In my personal devotional time this morning I read about one of the great acts of faith in the Bible - Gideon's battle against the massive armies of the Midianites, the Amalekites and all of the sons of the east.
You're probably aware of the story. In order to keep the nation of Israel in subjugation, these armies repeatedly invaded the land to ravish it, killing flocks, herds and crops. The book of Judges tells us that , whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded Israel. They did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. They came up with their livestock and their camels, trampling the crops. There were so many of them that they were impossible to count.
So a poor and starving nation of Israel finally wises up, turns from the sinful ways that had gotten them into this mess in the first place, and once again calls out to God for deliverance. And, once again, God hears their cries and decides to redeem them. For this massive task, God chooses an absolute nobody in Israel, the least of the least. Gideon came from the half-tribe of Manasseh. Did you catch that? Not even a "tribe" - only a "half-tribe." Gideon's clan was the weakest of the bunch, and he was the least in his family. But God called Gideon, and Gideon became convinced that God was serious. So Gideon decided to act on his faith. It's an amazing story, recounted for us in Judges 6 and 7.
So Gideon gathers together an army of some 32,000 men and they set out to fight an army that had at least 100,000 more warriors than that. I'll never understand how this nobody without a military background ever convinced thirty thousand guys to come pick a fight where they were dramatically outnumbered. But, to make matters worse, while Gideon is worrying about how few men he has, God tells him he has too many and 22,000 guys get sent back home. As Gideon is watching them march away, God tells him that there are STILL too many men. God says He will "thin them out" for Gideon. (Uhmm …. gee, thanks God.) As many of you know, God leaves Gideon with THREE HUNDRED men and tells him it's time to go to war.
Gideon gathers the 300 together and explains the battle strategy. He tells them, "Watch me; and do exactly what I do. And when I blow the trumpet, blow your trumpet and shout 'The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon!" Great strategy. Start the fight by holding torches (so they can see exactly where we are), blowing trumpets (eliminating any element of surprise) and shouting about swords which we DO NOT HAVE !!!!!
Yeah, what could POSSIBLY go wrong ?!?!?!
Have you been there? Gideon was hopelessly outnumbered, ridiculously under-resourced and utterly unprepared. God had sent them to war, but He hadn't sent any weapons with them.
When you're facing that kind of a situation, you only have two choices. You can either moan to God about how big your problems are or you can shout at the problems and tell them how big your God is! Unbelief puts circumstances between us and God, but FAITH puts God between us and circumstances. Gideon told his men to SHOUT and declare the glory of God.
Faith is TAKING what God has GIVEN you.
The Kingdom of Heaven is forcefully advancing, and the forceful take hold of it. Gideon did.
When Gideon and his army of 300 shined their lights and shouted their battle cry, God caused their enemies to turn upon themselves and attack themselves. The army of Midian fled with the army of Gideon in hot pursuit. When the battle was done 135,000 enemy soldiers lay dead - and NOT ONE Israelite had been slain.
The lesson this morning is that FAITH ACTS.
It is the tested faith that can be trusted to endure. Faith Untested is 97% imagination.
FAITH is not faith until you do something about it.
Any step of faith can be considered a foolish risk at some point. Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something greater than fear is more significant, and worthy of the potential sacrifice. The brave do not live forever, but cowards do not live at all.
Yesterday I asked you what you'd undertake if you knew you couldn't fail.
Today's question is a bit different.
What are you willing to step into if the ONLY way you're going to make it is if God steps in?