The Hopeless Situation
1Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the people who were with him rose early and encamped beside the spring of Harod. And the camp of Midian was north of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley. 2The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ 3Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead.’” Then 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained. 4And the Lord said to Gideon, “The people are still too many. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ shall go with you, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ shall not go.” 5So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “Every one who laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set by himself. Likewise, every one who kneels down to drink.” 6And the number of those who lapped, putting their hands to their mouths, was 300 men, but all the rest of the people knelt down to drink water. 7And the Lord said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand, and let all the others go every man to his home.” 8So the people took provisions in their hands, and their trumpets. And he sent all the rest of Israel every man to his tent, but retained the 300 men. And the camp of Midian was below him in the valley. 9That same night the Lord said to him, “Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hand. 10But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant. 11And you shall hear what they say, and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp.” Then he went down with Purah his servant to the outposts of the armed men who were in the camp. 12And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the people of the East lay along the valley like locusts in abundance, and their camels were without number, as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance. 13When Gideon came, behold, a man was telling a dream to his comrade. And he said, “Behold, I dreamed a dream, and behold, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian and came to the tent and struck it so that it fell and turned it upside down, so that the tent lay flat.” 14And his comrade answered, “This is no other than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given into his hand Midian and all the camp.” 15As soon as Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped. And he returned to the camp of Israel and said, “Arise, for the Lord has given the host of Midian into your hand.” 16And he divided the 300 men into three companies and put trumpets into the hands of all of them and empty jars, with torches inside the jars. 17And he said to them, “Look at me, and do likewise. When I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do. 18 When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then blow the trumpets also on every side of all the camp and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.’”
This is a miracle of epic proportions. Gideon has been commissioned by God to lead His people into battle against the Midianites. These enemies had, for several years, descended upon Israel by the thousands and consumed all the food and other resources. God hears the cries of His people for rescue and sends them the reluctant hero, Gideon. Now, as the battle draws near, the odds are against Israel. Gideon has mustered 32,000 soldiers but faces an enemy army of 135,000. Most military tacticians would say, “Don’t go. You’ll lose.”
But God always has a better plan. He wants His people to learn something here. He wants them to know that He is God and can protect them. He wants them to surrender all the glory for the victory into His hands, where it belongs. Should the army of Israel be too great, the people would take credit for the win. Psalm 115:1 gives us an answer for this attitude.
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
The glory always belongs to the Lord. So, God winnows Gideon’s force down to a mere 300 men. In human terms, that’s simply ridiculous – just the way God likes it! The quaking Gideon still needs reassurance that Israel will win and God once again graciously provides another sign to confirm for Gideon that they will indeed win the day. Gideon overhears two Midianite sentries discussing a dream and in that dream, Israel defeats Midian. Now Gideon knows that God will hand them the victory.
Throughout the Scriptures we find that God is a true fan of the impossible odds. And that is pretty cool because then we cannot take the credit for the miracles ourselves. The first time I noticed God making sure we don’t steal His glory is in the story of creation. Adam and Eve are created last. They in no way can take any of the credit for “helping” God build this magnificent universe. Then throughout the stories of Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses . . . there are instances of God’s divine intervention that tell us He is always in full control and alone deserves all the praise. This again demands that we look back over our own lives and examine the miracles that have happened to us. If you think there are no miracles in your life, look again. Then recognize your own contribution to those miracles and I believe you will find that you were merely the recipient and had nothing to do with what happened. God alone deserves the glory and the praise. It’s a wonderful way to see your walk with the Lord. So when you find your self in that hopeless situation remember, those are God's favorites.