Summary: Are you willing and able?
People love stories of courage. Recently there was a movie called 300. It was a retelling of the historic account by Herodotus of the Battle of Thermopylae which took place around 480 BC. King Leonides and his 300 Spartan warriors made a last stand against the 400,000 strong Persian army of King Xerxes. When Xerxes ordered Leonides to surrender his weapons he gave the famous reply that has been repeated through the centuries "You want them? - Come and get them!". Though they faced an overwhelming enemy Greek morale was high. Herodotus writes that when one Spartan soldier was informed that the Persian arrows would be so numerous as "to blot out the sun", he responded “So much the better, we shall fight in the shade.” It is estimated that over 20,000 Persians were killed before Leonides was betrayed and he was killed.
This story has been told in many different ways over the years, in paintings, books and movies. There is something compelling about it. Bravery in the face of hopelessness. Like Custer’s last stand or “remember the Alamo” we picture ourselves standing strong in the face of an unbeatable foe. The only thing I don’t like about this story is the ending. What if, in true Hollywood style, instead of being defeated and dying they had won! What if the 300 had beaten the 400,000?
Centuries before the Battle of Thermopylae there was a similar battle that also involved 300 brave soldiers against an unbeatable foe. However, this time there was a very difference outcome. The outcome was different because God was on their side.
Judges 7:1 Early in the morning, Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon ) and all his men camped at the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. 2 The LORD said to Gideon , "You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, 3 announce now to the people, `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 sift them 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." 5 So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the LORD told him, "Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink." 6 Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their mouths. All the rest got down on their knees to drink. 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 other men go, each to his own place." 8 So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites to their tents but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others.
There is an old saying that goes: "When you were born, you cried, and the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a manner that when you die, the world cries, and you rejoice." You have been given one life to live. The question I would like to ask you is "How will you live it?" The church today is facing a great enemy and soldiers are needed to join the battle. The kind of soldiers that God is looking for can be summed up in two words; WILLING and ABLE.
There are 4 types of Christians in terms of service:
1. Not Willing or Able – the crowd
Several nations that lived around Israel to the North in what is present day Syria came together to march out and destroy it. The army that came against them was massive:
Judges 7:12 The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore.
To come against this vast army Gideon blew the trumpet and called all the Northern tribes of the Israelites to come together to fight:
Judges 6:34 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him. 35 He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, calling them to arms, and also into Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, so that they too went up to meet them.
There were 32,000 that responded to the call and came together to face the enemy. Certainly this did not represent all the men of fighting age that were available. Many heard the trumpet but did not respond to the call. They were part of the Jewish nation and like those who responded to the call they had everything to lose but they chose to stay home and let someone else fight their battle for them. They just did not show up.