The next time someone says that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, point them to Judges chapter seven. God instructing Gideon to take on over 100,000 enemy soldiers with just 300 fits in the “more than you can handle” category. Imagine how Gideon and his servant, Purah, must have felt trying to come to grips with a humanly impossible assignment.
Standing on the side of Mount Gilboa, Gideon gazed over the Plain of Jezreel, which sprawled beneath him northward toward the Hill of Moreh. The plain was a sea of tents, teeming with more than 100,000 Midian warriors.
That morning, the Lᴏʀᴅ had judged Israel’s army of 32,000 too big to face Midian’s. Israel would think more highly of himself than he ought to think when God gave him victory. So Gideon had sent home whoever was afraid. When 22,000 hit the road, Gideon had to quiet his own fear. Now Israel was outnumbered ten-to-one. But God was with them and armies had overcome such odds before.
Oddly, the Lᴏʀᴅ considered these odds still too much in Israel’s favor. So in obedience to the Lᴏʀᴅ’s instruction, Gideon brought his small, thirsty army down to the Spring of Harod. And he gave his servant, Purah, the strangest command of his brief military career: “Observe all the men as they drink. Have every man who laps his water like a dog stand off to the side.”
Gideon supervised the selection, but when so few were being chosen he just let Purah finish the count and he climbed back up Gilboa to pray and survey.
It wasn’t long before Purah emerged from the trees. “So what’s the total?”
“Three hundred, sir,” said Purah.
Gideon chuckled to himself. “Three hundred.” He looked back toward the human hoard in the valley and was quiet for a moment. “That’s less than I expected.”
“Yes, sir,” said Purah. “But thankfully, three hundred doesn’t reduce our strength much.”
Gideon breathed deeply. “No, Purah. The three hundred are not the reductions. They’re the army. The others are the reductions.”
Purah stood dazed for a moment staring at Gideon. “The three hundred are the army?”
Gideon nodded slowly, still looking into the Midian-infested Jezreel.
“But that’s not an army! That’s how many should be guarding an army’s baggage!”
Purah stepped up beside Gideon. Together they watched smoke columns rising from ten times more cooking fires than they now had warriors. Purah shook his head and said, “Even if we were all like the mighty men of old, three hundred could not overcome 100,000.” He paused. “And we aren’t mighty men.” Another pause. “And there’s more than a 100,000 down there.”
Both were silent for a while. In the quiet, the Lᴏʀᴅ spoke to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand, and let all the others go every man to his home.”
Then Gideon said to Purah, “During the Exodus, how many mighty men did it take to destroy Egypt and its army or part the Red Sea?”
Purah thought briefly. “None.”
“How many did it take to tear down Jericho’s walls?”
“How many did it take to feed two million of our people in the wilderness every day for forty years?”
“None. I get your point.”
Written by Jon Bloom
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