Monday, April 8, 2019

Heaven's Heroe #4: Gideon Reluctant Hero

Gideon: Reluctant Hero

Text: Judges 6:11-7:25


Joke: Chain letter fear
I want to thank all of you who have taken the time and trouble to send me your wonderful chain letters over the years. Thank you for making me feel safe, secure, blessed, and wealthy. Because of your concern...

I no longer can drink Coca Cola because it can dissolve a nail in 30 seconds.
I no longer drink Pepsi or Dr Pepper since the people who make these products are atheists who refuse to put "Under God" on their cans.
I no longer drink anything out of a can because I will get Alzheimer’s from the aluminum.
I no longer use Saran wrap in the microwave because it causes cancer.
I no longer use cancer causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day.
I no longer go to shopping malls because someone will drug me with a perfume sample and rob me.
I no longer answer the phone because someone will ask me to dial a stupid number for which I will get the huge phone bill with calls to Jamaica, Uganda, Singapore, and Uzbekistan.
I no longer eat prepackaged foods because the estrogens they contain will turn me gay.
I no longer eat KFC because their chickens are actually horrible mutant freaks with no eyes or feathers.
I no longer date because they will take my kidneys and leave me taking a nap in a bathtub full of ice.
I no longer buy expensive cookies from Famous Amos, chicken from Chic fil a or Frostys from Wendys I now have their secret recipes.
I no longer worry about my saftey because I have 363,214 angels looking out for me.
I no longer have any savings because I gave it to a sick girl who is about to die in the hospital (for the 1,387,258th time).
I no longer have any money at all, but that will change once I receive the $15,000 that Microsoft and Google are sending me for participating in their special e-mail program or that government official from Nigeria sends me my 7 million dollars direct deposited in my bank account since I gave him my checking account number.

Fear can keep us from doing what we should, but it can be overcome as it was in the life and service of Gideon the reluctant hero.

Talking With The Angel - Judges 6:11-24

 And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites.  And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.  And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.  And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?  And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house.  And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.  And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.  Depart not hence, I pray thee, until I come unto thee, and bring forth my present, and set it before thee. And he said, I will tarry until thou come again.  And Gideon went in, and made ready a kid, and unleavened cakes of an ephah of flour: the flesh he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot, and brought it out unto him under the oak, and presented it.  And the angel of God said unto him, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and lay them upon this rock, and pour out the broth. And he did so.  Then the angel of the LORD put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the LORD departed out of his sight.  And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the LORD, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord GOD! for because I have seen an angel of the LORD face to face.  And the LORD said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.  Then Gideon built an altar there unto the LORD, and called it Jehovahshalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

Gideon Hears The Angel

The angel sits under a tree near where Gideon is working. He shows hospitality to the angel and offers him food, food which could also be used as a sacrifice to the Lord.
Now you know this but whenever the term, Angel of the Lord, is used it usually refers to Jesus in a preincarnate appearance, also called a theophany.

Moses, Joshua, the parents of Samson all dealt with THE Angel of the Lord.
The angel of the Lord uses a miracle to prove who He is and the food meant for hospitality is consumed by the flames of the rock kindled by the staff of the Angel of the Lord. This would signify the acceptance of worship and would be a strong indication that this was the Lord.
The Lord then speaks to Gideon.

Does God Speak Today?

When we speak of God talking to us, we are considering God’s revelation, His revealing of Himself, His Will or His truth to us.
In the case of Gideon is was indirectly through an Angel. Don’t expect that to happen to you and if you think it has please don’t tell me about it unless you get it on your smartphone and have 2 or 3 witnesses.

God isn’t really revealing himself that way today. And there is a very good reason for it. Its called The Bible. In the Bible God has completed his revelation to us, until the time He will send His Son back to earth to rule as Lord and King forever. You don’t need any more revelation; you just need to deal with what you’ve already been given.
You may think that if you had an angel bring you a message from God, it would fix everything, take away all doubt and give you faith to do anything. Well, it didn’t work for Gideon that way and believe it or not, according to Peter we already have the best and most effective revelation of God to man.

1 Peter 1:10-12 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:  Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.  Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
Did you catch what Peter was saying? He says the prophets, those who God gave the revelation to in the past, searched for the time that the Holy Spirit had told them the Messiah would come, but that revealing, that revelation, was not given to them but to us. We as NT believers, have a superior revelation even than the original writers of scripture. We know more about God’s plan than even the great prophets like Isaiah, Ezekiel or Daniel. Nor does Peter stop there, because he says in the last phrase of this passage, “which things the angels desire to look into.” You understand what he is saying, don’t you? We the people of the New Testament, the people who have be given the full revelation of God’s Word in our completed Bible, see and understand things that even the messengers of God, the angels of heaven didn’t fully understand and because we have the complete revelation of God we understand more than the original writers of the Bible. That is an incredible, undeniable endorsement of God’s word, that you hold in you hand,  as the greatest revelation that has and ever will be given to mankind. God speaks to us, powerfully and plainly in this book.

So that is how we hear God’s word today. And after we hear the question is when it will be applied to us personally, when and where God will directly apply what He has said, to us. When He will call us, personally, to salvation, service or sacrifice. We could be at work, or at home relaxing, in church or out taking a drive and then quietly but clearly, God’s voice through His Holy Spirit will touch your heart, grab your soul and say, “Listen, it me, your Heavenly Father. There is something I need to tell you. There is something I need you to do.”

The real issue is not how or when God will speak but how we will respond when He does speak. Will we be as welcoming to the message as Gideon or will we wish our own visitation from God had not taken place.

Transition: Because Gideon was welcoming God could begin to use him.

Tearing Down Idols - Judges 6:25-32

 And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Take thy father's young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it:  And build an altar unto the LORD thy God upon the top of this rock, in the ordered place, and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove which thou shalt cut down.  Then Gideon took ten men of his servants, and did as the LORD had said unto him: and so it was, because he feared his father's household, and the men of the city, that he could not do it by day, that he did it by night.  And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was cast down, and the grove was cut down that was by it, and the second bullock was offered upon the altar that was built.  And they said one to another, Who hath done this thing? And when they enquired and asked, they said, Gideon the son of Joash hath done this thing.  Then the men of the city said unto Joash, Bring out thy son, that he may die: because he hath cast down the altar of Baal, and because he hath cut down the grove that was by it.  And Joash said unto all that stood against him, Will ye plead for Baal? will ye save him? he that will plead for him, let him be put to death whilst it is yet morning: if he be a god, let him plead for himself, because one hath cast down his altar.  Therefore on that day he called him Jerubbaal, saying, Let Baal plead against him, because he hath thrown down his altar.

Gideon Receives A Commission

God tells Gideon, that he is to go and tear down his father’s altar of Baal and cut down the grove that was by it. The worship of Baal required male and female elements, the stone altar was the male element and the wooden grove or was an idol beside it. He is then to go and build an altar unto Jehovah and sacrifice the second bullock in the yoke on an altar built from the wood of the idol he had just torn down.

This is no small task, because his father’s altar to Baal, is used by the people of that town and perhaps at the command of the invading Midianites. He is afraid as you might imagine and so he goes and carries out the Lord’s work but at night. Of course it wasn’t going to go unnoticed and the men of the city  and they came to kill him, people are touchy about their idols. Same things never change. His father protects him by arguing that if Baal is a god then Baal should be able to strike down Gideon for what he has done. Finally, Gideon gets a new name, Jerubbaal, which means “Baal will fight” the challenge of his father and a dare to the worship of Baal.

Now this wasn’t the reason God had called Gideon, that was going to be the routing of the Midianites from the land. This was just a test, a warm up for the real battle that was to come.

Tested before the Battle

When it comes to God using us, He does not send us into great battles of faith, without first testing us, putting us through a bootcamp first, to grow us and to prepare us.  That “boot-camp” is often difficult, painful and just like Gideon it will involve the tearing down of idols.

Romans 5:3-5 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:  And hope maketh not ashamed; …

James 1:3-4 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

James 1:12 — Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

If you wonder why you might be failing in the battles of faith or why God is not using you, it may well be that you have resisted the testing, the trial of your faith and have not yet come to a place of service and sacrifice. Gideon, though he was timid about it, still tore down and burned the idols, and at great cost to himself sacrificed to the true God. The same is true in our lives we must determine to serve God, and if there is anything that hinders or obstructs our worship of God then tear it down. Tear it down and burn it. Sacrifice of ourselves to God and then God can use you and you will be stronger in the battles to come.

Taking on Oppression Judges 6:36-7:25

Judges 6:36-38
And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said,  Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said.  And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water.  
Judges 7:2-7
 And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.  Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.  And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.  So he brought down the people unto 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.  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.  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.

Judges 7:13-15
 And when Gideon was come, behold, there was a man that told a dream unto his fellow, and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along.  And his fellow answered and said, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: for into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host.  And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the LORD hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian.

Judges 7:17-22
 And he said unto them, Look on me, and do likewise: and, behold, when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so shall ye do.  When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon.  So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers that were in their hands.  And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon.  And they stood every man in his place round about the camp: and all the host ran, and cried, and fled.  And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the LORD set every man's sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host: and the host fled…

 Gideon Battles the Enemies of God

He seeks confirmation and courage through the test of the fleece.
This was not a determination of God’s will but a confirmation of God’s will. There is a big difference and we should know it. It is commendable to seek the confirmation of God’s will by talking to the Lord but it is never okay to used circimstances and signs as a way to know God’s will. That is called looking for omens and it is what pagans do, not Christians.

So Gideon recruits an army.Twice at God’s command, the army is trimmed. Once by releasing those who wanted to go to home, those who were afraid. A few weeks or months ago before God started working on Gideon he might have been one of those who turned around but he had tested and was not ready. Now Of 32,000 men 22,000 went back leaving only 10,000 to fight the Midianites.

God then cuts the army himself. Remember these are the brave, these are the ones who want to fight but God chooses those who will serve in the battle that day. They go down to the river and drink. Those who took the water in their hand and lifted it to their mouth He chose to fight, the rest He sent home. This left the army with only 300 men.

I have heard much preached about why God chose the men who lifted the water and rejected those who bent down to drink. I am quite sure that the only reason He chose was the reason He stated, “There are yet too many.” He simply chose the smaller number. That was his purpose in bringing them here and that is what He did.

Now God prepared the hearts of the enemy.

Notice again even at this stage Gideon is fearful vs. 10-11. He took his servant because he still feared. But when he heard the dream of the soldier he knew there was nothing left to fear.
He goes back and take his small company of 300 and divides it into even smaller groups of 100. He arms them with empty pitches, lamps and trumpets, not swords, spears and chariots. He tells them to wait for his signal and then to blow the trumpet and shout, “The sword of the LORD and of Gideon.”
The Battle is fought in God’s power and even those who stayed could not claim the victory but only praise what God had done. The Lord set the Midianite army against itself and Gideon’s army only cleaned up. As the Midieanites fled Gideon sent for all the nation of Israel including I believe those he had sent home to help with the destroying the Midian army.

Are you willing to serve as God sees fit?

We may all picture ourselves as a Gideon, but God may need us as one who carries only a pitcher, lamp and trumpet? Or what about if you are one of the ones He sent home?
Not many are called to Gideon’s position but if you are then serve. Acknowledge your fear, battle it with God before you battle for God, then serve Him in spite of your fears, doubts and misgivings. If God has called you to leadership then lead!

You may be called into that service with a pitcher, lamp and trumpet. Your task will be to carry the burden for souls, light the way to salvation and announce the coming of Jesus Christ. It will always be that you are in the minority, that others could have and should have taken your place, but it is you who stand with heart filled, your Bible ready and your voice unable to keep quiet.  When the time comes hold up your Bible and shout to a lost and dying world, “The sword of the Lord and the Gospel of Jesus Christ!” If God has called to the battlefront then fight!

To me, the most difficult of all these in the story are those who were told to go home. How do you deal with God telling you, “I don’t need you at this time?” Even worse He doesn’t tell you how long that will be or even the reason why you aren’t chosen.

Can you be faithful to God even when you’re put on the shelf?
If God has called you to wait then patiently wait but realize that the wait will not be forever so enough you will be called to the fight and remember God prizes faithfulness above all else. So faithfully wait.

In Hebrews 12:28, Paul talking to the Hebrew Christians who were undergoing the trails of faith, encouraged them to serve, he said, “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:”
Let us have grace whereby we may serve God.

Illustration: When I Consider How My Light Is Spent by John Milton

John Milton is considered the greatest poet of the English language, he wrote Paradise Lost a powerful and influential poem about creation and the first sin. It is one of the longest poems ever written and Milton wrote it by dictation to his daughters, because he was completely blind. He wrote the following poem about that blindness and serving God. 

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide,
"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts. Who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at his bidding speed,
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait."


Are you willing to be tested in order to be ready for the battle? And when God calls, are you willing to serve God anywhere, anyway and at anytime? This is the true application of the story of Gideon. It is…
Service in spite of our fears.
Service in spite of our numbers.
Service in spite of our waiting and not knowing.
In spite of all that may be against us or outside of our understanding, will we still serve?

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