By Anthony Casperson
No, I’m not referring to the Battle of Thermopylae and the 300 Greek warriors who fought a large contingent of the Persian army. Nor do I mean the comic book miniseries by Frank Miller that commemorates that battle. And it’s also not meant as a reference to the movie based off of the comic books, which I’ve seen in meme form far more often than actual minutes of the film.
This isn’t Sparta. It’s Brushstrokes of a Theonerd. And the 300th blog I’ve written for it.
Yep, there are now a full 300 different posted blogs for your perusal. All of these words written in the hope that I might bring glory to God while building up those who read these.
While considering this accomplishment, I remembered a couple of places in the bible where the number 300 is prominent—and looked up a few others. Though some of these occasions are little more than a proper record of events (like Enoch living 300 years before he fathered Methuselah, the ark being 300 cubits long, Samson catching 300 foxes and burning down Philistine fields by tying a torch between pairs of tails, or Solomon having 300 golden shields crafted for the House of the Forest of Lebanon), for a handful of them, I found an interesting connection.
The first, from Judges 7-8, I’ve previously preached on—and compared it to the comic book and movie 300 then too. This event shows a judge of Israel named Gideon as he attempts to build an army to deliver the people from the Midianites who had oppressed them. (The oppression had come about as God’s judgement against the Israelites’ sin, but since the people had once again repented, he raised the deliverer to save them.)
Gideon found he had 32,000 warriors. But God said that was too many. They might come to believe that it was because of the Israelites’ strength of arms that they won the battle. And after one round of culling the crowd, Gideon found himself with only 10,000 remaining warriors.
But this also was too many, according to God. And so, round two of the elimination process commenced. Only 300 men remained to Gideon’s army. Though the judge thought this was too few, this was exactly the number God wanted.
So, this army of 300 Israelites goes on to face a much larger army in battle. But with the power of God on their side—along with interesting tactics that he gave them—the side that few would’ve rested their hopes on came out victorious.
The other 3 references inverts which side the 300 is on, but keeps this same “few vs. many” theme. And they can all be spoken of together—in part because two of them record the same information in parallel books of history.
In 1 Chronicles 11, we see the listing of David’s mighty warriors. The type of heroes of whom bards could sing. Thirty-seven men who showed themselves of great martial prowess.
One of these men, named Jashobeam, was a part of three special operatives within the group of heroes. His listed accomplishment in 1 Chron. 11:11 was that he slew 300 enemies of Israel with a spear during a single battle. One man who stood before many, and left victorious because of the power of God on his side.
It doesn’t take long to find another reference to 300 from there, because just a few verses later in 1 Chron. 11:20, we find Abishai. The brother of David’s highest general (who was named Joab), this man Abishai was not a member of the elite three, but performed the same deed as Jashobeam, earning him a place beside the three. Another single individual who proved the power of God by standing victorious before many. And his slaying of 300 enemies is also recorded in 2 Sam. 23:18.
The commonality between these four passages is that great things can happen, even among the small and seemingly insignificant, when we serve God. We might not end up accounted as mighty people of God in a history book, or have a movie made of our accomplishments, but we who bow before our God and Savior are able to serve him in great ways. Even if we believe ourselves to be small in the face of such terrible odds.
It is through God’s power that we serve him. For his glory, for our growth, and the growth of the people around us. To become like him. The size of what faces us is insignificant to the power of our God. And when we join him in his work, we might just find ourselves with our own 300.