As believers, what is the first lesson we need to learn when we are serving God? Gideon was surrounded by a massive army who was ruthless and oppressive when the angel of the Lord came to him and said, The Lord is with you, mighty warrior (Judges 6.12). Gideon follows this statement with two questions. One deals with the presence of the Lord and the other questioning the title "mighty warrior", both of which the Lord answers by assuring Gideon of His almighty presence. The point: the Lord is with you. If Gideon was going to serve the Lord, He needed to know first and foremost, the Lord is present. And if the Lord was with Gideon, Gideon would be mighty for the Lord.
And that is why the first battle God calls Gideon to fight is so important. Remember the Lord calls Gideon to tear down his father's altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole, both of which Gideon does at night. The people of the town search for the one who would dare attack their gods and they finally come up with Gideon. Approaching his father, they demand Gideon's life, to which his father answers: ... If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.
What is so significant about this battle? In the ironic words of Gideon's father, Baal and Asherah are impotent. Gideon's God is not only present but all-powerful. The following scene when Gideon asks God to make the fleece damp and the ground dry, and then vise-versa, assures Gideon once again, in a very personal manner, the Lord would be with him: Yes, Gideon, God says, I am with you.
What an encouragement to Gideon as he was assured of God's power and presence. It's no wonder that when the Lord whittles his army down to 300, he does not protest. He has learned the lesson every believer needs to learn - God is powerful and the false gods cannot stand up to Him. And yes, God is ever-present with His people.