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Tell of a time when you felt like you were on a spiritual roller coaster—not sure what God was doing as things went from good to bad to good to wherever next. Tell the story. When did you know God was truly with you?
Gideon and his 32,000 men moved toward the enemy. Although greatly outnumbered, they knew God was with them.
“If God is for us, who can stand against us?” the men said to each other. As they marched toward the inevitable battle, encouraging comments moved from one soldier to the next. God was surely with them. He called Gideon. He formed them into an army. And He would help them defeat their enemy.
What happened the next morning came as a huge surprise to the men of Israel. Gideon came out of his tent looking ashen faced and bewildered. He called the men to assemble. When they had done so, he shouted, “God spoke to me last night.”
Murmurs rippled through the crowd. Every time God spoke to Gideon, something big happened. What would it be this time?
“God told me...” Gideon chewed his lip for a long moment scanning the masses of men. “Well, God told me our army is too big.”
A few men laughed. It couldn’t be true. God wouldn’t say such a ridiculous thing. There were 10 times as many well-armed men in the Midianite army. 32,000 was a big number, but not when compared to the sand on the seashore—and that’s what it looked like when you saw the camels of the Midianite forces.
Gideon continued, “I argued with Him. We are outnumbered as it is!” Men nodded and murmured their agreement. “But God assured me, there are too many men in this army—His army. He said this battle would be won by the Lord’s power not the power of men. If we have too many men, we will claim success for ourselves—as if we had won the battle by our own strength.”
Gideon paused, willing himself to say what God required, “So, God wants all the men who are afraid for any reason to go home.”
In the hearts of many of the men, where yesterday there had been only bravado and cheer, now a wave of panic pounded from inside their chests and butterflies were loosed in their bellies. A sudden cacophony filled the camp as 22,000 men dropped their swords and shields and fled for home. Only 10,000 men remained.
Gideon shook his head sadly and looked up at the sky. Is this what God had expected? Only one third of the army remained. Surely God knew the beginning from the end but this made no sense. What kind of army sent perfectly healthy men home?
Gideon consulted God and was dumbfounded when God repeated His message from the night before, “You still have too many men.” Then God devised a test—a way to reduce the army that would show it had nothing to do with the strength of the men.
They walked to a stream and as they crossed, God told Gideon to separate them into two groups—those who drank using their hand as a scoop and those who knelt to drink. Gideon watched as every man drank. When the two groups were finalised, God told Gideon, “Keep the ones who drank out of their hands.”
** Gideon's story concludes in God's Battle tomorrow **