The “Here Comes The Judges!” Series #4
“GIDEON – The Right Stuff!?”
TEXT: Judges 6-7
INTRO: Have you ever noticed how often God seems to have picked poor choices initially to get a job done?
1. A stammering Moses at age 80!
2. A slave boy named Joseph who liked to daydream a lot!
3. A 16-17 year old shepherd boy named David to go against a mature war trained giant named Goliath!
4. A 90+ year old man named Daniel who was thrown into a lion's den!
5. A fisherman named Peter ... very impetuous!
6. A murderer named Saul of
7. A stubborn and prejudiced man named Jonah who told a whale of a story!
8. A strange preacher like Jeremiah who told sermons by smashing pots and wearing an ox yoke around his neck for a period of time ... and then hiding.
9. An odd prophet like Ezekiel who preached lying on his side for 390 days; shaving his head, and other strange approaches to ministry.
10. A wilderness man named John the Baptist who went around in a coat of camel's hair and routinely ate a diet of locusts and wild honey!
It is not always capability God looks for as much as it is availability and pliability! God can always teach capability ... but availability and flexibility we must offer Him!
ILLUS: There are great abilities that people acquire, cultivate and demonstrate. In the service of God there is one ability that is the greatest ability of all. What is it? Is it sociability, compatibility, accountability, adaptability, or reliability? The greatest ability is availability. If we are not available to God, no matter what other kind of ability we have, it is no good. Ability without availability is a liability. What does availability mean? It means to place one's self totally, absolutely, completely at God's disposal for Him to do anything and everything He wants to do in us, through us, with us, for us, when He chooses. Anything less than that is putting restrictions on God and writing fine print in your commitment contract to Jesus Christ. – Source Unknown
Maybe you have thought of yourself as one of those "unlikely" heroes of faith ... just an unqualified person; but the only way to be truly unqualified is to be unavailable, unchangeable, and unwilling!
PROP. SENT: The Scripture teaches us that God's capability combined with man's availability and pliability produces a powerful witness of the reality of God in this world!
I. GOD THE OPTIMIST! Judges 6:1-10
A. Calamity! Judges 6:1-6
1. Take one ungodly nation ... beaten and bruised for 7 years by a more ungodly nation; impoverish them and what do you get?
a. Either a hopeless situation without remedy...
b. Or the beginnings of revival!
ILLUS: We hear much about revival these days, but the heart of revival is the Lordship of Christ. A mere emotional upheaval, a spurt of religious excitement, is not revival. When Christians become convicted of rebellion against the rule of Christ in their lives, confess their sins, renounce self, take the cross and let Jesus have the first and last word in everything, that is revival, by whatever name you call it. – Source Unknown
2. God knows how to get our attention ... even through ugly circumstances He is optimistic that we will turn toward Him!
3. “weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5
4. God is not a lover of pain but He sometimes uses it when He knows it will produce the fruits of righteousness!
a. Like the pain of breaking a leg, perhaps you always took for granted the use of your legs until pain gives you new appreciation for what you always had before they were broken!
b. Even pain can have a productive purpose in life!
B. Call Judges 6:7-10
1. It is made clear to
ILLUS: The devil tempts us to bring us down, but God tests us to bring us up. -- Jerry W. Mixon in Along the Way. Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 13.
2. God reminds them of their past call and connection to Him, and the obvious consequences of disobedience, it took them out from under God being able to bless them!
3. It didn't take them away from His love and concern however, He has a plan to restore them, a plan that required a man!
II. GIDEON THE ORDINARY! Judges 6:11-40
A. Crazy!? Judges 6:11-12
1. God makes a personal call and addresses Gideon as "mighty warrior!"
a. God was talking to a young man from an insignificant family at this time, a frightened young man trying to get a little bit of grain by secretly threshing it in a wine press so the enemy wouldn’t get him or his family, or their meager supplies!
b. He had no weapons on hand nor was he wearing any armor, in fact, he was in a threshing floor so the space was extremely small for harvesting.
c. He looked like anything but a WARRIOR!
2. God must have been crazy to see him as a "mighty warrior!" But then God loves us too! God is not afraid to use anyone who is willing!
one-legged school teacher from
3. This too is part of God the optimist ... He sees what is not always obvious to us. He sees us as we can be with His strength, we see ourselves mostly by our failures!
4. Being that he might have come from a former wealthy home Gideon probably wasn't even a good farm hand, much less a warrior!
5. In God's eyes though he was the man for the job!
6. Because he was the weakest of the weakest (Judges 6:15) he had time on his hands! In other words ... he was available, pliable, and humble! PRIME INGREDIENTS!
B. Confidence!? Judges 6:13-16
1. Like us, Gideon's reaction was, "THIS DOESN'T COMPUTE!"
2. Notice however that God doesn't ask Him to use something he doesn’t already possess ... He tells Gideon to go "IN THE STRENGTH YOU HAVE" ... God will make up the rest – after all God added this statement: “Am I not sending you?” God was certainly hinting that Gideon didn’t have worry about the outcome since God would be with him if he did go!
a. Gideon hardly seemed the best candidate ... but he was a somewhat willing one!
b. Sometimes we don't have the strength to do the job until we get there!
3. We can't always wait until we think we are ready, but we need to be willing when God thinks we're ready, when He calls!
4. To give Gideon confidence God offers him the best promise of help, "I WILL GO WITH YOU" ... we NEVER go into battle alone.
ILLUS: As we drove up the steep, winding road in the Cave of the Winds near Colorado Springs, we came suddenly to a narrow passageway between high rock walls through which it looked as if the car could not possibly go. But facing us was a sign which said: "Yes, you can! Millions of others have!" And so, driving carefully through, we soon came to a wider roadway. So many times we face seemingly insoluble problems and impossible situations. But we can know that God is able to open ways before us which are now hidden from our view. We may hear God's message to us: "Yes, you can! Millions of others have gone this way. Be of good cheer. Trust in the Lord and go ahead!" Heavenly Father, when we face difficult times, help us to trust in You to show us the way through. In Jesus' name. Amen. – Source Unknown
a. If you can't have self-confidence, be sure to have God-confidence!
b. God doesn't desert his troops, those who are willing to fight!
C. Convinced!? Judges 6:17-24
1. As part of the process of building Gideon into the fighting machine he would become, God convinces him of the call!
2. What is interesting in this event is the willing offering made by Gideon here:
a. Before asking God for something ... he asks the Lord to stay until he can offer a sacrifice!
b. So much is made of Gideon “fleecing the Lord” for proof, or needing a sign … but in reality, Gideon gives before he gets, he creates a sacrifice immediately for God, and it is in his heart to do something for God before he gets anything, even a sign from God!
c. It is getting clearer why God was calling Gideon!
ILLUS: It does not take great men to do great things; it only takes consecrated men. -- Phillips Brooks (1835-1893) -- Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 1723.
3. His offering:
a. Approx. 45 lbs. of grain involved (little more than half a bushel – approx. 22 liters) ... must have taken ages to thresh that much in that small winepress ... and was a substantial offering in light of the tremendous poverty of the times!
b. This was no tokenism toward God; it was a real sacrifice up front!
c. He offers it willingly ... which means that he is capable of offering willingly the PRIME INGREDIENT!
d. He also brings a meat sacrifice.
e. God consumes the offering ... and it suddenly becomes clear to Gideon that this was no ordinary visitor, but the Lord Himself!
(1. Common views of that day were that you died if you saw God ... so rather than be delighted in the visit he is gripped with great fear!
(2. Until of course God calms him down and assures him it was o.k. ... after all, God came by His own invitation! "THE LORD IS PEACE."
22 “When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the LORD, he exclaimed, "Ah, Sovereign LORD! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!"
23 But the LORD said to him, "Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die."
24 So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The LORD is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.”
D. Challenge! Judges 6:25-35
1. Most people miss the next event ... before Gideon tests God ... God tests Gideon!
a. God asks Gideon to begin ministry by destroying the false idols in his own home!
b. The ability to lead others begins by self and a smaller unit first, the home! This is born out in the Pastoral Epistles in the New Testament too.
2. This would be a first logical step to a larger fight ... Gideon would have to face his own home area and the fear of tearing down idols!
a. And he is afraid! Judges 6:27 “So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the LORD told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the men of the town, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.”
b. He does it at night because of his fear ... but he is found out anyway, and he lives in spite of the initial anger of his family!
c. ONE SMALL VICTORY FOR GIDEON ... ONE GIANT STEP FOR
ILLUS: The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. -- Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership, Vol. 16, no. 3.
3. With a successful challenge now behind him he can face a larger one!
a. God is so good to do this in our lives!
b. Too often people want to do the "BIG" ministries first ... ""Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much," Lk. 16:10a
4. Did this victory solve all of Gideon's fears and lack of self-confidence? NO!
E. Conditions! Judges 6:36-40
1. Probably still a bit shaken by the previous challenge he struggles with doubts again ... probably because now he is beginning to see the bigger picture!
a. His family was one thing ... the Midianites were something else!!
b. God is wonderfully patient and takes into account Gideon’s needs!
2. The well known "FLEECE" technique is tried:
a. God comes through on both requests of Gideon’s for the fleece test ... the message from God to him:
b. Yes you’re the man ... and yes you'll make it ... this is NO ACCIDENT, and I don’t want someone else Gideon!
ILLUS: Gypsy Smith was once asked how to start a revival. He answered, "Go home, lock yourself in your room and kneel down in the middle of your floor. Draw a chalk mark all around yourself and ask God to start the revival inside that chalk mark. When he has answered your prayer, the revival will be on." Why not covenant with God to draw that private circle? – Source Unknown
III. GIVING THE ORDERS! Judges 7:1-25
A. Calling! Judges 7:1-8
1. The time finally comes for action ... and God doesn't ask Gideon to do the job alone!
2. His leadership call was now brought to bear on all the other Israelites:
3. The call goes out for everyone to respond, there are 3 types of responses:
a. FAINT-HEARTED! Judges 7:3
(1. Gideon must have been happy with the initial turnout; 32,000 men! Not a bad first start! ... Until God contacts him!
(2. The first message from God:
go home that is scared!” Judges 7:3 “announce now to the people, 'Anyone who
trembles with fear may turn back and leave
(3. God knew it would only cripple the operation if the faint-hearted joined in the battle ... the real warriors wouldn't have time to fight and hold hands at the same time, the battle field is no place for the timid!
(4. This was actually God protecting the real warriors although it must have been hard to see that from Gideon's perspective!
b. HALF-HEARTED! Judges 7:4-5
(1. Probably a bit shaken but proceeding with the 10,000 men left God stops Gideon and asks him to get rid of all the men who when they went to drink water knelt down and put their head in the water ... God said to only use the men who cupped their hands in the water and brought the water to their mouths!
(2. WHY? Because any real whole-hearted soldier would know better than to be caught off guard with your head under or in the water while enemies are possibly in the area! These few seconds of your head in the water might allow the enemy to sneak up on you! Only true soldiers would understand the need to vigilant and bring the water to their mouths with their hands so they could keep an eye on the enemy at all times, even during thirst.
(3. I can just hear Gideon when he sees only 300 MEN do it the right way: "THIS IS YOUR IDEA OF LEADERSHIP QUALIFICATIONS GOD ... CUPPING HANDS TO DRINK?"
(4. The men who did it with their heads under water were really only half-hearted soldiers. While they might not have been afraid they weren't really into the battle mentality either – their failure to stay alert could not only cost them their own lives, but the comrades too! You can’t say you’re a warrior but fail to act like one!
ILLUS: Late one December, an elementary school principal said to his teachers: "Let's all write our New Year's Resolutions about how we can be better teachers, and I'll put them on the staff bulletin board. In that way, we can be mutually supportive in our efforts to keep those resolutions." The teachers agreed, and when the resolutions were posted, they all crowded around the bulletin board to read them. One of the young teachers in the group suddenly went into a fit of anger. She said, "He didn't put up my resolution. It was one of the first ones in. He doesn't care about me. That just shows what it's like around here." On and on she ranted and raved. The principal, who overheard this from his office, was mortified. He hadn't meant to exclude her resolution. Quickly rummaging through the papers on his desk, he found it and immediately went to the bulletin board and tacked it up. The resolution read: "I resolve not to let little things upset me anymore." Resolution, but no commitment! – Source Unknown
(5. If God had allowed them to fight they could have caused great distress in Israel, they might have tipped the enemy off by not being careful thus endangering the lives of the real fighters ... though he had only 300 to work with, Gideon and Israel had a better chance or winning a war with those 300 than with the other 9,700!
c. WHOLE-HEARTED Judges 7:6-8
(1. Imagine the heart of Gideon considering the prospects of war with only 300 men against tens of thousands of enemy troops who were well equipped!
(2. Yet, fighting with whole-hearted committed people that are few in number will have a greater impact that fighting with a lot of people that might involve very little commitment. This is still true today!
(3. Numbers don’t impress God, faithfulness and commitment impress Him.
4. It is no surprise then that God gives Gideon another word of encouragement but this time from the enemy’s own mouth ... Gideon probably desperately needed it!
B. Courage! Judges 7:9-18
1. In the moments that followed the realization of having only 300 men God finds a way to encourage the frail Gideon!
2. This time the word of encouragement would come from the actual mouths of his enemies! Gideon hears in the enemy camp the following: "This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands." Judges 7:14
a. Satan knows he is a defeated enemy ... he is like the turkey on Thanksgiving morning trying to gobble to death the man with the hatchet!
b. He might peck at you, but he is a dead bird! The bumps and bruises inflicted on us will be used by God to help us go further in life!
ILLUS: When they first manufactured golf balls, they made the covers smooth. Then it was discovered that after a ball had been roughed up one could get more distance out of it. So they started manufacturing them with dimpled covers. So it is with life; it takes some rough spots in your life to make you go your farthest. -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 12.
3. It works ... the final stage
C. Conquerors! Judges 7:19-25
1. What a plan! No weapons, only 300 men, 300 hundred trumpets, 300 hundred clay jars, and 300 hundred torches! Don't you just love the way God fights Satan!
a. 300 wholehearted warriors!
b. 300 trumpets signaled they’re fighting mad!
c. 300 clay jars = we have this earthen treasure in clay jars ... it is enough to scare the living daylights out of the Devil!
d. 300 torches = to dispel the darkness and cause a frenzy within the enemy camp who are sleeping in total darkness!
2. While they stood in place the enemy wakes up in a panic ... sees the light so to speak ... hears a great commotion of smashing pots and assumes there is this huge Israeli army in their camp knocking over things and so they quickly grab their swords and starting stabbing anything that moves, which happens to be each other!
3. The enemy thus destroys themselves! They kill themselves down into a small unit ... and when they are the right size Gideon and his men chase them down and eventually destroy them all!
4. God made them MORE THAN CONQUERORS ... sounds like a great verse for the Bible doesn't it?
a. And he will do this with us too! We are not working for this world, but for the King.
ILLUS: Sophie, the scrub woman, was a Christian. One of the gentlemen in the large
building where she worked said to her, "Say, Sophie, I understand that you are a
Christian." "Yes, sir, I am a child
of the King," was her immediate reply. "Oh! So you must be a princess, since God
is your King." "I sure am." "Well, if God is your Father, and you are
a princess and a child of the King, do you not think that it is beneath your
dignity to be found here in
b. Are you available and pliable?
CONCLUSION: God is looking for a few good men (and women!) for His army! No prior soldier experience required ... He will train; you must however be willing and available! Will take you as you are! Maybe you can be one of His! Call toll free: 1-800 J-E-S-U-S! Join the supernatural guard ... have you got the right stuff?