Today’s reading: Judges 6-7.
When competitors meet on the athletic field, the outcome of the game has already been determined to a large degree by the preparation that takes place before the game. No team would take on their opponent without practice. In the same way, God prepares Gideon for the conflict he faces with the Midianites. Gideon must fight his own personal battle before he leads his army against the enemy.
The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” “But Lord, ” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” Judges 6:14-15
Defeating pessimism. Gideon’s first fight was overcoming the negative thinking based on his improper assessment of the resources at his command. He looked at himself and the little he had rather than focusing on God’s strength. This wasn’t meekness but short-sightedness.
Defeating false gods. How many times do we put our trust and hope in the wrong thing? We may look to a person for salvation, or to a job, or money, or even our own strength (not Gideon’s problem!). Gideon had to tear down the altar to the false-god Baal before he could follow the true LORD.
Defeating doubt. There was no faith in Gideon’s fleece test; it was all doubting. But God was tender towards him. He didn’t break the bruised reed or quench the smoldering wick. By playing along with Gideon’s doubt, the LORD made room for his faith to grow.
Defeating self-reliance. Things come full circle for Gideon. In the beginning he had to overcome his own weak opinion of himself. Now, in the final fight before the big battle, God strips him of any reliance on human strength. He whittles Gideon’s army down from tens of thousands to 300. God ensures that Gideon and his men will know that the LORD delivers them.
Gideon delivered the Israelites from the Midianites only after he defeated his own personal weaknesses. Before you face your own personal battles, take some time to prepare. Focus on God’s ability rather than your own. Put away all the false saviors in your life. Put your faith in God to deliver you. And remember, “not by might, not by power, but by my spirit, says the LORD.”
Image by Barry Brown on Flickr.