Fear is the soil into which we sow the seeds of faith, and the fruit of faith – ultimately – is hope. Hope is the nutrition that allows us to manifest courage, and courage stimulates the confidence that allows us to run into the battle with the certainty of victory.
Right now, we’re under attack from an invisible enemy. The onslaught of CV-19 has taken our country – and, the world – under a dark cloud. It’s like living in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings fantasy; the Dark Lord Sauron casts darkness over Middle Earth. Our circumstances aren’t fictional, but it is exposing the field of fear where most around us are prone to live.
To gain insight and inspiration for our own Kingdom influence and eternal leadership during this time of the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve looked back 3,100 years into God’s book of notable history and the life of Gideon: the man who went from frightened farmer to valiant warrior in the span of days. You can revisit the prior installments here: pov.mastersprogram.org.
We’ve already seen the reciprocal interview process: God had to gain Gideon’s confidence while Gideon had to prove his all-in commitment to God. Gideon turns into his leadership lane, and then accelerates into confidence: “Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him. He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, calling them to arms, and also into Asher, Zebulon and Naphtali…” (Judges 6:34-35).
There were 135,000 Midianites encamped on Israel’s territory; Gideon moved to mobilize a civilian militia from some – though not all – of the tribes of Israel. In response to his challenge, 32,000 show up to serve. A minority force from a handful of the Jewish tribes, with a 4:1 numeric disadvantage. What would a military commander – in his first-ever active battle encounter – choose to do?
If you’re taking your orders from the Pentagon, your orders would come from experience. If you’re taking your lead from Heaven, the counsel that comes from Omnipotence can be disruptive. What was Gideon to do, given the obvious deficiency in troop strength?
The 32,000 were Missional: kudos to them for just showing up. They were more distinguished than the guys who heard the trumpet and, in reply, retreated to their safe rooms. Under God’s orders, Gideon addressed the 32,000 and invited anyone who was afraid to go back home… and 22,000 left.
For 10,000, courage trumped fear, but God wasn’t finished culling the herd. “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there…” (7:4). From their personal posture at the pond, the force went from 10,000 to 300: they were Strategic, non-stop.
Now that God’s Special Forces were recognized, the last distinction remained: they must be Collaborative. This would not be an every-man-for-himself game plan: Gideon distributed clay pitchers, hand-torches and battle trumpets. The orders: 1) separate into three groups of 100; 2) light the torches, hide them in the pitchers and, in the dead of night: 3) surround the Midianite camp; 4) on cue, shatter the pitchers – revealing the torches – and blow the trumpets.
In battle, trumpets were used to convey orders to the troops. In that era: one trumpet commanded 1,000 troops. The groggy Midianites, awakened to the blinding light of 300 torches heard what they calculated to be the attack blast to 300,000 troops surrounding them.
In their panic, they swung swords at anything that moved, and 120,000 died in the frenzy. Gideon’s 300 pursued the remaining 15,000 and completed the utter destruction of the Midianite military pandemic. God was faithful, and Gideon was victorious.
God is still faithful. He’ll prevail, but He still calls his troops in, on the same terms. Missional, then Courageous, then Strategic, then Collaborative. Then, He brings victory, for which He gets credit.
Most are huddled in their virtual safe-rooms today; hiding from the pandemic. God is vetting leaders for the coming Kingdom victory. Will you make the cut?