Vol. 1 No. 12 – 2017
I the Lord am with you, O valiant warrior. Judges 6:12
The most important animal; an elephant or a mouse? Which building is more impressive; the U.N. building in NYC or the “Golden Arches” in your community? Who would make your team imperious; Goliath (9’9″) or Zacchaeus (4’8″) [or NeHIGHmiah, or Beldad the SHOEhight].
Well, it all depends. In the book of Judges, we discover there was a group paralyzing the nation of Israel. 135,000 crack troops were poised for the slaughter of Gideon’s 32,000 not so crack troops. 4:1—in sports one can live with those odds, depending on the dedication and courage the smaller group possesses. In business or education (and in the Church) we would question the odds.
God speaks: Gideon, you have too many; if you gain victory, they will say, “we did it!” (7:2). Churches, businesses, and schools are always clamoring for more workers or ministry servants. While often laudable, large numbers do not necessarily lead to success.
Gideon makes an announcement: “If you do not wish to participate, if you do not have courage, if you are afraid to do the work, go home or someplace else!” 22,000 left; discharged to go their way. Now the odds are 13.5:1. Does not sound too good for the work that needs to be done. Makes you stop and think a little—should you continue on, or fold up your tent?
Mere numbers are never a guarantee of success. Following the reduction, Gideon was instructed to dismiss the careless (Judges 7:5-6). Only 300 remained—hardcore faithful, watchful, and ready warriors. The odds . . . 450:1. Impossible! A recruiting venture is needed! Yet, God accepts the odds. As Thomas Fuller expressed: “There were fewer persons, but not fewer men. This is the purgatory of water.”
99% of Gideon’s troops received pink slips; they were more interested in what pleased them, than what pleased God. Self-interest (me), self-protection (me), status (me), what can you do for me prevailed among the larger group. Did the 99% have another choice? Yes, they could have shown courage, developed their skills, and placed their lives in the hand of the Almighty. But, no, they were content with going with the flow until they came to a dam in the river of their lives. Even dead fish go with the flow, until they get entangled with the debris of life.
What has changed over the years in business, education, and the Church—unfortunately, the same problems infest all. So fearful of our enemy, so focused on one’s own welfare, so self-centered (rather than God-centered), the larger number remain ineffective. It ought not be!
What is it to us that is important, impressive, or imperious? Are we better with 300 faithful people in our businesses, education institutions, and churches today? 300 seems few, but if they are fit, and faithful, God will bring success. What if our places of service were reduced to 300 people, prepared for battle? What if the unwilling went home?
The Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men; from His dwelling place He looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, He who fashions the hearts of them all; He who understands all their works. The king is not saved by a mighty army; a warrior is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a false hope for victory; nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength. Behold the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him. (Psalm 33:13-18)