Sunday, August 29, 2010

300 Unlikely Spartans

300 Unlikely Spartans
August 30, 2010
Judges 7:7 "The LORD said to Gideon, "With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the other men go, each to his own place."

In the famous battle of Thermopylae, 300 Spartans are depicted as heroes. But the funny thing is, they lost and they all died. The King of Persia, Xerxes, marched against the Greeks roughly 480 years before Jesus walked the earth. Xerxes allegedly had "millions" of men in his army; for arguments sake, we'll say a lot of men, too many to count. The Greeks had about 7,000 men; clearly they were outnumbered. They were outnumbered by over 275:1. When it came time to concede defeat, 300 Spartans decided to stay behind and hold Xerxes off as long as possible (with the aid of 700 Thespians and 400 Thebans). Despite losing the battle, the 300 Spartans were touted as heroes because they were truly fighting men among men, career warriors who lasted longer than anyone else.

There was different battle though, also with an army of 300, that had a better outcome. They were not career warriors or fighting men, they were Israelites. The Midianites were oppressing the Israelites for far too long so God chose Gideon to lead the battle against them. Thirty two thousand men showed up to fight with Gideon. But listen to what God said about those 32,000 men, "You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into [your] hands." God did not want the army to be the victors; He was clear that He wanted to be the cause of the mighty win. So, God chose unlikely methods to whittle down the army to 300 unlikely men, men who were too afraid to get on their hands and knees to get dirty.

The Israelites faced a vast army; scripture says the battle was about 135,000 to 300. They were outnumbered 450:1; clearly the odds were not in Israel's favor (worse than the Greeks at Thermopylae). Remember, they did have these 300 special men with their "amazing" weapons. They were armed with trumpets, jars of clay, and torches. Yep, that's right, not even a shovel or pickax among them. These men were inadequate, otherwise God would not have distinguished the men as "men that lapped." If they were truly akin to 300 Spartans, God would have called them "men of valor" or "fighting men," but instead they were the "men that lapped." Read it in Judges 7.

God said He did not want Israel to boast in the victory. He wanted it to be clear to everyone that God was in charge and God caused the win. God still works this way; He does not want you to think you did it on your own. You may feel inadequate, maybe even a failure, but that's when God likes to step in and help. He doesn't want to help you win the battle, He wants to win it for you. You may have tried on your own and failed, you may have messed things up so the victory seems rather impossible, but that's okay. God delights in a challenge; He likes showing you His mighty strength over the situation that seems impossible. You may be facing an impossible battle, but despite how ill-equipped you are, it is the Lord who is able to win the victory. Basically, if you can breathe, you can still be victorious with God.

God caused the 300 unlikely men to win the battle that day, because He fought for them. The 300 Spartans should not be touted as heroes, the real heroes are the 300 unlikely men who trusted in the Lord to win the battle for them. Any man who can trust in the Lord to fight for him, THAT is a mighty man. I'd rather face the entire world with God on my side than stand against even one person on my own. God is able to give you victory over your situation right now, but you've got to stop fighting it on your own and let Him fight for you. And when you win, make sure you do not boast in your own efforts. Give all the praise and honor of the victory to God. He deserves the credit; He's the real victor.

God wants to win your battle, but He may ask you to lessen your arsenal so the odds are clearly against you. Then He can make that mighty win, the one where it is obvious you didn't really do anything on your own or even had a chance.

1. In what areas of your life are you still trying to gain the victory on your own?
2. How can you step back and let God win the battle for you while you give Him the praise?
3. What unlikely areas are you still willing to let God have the victory over?

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Deut 1:30, Judges 7, Judges 8:10-11, Malachi 3:6, Matt 24:35, 2 Cor 10:4

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