Obey the Impossible   

Judges 7:8b-15

8bNow the camp of Midian lay below him in the valley. During that night the Lord said to Gideon, “Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands. 10 If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah 11 and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” So he and Purah his servant went down to the outposts of the camp. 12 The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore.

13 Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. “I had a dream,” he was saying. “A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.”

14 His friend responded, “This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.”

15 When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed down and worshiped. He returned to the camp of Israel and called out, “Get up! The Lord has given the Midianite camp into your hands.”

If There’s a Will, There’s a Way

Indirectly, I’ve learned from my father the meaning of the saying “If there’s a will, there’s a way.” One time, my father told me to split a huge acacia trunk for firewood. The texture or wood-grain of Acacia tree is irregular. It takes of multiple strikes with axe to break the acacia trunk into little pieces for firewood.

Laziness has crept into my mind. With such demanding task, no time was left for me to play with my friends that day. So, I tried to draw a little sympathy. “How can I break this huge trunk?” I asked my father. “Use your head!” he answered me. It may not be literal but I sensed that he was teaching me, “If there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Most often, we disregard God’s commands because we assume that obeying God steals precious time for our personal agenda. We can also identify with Gideon when the Lord told him in Judges 6:14: 14“Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

Like Gideon, we are not ready to obey God. The desire to obey God is not a human nature. Human nature is to resist God. It’s God’s grace at work for us to have willingness to obey. By faith, Christ’s Spirit inspires us to discern the benefits of obeying God. God gives willingness to obey and makes ways to accomplish His purposes.

It’s God’s grace at work that Gideon obeyed when God told him to go down.

1. Go Down

8bNow the camp of Midian lay below him in the valley. 9During that night the Lord said to Gideon, “Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands. 10 If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah 11 and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” So he and Purah his servant went down to the outposts of the camp. 12 The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore.

Their enemies were as thick as locust, and camped in the valley, why? It was for safety strategy. They can easily ride their camels and escape if in any case the Israelites make surprise attack. With camels, it implies that they had no shortage of food supplies even if the battle lasts longer. It means that they were prepared for war, win or lose.

But why did God instruct Gideon to bring with him his servant Purah?

Purah could be Gideon’s most trusted servant. And, when Gideon tells his story, Purah can testify to its details because he was with Gideon that night they went down to the camp of their enemies. The name of Purah was also mentioned twice to emphasize that his presence was a significant part of Gideon’s account.

Gideon did not make any hasty move. He acted on God’s signal. When God told him to go down to the camp of Midians to be encouraged, it implies that he has not found courage yet. Camped on a higher ground, he saw the great number of enemies.

The number of camels of their enemies was described to be as numerous as the sand of the seashore that cannot be counted. It suggests that with 300 men with him, Gideon face an impossible task to defeat their enemies.

Why would God command Gideon and the 300 Israelites to face enemies as thick as locust? Why would God command such impossible task?

When God ordered Gideon to save Israel from enemies who were as numerous as the sand of the seashore, it illustrates the impossibility for human efforts to accomplish the commands of an all-powerful God. God want us to rely upon Him, not our effort.

Be Perfect!

The Lord Jesus commanded in Matthew 58:44-48, 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Hating those who make life difficult is easy but loving an enemy is impossible. We know, we are not perfect but the Lord commands us to be perfect. How can we make ourselves perfect? By no means, our limited effort fails us to accomplish those orders.

Heaven is perfect and imperfection is not accepted in God’s perfect heaven.

When the Lord commanded us to be perfect, He wants us to be in His perfect heaven. The perfection Christ wants us to be is based on the perfection of our heavenly Father and not our idea of perfection. By faith in Christ, we can fulfill His command to be perfect like the perfection our heavenly Father. Christ’s Spirit helps us to be perfect.

Gideon never assumed that he and the 300 can defeat their enemies. He was very hesitant because it was an impossible task. When the Lord commanded Gideon to get up and go down to the camp of Midians together with his servant Purah, He wanted him to be encouraged, why? Gideon was so scared. And when Gideon heard the interpretation of the dream, it gave him courage. So, he called out his 300 men to get up and attack.

2. Get Up

13 Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. “I had a dream,” he was saying. “A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.” 14 His friend responded, “This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.”

The Lord told Gideon to get near the camp and listen to their conversation. The Lord did not tell Gideon what he should listen to but declared that the conversation of their enemies would certainly encourage him to attack the camp. When the Lord told Gideon to get near the Midian camp, did God guide Gideon and his servant to go exactly at the place where they can hear about the dream and its interpretation?

15 When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed down and worshiped. He returned to the camp of Israel and called out, “Get up! The Lord has given the Midianite camp into your hands.” 

Indeed, Gideon found his courage to attack their enemies. He ignored the reality that their vast enemies were well-equipped. He just believed that God has already given their victory. When Gideon told the Israelites to get up, did the Lord spoke through Gideon so that the Israelites followed his instruction to get up?

The Lord called Gideon to lead the Israelites. Many Israelites came but God told Gideon what to do to know those whom God has chosen to join him. Before they attacked their enemies, God told Gideon what he should do to know that they will be victorious. Gideon did not ask the 300 men what strategy they should do.

God constantly communicated with Gideon, the leader He has chosen.

It teaches us in 2 Timothy 2:1-6, 1Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. 

Our church mission statement is about discipleship. And, this passage teaches discipleship. Church Leaders are entrusted what should be taught, not just to anybody but reliable, trustworthy or faithful church members. It won’t stop there. When teach others, it reveals that we are reliable, trustworthy and faithful to our calling as disciples.

Illegal activities

Many high raking government officials were prosecuted for their involvement in illegal activities. Sad to say, that even the church is not spared with such terrible situation. And, churchgoers suspect and ask, “What if church elders would abuse their office?”

Concerns of illegal activities of church leaders should prompt prayerful choice of church leaders. So, whoever God chooses, as long as we prayed, we accept it by faith.

It says in Ecclesiastes 12:14, 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

Christ the head of the church cares more than we care for His church. Just as farmers are rewarded at harvest time, Judgment Day is harvest time when our Lord rewards those who deserve reward and punishes those who deserve punishment.

Interestingly, all believers are called to be leaders, not necessarily in church setting.

We are commanded to lead others to Christ but many are scared like Gideon.

We are not commanded to use our human effort because it’s impossible for us to obey godly commands. We need to be attentive to the Lord’s instruction and rely upon His Spirit when we obey. He will certainly encourage us when we are hesitant to obey.

<‘)))>< ltsii/2018 ><(((‘>

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