When the Odds Are Against You

  • February 16, 2018
Friday 16

Judges 7:1-8

The story of Gideon offers scriptural guidance for times when the odds are overwhelming and defeat seems imminent. No matter what your challenges are, the Lord is able to demonstrate His awesome power and deliver you.

God uses difficulty to build faith. Gideon was willing to believe God and go up against an army four times larger than his own. Trusting the Lord is a process that must be learned through experience. At times God takes the people He plans to use and places them in impossible situations—in that way, they discover He is faithful. We may prefer to acquire faith by reading a book, but the Lord knows the best classroom is a place of utter helplessness.

God may require us to do what seems unreasonable. The Israelites were already outnumbered, but the Lord instructed Gideon to reduce the army to a mere 300 men. That made the odds 450 to one! Although God’s ways may seem illogical to us, His wisdom and power are far greater than ours, and His plan can be trusted.

God leads us to do that which brings Him glory. Gideon’s army was so small that its men could in no way take credit for the victory. The Lord delights in demonstrating His awesome power and glory through our weakness and inadequacy.

Think of life’s challenges as opportunities for the Lord to build your faith and prepare you for ministry. He uses those who are willing to obey Him even when the task seems illogical or impossible. And He takes pleasure in showing His faithfulness to those who trust in Him regardless of the situation.

Bible in One Year: Numbers 23-25

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1 Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the people who were with him, rose early and camped beside the spring of Harod; and the camp of Midian was on the north side of them by the hill of Moreh in the valley.

2 The LORD said to Gideon, The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, `My own power has delivered me.'

3 Now therefore come, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, `Whoever is afraid and trembling, let him return and depart from Mount Gilead.'" So 22,000 people returned, but 10,000 remained.

4 Then the LORD said to Gideon, The people are still too many; bring them down to the water and I will test them for you there. Therefore it shall be that he of whom I say to you, `This one shall go with you,' he shall go with you; but everyone of whom I say to you, `This one shall not go with you,' he shall not go."

5 So he brought the people down to the water. And the LORD said to Gideon, You shall separate everyone who laps the water with his tongue as a dog laps, as well as everyone who kneels to drink."

6 Now the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was 300 men; but all the rest of the people kneeled to drink water.

7 The LORD said to Gideon, I will deliver you with the 300 men who lapped and will give the Midianites into your hands; so let all the other people go, each man to his home."

8 So the 300 men took the people's provisions and their trumpets into their hands. And Gideon sent all the other men of Israel, each to his tent, but retained the 300 men; and the camp of Midian was below him in the valley.

1 Then Balaam said to Balak, Build seven altars for me here, and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me here."

2 Balak did just as Balaam had spoken, and Balak and Balaam offered up a bull and a ram on each altar.

3 Then Balaam said to Balak, Stand beside your burnt offering, and I will go; perhaps the LORD will come to meet me, and whatever He shows me I will tell you." So he went to a bare hill.

4 Now God met Balaam, and he said to Him, I have set up the seven altars, and I have offered up a bull and a ram on each altar."

5 Then the LORD put a word in Balaam's mouth and said, Return to Balak, and you shall speak thus."

6 So he returned to him, and behold, he was standing beside his burnt offering, he and all the leaders of Moab.

7 He took up his discourse and said, From Aram Balak has brought me, Moab's king from the mountains of the East, `Come curse Jacob for me, And come, denounce Israel!'

8 How shall I curse whom God has not cursed? And how can I denounce whom the LORD has not denounced?

9 As I see him from the top of the rocks, And I look at him from the hills; Behold, a people who dwells apart, And will not be reckoned among the nations.

10 Who can count the dust of Jacob, Or number the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the upright, And let my end be like his!"

11 Then Balak said to Balaam, What have you done to me? I took you to curse my enemies, but behold, you have actually blessed them!"

12 He replied, Must I not be careful to speak what the LORD puts in my mouth?"

13 Then Balak said to him, Please come with me to another place from where you may see them, although you will only see the extreme end of them and will not see all of them; and curse them for me from there."

14 So he took him to the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah, and built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

15 And he said to Balak, Stand here beside your burnt offering while I myself meet the LORD over there."

16 Then the LORD met Balaam and put a word in his mouth and said, Return to Balak, and thus you shall speak."

17 He came to him, and behold, he was standing beside his burnt offering, and the leaders of Moab with him. And Balak said to him, What has the LORD spoken?"

18 Then he took up his discourse and said, Arise, O Balak, and hear; Give ear to me, O son of Zippor!

19 God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

20 Behold, I have received a command to bless; When He has blessed, then I cannot revoke it.

21 He has not observed misfortune in Jacob; Nor has He seen trouble in Israel; The LORD his God is with him, And the shout of a king is among them.

22 God brings them out of Egypt, He is for them like the horns of the wild ox.

23 For there is no omen against Jacob, Nor is there any divination against Israel; At the proper time it shall be said to Jacob And to Israel, what God has done!

24 Behold, a people rises like a lioness, And as a lion it lifts itself; It will not lie down until it devours the prey, And drinks the blood of the slain."

25 Then Balak said to Balaam, Do not curse them at all nor bless them at all!"

26 But Balaam replied to Balak, Did I not tell you, `Whatever the LORD speaks, that I must do'?"

27 Then Balak said to Balaam, Please come, I will take you to another place; perhaps it will be agreeable with God that you curse them for me from there."

28 So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor which overlooks the wasteland.

29 Balaam said to Balak, Build seven altars for me here and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me here."

30 Balak did just as Balaam had said, and offered up a bull and a ram on each altar.

1 When Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he did not go as at other times to seek omens but he set his face toward the wilderness.

2 And Balaam lifted up his eyes and saw Israel camping tribe by tribe; and the Spirit of God came upon him.

3 He took up his discourse and said, The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor, And the oracle of the man whose eye is opened;

4 The oracle of him who hears the words of God, Who sees the vision of the Almighty, Falling down, yet having his eyes uncovered,

5 How fair are your tents, O Jacob, Your dwellings, O Israel!

6 Like valleys that stretch out, Like gardens beside the river, Like aloes planted by the LORD, Like cedars beside the waters.

7 Water will flow from his buckets, And his seed will be by many waters, And his king shall be higher than Agag, And his kingdom shall be exalted.

8 God brings him out of Egypt, He is for him like the horns of the wild ox. He will devour the nations who are his adversaries, And will crush their bones in pieces, And shatter them with his arrows.

9 He couches, he lies down as a lion, And as a lion, who dares rouse him? Blessed is everyone who blesses you, And cursed is everyone who curses you."

10 Then Balak's anger burned against Balaam, and he struck his hands together; and Balak said to Balaam, I called you to curse my enemies, but behold, you have persisted in blessing them these three times!

11 Therefore, flee to your place now. I said I would honor you greatly, but behold, the LORD has held you back from honor."

12 Balaam said to Balak, Did I not tell your messengers whom you had sent to me, saying,

13 Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not do anything contrary to the command of the LORD, either good or bad, of my own accord. What the LORD speaks, that I will speak'?

14 And now, behold, I am going to my people; come, and I will advise you what this people will do to your people in the days to come."

15 He took up his discourse and said, The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor, And the oracle of the man whose eye is opened,

16 The oracle of him who hears the words of God, And knows the knowledge of the Most High, Who sees the vision of the Almighty, Falling down, yet having his eyes uncovered.

17 I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; A star shall come forth from Jacob, A scepter shall rise from Israel, And shall crush through the forehead of Moab, And tear down all the sons of Sheth.

18 Edom shall be a possession, Seir, its enemies, also will be a possession, While Israel performs valiantly.

19 One from Jacob shall have dominion, And will destroy the remnant from the city."

20 And he looked at Amalek and took up his discourse and said, Amalek was the first of the nations, But his end shall be destruction."

21 And he looked at the Kenite, and took up his discourse and said, Your dwelling place is enduring, And your nest is set in the cliff.

22 Nevertheless Kain will be consumed; How long will Asshur keep you captive?"

23 Then he took up his discourse and said, Alas, who can live except God has ordained it?

24 But ships shall come from the coast of Kittim, And they shall afflict Asshur and will afflict Eber; So they also will come to destruction."

25 Then Balaam arose and departed and returned to his place, and Balak also went his way.

1 While Israel remained at Shittim, the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab.

2 For they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods.

3 So Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor, and the LORD was angry against Israel.

4 The LORD said to Moses, Take all the leaders of the people and execute them in broad daylight before the LORD, so that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn away from Israel."

5 So Moses said to the judges of Israel, Each of you slay his men who have joined themselves to Baal of Peor."

6 Then behold, one of the sons of Israel came and brought to his relatives a Midianite woman, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the sons of Israel, while they were weeping at the doorway of the tent of meeting.

7 When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he arose from the midst of the congregation and took a spear in his hand,

8 and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and pierced both of them through, the man of Israel and the woman, through the body. So the plague on the sons of Israel was checked.

9 Those who died by the plague were 24,000.

10 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

11 Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned away My wrath from the sons of Israel in that he was jealous with My jealousy among them, so that I did not destroy the sons of Israel in My jealousy.

12 Therefore say, `Behold, I give him My covenant of peace;

13 and it shall be for him and his descendants after him, a covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the sons of Israel.'"

14 Now the name of the slain man of Israel who was slain with the Midianite woman, was Zimri the son of Salu, a leader of a father's household among the Simeonites.

15 The name of the Midianite woman who was slain was Cozbi the daughter of Zur, who was head of the people of a father's household in Midian.

16 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

17 Be hostile to the Midianites and strike them;

18 for they have been hostile to you with their tricks, with which they have deceived you in the affair of Peor and in the affair of Cozbi, the daughter of the leader of Midian, their sister who was slain on the day of the plague because of Peor."

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Publish Date October 16, 2018
Returning to God

It’s easy to give God our firstfruits when we remember that every single thing we have is from Him to begin with.

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