Behind every great man is no, not a greater woman, but 300 forgotten men. Think about it for a moment… for every “great” man in history there are usually a lot of good men (and women) who help make him great.
They are the soldiers who followed the Duke of Wellington’s orders through summer heat and dust and winter’s freeze and mud. Fighting when ordered, marching when told, retreating, attacking, sieging, waiting. Without these men there would have been no Battle of Waterloo, let alone a historic victory.
They are the Software Engineers who work around the clock at Google, Apple and Microsoft creating new technologies that revolutionise our world. They give up nights, weekends, dates, family times to meet deadlines and deliver bug free technology. They make Stephen Jobs and Bill Gates look great but no one knows their names.
The story of Gideon’s battle, found in Judges 6 to 8, is one of my all time favourite Bible story. It is an amazing story of courage, perseverance and faith. And I’m not talking about Gideon.
Gideon had 4 tangible confirmations from God about His battle plan to use Gideon to lead the Israelites in a battle against the Midianites and Amalekites. Gideon saw the Angel of the Lord face to face, saw miracles and heard God’s voice.
The 300 men who fought with him did NOT hear God’s voice. They did NOT see miracles and did NOT see the Angel of the Lord. All they had was Gideon’s word that they were to fight the enemy in such a bizarre way – with trumpets, torches and a shout. Yet they had the faith and courage to do so.
When I look at these 300 heroes I see 5 things that we can learn from them when it comes to following the leaders God places before us. The 5 characteristics that make them heroes and role models are:
- Courage (Joshua 7:1-3) The first criteria God was looking for in His hand-picked army for this battle was people who were not afraid. They needed courage to follow the weird battle plan and then fight with conviction.
- Alertness (Joshua 7:4-8) When God had 10,000 men line up and take a drink from the creek He was looking for those who lifted their hands to their mouths rather than putting their face into the water and lapping with their tongues. By bring up their hands these 300 men were in a position of alertness. They weren’t so caught up in the moment that they weren’t aware of and ready for any attack that may come their way. To be good followers we also need to be spiritually aware of what is going on around us.
- Faith (Joshua 7:16-22) This tiny but mighty army had faith – in God and in Gideon. This faith led them to stand in 3 small companies of 100 men armed with a torch, a trumpet, a shout and a sword. The enemy they faced was over 135,000 men. Yes 300:135,000!!! If they didn’t have faith in God and Gideon this would have been all time crazy.
- Fighters (Joshua 8:10) Anything worth doing involves some sort of fighting. There may not be swords, blood and guts. It may be workplace politics, red tape, lack of resources, time pressures, a piece of work that just won’t cooperate. There is often times of fighting through the frustrations and keep onwards to the goal.
- Perseverance (Joshua 8:4) A General will never win a battle or a war if his troops give up before they reach total victory or are annihilated. In a church these are the people who come early every week to set up chairs, sound, coffee, classes, week in and week out, month after month, year after year. They run Sunday School classes, Prayer Meetings, Youth Groups, year in, year out, in winter seasons and harvest seasons. They have perseverance. They play their part in the army, big or small. Like Gideon’s army they keep going even when they are exhausted. Without them there is no victory, no story of God using ordinary men in a miracle.
For God’s miracle plans to be fulfilled He needs men and women who are willing to 1 of the forgotten 300 soldiers working with Gideon, Joshua, Moses. If we have the character of Gideon’s army – courage, alertness, faith, fighters and perseverance – we can be the heroes behind a great man or woman who changes the world. We may be 1 of the 300 forgotten by the world, but God will see and reward our obediance to Him.
Who do you think is more of a hero – Gideon or his men? Which of these 5 characteristics would you say is the most important? Share your views below.
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