Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Growing faith while your knees are knocking

Gideon sends the 9700 soldiers home. Darkness falls. So now Gideon and the 300 guys are trying to sleep. I can't imagine. Can you feel the dull pain in the pit of your stomach knowing that you are going to stand up to several hundred thousand soldiers the next day - and you are one of 300? Don't know that anyone was sleeping.

God shows up. Has a promise and an offer for Gideon.

The promise: "Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands." That, of course, was the assumption all along. But it was sure encouraging for God to say that the 300 were going to beat the three hundred thousand.

Problem is, this promise is illogical and beyond comprehension. In your wildest dreams, how could 300 brave soldiers beat 300,000 soldiers? Has God ever called you to do something illogical and beyond comprehension? Did you hear his voice clearly? Did you obey?

I love this next part. God says: 10 "If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah 11 and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp." So he and Purah his servant went down to the outposts of the camp."

OF COURSE they were afraid to attack. Even just going down to the outposts of the camp was a life and death proposition. So we know Gideon was afraid, because he took his servant and they managed to get right up to the opposing camp.

The writer of the book throws in a tidbit just so we don't miss the setting. "Midian and Amalek, all the easterners, were spread out on the plain like a swarm of locusts. And their camels! Past counting, like grains of sand on the seashore!"

A conversation is going on, as the outpost sentries are swapping stories to pass the time before their gaurd shift is over.

13 "Gideon arrived just in time to hear a man tell his friend a dream. He said, "I had this dream: A loaf of barley bread tumbled into the Midianite camp. It came to the tent and hit it so hard it collapsed. The tent fell!"
14 His friend said, "This has to be the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite! God has turned Midian—the whole camp!—over to him."

Wow! God told GIDEON that impossibly, He was going to defeat this immense war machine. Now he hears the same thing from the enemy himself. God had appeared in a dream to this soldier, and the interpretation of the dream was that Gideon was going to defeat the Amalekite army! Of course, Gideon in the shadows knew that he only had 300 soldiers. The teller of the dream had no clue. He must have thought there were hundreds of thousands of Israelite soldiers camped against them.

Gideon's reaction? 15 "When Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he went to his knees before God in prayer." The text doesn't say what the prayer was. I think I know. "Thankyou Lord. Thankyou. Thankyou Lord. Thankyou. Thankyou Lord. Thankyou!"

"Then he went back to the Israelite camp and said, "Get up and get going! God has just given us the Midianite army!"

His growing faith was coming into maturity. He could see what had not yet happened, because God had told him. And he believed the impossible was going to happen. Because God had told him.

1-2"The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.
3 By faith, we see the world called into existence by God's word, what we see created by what we don't see." (Hebrews 11:1-3)

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