Welcome back to this week’s installment of Gideon. We’re looking at the Week 3 homework and Session 4 audio of Priscilla Shirer’s Gideon study. If you’re just joining us, you can catch up by clicking on the Bible Studies tab on the sidebar of the website to catch all of the past sessions.
This week we read Judges 7 and maybe a little of our hearts dipped with Gideon’s as he watched his army of 33,000 whittled down to a meager 300 men.
When we look at Judges 7:2, God tells Gideon He’s going to whittle down his army even though they are already outnumbered four to one. WHY? Because with the numbers like they were, it was still “possible” for Israel to win and therefore they might brag, “I did it myself!” God knew that His people tended to forget what He did for them. We had seen it in their history up to this point. And He knows that of us too. As Priscilla says, “As long as we can even remotely explain it by the numbers, smarts, experience, or good genes, we will try to own what is His. Then we settle further into a dismal pride that wears away at our spiritual fiber.” Week 3, Day 2
Priscilla uses the example of Jesus’ disciples focusing on the wrong thing when needing to feed the more than 5,000 encamped on a remote hill, just as Gideon had. “They, like Gideon, felt outnumbered and beyond their abilities for the same reason: They were looking at the wrong thing. There eyes lingered on their scarce resources and their looming problem – instead of concentrating on the fact that Jesus was with them.” Week 3, Day 1
While I’ve heard the story of Gideon for years, it was interesting to study WHY God had selected these two criteria to weed out the men who shouldn’t serve in Gideon’s army. The first one, sending home those scared, makes sense. But Priscilla notes that it’s even more powerful of a lesson. Sure, keeping them meant a perceived strength in numbers, “but it also meant they’d have ore difficulty rallying to courageous action. Unhindered fear would have become a more powerful weapon against Israel than the swords in the hands of their enemies.” Week 3, Day 3
Isn’t that the truth? Haven’t you seen that fear can debilitate your own ability to make decisions and move forward? It certainly has paralyzed my life.
But then in Judges 7:5-6, God sends home the men who kneel to drink their water from the river. Why? Priscilla notes their alertness was being tested. We see this concept elsewhere in the Bible, including in the New Testament when we are instructed to be alert even in the spiritual realm for the enemy prowls like a lion seeking to devour.
Then, once the army was sized according to God’s plan, God came. This is why Priscilla says it wasn’t about the army of 300 at all:
The unseen authority of God’s own Spirit was within Gideon now, filling him with the most lavish resource of all – divine power. Gideon could enjoy complete confidence no matter how miniscule he deemed his army because he was only a vessel now, a chamber for God. He was merely God’s outfit, put on for this special occasion. Week 3, Day 5
I will close with the note from Priscilla’s audio session. She took a step back from the words of Judges and Gideon’s story to talk about what this story, and others in the Bible, illustrate so beautifully about one of God’s attributes. God is patient. I know so many of us have been in places or are in places today where we feel like we’ve probably tested Him until He is through with us. Not true. God is patient. It is His patience that allows us a place at His table no matter where we’ve been or what we’ve done. He was patient with Gideon. Through all the testing and questioning. And He is patient with you.