Gideon was tasked with assembling a troop of warriors who would ultimately trump their long-standing rival. Their enemy was described as being spread across the earth like grasshoppers; they and their camels were without number. In contrast, Gideon’s army was compared to the humps on the backs of two camels; it surely wasn’t a fair fight.
God was more concerned with quality than quantity. He wanted Gideon to find a core group of fighting men who were consumed with their future conquest. All the men who were afraid were sent home. Left with only 10,000 men, God led Gideon to water for one final test.
Judges 7:5 – So he brought down the people into the water: and the Lord said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink.
Judges 7:6 – And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water.
Judges 7:7 – And the Lord said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place.
While the men quenched their thirst, God quietly observed the quality of the men He would use for His quest. There were two distinctly different drinking methods employed: some put their faces in the water, others cupped their hands and lifted the water to their faces. The men who were on their knees by the water with their faces in the liquid were sent home. The men who carefully cupped their hands and drank made up the army God used to annihilate the Midianites.
There are many points to glean from Gideon’s final leadership test; I just want to focus on one.
At this point, these men were armed and dangerous. The fight was brewing, the battle was certain, and the men were on guard – at least some of the men. To get on their knees by the water and subsequently plunge their faces into said water, revealed that these men were more concerned with their natural thirst than the heavenly mission. This character flaw disqualified them from further duties.
The men that cupped their hands could keep themselves in a battle ready position. Their eyes could survey their surroundings, and in a flash they could be ready to fight. The mission was more important than fleshly thirst. Conversely, getting face down in a river requires putting down your shield and weapons. Have you ever tried to jump into action while traversing the tricky terrain of wet river rocks? Both groups drank. The first group placed drinking as the priority over the mission. The second group included drinking as part of their mission.
The disciple God is looking for is an individual who lives for the mission. The mission is more important to them than quenching their momentary thirsting.
We have a thirsty generation. This thirst can never be quenched by natural pursuits. Yet we give it our best shot. We thirst for social acceptance, power, prestige, and new toys. All of which lead to more natural thirst. All the while we forget God didn’t just save us – He sent us. This sending is for life. We go to work on His mission, we live in our neighborhoods on His mission, and our schedules and calendars are structured for His mission.
This means that we never clock out. We smoke what we sell.
If God can find just a few emerging disciples who forsake natural thirst for His heavenly calling – He can turn the world upside down. Can we find a few that are consumed with the go in the Gospel?