As I write the Health Secretary is on TV giving an update on the latest Covid-19 figures. Every figure has come down, with 55 reported deaths yesterday being the lowest since 21 March, and the lowest since lockdown started. Of course, it’s no excuse for complacency and 55 deaths is 55 too many, but we can be assured that a battle is being won.

I’m reminded of another battle that was won with reduced numbers. It’s recorded in the Bible in the Book of Judges where Gideon had been chosen by God to rescue his people from the Midianites. Midian had a big army, so obviously you need a big army to defeat them. God didn’t think so:

“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.”(1)

You didn’t expect that did you! Gideon started with a sizeable army of 32000 and God reduced to them to 300, the ones who lapped water like dogs. If you read Judges you will see that they gained a spectacular victory.

When Jesus went to war he went alone? No 32000 men with him, not even 300 water lappers.  He had many disciples, 12 in particular, known as the apostles. One was a disaster, but the rest were good men and could have fought. That wasn’t God’s plan though. In fighting the war against sin, death and Satan, he fought alone and suffered badly:

“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”(2)

Despised, rejected, pierced and crushed. All for you, and all for me. They killed Jesus, but he defeated death, he rose and is alive.

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(1) Judges 7:2-7

(2) Isaiah 53:2-6