“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Against All Odds, by Randall D. Kittle

“Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude,
for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”
— 2 Chronicles 20:15

The Spirit of the Lord gave this prophetic message to King Jehoshaphat when a vast army had gathered together and was on the way to invade Jerusalem. Though they were greatly out numbered, the Lord told Judah where to find the enemy and told them to go out the next morning, take their position, and … watch.

I don’t know how you would feel about it, but that is not exactly an assignment I would be delighted to receive. Leave your fortified city, find the army that is coming to attack you, and then just wait and watch. To make it even more difficult, while they were waiting and watching, they were supposed to loudly sing and declare the praises of God. With the odds stacked against them, Judah put its confidence in God and chose to follow His plan. As they obeyed His commands, the enemy armies battled against each other and were destroyed.

This seems to be a strong reoccurring theme in the Bible. Over and over again in the Scriptures we see God’s people facing overwhelming odds and every time they turned to the Lord, trusted Him, and obeyed His leading He was able to deliver them.

The God of Joshua
This principle is illustrated well in the capture of Jericho in Joshua 6. In those days Jericho was probably the most well fortified city on the face of the earth. No walled city had such a mighty defense. It was believed that no army could ever storm this city and take it. This, of course, made it the perfect place for God to lead His people as they began to take possession of the Promised Land.

In light of facing such a daunting task, Joshua asked the Lord what Israel’s battle plan should be. No secret weakness in the wall was exposed. No unknown ally was about to come to their assistance. They were to march around the city for several days. Finally, on the last day they were to blow the trumpets seven times and shout. Once again the formula was clear: what God was calling His people to do was definitely beyond their abilities, and His solution had no worldly way of bringing success. Yet once again the inability of God’s people didn’t limit His ability, and when they followed His plan the unimaginable happened. The walls of Jericho collapsed.

The Lord God of Elijah
Another story that shows God’s ability to do the miraculous in the face of overwhelming odds is the story of Elijah’s victory on Mount Carmel found in 1 Kings 18. These were dark days for Israel. Nearly everyone from the king to the common man had turned from God and worshiped various idols, especially the Canaanite god Baal. God raised up the prophet Elijah to call His people to repent and turn back to Him. Finally, God leads Elijah to confront the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel. Once again, notice the odds. On one side was Elijah. On the other side were King Ahab, Queen Jezebel, eight hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and an entire backslidden nation. One man against thousands.

The challenge was to prepare an offering and call upon your “god” to consume it with fire. Whoever’s god answered the call was the true God. Despite their prayers, which included the priests of Baal cutting themselves as they pleaded for him to ignite the sacrifice, Baal was a “no show.” After Elijah repaired the altar and prepared the sacrifice, the Lord led Elijah to do something remarkable. He poured twelve barrels of water over it, soaking the meat … the wood … everything. Elijah purposefully removed any possibility that something natural could kindle a fire on the altar. After the prophet prayed, God sent fire from heaven that consumed the sacrifice, pulverized the stones of the altar, and vaporized the water. While the odds might have seemed bad, the results were tremendous.
“Now when the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord He is God; the Lord he is God” (1 Kings 18:39).

The God of Gideon
In the story of Judges 6-8, we find yet another amazing story of God’s ability to deliver His people against all odds. Every year at harvest time the Midianites swept into Israel like a horde of locusts and stripped the fields bare. Being left with next to nothing, it was difficult for the Israelites to even survive. One year, just as the Midianite army of about 135,000 crossed into the land, God sent a surprising message to an Israelite man named Gideon. The message was that God had chosen him to help deliver them from their oppressors.

Once Gideon recovered from the shock of having received such a calling, he blew a trumpet and called the men of the Israel to volunteer to fight alongside of him and take back their land from the Midianites. The Bible tells us there were about 32,000 who came to join him. They were outnumbered more than 4 to 1. But listen to what God said:
“The Lord said to Gideon, ‘You have too many men for Me to deliver Midian into their hands’” (Judges 7:2). Too many men?! Why did God say that? “In order that Israel may not boast against Me that her own strength has saved her” (Judges 7:2). God wanted His people to depend on Him, and He wanted everyone to know that He alone brought the victory to Israel. So God cut the army down in several stages from 32,000 to 10,000, and finally a meager 300 men. Now the Israelites were outnumbered 450 to 1!

As if the odds weren’t bad enough already, the Lord’s battle plan equipped these soldiers with a torch covered by a clay jar and a trumpet — not exactly the secret weapons you and I would choose. Yet, when these 300 men suddenly broke the jars, exposing their torches, and blew their trumpets, the Lord caused the men in the enemy camp to start fighting against each other. The entire Midianite army was captured and killed, and God’s people regained their freedom. Because of God, 300 men were given victory over 135,000. Gideon’s army may have been one of the weakest armies in history, but God used this weakness for His glory.
“My grace is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Beyond Our Ability
In each of these stories we can see two things clearly. The first is that the situation around us doesn’t determine the outcome because nothing can diminish God’s ability. God doesn’t become feeble, nervous, or weak because of the strength of those who oppose Him. God is all-powerful and infinite — nothing can decrease His power in the least. Whatever circumstance you might face, “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save” (Isaiah 59:1).

The second important observation we can make from these stories of deliverance in the face of overwhelming odds is that
it is not our ability but God’s ability that matters. His ability is far greater than our inability. In fact, the Bible tells us that God delights to use our weaknesses to show His glory when we depend on Him. First Corinthians 1:27 says, “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.” God delights to use the weak things to overcome the mighty because when He does something only He can do, then He gets all the praise. This is one reason God always seems to wait until the odds are stacked against us, so we will know our breakthrough came from Him and not ourselves.

No matter what situation you may find yourself in today, God is ready, willing, and able to deliver you … even if it looks totally impossible. It is not your circumstances but God’s ability that determines your future. Your part is to trust in Him despite all odds, and wait for His timing for your deliverance. Remember,
“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31), which means that despite the circumstances, if God is on your side, the odds are in your favor!

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