What does it say?
The fourth cycle of sin (Jud 6) is the result of Israel’s rebellion, and they have been under the oppression of the Midianites for seven years. When the people call to God for deliverance, God appears to a man named Gideon and calls him to the deliverer. Gideon obeys God in tearing down an altar to Baal and offering in its place an altar to God. To be certain God is calling him, Gideon asks God to cause dew upon a lamb’s fleece, but not on the ground around it. God does this, but Gideon asks God to confirm yet again by causing the ground to be wet and the fleece dry.
God tells Gideon that the 32,000 troops with him are too many to defeat the Midianites (Jud 7). Fearful, 22,000 return home. God says they are still too many and commands the strange drill of watching his men drink water from the river. The 300 that lap the water from their hands like a dog as to keep alert for the enemy are the only ones he will need to defeat the 135,000 Midianites. Attacking in the middle of the night, each of Gideon’s men blow trumpets, break pitchers to reveal lamps and shout in the name of the sword of the Lord and of Gideon. Awakened from deep sleep, the Midianites panic, turn upon each other as they flee and are finally defeated. Gideon issues a call for the others in Ephraim to join them in the cleanup operations.
What does it mean?
The story of Gideon and his 300 is great drama with many practical applications. Gideon’s plan for God to confirm his will by way of setting out a fleece clearly works as God answers him both times; however, setting out a fleece with only two options might be limiting. What if God has a third option of which Gideon is ignorant?
God severely limits the number of men to accompany Gideon against the Midianites. As a result, God gets the greater glory in the victory (7:2). God uses a unique people (7:7) to defeat a unique enemy (7:12) with unique weapons (7:16) and a unique strategy (7:19-23). Rather than rebuke those who lacked faith or the special skills to be part of the elite 300, Gideon later includes them to take part in the final victory.
How will I respond?
As other watch me in the battles of life, who gets the great glory? Is it God who gets the glory, or is it because my strength and skills show through? What is the most important lesson that I am taking away from this fascinating story?