Thursday, April 2, 2009

Too Much Help

Is it possible to have too much help?

Apparently God thought so.

The Israelites are completely oppressed by the Midianites. They are in grinding poverty. They are hiding in caves and in the mountains. Now they have gathered to war against them one more time. 33 -35 "All the Midianites and Amalekites (the easterners) got together, crossed the river, and made camp in the Valley of Jezreel."

The situation was desperate. Gideon has been raised up by God. So he sends out word across the land to come and fight. "God's Spirit came over Gideon. He blew his ram's horn trumpet and the Abiezrites came out, ready to follow him. He dispatched messengers all through Manasseh, calling them to the battle; also to Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali. They all came. "

So he's got 32,000 men. Not a match for the Midianites, but a fair number, to be sure.
2 -3 "God said to Gideon, "You have too large an army with you. I can't turn Midian over to them like this—they'll take all the credit, saying, 'I did it all myself,' and forget about me. Make a public announcement: 'Anyone afraid, anyone who has any qualms at all, may leave Mount Gilead now and go home.'" Twenty-two companies headed for home. Ten companies were left."
o
The situation was scary before. Now it is nearly desperate. God is not done yet.
o
4 -5 "God said to Gideon: "There are still too many. Take them down to the stream and I'll make a final cut. When I say, 'This one goes with you,' he'll go. When I say, 'This one doesn't go,' he won't go." So Gideon took the troops down to the stream."
o
To his credit, Gideon obeyed. He must have been thinking God was crazy, or maybe that he heard God wrong, but he obeyed.
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5 -6 "God said to Gideon: "Everyone who laps with his tongue, the way a dog laps, set on one side. And everyone who kneels to drink, drinking with his face to the water, set to the other side." Three hundred lapped with their tongues from their cupped hands. All the rest knelt to drink.
7 God said to Gideon: "I'll use the three hundred men who lapped at the stream to save you and give Midian into your hands. All the rest may go home."
o
Wow! From 32,000 - which wasn't nearly enough - to 300. This isn't going to be a battle, it is going to be group suicide! They will just march down to the enemy, get slaughtered, all Israel will be overrun once again, and the memory of Gideon as an irrationaly fool will live on in history...
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8 "After Gideon took all their provisions and trumpets, he sent all the Israelites home. He took up his position with the three hundred. The camp of Midian stretched out below him in the valley."
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You know he must be scared out of his mind. But he obeyed.
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My question is, if I were Gideon and God told me (I thought) to do this, would I?
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It's sure suicide. And my name will be bitterly spit out over the generations to come as the reckless fool who caused Israel to be completely wiped out when they could have put up a decent fight.
o
Would have I obeyed?

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