Hot Hands, Cold Feet
The stranger reposed against an oak tree, smiling at the sight before him. A farmer skulked about in his own winepress — threshing wheat. Every few minutes he stopped pounding the kernels with his rock, to listen. The slightest whisper of wind caused him to jump. Fear flooded him, affecting every movement.
Finally, the stranger rose, stretching his arms high over his head with catlike grace and ambled over to the trembling farmer.
“Greetings, mighty warrior. The LORD is with you.”
The farmer gaped at the stranger, clenching his fists to hide their trembling. What? He thought to himself. Who is this guy? What does he mean, I’m a warrior?
“Sir,” the farmer bowed in respect. “If God is with us, why is our land overrun with Midianites, who destroy our crops before we can harvest? We’re going to starve to death.”
“On the contrary,” the stranger replied. “God wants you, Gideon, to rescue your people from the enemy. You’ll win in God’s strength.”
“If this is true, will you stay for dinner?”
“Of course,” responded God’s messenger.
Gideon hurried off, his mind whirling in all directions as his hands prepared the food. My tribe is the least in Israel and I’m the runt of the family. How can I lead? Nobody would listen to me.
With his task completed and mind exhausted, Gideon returned and spread the food before the messenger. “Please, sir, partake of my hospitality,” he said with another bow.
“Take the meat and bread and set it on this rock,” the messenger requested as he pointed to a flat rock near by. Gideon obeyed.
“Now, pour your broth over it.”
Gideon did so, until everything was saturated with the fragrant liquid. The messenger leaned forward and touched the meal with his staff. Immediately fire erupted — consuming everything.
Gideon jumped back with a gasp. The Messenger was gone.
“O God, o God,” Gideon cried as his knees threatened to collapse under the weight of his fear. “I have seen your Messenger face-to-face.”
“Calm down,” the unseen LORD soothed. “You won’t die. My favor rests on you. I promised that you will defeat the enemy.”
Twin buds of faith and hope took root in Gideon’s heart as he gathered stones to build an altar. “I dedicate this sacrifice to Jehovah-Shalom,” he prayed as he lifted newly-strengthened hands heavenward.
“O LORD,” Gideon prayed as fear mingled with faith. “If you are truly with us, grant me this teeny-weeny favor. I’m going to put a piece of wool on this stone floor. If there is dew on the fleece only, and none on the floor, I’ll know you are with us.”
“O LORD,” Gideon prayed. “Please don’t be mad at me, but could you reverse the sign? Then I’ll really, really know you’re with us.”
Gideon gathered his new-found courage and sent out a call to arms. As he surveyed the vast army that responded, he thought, Yes, God is definitely on our side.
“Gideon,” the Lord said. “You’ve got too many men here. Do exactly as I instruct.”
“Okay, LORD. I’m with you.”
Gideon watched as God melted his army from 32,000 to 300 to fight an uncountable enemy. Gideon’s faith in men waned with each departing soldier. He began to see the coming contest through God’s eyes. His excitement grew.
“Now, for weaponry,” God continued. “Instruct your men to carry a jar covering torches in one hand and a trumpet in the other. Trust me, they will not need swords. All they need is me.”
Eager anticipation propelled Gideon’s noiseless steps as he led his men to the enemy camp and surrounded it.
300 trumpets blasted the enemy from their smug slumber.
300 jars smashed, exposing the blare of 300 torches.
300 throats roared in unison, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!”
The Great Intimidator engaged the enemy using their own weaponry against them. Gideon’s men watched their Creator at work and raised their sword-less hands in praise.
“Well done, Gideon,” God said. “Always a pleasure doing business with family.”
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