Strange way to fight
The problem on hand was nationwide, and it bordered on death—the total destruction of an entire nation. But the one who had come to help went about his strategies as though this was just a small scuffle.
It was wartime for Israel’s small army, and Gideon, the leader, mobilised some 32,000 fighters against Midian’s enemy warriors who numbered about 135,000.
The captain of the Lord’s army told Gideon, "Your army is too large; reduce your numbers."
“How am I to do that?” Gideon asked.
“Tell everybody who is afraid to go home!”
Apparently, the fearful fighters outnumbered the brave ones. A staggering 22,000 soldiers went home, leaving 10,000.
Gideon had hardly begun grumbling about this great loss of military strength when another illogical instruction came forth: "Reduce the number further; 10,000 are too many.”
In a strange process, Gideon reduced the number from 10,000 to a mere 300.
The nation was on the brink of a suicidal warfare, for the Midianites were referred to in multitudes. By their sheer numbers, they made a highway whenever they went through a field.
Gideon wondered, "Didn't God know how many soldiers there were in the Midianite army that threatened to walk over his people?”
And didn’t the Lord know how strong they were—how many other big armies the Midianites had conquered over the years? If God knew, why then did he go about this warfare as though it was a couple of military people in practice?
More questions have been directed to God than we can count. Why did I fail my exam when I should have passed? Why did my loved one die so soon when he still had his future ahead of him?
Why doesn't my husband love me; I thought he was a man of God? Why did God allow this war to take place that has destroyed so many people? Why is my business failing? Why hasn't God healed me when I've prayed so much?
Why did he reduce the strength of an army from 32,000 to a mere 300 to fight an army of 135,000 fierce warriors?
When the time of battle was up, the 300 soldiers didn't even need to fight. Simply by blowing their trumpets and lifting a praise to God, the enemies began to destroy one another. The people only rushed in to claim victory.
Then Gideon and all the people knew without a shade of doubt that the victory did not belong to them but to the captain of the armies of the Lord. From Judges chapters 6-8, we read this account.
Certainly, facing a broken home or a broken relationship or financial crisis or a critical ailment or a court case is not like going to battle the Gideon way.
Many of us may not have to take up a gun and fight an enemy that is made of flesh and blood. But those bloodless "battles" are nevertheless wars that many of us fight in our life.
How should we fight them? One thing is obvious: those who want God to fight their battles for them have to submit to God's sometimes "tactless" ways.
For example, soldiers wield sophisticated weapons and fight on their feet, but God tells his followers to fight their battles on their knees.
Kneeling may sound foolish in our eyes but more challenging life battles have been won on knees than with human weapons.
Or, imagine a boy with a sling and a stone facing a spear-wielding giant. David’s weapon of victory was not military armoury but the name of the living God.
Since we fight not against flesh and blood but against spiritual forces, the weapons of this warfare cannot be physical but spiritual.
It is like Joshua and his leaders bringing down the wall of Jericho simply by marching around the thick wall with praise and worship. So the battle is not always to the swift or the well-armed but to those who call on the Lord.
This does not rule out the need for hard work, strategies and prudence. It simply means that even in the abundance of resources, victory belongs to God.
Anger and hatred are weapons that work for furious fighters. But those who want God to fight their battles are required to be kind and loving and even pray for their enemies. Absurd, of course, but God always wins his battles.
And who said the kneeling fighter does not make plans and apply wisdom? He does. Even with his pathetic 300 soldiers, Gideon still planned strategies.
We may have a battle to fight against sickness, financial problems, human beings and human institutions. And we may need to use our minds to plan and make strategies. But the fact remains that those who follow God's instructions will be victorious.
The writer is a publisher, author, writer-trainer and CEO of Step Publishers.