I am covering the whole story of Gideon in one post, but your reading is spread out over three days. Enjoy!
After peace for forty years, Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and the sin cycle started all over again. This led to suffering at the hand of the Midianites which led to deliverance through God's fifth judge, Gideon.
Gideon was to "go in the strength he had" and conquer the Midianites. He had his doubts, and he needed extra confirmation through the sign of the fleeces, but he obeyed God even when it meant reducing his original army from 32,000 down to 300. Facing incredible odds, the victory could only be attributed to the Lord and not to any strength on the part of Gideon and his small band.
Do you remember who the Midianites were from our genealogies back in Genesis 25? They were the descendants of Midian who was Abraham's son by his concubine Keturah. Abraham sent them away from Isaac to the land of the east. They had become camel-riding marauders by the time of the judges.
Gideon did not finish well. He made an ephod (garment) from Midianite gold, and it became an object of worship to the Israelites and a snare to Gideon and his family. In spite of this, they enjoyed the last period of peace in the book of Judges. After Gideon's death, Israel went back to idol worship, and one of Gideon's offspring, Abimelech, became a key player in the next downward spiral of Israel.
I always marvel at this story. Gideon was from the weakest family in Manasseh and was the youngest of that tribe. Gideon was not a warrior but a common farmer who had to thresh his wheat in the pit of a winepress for fear the Midianite raiders might come. Yet, God called him to deliver Israel from a formidable foe! Gideon seemed like such an unlikely choice.
Gideon was hesitant, had many excuses, and was even afraid, but eventually, he went forward in obedience once he was convinced of God's calling on his life. It was looking promising when we read that even though he was only a farmer, he would have an army of 32,000 men! Maybe there was room for confidence against the formidable Midianites.
God does something here that always blows me away: He cuts the army down to 300 men with only pitchers, bowls, and trumpets. God showed that victory was only because of the LORD! The only reason this weak farmer could do anything was simply because God was "with him" (Judges 6:16).
This is not the first time we have seen God using the weak to overcome the strong:
Moses versus Pharaoh
Joshua versus Jericho
Tribes of Israel versus "Giants" in the Promised Land
And in the future, we will read the story of the little shepherd boy, David, against the giant warrior, Goliath.
It is a familiar theme . . .
God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.
(1 Corinthians 1: 27)
because it is . . .
Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit (Zechariah 4:6)
that the work of the Lord is accomplished.
So, maybe you are feeling a little like Gideon; God is calling you to a God-sized task, and you are feeling too small and ordinary to take it on. Just remember . . .
at the end of yourself, there is God.
That is all you really need to know.
APPLICATION (written in 2008 on the verge of a big trip)
Are you hesitant to take on something bigger than yourself? Do you feel too "ordinary" to be used of God? Are you afraid? I am feeling all of the above as I go on this trip (cannot go into detail about it, email me if you want to know more and please pray!) Yet, I am utterly convinced of God's call. So, I go forward with a small "army," a mustard seed of faith, and a BIG God. That is all I have got, but it is really all that I need!
2011 Update: The trip in 2008 was amazing, and it led to the beginning of some great things God is doing there! Now, three years later, we are on the verge of the same kind of trip in another place! Praying for the courage of Gideon again!
2014 Update: That trip was even more amazing. We went on faith to a place with nothing planned, and God ordered our plans, and we just prayed. He is doing amazing things there now!
What about you? Talk to Him about it.
Lord, teach us to walk in obedience to Your call on our ordinary lives. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.