Simplify :: Five Minute Friday {}

It is time for Five Minute Friday (where I free write for five minutes and post the results for the world to see). Today’s word is: simplify. My free write lies between the slashes (//).

“The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength. Therefore, tell the people, ‘Whoever is timid or afraid may leave this mountain and go home.'” So 22,000 of them went home, leaving only 10,000 who were willing to fight. But the LORD told Gideon, “There are still too many! Bring them down to the spring, and I will test them to determine who will go with you and who will not.” When Gideon took his warriors down to the water, the LORD told him, “Divide the men into two groups. In one group put all those who cup water in their hands and lap it up with their tongues like dogs. In the other group put all those who kneel down and drink with their mouths in the stream.” Only 300 of the men drank from their hands. All the others got down on their knees and drank with their mouths in the stream. The LORD told Gideon, “With these 300 men I will rescue you and give you victory over the Midianites. Send all the others home.” (Jdg 7:2-7 NLT)

//Wouldn’t you know ‘simplify’ is not in any translation of the Bible I searched? So I am forced to think of related terms. Maybe it is because we just went back to school and I have a child working with fractions, but when I think of ‘simplify’ I think of mathematically reducing, or rewriting an expression in a simpler form, which is done by dividing terms into smaller numbers.

And the first biblical model of reducing that came to mind was Gideon’s army. God’s decision to appoint Gideon as the leader who would rescue His people from the Midianites is already confusing. Gideon was a cowardly nobody. He was already reduced. He was the weakest member of the weakest family in the weakest tribe of all of Isreal. But God was preparing to do some divine math. God was going to multiple Gideon’s greatness and His own glory by reducing.

This particular event happens after Gideon commissioning, after he destroys the idols and uses them to burn a sacrifice to God, and after the incident with the fleece. (You can read about those in Judges 6.) Now Gideon has assembled an army to battle the Midianites. But God says there are too many of them. If the battle was won, it would be through Isreal’s might, not Gods. So he begins simplifying. First, he told the chickens they could return to the coop. This left two groups of warriors: the extremely brave (stupid, maybe?) and the extremely fearful (the ones too afraid to admit their fear).

But this is still too many, so God divides the army again, this time by testing to see how they drank. The ones who remained were the most fearful of all: those so afraid of their surroundings they couldn’t drink without keeping watch. Those were the people God chose.

But God wasn’t done reducing. Note this army defeated the enemy with a bunch of torches, pots, and horns. They didn’t lift a sword or release an arrow. God not only reduced their number but also their tools.

This job started out as daunting. And then God kept reducing. He took away all their warriors and then he gave them the wrong tools. God kept simplifying until He was all that remained. 

Yet their victory was astounding. The Midianites never recovered.//

This is divine math. God makes Himself bigger by reducing. It is never easy. We doubt His purpose and methods. And we never know the outcome until it’s over. But it will always bear Kingdom fruit both for our benefit and God’s glory.

How is God simplifying things in your life? What things might He be taking away in order to multiply your blessing and His glory?