“The LORD said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites in their hand, lest Israel boast over Me, saying ‘My own hand has saved me'”
As Russia’s military moves forward in their invasion of Ukraine, the world sort of watches with a collective mixture of sadness and disbelief. Our hearts break on behalf of a nation decisively outmanned and overpowered. The numbers predict a devastating outcome, as an military of 196,000 is certainly no match for a country equipped with 900,000 active military forces, with another 2 million waiting in reserve. One news referenced the biblical story of David and Goliath as they sought to assess the reality of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. However, there is another sacred story that flashes to my mind as I consider the great disparity in military might between the two countries. It is the account of God calling Gideon to a battle that under normal circumstances would have certainly ended defeat.
“Now the Midianites, Amalekites, and the people from the east covered the valley like a swarm of locusts. Their camels could not be counted; they were as innumerable as the sand on the seashore.” (Judges 7:12).
You will need to read the story (if you haven’t already) to know the context of what is happening here. Suffice it to say that Israel is being threatened by an enemy nation who has them greatly outnumbered. The most striking part of this story is the fact that God intentionally reduces Israel’s army to just a few hundred men before the battle takes place (7:1-7). Now if you are at all familiar with Gideon’s character, you know that he is someone who struggles a bit with courage and faith. Nevertheless, God, who has already promised victory, is determined to magnify His omnipotence in the eyes of Israel and Israel’s enemy. While motivated by His covenantal love for His people, God has a greater concern for two very opposing things: His glory and man’s pride. And though the Israelites would be victorious, what we be clear is that it was God who was the hero, not Gideon. Old Testament scholar Bob Deffinbaugh describes it this way:
“The greatness of God is the cure to our fears regarding our inadequacies and weaknesses. It is also the greatness of God that should be the preventative for any pride or arrogance on our part, for when victories are won, it is He who has done it, not us. Thus, the greatness of our God should keep us from fear and from pride.”
You may be at a time in your life where it seems the obstacles towards victory are too great to even imagine overcoming. If you can say with integrity that you are in the place that God has brought you and that you are responding to God’s plan for your life, then your opposition is not your biggest problem. If we are jealous for the glory of God over and above our own desire for recognition, we will eventually discover a God who is able to save…by many or by few (1 Samuel 14:6).