(This is an edited version of the talk at the all-age Family Service at the Parish Church of the Ascension, Oughtibridge)
Gideon was a very unlikely hero. He was not a naturally brave man. He was in fact very unsure of himself but God used him powerfully to do His will.
This is the time of the judges. There was no king in the land of Israel. The people kept doing evil in the sight of God and as a right discipline for them God handed them over to their enemies. In this story the enemies are the Midianites who took nearly all the food the Israelites grew and gave them a very hard time for seven years.
The people of Israel cried out to their God, the God who had rescued them from slavery in Egypt and brought them into the promised land. They cried out to Him for help and God used Gideon to get rid of the Midianites.
Gideon was a very timid sort of hero, very scared and not very brave. That is why he asked God to give him a special sign – the wool dry on the wet ground and the wool wet on the dry ground. He needed a special sign from God before he would go off and fight. He was certainly not Superman or Spiderman or even a Ninja Turtle.
God used a weak hero with a weak army.
God told Gideon he had to fight these thousands of Midianities – we are told they were like locusts lying along the valley – and Gideon had an army of 300 men. Gideon’s small army won by blowing trumpets and smashing jars outside the Midianite camp. The Midianites thought their camp had been overrun by enemies and so they started killing each other and then the rest of the army ran away.
Three hundred men to defeat an army of thousands without even fighting. There is no doubt who won the battle. God won the battle. That is the whole point – God deliberately made Gideon’s army small.
Why? So that Israel could not boast, could not brag that they had beaten the Midianites. God did it with only 300 men who did not even fight. God used a weak thing to defeat a strong thing.
And nowhere do we see God doing that more powerfully than in the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross. On the Cross Almighty God used the death of His Son, the Lord Jesus, when He became weak for our sake, to forgive us and to make us His friends and today He uses weak things like the church to tell the world about the Lord Jesus and all He has done for us in defeating sin and death.
God uses weak things to defeat the strong. Praise God that is true. God used the Cross of the Lord Jesus to save the world and He uses us the church family in all our weakness to tell the world about His great victory over sin and death.