Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse
Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages
“The Lord said to Gideon, ‘You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.”” ~Judges 7:2
God calls yet another unlikely hero to save Israel. Gideon is from an obscure family in one of the most insignificant clans of the tribe of Manasseh. For the sake of comparison, suppose that a young Midwestern farm boy were to sweep the next election for President of the United States. That’s how unlikely a candidate Gideon is to raise an army and lead Israel. In fact, he is such an unlikely candidate that even he thinks some confirmation is in order. He pleads with God not to be angry that he’d like just one more test to be sure he’s the chosen man.
Long before battle with the Midianites begins, Gideon needs courage just to accept God’s call. The community of God-worshippers has given themselves to the wholesale worship of idols. Altars to false gods appear in towns and villages all over the land of promise. When Gideon tears down the shrine in his village and offers a sacrifice to God as a declaration of his allegiance, the people are ready to kill him. They are that attached to their sinful way of life (Judg. 6:25-32). Of course, Gideon proves his mettle once again when he goes into battle with three hundred men. He shows cunning by disguising his small army as a large one to rout a greater military force. (The noise of 300 trumpets blowing and 300 pots smashing while torches ring the enemy camp do the trick.)
While Gideon’s courage and cunning are impressive, it is ultimately the Lord who defeats the Midianites (see Judg. 7:9, 14, 14, 22). The very reason God chose an unlikely leader and gave him a small fighting force was to demonstrate that victory belongs to Him. Yes, God uses people of courage, and He evidently favors the use of carefully wrought strategies, but victory and success come from His hand. If you feel insignificant, and if you wonder how you can do anything with such meager resources, look to Gideon’s story for encouragement. If God has called you to do something, do it. Don’t waver, and don’t wait. Gideon was courageous because of his faith in God and his confidence that God had something important for him to do. Is God calling you to witness to a friend? Oppose injustice at work or in the community? Devote energy to a great cause? Give yourself to vocational ministry? Be a leader in your church? Or speak up when you know there will be consequences? Go for it. And give God praise for the victory!
 Some suggest that “throwing out a fleece”, asking for a sign, is a good way for modern people to determine God’s will. However, the details of Gideon’s story argue against such a practice. God had told Gideon His will for him. He consented to the request for assurance only because the circumstances of Gideon’s calling were so unusual.