Gideon of the Old Testament had been beaten down by his enemies, by his fears and by his failures. He was just living day by day, one hour and one meal at a time, not unlike a typical broken man of our day
He had forgotten what it was like to live in the presence of God.
The Angel of the Lord came to a fearful Gideon as he hid, hunkered down in the shelter of a wine press, trying to beat some wheat into submission, so he could have a little bit of flour for bread. He didn’t dare to get out the ox and use the threshing floor to make flour; for fear that his enemies would take him, his ox and what little food he had secured for himself.
For years Gideon and his people had been beaten down by life. They would plow and plant and water their crops only to have their enemies sweep in at harvest time and take all that they had. The enemy wasn’t nice enough to take only the surplus, they took it all. The seeds that were set aside for future crops and even the work animals were taken for the dinner table.
Gideon’s people had no hope. They were alive, but just waiting to die.
In this setting, the Angel of the LORD came to Gideon and told him two things:
The LORD is with you. You are a mighty man of valor.
For Gideon, these were the last two things on his mind and probably sounded like sarcastic mocking. He expressed his true feelings in the next verse, “If the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us?” And then Gideon spewed out a bunch of excuses about his own incompetence.
The Angel of the LORD simply responded, “I will be with you.”
God saw Gideon as a one man army, able to save an entire nation, not a defeated victim of my circumstances. He sees you and me that way too. With God, you are an army of one. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” - Romans 8:31
What Gideon soon realized was that he, his family and all of his people were not living in God’s presence. Everyone had become complacent and did not behave as if God was standing right next to them every minute of every day. It took Gideon a few minutes to realize what the Angel of the Lord meant when He said, “Go in this might of yours.” -Judges 6:14
Without any prior experience, God saw Gideon as a mighty man of valor. Beginning with his own home, Gideon began to clean house, removing all of the things that did not give God glory. Overnight, he tore down the idols and removed the temptations that would lead his people away from God.
With the sound of a trumpet, Gideon had an army of tens of thousands to fight his enemies. But there was a problem. If Gideon and his men defeated the enemy, then God would not get the glory – Gideon would.
So, Gideon, with the direction of the God, reduced the number in his army from 32,000 to a mere 300 men. Gideon did not question how he was to defeat his enemies with just 300 men. He had not forgotten that the Lord had said, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.” – Judges 6:16
Gideon had 300 extra soldiers than what was needed for God to win the war!
It is my firm belief that we are our own worst enemies. We try to fight our battles in our own limited power, energy and resources. The simple fact is, without God, we will be defeated.
Moses had a similar encounter at the burning bush. Thomas had a similar experience in the upper room. I have had similar moments of doubt and feelings of incompetence. But we must realize, God has a totally different perspective on things. He sees hope where I see despair. He gives hope with the simple reminder of His presence.
When we choose to give God the Glory in everything, He comes at our problems with all of His power, presence and vengeance.
Even though you may be beaten down by years of failure, the Lord is still with you. When you feel like there is nothing left, and even hope has breathed its last, God still sees you as victorious.
With God, you are an army of one.
Pastor Jay Merritt