Sunday, April 10, 2011

Didn't Know a Slaughter Could Lead to a Tender Mercy

Have you ever heard of the "Slaughter of Midian?" As I'm reading this morning, I come across this (space down to the highlighted part). It mentions the "slaughter of Midian." I had no idea what this was (you'll find it's not all that unfamiliar of a story), but it ends up being pretty amazing. I hope you find this applies to you in some way in your life too.

The story of the slaughter of Midian is found here. Gideon is leading an army of 32,000 Israelites against an enemy so vast that they are described as "the sand by the sea side for multitude" (Judges 7:12).

Do you ever feel like you're up against something you can't handle? As I read this, I could see that there is a definite pattern to how the Lord works.

Now, they're going, just a few of them. I know 32,000 sounds like a lot (it's the population of a small city), but going against the "sand of the sea?" No way. Not gonna happen. They're going to be destroyed, right? Well, the Lord tells them to send home anyone that's scared, so 22,000 go home. In reality, I'm thinking I would have been one of those.  The army of Israel is down to 10,000.

The Lord replies, ‘The people are yet too many’ (Judges 7:4).

So, you're thinking, "What?!" I'm sure the army of Israel were thinking the same thing. Wondering just what Gideon is thinking?

The next instructions Gideon receives are to ask the men to drink water from the spring of Harod. Those who take it in their hands and lap it up with their tongues (like dogs) will stay. Those who kneel to drink it will go.

Three-hundred drink like dogs.  The army of Israel is down to 300.  You can see where this is going, right?  In the second verse, the Lord tells Gideon that He has to do this "lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me."  He wants them to acknowledge where their power comes from.

At some point during the night, Gideon goes down outside the wall of the Midianites and overhears a man (one of the opposing army) inside the city telling a friend about a dream he has. The friend interprets the dream as meaning that the army of Israel is going to destroy them.

As Gideon hears this, he understands this to be a tender mercy and that the Lord is working on the inside of the walls as well as the outside.

Can you see these kinds of things in your life at times? I love it when this kind of thing happens!

So, this little turn of events gives Gideon more courage that he's doing the right thing. I love how obedient Gideon has been from the very beginning. This must be why he's been made their leader.

In continuing to be obedient, Gideon gives each of the 300 a trumpet and a torch in a glass jar and instructs them to stand around the walls of the city. At a certain point, they are commanded to blow their trumpets and break the jars--basically make a huge ruckus--in unison.

Now, the beautiful part is that the guys inside the wall--the numerous host--are already psyched out by their buddy's dream, so they believe that the army outside the wall is HUGE. They have already been defeated in their own minds.

You're getting it, right?  How many times do we psych ourselves out and lose a battle before it's even fought?  Hmm.  Like my last how many posts? 

Can you see why I'm finding the reading of this particular verse miraculous this morning?  I mean, why today?  Why when my mind is in self-defeat mode, would I read this?  Wait!  I can answer that....because God loves me.  This is one of those "tender mercies" I'm always writing about.  My little individualized message from Him.   I'm sure you get them too.  I hope you do, and I hope you recognize them for what they are.  It seems like when we recognize them, we have more.

In the confusion, the Midianite army starts killing each other. Weird, huh? This tiny army, in the end, because Gideon listened to the messages he was given by God, hardly had to do anything.  God fights their battle for them.  The few who run away are cut down by Gideon's 300 men. The battle became manageable.

This story is such a reminder of so many things. One being, that "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass" (Alma 36:7)  So many times in life, we learn the principle that when we are weakest, we are strongest. It's in times of weakness (when we're brought to our knees), we learn to lean on the Lord and make Him our strength.

I'm sharing this today because I'm feeling like I've met my match. I'm sure I'm not the only one in this world that feels this way. My circumstances are, most likely, different from yours, but I hope that sharing this helps you remember also that our weakness is a gift. It's a reminder. It's supposed to bring us to our knees. We are supposed to acknowledge it and use it for what it's intended. Don't curse your weaknesses, let Him turn them into your strengths--use them as a tool.  All we have to do is ASK and He will help us.

Now, as far as I'm concerned, I don't plan on slaughtering Midian, or anyone else for that matter, but I seek confidence. I have a wall to knock down. One that's been built my entire life. I have deprecated myself all of my life. Why is that? After talking to my brothers last night, I learned that it's a family trait. Well, I need to knock it down, and knock it off. I just don't know any other way to do things. I don't know how to treat myself any differently, but I know I have access to Someone who does. This is my battle, but darn it, I'm going to win it.  I'm not alone. I can now see all of this for what it is--just the next step in a lifetime's worth of progression.


Brenda said...

It reminds me that we are never alone to fight our battles. Thanks for your post!

Jen said...

Thanks for directing me to this post from Facebook. I really appreciated it. It is so great to receive strength from the scriptures and this particular insight is what I needed to help spur me along. When I'm down, I like to read particular stories in the gospel, such as this. I also like to read motivating books, so I started re-reading The Hiding Place by Corrien ten Boom. What an incredible story that is so full of faith. There are many times in our life when we will need the Lord to carry us through times of hardship, trials, and even when we lack faith in ourselves. Some things are just too heavy for us to bear and so we hand it over to Him who can carry the load until we are able. You're an amazing lady! I've never met you, but I feel of your strength, and power, and inner beauty. Thank you for thinking of me on this particularly day!

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