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Refreshment in Refuge

    by Gina Burgess

Flattened molehills
Date Posted: February 28, 2016

Gideon rose early. I often wonder if the biblical writers mention that these warriors of God such as Joshua and Gideon “rose up early” to contrast that they used to stay up late and consequently slept late. Probably not… they didn’t have electricity back then nor did they have books to read that would keep them awake to all hours. Solomon tells us that sleepiness clothes a person in rags (Proverbs 23:21). The early risers had purpose in their hearts, ready for the day after a night’s good sleep.

The call went out to the tribes most effected by the Midianite hoards, and 32,000 showed up for the fight. They faced 135,000. That’s four to one, and for Superman not bad odds. For men filled with knee-knocking fear, not so good.

God knew their hearts. In Deuteronomy, God tells these children of Israel for the leaders of the army to give those faint hearted an opportunity to go back home lest they cause their brothers to lose their courage as well. I think the saying “one bad apple spoils the whole barrel” stems from this. Negativity in a just one person can cause the failure of the best laid plans. Two thirds are faint hearted and return to their homes leaving 10,000 to fight.

But wait! God says thirteen to one odds leave still too many Israelites to fight this battle.

Suddenly, we understand that this is not a battle of forces, but a battle of the force of faith and the strength of God Himself working through the weak: Intelligence over brute muscle, faith overcoming fear… as well as causing fear in the enemy. This is master strategy.

Those who were wary enough to bring water to their lips instead of dipping their lips down to the water are chosen. Now the odds are reduced to 300 against 135,000. This isn’t the first time God routs a huge army into quivering jelly, nor is it the last. As long as we walk in the Spirit and are always sensitive to the Spirit, we never have to worry about any obstacle tossed into our path. God makes crooked paths straight, and nothing can make them crooked again.

God tells Gideon exactly why He has reduced the army. It is so no one can boast that his “own hand saved” Israel. There’s that pride thing again. No wonder God declares pride an abomination; it cause humans to do such stupid and destructive things.

Let’s pay particular attention to Judges 7:7

And 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."

God said, “With these I will save you.” God wants us to work with Him to do His good pleasure. Certainly, He can defeat evil without any help from us, but that is not how He designed things to work here on earth. Just as He gave food to the Israelites, and they had to gather it every morning, He gives us faith, and we must do the work. Any ministry is a machine well-oiled by faith and cranked into action by human labor.

Warren Weirsbe says in his book about Judges, Be Available, that there are three principles about faith that we need to understand.

1. God tests our faith.

2. God encourages our faith.

3. God honors our faith.

Gideon protested God’s use of him against the Midianites so loudly that we can almost see Jesus was in Heaven shaking His head saying, “O ye of little faith!” When God sifted his 32,000 strong army down to 300, you have to wonder if Gideon really understood how critical it was to the rest of Israel’s faith that they take notice how much God can do with just a little. Look what He did with five barley loaves and two little fish, but this is about 1,350 years before that miracle. God is so consistent!

Often times we never know we’re being tested because God will use some ordinary experience to do so. If a clerk gives me too much change, or some item doesn’t get paid for, I know I’m being tested because the right thing to do is so obvious to me. Yet, the clerk is surprised when handed money back, or I appear again to pay for what was not paid for.

There is a law of restitution in the Old Testament that is upheld in the New Testament. The law says one must give back the thing that was unlawfully taken (whether by accident or design, it doesn’t matter), plus 20%. How surprised would that clerk be if I were to not only give back the extra dollar she gave me in error, but then hand her twenty cents on top of that. It is what we should do, but we don’t because it would cause too much upheaval. Oh, but what a witness that would be.

Do you find that you don’t worry and fret so often anymore about certain things? Are you cheerfully more generous than before? Perhaps things that used to bother the tar (as we say here in the South) out of you now don’t generate a wrathful reaction. These are signs that your faith has strengthened.

God not only assured Gideon the Midianites would melt in his hand like so much chocolate, but He gave him fire from the rock, wet fleece, and dry fleece. All that should have been enough to strengthen faith to soul stretching lengths. Sadly, no. So God gave Gideon another sign. The dream of the Midianite.

To me, this is another one of those hilarious things in the Bible. Picture a man with fear tying a knot in his stomach, and God tells him to go face 135,000-strong army with 300 men. Then God says, “But if you are still afraid, take one man with you and go down into their camp.” I get this bug-eyed look of shock on my face. Gideon is afraid with 300 men at his back, and God wants him to go in the essence of aloness down into this camp of fierce enemies. And Gideon goes! Apparently, he goes without trepidation… in the dark… without weapons… into the enemy camp!

You have to wonder did Gideon’s faith blossom because he faced the enemy in his own camp? Was it because the enemy was more scared of him and His God than he was of them? Was it the faith of the enemy that God had given them into Gideon’s hand? Was it because Gideon realized that God had guided him to this precise point at the precise time to hear this precise dream and interpretation? He was compared to a barley-cake, the most humble of grains and the most humble of foods that did such a miraculous thing. Immediately, in that very place, Gideon worshiped God.

God doesn’t condemn us for our weak faith. It disappoints Him, sure. But it doesn’t fill Him with wrath like deliberate sin does. Praise Him that He keeps encouraging us as we live our daily struggles. Every once in a while He presents us with delightful encouragement. It was like scales fell from his eyes.

God honors our faith in several ways by giving us wisdom to handle the problems we face; giving us courage to face those seemingly insurmountable odds; at the right time, He gives us the opportunity to call in reinforcements to finish our projects.

The point God is trying to make to us is that He doesn’t need any extraordinary leader with great wisdom and huge muscles. He wants us to lean on Him for all things so that He gets the glory.

Leadership is an incredible thing wielded by a godly man. Armies of problems are routed, and miracles occur. It all points to God when the human obeys God. Crooked paths are made straight, and mountains are flattened to molehills.

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Biography Information:
Gina Burgess has taught Sunday School and Discipleship Training for almost three decades. (Don't tell her that makes her old.) She earned her Master's in Communication in 2013.

She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.

If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection

Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and
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