We have seen the glory of Jesus. 2 Corinthians 12 tells us that the way that God has chose to make his glory known is in our weakness. The power of Christ dwells when we prepare a temple of weakness and say “God, I haven’t got it, I need you!” Be humbled. Don’t fight him all your life. Don’t be stubborn. Stop fighting him, and acknowledge your weakness. Tell him and your friends you need help. Then the power, the glory can dwell.
When Gideon says “there’s 300 of us, we cant do it!” God says, yes, thank you. Live aware of your need. It is delightful. Know his embrace. Luke 15. I have nothing to offer. That is the moment the Father throws his arms around him. It must be enough for us that God loves us. Don’t have to listen to any other voice than that of God. Loved. Delighted in. You can be broken, you can be yourself. You can share your heart. You can go into bat knowing you can be yourself, and the glory can come among us.