Mass Auditions for the Leadership of the Future Church
God is using this pandemic to test for the future leadership of the Church. How we respond now, will in a real way determine our usability in the years ahead. May we pass the testing. May our faith be refined as pure gold in this testing time.
Gideon’s 300 Elite Rejects
We are in a time of submission, a season of the knee. The coronavirus is producing a pandemic of fear across class, race and on a unprecedented global scale. I was speaking with a friend this past week about the radical and quick developments and I said it felt like God is using these circumstances for a worldwide mass audition for new roles in his Church. He brought up that interesting story about how Gideon selected his ‘elite’, ‘special ops’ force. And this Biblical passage resonated as being applicable to this whole drama unfolding. We are in a testing time from the Lord. Many are called but few are chosen.
Surrounded by 135 000 reasons to Fear
The background to the story in Judges 7 is that the Midianite Army of about 135 000 men are about to invade and plunder Israel. Gideon could only muster 32 000 Israelite’s from the three nearest tribes. The fear among the Israelite camp was palpable. They were staring theft, rape, plunder and death in the face. An avalanche of fear. A health and economic atomic bomb has just gone off. Many fear death by Coronavirus.
In Judges 6 we read how Gideon had destroyed his fathers Baal Altar and Asherah Pole. Israel were in captivity to these gods and today so many are in their modern expression. The whole story of Gideon is a story of deliverance, turning hearts back to God.
The artistry and majesty with the way God accomplishes this deliverance is simply Divine. This is where Yahweh rolls up His sleeves and bares His strong arm. He does this by choosing the weakest candidate He could find! Because its about God’s glory being put on display, not the competence, strength or experience of a human deliverer.
“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
Manasseh was also the weakest tribe in Israel. So this choice deliverer is weak three times over.
Dog like Lappers VS Kneelers
“The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ Now announce to the army, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’ ” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.
But the Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.”
So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink.” Three hundred of them drank from cupped hands, lapping like dogs. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.
The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.” So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelite’s home but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others.
Now if the 4:1 odds were not enough, God begins a further downsizing process to reduce the army and find His suitable candidates to complete the mission.
The 32 000 soldiers are given a choice, if you fear, you can go home. 22 000 walk. Gideon is down to 10 000 non-fearful, willing and capable soldiers. But still it is too many because with 10 000 Israel could still claim the glory basis their skills and bravery and courage and all.
So the Lord gives Gideon a final test to reduce the assault army down to impossible odds. He asks all 10 000 soldiers to take a drink at the nearby spring where they were encamped, the Spring at Harod in the Jezreel Valley, not so far from Megiddo where Armageddon will still happen.
Gideon patiently watches all 10 000 willing, trained, armed and competent soldiers. Gideon studies their drinking and kneeling behaviour. There is a lesson here that is true in all ages. Body language is a valid and true reflection of what you are saying and who you are. The way you kneel says a lot, the way you drink water from a spring says everything! Everything about you says everything about you. There are great benefits to better understand people from simply watching them.
Two Types of Kneeling, Two Types of Drinking
In this illustration above you have two types of kneeling, two types of drinking. We are in the Season of the Knee. The knee speaketh. You cannot drink water by a spring without kneeling. So God is testing how the soldiers knelt and how they drank water. It seems so trivial yet there is a Divine pattern here for the recruitment and selection, not only of elite soldiers, but for all people serving the Lord Jesus. Its a latent character test.
So 300 get chosen. 1% of the 32 000. God only needs 1% of man’s help. God will do 99%, he basically just needs a yielded, trusting vessel to accomplish miracles. He invites us into the world of the miraculous because He could do it without us but chooses not to (because it is a greater miracle doing it with the weak).
So those that imitate dog like lapping ie bringing water to the mouth in cupped hands, get chosen. Those kneeling with face in the water (not cupping of hands) get rejected. Not a particularly flattering characteristic to be chosen for your dog like drinking characteristics or being rejected because you knelt down and freely dipped in? What is the meaning of this seemingly random, even bizarre selection methodology?
We need to study the dog as symbol in the Gideon story to get a better understanding hidden in these scriptures. Dogs in ancient Israel were the epithet of contempt, they were more than just the ‘underdog’ as we know ‘underdogs’, they were the symbol of all that is base and despised. In ancient Israel they were loathed. In fact, the Hebrew word for dog (‘keleb’ Str 3611) also means male prostitute or sodomite:
“to yelp, or else to attack; a dog; hence (by euphemism) a male prostitute:—dog. “
Strong’s says the squealing sound a dog makes when it barks sounds like a male prostitute! Not exactly the most glamorous portrayal of an elite soldier to a good Jewish soldier! The very opposite! Hafuch al hafuch as they say in contemporary Israel – backward logic, reverse on the reverse. Jesus Paradox strikes again!
The Pariah Dog (the dog that dogs reject)
This interesting excerpt below illustrates dog behaviour in ancient Israel. It helps illuminate the preference for the dog like lappers in Gideon’s Selection Drive. Dogs were despised but even among dogs, there are some dogs that dogs reject … the Pariah Dog.
“Each quarter of the city has its own pack of dogs, which vigorously resents any invasion of its territory. A dog which for any reason finds itself in foreign territory gets home as quickly as possible, and is lucky if it does not have to run the gauntlet of a pack of vicious foes. The pariah dog is sometimes brought up to be a sheep dog …”
Alfred E. Day, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
The 300 get chosen because they, like the pariah dog in days gone by – are the most worthy of rejection, the mongrel, the outsider, the weak – this is the one chosen by God to lead God’s people, to shepherd God’s people out of fear and into liberty! The narrative is God choosing the base for His noble purposes. And uses the base of the base to lead. How glorious! God’s selects the base, the weak to carry out mighty exploits! God seems to prefer to use the base things of this world in accordance with His sense of irony and His monopoly on glory. Christ, that stone ‘cast away indeed as worthless by men, but with God chosen, precious’. Do you qualify as a “Pariah Dog”?
Now the dog is contemptible to a Jew and a dog rejected by dogs, well that is a pariah, doubly bad, doubly rejected, totally not worthy to be chosen! But these 300 Pariah Dogs get chosen! They are the true One Percenters. Paradoxical, even comical. God most certainly has a sense of humour and here displays the exquisite irony in a Yahweh-designed plan of redemption.
Unclean but Vigilant is the Dog
There is one redeemable trait of a dog that is working here I believe in the selection process. Dogs are vigilant. Dogs’ watchfulness is legendary. That’s why we keep them in modern times, to be ‘watchdogs’. So dogs are base but vigilant. The soldiers that cupped the water in their hands could keep their eye on the enemies down in the Jezreel Valley not far away.
This alertness is a good characteristic to have when you are facing an army 100 times bigger than yours. Wild dogs at a watering hole have to avoid crocodiles hiding in the water and predators like lions behind them – drinking is a vulnerable business for a dog in the wild. This key trait Gideon was looking for of cupping the hands and lapping, shows that such soldiers have their head up, even while down kneeling. They bring the water to their mouth. It is sort of an upwards movement while down on your knees. The 9700 that were rejected, ‘kneel down to drink’ – their guard was off as their eyes were faced downwards.
The key behaviour God was looking for was played out at a place to drink. It was by design because drinking while on the ground makes you vulnerable already. The economic and political rumblings through the planet know are great testing ground for the Lord. God will test us. Peoples idols are falling, where do they run to? Testing time is upon us. How will we respond while facing the fear brought by COVID-19?
Not Many Wise
“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
1 Cor 1:26
There are seven negative attributes Paul lists that describe who the Corinthian church were of pre-Christ. Seven. Would we have chosen ourselves? The list is the horror list for recruiters, a recruiters nightmare of candidates, yet God called and chose such as us – the weak. God takes pleasure in using the weak to shame the strong, the foolish to shame the wise, the obscure to shame the celebrity, the common to shame the noble. How awesome is God. How thankful are we who can identify with the list of anti-qualities in our pre-Christ life.
God accepts the rejected. This is the ultimate story of choseness, so that none should boast!
Kneeling in Defeat
You get good, holy kneeling and you get bad, evil kneeling. So what of the other 9700 rejected soldiers who were willing and able but failed to make the cut! The world is fearing the Midianites are across the valley, within sight. Coronavirus is trying to intimidate, fear and panic IN THE CHURCH is all too widespread.
Shlomo Yitzhaki (or Rashi as he is widely known) is a famous ancient Jewish Rabbi and he gives a profound insight into this difficult passage. He notes that in that time in Israel, Baal worship was common, people ‘bowed the knee to Baal’ as habit as can be seen in this illustration to the left. The soldiers who knelt low to the ground were used to doing it because of Baal worship. Quite possibly the 9700 were rejected because they had regularly bowed the knee to Baal?
Their posture was kneeling in defeat. Kneeling to another God. Their eyes were facing the water. Perhaps they admired their reflection therein. Perhaps these are the self-absorbed, self-minded soldiers who are more concerned with self-preservation that freeing a nation caught in idolatry? Or perhaps they carry shame and self-loathing. Whether self-loathing or self-absorbed, there was too much self to carry out a ridiculous mission that did not involve bringing your spear to the battle. Unconventional war requires unconventional thinking.
Perhaps they were crest-fallen idolaters or was it simply God finding a way to reduce the numbers to a collection of the naturally weakest soldiers? Perhaps its both and? What do you think?
300 Spartans VS 300 Jewish Lappers
So God chooses to use the 1% remnant; uncouth, doglike bunch of lappers, un-qualified in so many ways but rejected enough to be accepted and useful by God to do His mission! The lengths the Lord will go to to ensure He gets the glory. Do you qualify as ‘rejected enough’?
To the Jewish mind the dog is the anathema – to use 300 that lapped like dogs was going too far! It would have gobsmacked the religious and idolatrous Jews alike. The story convincingly demonstrates the Lord does not deliver through the arm of human effort and skill! He recruits the base! Compare this to the 300 glory hungry Spartans in the Battle of Thermopylae. The superbly trained and exceptional physical specimen Spartans faced the Persians. Gideon’s raggamuffin crew faced the Midianites. But no, the Midianites actually faced God! Gameover!
2020 Opportunity to Desecrate Multi-generational Altars
In this fear drenched atmosphere of Coronavirus – God is seeking who He can use to desecrate the altars of Baal and poles of Asherah. There are auditions in Heaven for Midianite slayers! There is an opportunity presented in 2020 to break down multi-generational altars of our forefathers. The idols of sport, culture, Hollywood are exposed. The bull market is shaken. Idols are toppling. Lets desecrate the altars. Are you going to bend your knee to fear like the Baal Worshippers did? Like the 9700, not chosen?
Its the season of the knee, bend the knee and submit to the Lord. Do not kneel to fear. There is good kneeling, there is bad kneeling. It completely depends before who you are kneeling. Do not fear! Do not panic! Do not fail the audition!
God is recruiting 1% of the Church for Gideon’s unElite Force
Rise up Gideon’s Mighty 300! You do not need to be qualified because He qualifies you, you just need to be willing. Do not bow your knee to Baal (Provision) or Asherah (Sex). Jehova Jireh. God is your husband. You need to trust in God, lean on His strength. He is looking for the weak to recruit, so He can be strong. He seeks the fool, to make him wise. The anti-hero of men, to make him the hero of God. Are you rejected enough to be selected? Do you share in the sufferings of Christ? Do the reproaches of Him fall on you? Does the scandal of the Gospel make you unpopular. Do you preach the Gospel of the Kingdom?Do you preach a New Creation. Are you born again? where are those from Another World? Worldliness is rampant in the Church.
Do you know how weak you are? What kind of fool are you? Are you God’s Fool or the World’s Fool! These are good attributes to have if you are going to make the cut for Gideon’s Army. Worldliness is being drained out the Church, like one drains a swamp of the malaria infested treacherous ground of compromise. Inheritances are at stake!
If you know you are weak, He can be your strength. If you know you are fearful, He can be your courage. Let’s topple those altars of our fathers in this season. Let’s bow our knee to Jesus but defy the Baal’s and Asherah’s. He is looking for those who will believe amidst all the fear to save Israel. God is recruiting for Gideon’s Army now. Will you be selected? Will you pass the audition? Are you going to submit to fear as the idols topple? Are they your idols? Are you kneeling and submitting to fear caused by COVID-19? Watch your heart, trust in the Lord to deliver and save to the uttermost through this whole Covid-19 time.
Resetting to the Original Standard and Measure
Do not bow before Mammon, Baal, Money, bow to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ alone! Asherah of Sex, bow – Lady Liberty and her sexual promiscuity. Come as you are. Come ye weak, come ye fool and see what the Lord will do with just 1% of the Church! 300 will defeat 135 000! 300 will tear down millions of those Pagan Altars in the Church. Time to take the hammer and smash altars of intimidation and fear by these two ancient enemies of the Church and Ancient Israel. Let faith arise. Let the Reset happen. Let the Church be re-calibrated to the original biblical standards in orthodoxy, church practice, love and service.
Crackpots, Shofars and Torches
“So Gideon and the 100 men who were with him came to the side of the tents. It was late in the night. Different soldiers had just come to keep watch. Then the men blew the horns and broke the pots that were in their hands. All three groups blew their horns and broke their pots. They held the sticks of fire in their left hands and horns to be blown in their right hands. And they called out, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” Each man stood in his place around the tents. And all the Midianite army ran. They cried out and ran away. “
In a grand gesture of complete Divine domination of the Battle, God uses empty-broken-pots, shofars and torches – brokenness, sound and light. God’s shock and awe strategy.
It would have been a shock to see such brilliant light suddenly come to the dream tormented soldiers. In the pitch darkness of an Israel night, to suddenly see 300 torches … anyone would be horrified and confused. And for the light to suddenly emit from the sound of smashing earthenware! Suddenly bright light and suddenly bright light from a broken vessel.
Like 300 seeds falling to the ground. Like 300 husks breaking and revealing the light within, revealing the heart of true Christ-like warriors. Our strength is always going to come from the inside. We do not boast in our outer flesh man, we boast in Christ. Christ in us the hope of glory! He ensures the victory every time! The breaking of the outer man produces the release of the Spirit! There is no life without dying, no resurrection without the cross.
So the three elements form a powerful cocktail of trinity power to bring the victories God loves most – the weak overcoming the strong, the underdog trumping the top dog, the last becomes first. The sound of the smashing pots, the sound of the shofar and the sound of the warcry! So the Midianites destroyed themselves through the very thing they brought: FEAR. They fell on their own sword. A kingdom divided cannot stand. Fear ultimate eats itself. Fear is a demon spirit. Fear kills itself. Fear is extinguished when Love walks in the door. There is no fear where love is made perfect. The despised broken pots with a shofar and torch in each hand and a warcry in the mouth will send the legions fleeing! Amen.