In this episode, Gideon is once again challenged – not so much by the force of his enemies, Zebah and Zalmunna but by the refusal of people to help him and his army.
In earlier chapters, we saw Gideon as weak and without much faith.
Now he is a strong and zealous follower of God.
Let’s examine these few verses from Judges chapter 8 and see what happens next.
The Refusal – Gideon Pursues Zebah and Zalmunna
Then Gideon and the 300 men who were with him came to the Jordan and crossed over, weary yet pursuing.
He said to the men of Succoth, “Please give loaves of bread to the people who are following me, for they are weary, and I am pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.”
The leaders of Succoth said, “Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna already in your hands, that we should give bread to your army?”
Gideon said, “All right, when the Lord has given Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, then I will thrash your bodies with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers.”
He went up from there to Penuel and spoke similarly to them; and the men of Penuel answered him just as the men of Succoth had answered.
So he spoke also to the men of Penuel, saying, “When I return safely, I will tear down this tower.” – Judges 8:4-9 NASB
Succoth and Peniel
Why did the people of Succoth and Peniel refuse to give food to an army sworn to protect them?
Let’s look at the facts. Midian is on the run. He has only 15,000 soldiers left.
Remember that God had cut Gideon’s army to 300 meaning Midian led 14,700 more men than Gideon. It’s no wonder the leaders of Succoth and Peniel were afraid to aid a man with so little means to fight a major opposition.
Their fear was that Midian would turn around and destroy them. I’m sure I’d feel the same way, wouldn’t you?
The One Thing They Forgot
It seems that the major battle of Gideon vs. the Midianites was all but forgotten when fear crept into the hearts and minds of Succoth and Peniel. And they would pay the price for their faithlessness.
Even though Gideon only had 300 soldiers, he had already defeated the majority of the Midian forces.
Or Did He?
I said Gideon, but in reality it was God who was victorious. Gideon was only the tool used by His mighty hand.
Yes, the war did require some skills and the element of surprise but God controlled the outcome.
No one in his right mind would reduce an army from 32,000 down to 300 without tremendous faith.
Those who refused to help did not trust that God would be victorious — a big mistake!
The Undying Faith of Gideon
Initially, he lacked faith. He was able to remain focused on the task at hand once he believed that God could work outside the realm of human understanding.
Despite God’s presence, Succoth and Peniel refused to join Gideon in victory, so they resigned themselves to defeat.
Watch for those who are working for God, and help them when needed.
Whether we are involved or not, the work will get done, so why not support those who are?
Someone is involved in a big project right now who needs your prayers and gifts.
Help them along if you can.
Love in Christ
If you would like to discover more about the love and life-changing experience of Jesus Christ, please take a moment to read John 3:16 here.
Video: “Living by Faith”
by: Gaither, Squire Parsons, Reggie & Ladye Love Smith, Karen Peak