“And the number of those who lapped with their hands to their mouth was 300 men; all of the remaining people bent over the knee to drink water. And Yahweh said to Gideon, ‘With the three hundred men who lapped, I will save you and give Midian into your hand and let all of the people go, each man to his home.’”
All but the 300 are now dismissed to their homes. At this point, an army of 32,000 men has been reduced to 300…just about one percent of those who originally rallied to fight alongside of Gideon. By human reckoning, even the thirty-two thousand was small compared to the hordes of the Midianites, but 300 is almost laughable…that is in human terms. The key phrase in the verses leading up to this is “I will save you and give Midian into your hand…” God is doing the work (as he always does in the life of God’s people!) and God is ordering such so that he is the one who gets the glory. The rest of the soldiers are sent home.
But why send the soldiers home? Why not keep them as backup? Why not keep them as a support staff to assist the wounded? First, that defeats the purpose of calling out the 300 and would demonstrate a lack of trust on Gideon’s part. But there is something more important than that. Each man is sent back to his village with a purpose, and that is to report to the people what God is doing on the battlefront. Imagine each man returning home and his wife and kids and extended family would be pulling him to the side and saying, “Why are you back so soon? Didn’t Gideon need you? Did the Midianites not show up?” At this point, there are 31,700 men who are traveling to villages all through the region and telling the people, “No, God is going to move, so Gideon is only keeping 1 out of every 100 men that showed up.” That, folks, is exciting news.
In todays world of televisions and the internet, I fear we take for granted the ability to communicate easily and quickly. We are used to an ever-moving feed of news that tells us what is going on across the globe with very little delay in time. Yet, in our hyper-active news-fed world, I fear we have lost the value of face-to-face explanations of what is seen. In addition, given this era’s rejection of the things of God, it seems that the majority of what is reported has to do with violence, war, terrorism, and political scandal. Well, that, and the social lives of the rich and famous. Really??? Is not news of the spread of the Gospel much more significant on an eternal scale? How beneficial it is for the church to hear a missionary back in the states on furlough, say, “This is what I am seeing the hand of God do in such-in-such a land.”
The sad thing is that many Christians have fallen into the trap of thinking that what the evening news reports as important is what is truly important that they don’t get excited when a missionary comes to report as to what they see God doing. Shame on the church and shame on the Christian that is more concerned with crime statistics, sports statistics, and the stock market than on the movement of God in the world. How we need to train ourselves to look at the world through the lens of the Bible and not with the lens of human society.