Written on December 15, 2014.
Day 15 – December 15
“The Lord said to Gideon, ‘You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, announce now to the people, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’ So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.’” Judges 7:2-3
I truly struggle sometimes with the translations of our stories. The scripture above reads that anyone who is afraid can turn back. But that is not what the original text says. It actually reads, “Look to see who stands in awe.” In fulness, look among the men and see who remembers me. It is important to note, that Gideon’s story occurs at least 400 years after Joshua. Long ago were the days of songs and stories of God’s great deeds.her is only a remnant who remembers and those are who God desires. For those in awe have no room for fear.
I love reading a familiar story and uncovering a new treasure! Gideon’s army has been sifted, leaving 10,000 out of 32,000. I was really struck by the number that remained, 10,000. I rested a bit on it. I let the truth that Jesus could have called 10,000 angels, but didn’t, course through me. I thought of Deuteronomy 32:30 where it says that one can put 1000 to flight, and two can put 10,000 to flight. And I thought of the servant who owed his master 10,000 talents. The master forgave the debt and sent him back to his family. Along the way, the servant encountered one who owed him a small amount of denarii. When the same request was made of him, to forgive the debt, he refused.
As I put the pieces together, 10,000 came to mean a “point of contention.” The point where all you have said or believed becomes real or doesn’t. It is the place of truth, where the Light shines brightly and you are beautifully consumed by it or you run to the darkness that only suffocates, to catch your breath. It is the place of a choice you will never turn from, because you have waited for it, knowing it would define your life.
And so 10,000 gathered at such a moment. The Lord said they needed to be sifted again. Awe had boiled up in them purifying any place that fear tried to dwell. But there was more. Isn’t that one of the most glorious, terrifying truths about Him? There is always more.
They knew what filled them, but now Pappa wanted Gideon to know what they would pursue. And so He challenged Gideon to look anew at something that seemed quite ordinary. Something that happened everyday. To be refreshed for the journey ahead, the men needed to drink. As they drank deeply, Gideon was to look deeper.
“So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, ‘Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink.’ Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their mouths. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.”
In modern translations, it reads that God wanted Gideon to watch how the men drank. In the original text, it says, “see how they thirst.” Watch and see what they long for, yearn for. He wanted to know, that no matter what was before them, they would choose Him. And so 10,000 men drank. 9,700 of them plunged their faces into the water and consumed as much as they could. In the reflection of the water, they could see themselves. They sucked up the water, driven to get all they could, as quickly as they could. Almost as if afraid, that there wouldn’t be enough. That there was lack. That their portion hadn’t been kept for them.
But 300, fell prostrate, they came to the lowest place to be moved to the highest. From their humbled positions, there was a natural direction to look: up. Their eyes were turned to the One who not only gave the water, but created it for this very moment. They drank what they could hold in their hands. Hand represents covenant, and so they drank what was held in their covenant! They drank fully from what was given, knowing when they thirsted again, there would be more. In Hebrew, the number 300 is shin. It means, “to be pierced, divine revelation, our change from His changelessness, purification, sanctification and the ever dancing flame.” The pictograph is a flame bound to the coal.
300 is quite a number to be counted in. This remnant became Gideon’s army. Their point of contention came and they contended for one thing, the Kingdom. In the days ahead, we will each come to our point of contention. The moment we have lived for, yet dreaded. Not because of Him, but ourselves. For we don’t know our hearts quite as well as He does. And sometimes we forget that his plan for us always includes victory! A few years ago, I had a 10,000. It was a moment I had longed for. The moment when what as in me, everything I have prayed, believed, taught and pursued had fire come upon it and everything but him was burned away. The dread was there too. I knew this wasn’t something that He was just going to do. It was a choice I got to make.
The moment looked a lot different than I thought it would. I didn’t expect it to be covered in grace, but it was. I knew without a doubt, if I was unable to follow through, make the stand, speak the words He invited me to share, He was going to rescue me. I wasn’t going to have to part of something that was the opposite of my heart. But in that moment, shrouded in grace, I realized how much I wanted to be everything He saw in me. Everything He created me to be. I didn’t want to miss this sanctifying moment.
At the end of my 10,000, I discovered I might get to do it again the next day. I admit to a momentary meltdown. But I came back to the water the next day, ready to fall to my knees and drink from covenant. Waiting for me was a glass of wine!