Have you ever heard the term "less is more?" Do you believe it? Most of the time it depends on what you are talking about. If you are talking about rich food, taxes or homework, you would probably agree "less is more." But what about money, love or possessions? Many people would say "more is better." Or how about the size of your congregation? Many pastors feel the pressure of wanting more people to come to church.
So what is God doing when things seem to be getting smaller rather than larger? These last few months, some significant members of our congregation have been called to other parts of California and the world. What is God doing? This story in Judges 7 came to mind.
Gideon was a man that God had raised up to rescue His people from the MIdianites. Gideon was challenged by the Lord to lead Israel like a "mighty warrior." Like Moses before him, Gideon answered with, "Who me?" And in a great story of God's kindness and provision (Judges 6), God confirms His calling to Gideon.
So Gideon amasses an army of 32,000 to fight the Midianites. But in Judges 7:2, God says a very peculiar thing: "You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands or Israel would boast against me, "My own strength has saved me."
So what does God do? First God allows anyone who is afraid to leave and 22,000 men depart, leaving behind only 10,000. But then that is still too many. So God designs a strange test. Gideon is to bring the 10,000 men to the water and those that lap the water rather than bending down on their knees are to stay. Only 300 men lap the water. Gideon's force has been reduced from 32,000 to 300.
What is God doing??
One of the hardest principles to wrestle with in the kingdom of God is that in our weakness God is strong. In 2 Corinthians 12:10 Paul writes "That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecution, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
Another difficult principle is that of John 15:2. Jesus says, "I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." Sometimes God strips away things or reduces our resources so that we will rely on Him more and grow.
God was doing just that with Gideon - he was making Gideon's force weaker and stripping his army down, so that they would know the victory would be the Lord's.
But that's not the end of the story. God doesn't just demand blind faith. In Judges 7:9-15, God wants to strengthen Gideon's confidence and tells Gideon to go down to the Midianite camp and hear what they are saying.
Gideon secretly overhears the Midianite soldiers talking about a dream one of them had about a barley loaf destroying the camp. The other soldier attributes this as a sign that Gideon and his God would be victorious over them.
Gideon is encouraged by this and goes back up to lead his mean. In Judges 7:16-23, God gives Gideon a strange battle strategy in terms of how to attack the camp using torches, empty jars and trumpets.
When Gideon's 300 men surround the camp, blow the trumpets and break the jars, the Midianite army panics, starts attacking each other and flees. God wins.
God's strategy: less is more. He is the God of the 5 loaves and 2 fish. The God of the widow's two copper coins. The God of mighty power who has conquered sin and death through the obedience of the Son of God.
How may God be challenging you? Have you felt that God has brought you to a place of weakness? Do you feel stripped of resources?
Will you at this very time, make yourself available for God's use? In your weakness He is strong!