Today we come back to the topic of our Master’s voice, which began with the painting “His Master’s Voice” and continues through the story of Gideon in the book of Judges, chapters 6 and 7. So far, Gideon has done his best to discern whether God was really talking to him, then set out with an army of 22,000 soldiers, which Gideon faithfully whittled down to only 300, at God’s instruction. Against an army “like locusts in abundance,” Gideon might have needed a little reassurance, because outside of a miracle his army was going to fail miserably.
That very night, God spoke to Gideon, saying: “Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hand. But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant. And you shall hear what they say, and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp.” We know Gideon was still afraid because he took Purah and went down into the camp. We also know that God made provision for Gideon’s fear, instead of counting on Gideon to have perfect faith. Should Gideon have needed extra reassurance? No, but God provided what was needed to overcome Gideon’s fear, which was a bit more insight into God’s plan. Victory in battle is never a matter of how many soldiers are on God’s side, as if spiritual warfare was determined by democracy, but by whose side God is on.
When Gideon snuck into the camp: “behold, a man was telling a dream to his comrade. And he said, ‘Behold, I dreamed a dream, and behold, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian and came to the tent and struck it so that it fell and turned it upside down, so that the tent lay flat.’ And his comrade answered, ‘This is no other than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given into his hand Midian and all the camp.’”
Some commentators suggest that the “barley” reference means that an inferior army would win, since barley was considered inferior to wheat and other grains, but what we know is that this dream put fear into the Midianite camp and emboldened Gideon to trust God, even though he didn’t understand Him. Overhearing these words in the camp let Gideon know that that God was at work in far more ways than he could imagine, that victory belongs to the LORD, and that he can trust that God has the knowledge he lacked. God is trustworthy, even if we don’t fully understand Him.
We only know part of our part in God’s plan. He knows all of our part, and also all of everyone else’s part. Each of us are but one of millions of Christians trying to figure out our relationship with God, and we have no idea what those other millions are up to. But God does, and if we insist God tells us everything before we act, we not only disobey God, but lose out on the opportunity to impact those other lives and see how awesome God’s plan really is!
Our ability to hear and obey our Master’s voice is not a question of complete knowledge, but of wisdom. Proverbs 17:24 says, “The discerning sets his face toward wisdom, but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.” Since “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight,” from the story of Gideon, we learn that God was teaching Gideon to revere Him above any desire to see the “ends of the earth.” Wisdom keeps us on the path of life but doesn’t always mark it out for us far into the future. We can’t see the reasons God wants us to trust Him because there is far more at work than we could ever imagine.
“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” – Deuteronomy 29:29
This post is third in a series that started with this post on His Master’s Voice. More to come…