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… Judges 7:2
Gideon needed his faith strengthened by God, and God had marvelously strengthened it. But now God was going to really put Gideon’s faith to the test by issuing a shocking demand. He demanded that Gideon reduce his army from 32,000 men down to only 300 soldiers! Imagine 300 untrained men engaging in battle against 135,000 trained soldiers who comprised several mobile companies or camel-riding divisions. This was most certainly a test of Gideon’s faith. As the 300 set out, the army of Gideon hastily marched and camped beside the spring of Harod. The horde of Midianites was just four miles north, camped in the Valley of Jezreel. Surely the enemy was bound to know about the mobilization of the Israelite forces, but they did not consider the Israelites a serious threat.
But why did God want the army reduced? To prevent boasting and teach that God alone gives victory and conquers the enemy of His people. Under the right circumstances, it is humanly possible for 32,000 soldiers to defeat an army of 135,000. But with 300, all grounds for boasting had been removed. The battle had to be won by an act of God through a miracle. When soldiers win a battle, the credit often goes to the soldiers, and they boast in their victory without any regard to God’s presence and sovereignty. But when a victory is due to a clear miracle, the glory goes to God and to God alone. The Israelites needed to learn that God alone could give them victory and conquer the enemies who stood in opposition to them entering the Promised Land.
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