From 32,000 to 300 and Beyond

Scripture References: Judges 6:12-13, 8:22-35

If God is with us, why? Gideon was one of many biblical figures to ask this question – and with good reason! Israel in Judges 6 was in a state of terror and humiliation – suffering Midianite invasions, hunger and despair.

Then the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, and called him a mighty warrior. 

At first, Gideon responded more like a meek mouse – his initial steps as a leader were almost comic. From fearfully leading a gang under the cover of darkness to destroy the altar of Baal and putting out the fleece to test the Lord’s will, Gideon began to grow and trust God absolutely. In obedience, he reduced an army of 32,000 to a mere 300 men – with whom he routed the Midianites!

Nonetheless, Gideon’s biggest battle was yet to come. The Israelites wanted to make him king. Gideon knew enough to resist this attractive offer, since God alone was to rule over Israel, but he could not resist the temptation altogether. Instead, Gideon asked them to donate gold to him. With this gold, he made an ephod, a priestly garment – which quickly became an object of idolatrous worship for all Israel. 

The mighty warrior Gideon’s final act was to make an object not evil in and of itself – but he had forgotten the Israelites’ propensity for idolatry. It was Gideon’s act of self-aggrandisement.

Twenty years ago, I was invited to lead the Christian Medical-Dental Fellowship (CMDF). Back then, my mentor Dr Arul Anketell encouraged me, saying: “Wei Leong, God will provide you the 300 men”. My journey with CMDF led to the birthing of HealthServe, which I chaired for 14 years; I have since handed over leadership. In the moments when I am tempted to smugness over my achievements, the Lord reminds me of Gideon’s less-than-stellar ending. 

More than with any external enemy (or virus!), the biggest battles are often within ourselves. This spiritual battle with the self will continue until Christ returns, with the enemy constantly circling around and initiating multiple novel attacks. Unlike Gideon, let us resolve never to rest content with just a few great triumphs, but instead continue well to the end. There are so many dangers that lurk before us. How do we avoid tripping over ourselves, and exposing others to trip over their own weaknesses? 

We need to pray: Thank God for past victories. Ask God for courage, insight and humility as you face this new season of life. Pray for victory over temptation. 


DR GOH WEI LEONG is a general practitioner in a low income neighbourhood and his personal mission is to be a “Catalyst Bringing Life”. He is passionate about social justice and connecting people to one another.


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