The Monday feature of the Worldly Saints blog focuses on a story from the sports world – current or historic. The goal is one of the following: (1) either to recognize athletes who are using or have used their sports and athletic abilities to further the kingdom of God or (2) to show how some athletes or teams are wasting or did waste their days by not giving God the glory or (3) to simply reflect on a story from the sports world from a Christian perspective.
“When you’re chided for your naiveté, and you will be, remind your critics that an amateur built the arc, experts built the titanic.” That statement was made by the now 2-time Super Bowl champion Peyton Manning. He shared it with the graduating class of 2014 at the University of Virginia.
I love the reminder from Manning that you don’t need an “A-list” of individual to accomplish significant tasks. The Bible is filled with examples of men and women who had little qualifications for the task given to them. My favorite O.T. example of this is Gideon (Judg 6-8).
In this O.T. scene, the Midianites were persecuting the Israelites. God sent the Midianites as instruments of His punishment against the Israelites. The Midianites were from east of the Jordan River and descendants of Abraham.
This wasn’t the 1st time the Midianites oppressed Israel. In Numbers 23, the Midianites tried to get Balaam to curse the Israelites while Moses was leading them. As a result of this evil request, God told Moses to wipe them out. This was such an effective destruction that they didn’t appear for another 200 years.
In Judges 6, are not told how large this Midianite army was, but we know they probably numbers in the hundreds of thousands. In Judges 8:10, 120,00 Midianites drew their swords to fight. These Midianites destroyed all the land around them, took all the cattle and sheep, and left no food in the land. They came out at every harvest time and stole all goods from the Israelites and burned everything that was left. This is kind of like a “scorched-earth policy” like Hitler used in WWII, when he commanded his Nazi army to leave no evidence of their presence wherever they went. They would burn every church and building and capture every person and animal in every city they sought out to conquer.
The Midianites basically dominated the land. Historians tell us the Midianites were the first people to domesticate the desert camel, so no doubt their military mobility was incredible. They were warriors looking for any Israelite blood to shed. In fact, they frightened the Israelites so much they began to run to caves and mountains looking for refuge.
In Judges 6:11-15, Gideon is called to defend the people of Israel against the Midianites and he is called a mighty warrior. That’s a flattering title considering he was down in this dark winepress hiding from the Midianites. Gideon did nothing to earn such a distinguished title. Gideon was from the weakest tribe in Israel: Manasseh. He had no fortune. And he was the least in his clan; he had no fame.
He had no fortune or fame; he was a real wimp. He was a somewhat insignificant man in the land of Israel. Now I don’t know about you but this guy wouldn’t be picked on my team. If we were playing a little football against the Midianites, Gideon would not be on the field; he would be washing our jerseys after the game and refilling our water jugs when we were thirsty.
How could God use this man? How could Gideon, being a man with no money and no army, defeat an army that numbered in the hundred of thousands?
Remember this is God’s work. It was as if God was saying, “You are nothing but a wimpy farmer. But I am going to use you to become a great warrior and the 6th judge over Israel.” Remember the words of I Corinthians 1:27-29 –
“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen and the things which are not to bring to nothing the things that are that no flesh should glory in His presence.”
Fast forward to Judges 7. After his skepticism is finally satisfied by God, he is given 300 soldiers to go “into battle” against Midian and they are granted the simplest of victories against this massive army. Without ever having to draw their own swords, Midian, in a miraculous display of confusion, slaughters one another in front of Israel! Israel had won!
Can God use the wimpiest man in the world to defeat the mightiest of armies? Yes. Can God use a man who had never seen a boat or rain to build an ark? Yes.
Peyton Manning got it right. Amateurs are sometimes all you need to do the will of God.