When was the last time you had the odds stacked so high against you that the possibility of coming out on top seemed to be, well, impossible? Today we will take a lesson from a man whose name means “Mighty Warrior.” His story is recorded in the Book of Judges and he is also mentioned in the Hebrews 11 “Faith Hall of Fame.” You may remember his name: Gideon, one of the twelve Judges selected by God to act as a temporary leader for the Israelites.
Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the people who were with him rose early and encamped beside the spring of Harod. And the camp of Midian was north of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.
The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead.’” Then 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained.
And the Lord said to Gideon, “The people are still too many. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ shall go with you, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ shall not go.” So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “Every one who laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set by himself. Likewise, every one who kneels down to drink.” And the number of those who lapped, putting their hands to their mouths, was 300 men, but all the rest of the people knelt down to drink water. 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.” So the people took provisions in their hands, and their trumpets. And he sent all the rest of Israel every man to his tent, but retained the 300 men. And the camp of Midian was below him in the valley. (Judges 7:1-8)
The Almighty is in the business of snatching victory out of the jaws of certain defeat—more accurately, you could say creating victory. The Bible is replete with stories where God’s people faced odds that were stacked so highly against them that when victory was achieved, the only possible explanation was that God was responsible for it. He did it when the Israelites were trapped between Pharaoh’s approaching army and the Red Sea. He did it when the shepherd boy David agreed to do something the entire Israelite army refused to do: fight the giant Goliath. And God did it again here. Gideon started with 32,000 men to battle against the Midianite army of 135,000 men (Judges 8:10), but God told him he had too many soldiers!
I’d say the odds were already stacked steeply against Gideon (135,000 to 32,000—roughly 4-to-1), but God didn’t see it that way. God instructed Gideon to find out who was “fearful and trembling” and send them home. As soon as he did, 22,000 men scurried away, leaving Gideon with 10,000 troops. Now the odds were much worse, roughly 13-to-1, but God still wasn’t finished stacking the odds against Gideon. The Lord informed Gideon that He would test the men at the water. When the test was over, only 300 men were left in Gideon’s “army.” God had whittled Gideon’s force down from 32,000 to 300 and was preparing to send them into battle against a Midianite army that was 135,000 strong—unimaginable odds of roughly 450-to-1. When the dust settled, God settled any question as to the cause of victory for Gideon: it was all of God! As the Lord of hosts said to Zerubbabel, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6).
So . . . where in your life do the odds seem to be stacked high against you? College acceptance? Job promotion? Too much month at the end of the money? A prodigal child who has been a long time off in a far country? A marriage on the rocks because you spent more time planning for the wedding than you did working on the marriage? Your doctor wants to see you for consultation after receiving the test results? There are many more examples, but the point is the same: God is in the business of bringing victory out of defeat—not because we deserve it or have earned it in any way, but simply because we are His.
Bought by the blood of the Lamb, you are precious in the sight of God. Whatever you are facing today, you are not facing it alone. Jesus said He would never leave you nor forsake you, regardless of the odds that are stacked against you. Remember, God may simply be stacking those odds to make it clear to you and to the watching world that it is only God who could have achieved the victory.
As the Lord would say to Jehoshaphat: “Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s” (2 Chronicles 20:15-16). He has already won your eternal victory; Christ announced it with a victory cry that split the rocks open!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!