by Pastor Dave Mann
The season of Advent (the four Sundays prior to Christmas) historically is not an early extension of the celebration of Christmas, even though the holiday is certainly worthy of a prolonged honor. There are so many good Christmas carols that we really could use some additional time to sing them all!
The season of Advent, in its traditional sense of “coming,” is rich and multi-faceted. During Advent we look at the many ways that the Lord comes to his people. We look at Old Testament accounts how he came to save his people. We also read the prophecies of how the Messiah was promised to come. We look to the second coming of Jesus in the last days. And then, we do some personal introspection and welcome the Lord to come into our lives in a fresh way.
The text for today recounts how the Lord came to his people in a remarkable way during the time of the judges. Just prior to today’s story, the Midianites (and others) had been harassing Israel. Gideon rallied the people to form an army. A large group of Israelites gathered and went in pursuit of the Midianites. But the Lord wanted to show Gideon and all the people that it was the Lord who was fighting for them, not their large numbers. Through various methods, the Lord radically reduced their numbers – first from 32,000 to 10,000, then from 10,000 to 300 – from 32,000 winnowed down to 300! So at the point of the battle, Gideon had a band less than 1% of its original size. But these 300 soldiers were of one mind and heart. The battle belonged to the Lord.
For additional examples of the Lord’s radical leading, see 1 Samuel 17:47; 2 Chronicles 20:15; Deuteronomy 20:1; Isaiah 31:1; Psalm 20:7, and Psalm 33:16-17.
There are times when the Lord leads his people in ways that agree with our own logic. But there are also times when the Lord’s leading appears to be counter-intuitive. It takes the gift of discernment to distinguish between a foolhardy approach to life and when the Lord wants to show that his ways are higher than our ways, when his logic is different from ours.
Lord God Almighty, thank you for coming to your people in every era – in the ancient past, in the promised future, and in the current events of the present. Grant us hearts to cling to you, to seek your guidance, and to act in accord with your leading. In Jesus’ name, Amen.