Summary: Deals with the story of Gideons defeat over the Midianites
The odds weren’t very good to start with, and then they got worse. Or better, depending on whose side you were on. He was just a farmer, and unlike some farmers he had no desire to be anything more then a farmer. He never political ambitions, he never dreamt of being a military leader and yet God had a different plan for his life.
The Israelites had been delivered from Egypt and have settled into the promised land, and during that time they were ruled by men and women called Judges. And if you read through the book of Judges in the Old Testament you discover that the people of Israel kind of bounce back and forth from being faithful and obedient to God and being disobedient. And it was during the times of obedience that God showed Israel his favour and during the times of disobedience that God removed his blessing from Israel.
And so historically if we were to put things into perspective, here is Joseph being sold into slavery, here is Christ’s death and resurrection, here is the exodus from Egypt 400 years later after Joseph went to Egypt and here is where David established his kingdom, you know the whole David and Goliath thing, and this is where our story happens. After 40 years of peace and prosperity the people began once again to wander from God’s will and as often happened their moral decline was followed by military oppression from the outside. This time is was the Midianites who were putting a whuppin’ on the Israelites.
The Midianites were a nomadic people who, if we pull up a map roamed the desert here in what is modern day Saudi Arabia. And the Midianites would wait until the people of Israel had finished planting their crops and they would sweep down upon them stealing their crops and herds and destroying what they couldn’t take with them. Well this went on for seven years and it was starting to get a little old, and so the people cried out to God to deliver them, and He called someone to lead His people, firstly out of military oppression and secondly out of moral oppression. And that person was a man named Gideon, and if we know anything about Gideon it’s that went around putting Bibles in Hotel rooms. Which helps us make sense out of what Zsa Zsa Gabor said ”Conrad Hilton was very generous to me in the divorce settlement. He gave me 5, 000 Gideon Bibles.”
Actually as we alluded to before Gideon was a farmer, and an the Angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and informed him that he was to deliver Israel from the Midianites. Well after a little convincing Gideon issued a call across Israel to arms and they responded and as they came Gideon began to get a little nervous. It was one thing for a farmer to say he was going to lead an army into battle it was another thing for a farmer to actually lead an army into battle. Especially when you have 32,000 men and the other guys have 135,000 men. And so our hero got into a little discussion with God. He said “ Tell you what God, if this is what you really want me to do you have to give me a sign, so here’s what we are going to do. I will put out a sheep’s fleece on the ground tonight. If in the morning the ground is dry and the fleece is wet then I’m your guy.”
Next morning Gideon gets up, the grounds dry as a bone but the fleece is sopping wet. Still not wanting to rush into this thing, his mother may have raised him a coward but she didn’t raise him a fool. Gideon again prays and says “I don’t want to get annoying, but let’s try it the other way, I’ll leave the fleece out again tonight and in the morning if the ground is wet and the fleece is dry then I’ll know that I need to listen to you.” He gets up the next morning, and sure enough the ground is covered in dew and the fleece is completely dry. And so Gideon begins to think, “God must be serious here.” By the way if you ever hear someone talking about putting out a fleece to validate the will of God this is what they are referring to. But remember this scripture isn’t supporting that concept, or even endorsing it, it is simply reporting what happened.
This is where the story gets really interesting. Gideon is psyched now, God has told him that he, Gideon, son of Joash would lead the Israelite army to a great victory over the Midianites, and then confirmed it through this entire fleece thing. So Gideon calls for all the men who have come and he looks out at this army of 32,000 men and thinks “this could be cool, we can do this.” And God says, “Not so fast Gideon. You’ve got too many men.” Too many men, how can you have too many men, I mean sure if you had 60 men in a 50 man life boat then you might have too many men, but going into battle you can never have too many men, am I right? Especially if you are already outnumbered 4 to 1.