As a Lenten practice during this season, clergy and leaders in the church from youth to elders will be sharing their devotions.
Scripture: Judges 6-8
Key verses: (7:2-4, 7-8)
2 The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ 3 Now announce to the army, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.
4 But the Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.”
7 The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.” 8 So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites home but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others.
Reflection: If you haven’t heard this story of Gideon, let me give some background …. and it’s all about “numbers”. Gideon is set to do battle against the Midianites with a sizeable army of over 32,000 soldiers. God says ….” Gideon, your army is too big …. gotta trim it down.”
Gideon surely was bewildered, but he does as God tells him and his forces are trimmed by two-thirds, leaving him with about 10,000 soldiers. Not great, but still a sizeable army.
Then, in verse 4, God tells Gideon to trim still more …. this time with much deeper cuts, and he’s left with an army of merely 300 men!
300 Israelites set to do battle against 135,000 Midianites!
In our own lives, we arguably have a lot of excess. And, “excess”, can often times lead to boastful and prideful personalities. When we cut away the excess, we are left with … purity. Such is the case that God was teaching to the Israelites. While the numbers of Gideon’s army were significantly weakened, what remained in the army of 300 were the “best of the best”; the purist of the soldiers in their day. As the numbers continued to dwindle, the soldiers that remained were the ones who trusted most not in their numbers, not in their own skill, but in the provision of God.
Gideon and his men win the battle … and some valuable lessons; first of which is reliance on God alone through the trimming of their excess.
This season of Lent affords us the opportunities to “trim away” our own excess. What are you doing to remove items that prevent you from seeing things in their “pure” form and more fully relying on God? As the daily battles rage around us, perhaps we should not cache an arsenal of the many prideful thoughts and possessions that distract us from our Father’s plan. Rather, it’s in removing those things, that we see God ever so clearly.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we ask that you remove from our lives the volumes of things that prevent us from seeing your greatness, absorbing your holiness, and reflecting on your purity. Help us to align all our thoughts and deeds not on this material world, but on the promise of your heavenly kingdom. We ask this in your son’s name. Amen!
Author: Mike Lenhart, Elder class of 2022
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].