Still too many? This is after God had already reduced the number of Gideon’s fighting men from 32,000 – a number that favored the enemy 4 to 1 – down to 10,000 fighting men, roughly 13 to 1. And that was still too many?
Bring them down to the spring, and I will test them to determine who will go with you and who will not.” When Gideon took his warriors down to the water, the Lord told him, “Divide the men into two groups. In one group put all those who cup water in their hands and lap it up with their tongues like dogs. In the other group put all those who kneel down and drink with their mouths in the stream.” Only 300 of the men drank from their hands. All the others got down on their knees and drank with their mouths in the stream. (Judges 7:4-6)
Three hundred men. That’s 450 to 1. No problem. Each one of these guys has to slay only 450 Midianites and manage to stay alive while doing it!
The Lord told Gideon, “With these 300 men I will rescue you and give you victory over the Midianites. Send all the others home.” (Judges 7:7)
So Gideon sent home 9,700 men; albeit 9,700 courageous men – men who passed the first test, who had overcome their fear enough to stay and fight. These were good men, mind you, but God was looking for one more characteristic, and he found it in only 300 after the first cut.
This is a fascinating story as it relates to us today. It tells us that God is looking for qualities in the people He wants to use in the world. We’ve already determined that it is going to be by God’s strength only that we do His will, but that doesn’t mean He’s not looking for something from us. What we bring is not in terms of strength or talent, it’s in terms of character and it consists of two things: courage and attentiveness.
Courage, remember, is not the absence of fear, it is the capacity to respond to God’s call in spite of your fear. Here’s what most of the guys who survived the first cut were probably thinking:
It’s pretty obvious to me that God is with Gideon. He knocked down the altar to Baal and the Asherah pole in his own household and lived to tell about it, and God talks to him. I’m afraid – no question about that – but I grew up hearing stories of how God did miraculous things with Moses and Joshua, leading the Israelites out of Egypt, across the Red Sea, across the Jordan, and gave them victory over their enemies, the Canaanites, the same people we’re facing right now. Who’s to say God isn’t with Gideon? If He’s going to do another miracle for us, I want to be there. I don’t want to miss that. I want to be a part of that miracle.
Want to be part of a miracle? Show up today for what you know you can’t do in and of yourself, remembering always, as we found out yesterday, that the first and most formidable enemy may be at home.
But courage wasn’t enough. God was looking for one more thing, and it is exemplified in those who drank down on one knee, cupping the water with their hands. What’s with this – just a way of picking the final group that would go to battle that could have just as easily been had by drawing straws, or was there something significant in the drinking style of these soldiers – something that told a bigger story?
We already know that the 300 were courageous, but in the way in which they went about drinking water from the stream, they showed that they were alert to what was going on around them as well. Imagine sneaking up on an army of people kneeling at the edge of the stream with their faces in the water oblivious to what’s going on. Those down on one knee, however, have their heads up – they can see and hear everything, and should you try and sneak up on these guys, they have only to rise up and face you, battle ready.
So why did God take Gideon through these two stages of selection? Because He is teaching us something. He is saying that He is looking for two things from us: Courage to show up in spite of our fears, and attentiveness to the world around us. This means we are culturally awake and aware to what is going on in our neighborhood, community and world. We pay attention to the news because God is at work in the world. We pay attention to the arts because in art, human beings communicate with each other, and we want to be a part of that conversation. We are engaged in politics because we want to do whatever we can to further compassion in the world. We look to the needs of those around us that we can do something about like the poor and the homeless, the elderly and disabled. We are sensitive to what God called “the least of these.”
These are the very qualities we are championing in our Gideon’s 300. We may be afraid, but we are not in retreat from the world. Nor do we have our heads in the water. We drink up on one knee, always looking and listening to what is going on around us. We are courageous in Christ and alert to the world.
Wake up and show up alive to what’s at home first, then to the neighborhood, the marketplace, and the world. That’s what we are here for.
A word to all: We are looking for 300 men and women who will commit themselves to supporting the ministry of the Catch on a monthly basis. With a prayer ministry, a counseling ministry, boots on the ground in over 140 countries, and a soon-to-be-realized educational component that will inspire and train all who participate to be courageous and alert to the world around us, we are so much more than a blog.
Become 1 of 300 today by clicking here. We need your consistent support in order to continue to serve you and others like you.
And don’t miss today’s video … it’s priceless!