Sorry for a delayed Gideon post, but as you may have caught on Tuesday, I had no power because of a March winter storm in Houston – don’t ask…. Today we’ll cover some of Gideon’s Week Five homework and finish it and the audio instruction next week.
I love the focus at the week’s beginning: Unusual Weapons. Priscilla Shirer reminds us that Gideon not only went into battle outnumbered 450 to 1, but he also went into the battle armed with three crazy nonsensical weapons – a torch, a trumpet, and a water pitcher.
A what? That’s right! A torch. A trumpet. And a water pitcher (see Judges 7). And from the account we have, it doesn’t appear any of the 300 chosen men even questioned the instruments of war they were given! Well, the same goes for us when our traditional weapons of talent and strength and money fail. God gives us the less obvious, but incredibly powerful, weapons of prayer and faith and praise and scripture.
Here is what Priscilla says was so perfect about the inexpensive water pitchers that the men carried into battle with a lamp lit inside. They carried them with the light hidden inside all the way down to the enemy’s camp and then broke them so the torches could shine in the night. “The pitchers’ value was twofold. First, the pitchers importance didn’t come from their composition but from their contents. The vessels needed only enough material and maintenance so the burning flame inside could be protected, ready to be unleashed at the sound of Gideon’s battle cry. Second, the pitchers’ importance came from their weakness. The pitchers were frail. Easily breakable. But the weakness was not a liability; it actually made them effective. If the pitchers were made of an indestructible substance that wouldn’t shatter at once, the torches would have remained concealed. The pitchers’ frailty benefited their ultimate purpose – allowing the light to be seen.” Gideon, Week Five, Day 2
Remember the tag line? Our weakness, God’s strength.
It’s in our weakness that He can shine brightly.
It’s what comes next that comes as a surprise.
After God uses these 300 men and some crazy weapons to accomplish a total victory over the Midianites, the story turns. Here’s this man who has been called by God and, after some testing, bravely stepped out and did just as God asked of him even when it seemed to fly in the face of everything logical. But after all that, big God-breathed wins, something happened to make Gideon stop listening to God. His divine mission turns into one of “personal retribution.” (Judges 7:23-24, 8:18-21)
Gideon was done with what God had called Him to do but he kept pursuing the Midianites. He even calls back soldiers to his battalion that “probably consisted of the twenty-two thousand who had been eliminated…” (Gideon, Week Five, Day Two)
Priscilla points us back to a pattern of Gideon stepping outside the direction of God to “pacify his insecurity and timidity….Instead of continuing to trust in the one true God, Gideon reverted back to his previous reliance on human strength.” (Gideon, Week Five, Day Two) (e.g., Judges 6:27 – he was too scared to tear down the altar in daylight.)
What if we listened to where God called us, did what He asked, but released it when it was time? “I wonder how different Gideon’s story might have turned out if he had been satisfied with simply doing what God has empowered him to do.” (#lessonsfromGideon)
The challenge is twofold today – bravely following God into the battle where He calls us, no matter what the odds are or the weapons look like, but then being willing to step aside when God tells us it’s time to pass the baton to someone else. Hard lessons to learn. But so worth it in the end.