gideon and midian
"The last shall come first." —Matthew 19:30
The Israelites were oppressed externally by the nation of Midian, and internally by their own idolatry. Joash the Abiezrite, father of Gideon, had built an altar to an idol (Jgs 6:25), as well as a sacred pole used in idol worship. God called the fearful Gideon to deliver Israel from Midianite oppression (Jgs 6:14).
When Gideon assembled a large army, God told him, "You have too many soldiers with you for Me to deliver Midian into [your] power" (Jgs 7:2). So God told Gideon to send the fearful men home, which reduced the army to 32% of its original force. God said: "There are still too many soldiers" (Jgs 7:4). Then God devised a test to show which of those who were not afraid would be alert, ready, and prepared for battle (Jgs 7:5; cp Mt 25:1-13). After this test, less than 1% of the original soldiers remained. It was through these three-hundred lowly, obedient Israelites that God received glory when He delivered Israel through Gideon. God chooses the weak, "insignificant" (Jgs 6:15), and lowly so that He will receive glory (see Ex 14:18). The last come first (Mt 19:30).
The victorious Gideon refused to grab the glory from the Lord. He instead told the people to subject themselves to the Lord instead of their former idols, saying: "The Lord must rule over you" (Jgs 8:23). God doesn't need multitudes to be victorious. What He wants is spirit-filled servants who abandon themselves to Him (Jgs 6:34) and leaders who put His will above all else (Jgs 6:25ff; Mt 19:29).
Prayer: Lord, I want to be a "champion" for You (Jgs 6:12).
Promise: "For man it is impossible; but for God all things are possible." —Mt 19:26
Praise: St. Jane Frances, a widow with four children, abandoned herself to being the Bridegroom's bride. She then lived as a consecrated religious for thirty-one years, building an order by founding eighty-six convents in her lifetime.
Reference: (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, February 11, 2009
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