In Judges 7, Gideon engages in his first military battle against the Midianites.
At the time of Gideon’s appointment, Israel had been subject to Midian for seven years as a result of their disobedience (Jud. 6.1). Like their ancestors in Egypt, Israel cried out to God to save them from their Midianite oppressors. Though God initially rebuked them for failing to heed his voice, he ultimately promised deliverance by raising up a mighty warrior—Gideon (Jud. 6.7-17).
In so doing, God made it clear that the victory, the act of deliverance, was his. Not Gideon’s, not Israel’s.
He did several things to secure this accolade. First, he limited Israel’s troops by dismissing anyone who was fearful or trembling. This reduced the military might by 22,000, leaving 10,000 (Jud. 7.3). Second, God further shrunk the troops by having Gideon observe how each man drank water—whether they lapped like a dog or brought their hands to their mouths (a strange criteria) (Jud. 7.5). God instructed Gideon to keep those who lapped like a dog and dismiss the others (Jud. 7.7). This reduced the troops by 9,700, leaving only 300. This severe reduction was a clear indication that God wanted the glory.*
And, the glory was clearly the Lord’s. Gideon and Israel defeated the Midianites, with only trumpets, torches, and empty jars (Jud. 7.16)—hardly weapons of warfare. The only swords used were Midianite ones. At the sound of Israel’s trumpets, God brought confusion among the Midianite camp, causing the Midianites to turn their swords on each other (Jud. 7.22).
Despite this obvious divine victory, Israel succumbed to the very thing God warned them about. They failed to give God the credit. Instead, they requested that Gideon rule over them since he was the one who delivered them from the Midianites (Jud. 8.22).
Several days after my blank canvas vision (Blank Canvas) and my church’s prayer meeting (Dreaming Season), I came across this passage during my morning devotional. As I read Judges 7.2, I heard God say,
“Jess, I deserve the credit for the great things I’m about to do in your life. Don’t be like the Israelites who claimed my great action for themselves.”
So Lord, here’s what I’m giving you credit for:
In November of last year, a fellow professor emailed me about carpooling to our classes starting in April 2016 (yes, both of us are ridiculous planners).
We started carpooling April 13, one week after posting Paint a Picture for Me, in which I expressed my dream of a getting a human development-theology PhD.
During our second week carpooling, I discovered that he had his DMin (Doctorate of Ministry) in this very subject.
We discussed Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Theory Model, Bowlby’s Attachment Theory, Erickson’s Psychosocial Stages, and Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development, and how theology informs these human developmental systems (and vice versa).
This DMin/PhD program is called a theology of development (or something like that. I was so excited, my brain went limbic as soon as we started talking).
Lord, thank you for orchestrating this first brush stroke.
The glory is yours.
**ESV Study Bible. Crossway Bibles. Illinois, 2008.