While Gideon led his three hundred men in pursuit of the Midianites, he stopped by first Succoth and then Penuel to ask for food for the hungry men.
Neither place would give him any. They objected that he had yet to conquer the Midianite kings. Sure, he and his men had miraculously routed a host so large it filled the land like swarms of locusts, but the battle wasn’t over yet. They would rather be cautious and wait until the winners clearly emerged.
This did not go over well with Gideon. He vowed to come back when he was victorious and mete out punishment. God gave Gideon the victory, and he marched back with the captive Midianite kings. The rulers of Succoth were beaten and the tower of Penuel destroyed, just as he had promised. (Judges 8)
All throughout history, people have faced the question over and over, which side will win? Have I chosen the victor’s side? This is often a question of life or death, of freedom or slavery. If we resist the conquerors, will it mean independence, or slaughter of all men and bondage of the remaining women and children? Which cause will write the history books and laws?
There is only one with foresight as clear as His hindsight, and that is the Lord God, and He is the given us the answer to the ultimate battle question: Jesus Christ wins. There will be rough times before the enemy king is bound, but in the end Jesus Christ wins.
This means my concern does not need to focus on who is the most the powerful, but on how to follow Jesus Christ. Do I risk falling on the ‘wrong side of history’? Yes—but only temporarily. Such can only be a difficulty to endure on the way the end, and not the end itself. I have the promise that grief and troubles experienced because of faithfully following the Lord God end in victory, not destruction (Hebrews 11).
In the end, the real problem the people of Succoth and Penuel had was not that they were too cautious or could not see the future. It was that they did not believe God’s promise that Gideon would defeat the Midianites. Will we believe God enough to stand for righteousness when the odds look overwhelming, or will we wait until it looks safe? Now is the time to choose sides.