The period of the Judges was the most chaotic era in the history of Israel. The atmosphere of this time is summarized in the final words of the book of Judges. In Jdg. 21:25 the scripture says, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” During this time Israel would rebel against God and suffer punishment from Him at the hands of a neighboring nation. Then they would cry out for help and God would deliver them by means of a judge who would then lead Israel in a period of peace.
One of the most fascinating events in this period was when God called Gideon to deliver Israel from the Midianites. The record of this incident is found in Jdg. 6-8. When Gideon accepted God’s commission, he called the people of Israel to fight against the Midianites. 32,000 men responded to his call, but God told Gideon that this was too many people. In Jdg. 7:1-7 God put Israel through several tests in order to show them that He alone would deliver them.
The first test was a simple one. God told Gideon to tell everyone who was afraid to go home, and 22,000 men departed. This was still too many people, so God told Gideon to take the remaining 10,000 men to water. As the men drank water, God selected 300 who drank by cupping water in their hands and lapping it from there. All the others were sent home. God then instructed Gideon to arm the 300 men with trumpets, torches, and empty pitchers. These would be the weapons by which Midian would be defeated. The end of the story is that God brought about a great victory and Israel enjoyed forty years of peace thereafter.
This incident is a study in levels of commitment. All 32,000 men who initially responded to Gideon’s call were committed enough to answer the call. However, 22,000 of them were cowardly in their commitment. That is, they were so fearful that the Lord could not use them. The 10,000 who remained after the fearful went home were more committed than they, but 9,700 of them were carelessly committed. That is, when they went for a drink of water they threw caution to the wind as they drank. These men literally stuck their faces in the water as they drank and were therefore unprepared if an enemy should attack them. Their careless commitment made them unusable for the Lord’s purposes.
The 300 who remained were the most committed of all who answered Gideon’s call. They were courageously committed. We know this because they were willing to go into battle carrying nothing but a trumpet, a torch, and an empty pitcher. In other words, they trusted God to the point that they would put their lives on the line to fight in the manner He prescribed. Thus they became tools in God’s hand to win the victory that brought peace back to Israel.
In application, the same levels of commitment that marked Gideon’s army are found within the body of Christ today. All Christians have shown that they are committed to the Lord by virtue of their obedience to the gospel. However, some are cowardly in their commitment. They are fearful of offending unbelieving family and friends and their service to the Lord suffers because of it. Others are carelessly committed, letting their spiritual guard down, leaving themselves vulnerable to the temptations of the devil. Neither of these is particularly useful in the Lord’s service. Those who are like Gideon’s 300, however, are courageously committed. They are unafraid to stand up for the truth, and they are willing to serve the Lord with the tools, and according to the commands, that He has provided. By their courageous commitment the Lord continues to win victory after victory over Satan and his minions. Let us all, therefore, strive to be as committed as Gideon’s 300.