#4  “The Lord Is With You” Series




TEXT:         Judges 6:11-8:21


INTRO:       God has helped some of the most unlikely people to be victors in the spiritual battles we all face!  How does God pick people to fight great battles for Him?  What is it that God looks for when looking for a champion?  Does He look for great talents, great minds, great abilities, great standing in society, great pedigrees, or great names?


Why did God pick a deceitful Jacob?  Why did God pick Abel over Cain?  Why did God pick David over Saul?  Why did God pick a farmer like Amos over a trained prophet?  Why did God pick a Moses who by his own admission couldn't speak well?  Why did God pick sickly and fearful Timothy?  WHY DID GOD PICK A SHAKY AND FEARFUL GIDEON WHO BY ANYONE’S STANDARDS WAS SEVERELY INSECURE?


Jacob was deceitful because he wanted more than anything else God's blessings!  He was committed to getting from God the best!

Abel was committed to being obedient to God's Word about proper sacrifices!

David was more concerned about God's name than his own!

Amos' only concern was to see God's people experience revival!

Moses made some serious mistakes, but he wanted so much to see God's people released from bondage!

Timothy, Paul said there was no one like-minded more than Timothy, in spite of his frailties and frequent illnesses and timidity Paul says he demonstrated a faithfulness like few others in his day, both to Paul as a senior partner, and to the church of Jesus Christ!


Each of these men had serious flaws ... but there were some things they had in common that made them candidates for God's help in battle:


THEY WERE committed to God and His people!  They were wiling to serve no matter the resistance, they were quick to repent when shown their own wrong, they were concerned more about others than themselves, they were faithful in spite of setbacks, and they were not quitters though at times they felt like quitting!  They were willing to overcome their own faults to put God first, and God’s people above themselves.  Their character was something God found solid.


In other words, God found in these flawed men characteristics that ministry could be built on!  God would help hone their skills, it was their character however that enabled God to be with them in battle!


PROP. SENT:     God promises to be with us in battle when our hearts are in the right place, we need not fear being overcome by the enemy; God will fight with us, for us, and through us!


I.   THE MAN    6:11-32


A.   Characteristics    6:11-24

1.   Why in the world did God pick Gideon?

a.   He was cowardly.

b.   He was the youngest in his family.

c.   He was from a family that had been severely weakened by the enemy.

d.   He had constant struggles with doubts, he was severely insecure.

e.   He was from a tribe that was not known for its military strength.

f.    If his family had been wealthy at one time it was now poor from 7 years of raids by the Midianites.  (6:1)

2.   Gideon hardly seemed like the candidate of choice for such an important battle!

3.   There must have been something that God saw in him however that led God to hail him as a “MIGHTY WARRIOR!” (6:12b)

a.   Gideon was found by God threshing wheat in a winepress, probably meaning he was doing this even while the enemy was present in the land ... thus a place of hiding!

b.   He was attempting to help feed his brethren in spite of the enemy’s presence; he was committed and faithful to serving others even when it meant endangering his own life!

c.   He was not a quitter, obvious by the work he was doing, no enemy would stop him and he will outsmart them by threshing in a winepress!

d    Though he expresses some doubts about God really caring for him or Israel, when he was asked to tear down an idol in his own family he was obedient to do so ... he was OBEDIENT; in spite of his doubts about God’s present miraculous help! (6:25ff)

e.   Though his family was very poor like most of Israel from 7 years of the enemy’s raids, he offers to God a generous sacrifice ... thus he honors God in spite of financial struggle, he understands the nature of SACRIFICE! (6:l7ff)  [Note: the amount of grain he used in this sacrifice was 34-45 pounds ... a huge amount considering how little they could get threshing in a small winepress!]

f.    When his family discovered he was the one that destroyed their family idol he doesn't run ... he stands his ground and accepts the possible consequences; he is CONSISTENT!

4.   Well, it now becomes much clearer why God chose this young man, in spite of his doubts, his fears, his unimportance, and his lack of natural talents, there are other qualities in formation that God can use!

a.   God is not moved by talent ... He is moved by character!

b.   God will be with us in the battle when we have such character!



ILLUS:    I don't know any other way to lead but by example. -- Don Shula, former Miami Dolphins coach. Marriage Partnership, Vol. 12, no. 3.


B.   Challenge!   6:25-32

1.   While it is true that Gideon tests God with the fleece because of his doubts God is willing perhaps to handle this because God FIRST tested him to see if he would accept the challenge of destroying his own father's idols in their home; and he did!

a.   To this Gideon was faithful ... faithful to clean his own home before leading God's people.

b.   This was not an easy challenge, but it proved his commitment to do what is right before God no matter the consequences.

2.   His natural fear is seen by the fact he does the deed at night, he hoped no one would find out, his mistakes however was taking 10 servants to help him do this … a secret known to 10 men is no secret ... soon everyone knew it was him!

a.   His challenge now was to stay and face the consequences, and he does!

b.   God spares him by Joash stating that if Baal was a real god he could defend himself!

3.   He had proved his commitment, faithfulness, and obedience in this challenge; the bigger battles could now be fought ... God always takes us through smaller ones before confronting us with bigger ones!

4.   All God needed was a man of character, He can get anything done with such a person.


ILLUS:     Like C. S. Lewis who once said, "no cleaver arrangement of bad eggs will make a good omelet!"  only The right stuff can bring about the right results! – Source Unknown


II.  THE MISSION   6:33-7:18


A.   Conflict    6:33-40

1.   Israel had several enemies and the raids on their crops had gone on for 7 years now ... Israel was tired, poor, and dispirited!  How was one man going to fight back!

a.   Not alone but with an army of saints!  While it is true that God will be with us in battle we also need the church united with us in battle!

b.   Together we can do great things for God!

2.   Gideon calls together the tired saints, where did he get the strength and courage to do this? "THEN THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD CAME UPON GIDEON." (6:34)

a.   It took more than his own strength to lead!

b.   It would take more than just Gideon to fight!

3.   Gideon at this point has a relapse of doubt, even after the SPIRIT OF GOD HAD COME UPON HIM!

a.   It happens even to the best of God's people!

b.   His doubts were honest, he shows this, and God meets him where he's at!  His attitude no doubt was important, but it was not bitter or nasty.


B.   Compatriots   7:1-8

1.   The response was encouraging; these kinds of character men like to follow!

2.   Gideon must have been quite encouraged to see 33,000 men willing to fight the enemy with him even though they still were greatly outnumbered!  (The enemy had well over 120,000 men; we know this because this many were slain later while others escaped!)

3.   God sends Gideon another challenge however by telling him 33,000 men were too many!!!

a.   What could God possibly be talking about!!!

b.   ISN'T MORE BETTER?  Not always in God's economy ... not if those "many" fail to have their heart in it!

4.   God wants Gideon to weed some out:

a.   THE FAINTHEARTED:  God asks Gideon to simply ask those whose hearts are really not up to do battle to go home!  (7:3)

(1.   22,000 leave!!!  Boy, this could hardly be encouraging!  These were the crowd followers ... but they weren't fighters!

(2.   Gideon is barely recovering from the losses when God tells him he still has too many!

(3.   The natural question must surely have come to his mind at this point: "God do you really know what you're doing?"

b.   THE HALF-HEARTED:  All those who simply knelt down to drink water was suppose to be sent home, only those who took their hands to scoop water up to their face to drink were suppose to fight!

(1.   Why?  They were only about 4 miles from the enemy camp ... those who stuck their heads in the water to drink could not see if the enemy was sneaking up on them, only those who used their hands to scoop water to the mouths could keep looking out for the enemy at the same time they were satisfying their thirst, they were the alert whole-hearted soldiers!

(2.   No sense trying to fight a battle with half-hearted soldiers ... their commitment was their own needs, they are not watching carefully to protect themselves and their brethren!  REAL soldiers think of their compatriot’s needs, not just their own!

(3.   9,700 men were eliminated out of 10,000!!!  This left only 300 men who were really ready to fight!

c.   THE WHOLE-HEARTED:  Only 300 men left!  God tells Gideon this is what he will win the battle with!

(1.   A few good men or women sold out to God can do more for the kingdom of God than a whole army of half-hearted Christians whose level of commitment is shallow!

(2.   God never has been impressed with numbers or talents ... He is impressed with character and service!


C.   Comfort!   7:9-18

1.   As might be expected this whole process must have left Gideon wondering, and new doubts arise!  He needs a word of comfort!

2.   "During that night the Lord said to Gideon" – he must not have been sleeping!  Would you!?

3.   God tells him to sneak down into the enemy camp ... God would use the enemy to encourage him and settle his doubts!!!  (What a plan!  Only God could take the very enemy we fight and make the enemy encourage us!)

4.   Gideon doesn't go alone, God encourages him to take a SERVANT with him, this was someone faithful to him!  7:11

5.   There in the enemy’s camp he hears 2 men talking about a dream one of them had, a dream of a barley loaf (barley was considered a poor grain ... a symbol of poor Israel at this time) that tumbled into their camp and destroyed their tent (the symbol of power and of nomadic life in the dessert) ... even the enemy understood this dream to mean that Israel would destroy them ... and this is said out loud for Gideon to hear.  God even has the enemy interpret the meaning for Gideon, to be sure he understood God's promise to be with him in the battle!

6.   Gideon is comforted by this ... and it helps him to be ready to fight ... in fact he breaks out in worship!  7:15

7.   Nothing encourages worship more than the knowledge that "GOD WILL BE WITH US IN THE BATTLES!"

a.   This is the only appropriate response to the God we serve!

b.   We do not fight alone!

8.   Look what this does for Gideon's leadership ... (7:17-18)

a.   "Watch me ... follow my lead ... do exactly as I do!"

b.   This is not arrogance speaking ... it is the heart of a man whose character demonstrates commitment, sacrifice, and is full of God's Spirit!

c.   He is charged for battle ... when you know God is with you, you can't wait to get going!



III. THE MIRACLE!   7:19-8:21


A.   Community    7:19-8:3

1.   How would these 300 guys succeed against about a 150,000 or so?

2.   They would have to be united first; they all formed a circle around the enemy’s camp and used what they had!

a.   They had no real weapons, just clay jars, torches, and a ram's horn for a trumpet ... NO SWORDS!

b.   How in heaven's name could God bring victory to this small group of saints when they didn't even have the right equipment to fight with!

(1.   Their equipment was FAITH, UNITY, COURAGE, COMMITMENT ... and a few jars, torches, and horns!

(2.   They had exactly the right equipment!

c.   "Each man held his position."  7:21

3.   When even a few committed saints are united the enemy is thrown into confusion!

4.   The plan was to blow the trumpets together, smash the clay jars for noise, and wave the torches wildly while shouting the whole time.  (SOUNDS PRETTY PENTECOSTAL!)

a.   This was done just as the next shift was taking place in the enemy camp ... suddenly the enemy hears this tremendous roar of crashing and as they get up in the dark and see themselves surrounded by waving torches everywhere in all directions and hear the shouts of men in every direction so they assume their own men who are changing shifts in the night are the enemy in the camp and they get up and kill each other in the chaos and surprise!

b.   Gideon and his men simply stand still and keep shouting ... they go on with their Pentecostal service while the enemy destroys themselves and flee!


B.   Commitment    8:4-21

1.   Some of the enemy got away, Gideon calls on the mighty tribe of Ephraim to please help them corner these fleeing enemy, probably some of these helpers were the men who earlier had left for fear, now they saw victory and joined in!  (Although they still had a bad attitude … see 8:1-3)

2.   Notice 8:4 "exhausted, yet keeping up the pursuit..."  Gideon and his men were not quitters!

a.   The job they started they would stay with ... God needed their faithfulness all the way through the battle to bring it to the proper end!

b.   Ironically, they are refused supplies from neighbors, his troops needed food but they are turned down for fear that if they failed to beat Midianites those who gave food to Gideon would then be targets from the Midianites!

c.   This happens with not just one neighbor, but from TWO!

3.   Gideon and his men however are not quitters even when others refused to help or follow ... they continued on though they were hungry!  THIS IS COMMITMENT!

4.   The results were total victory for Israel ... GIDEON AND HIS SMALL BAND OF A FAITHFUL 300 CONQUER THE MUCH STRONGER, MUCH LARGER ARMY ... and the result is that Israel enjoyed 40 years of peace!

a.   40 years was considered a lifetime ... a full generation!

b.   A small group of faithful saints brought a lifetime of peace!

5.   God proved that HE IS WITH US IN THE BATTLES!


Conclusion:   Gideon was fearful, his faith was up and down, yet God picked him to win an important battle ... why?  It certainly wasn't his natural gifts or standing in Israel ... what God saw was a young man who was faithful to feed God's people in spite of re­sistance.  He also was faithful to do what was right no matter the resistance.  His com­mitment to God was unwavering, he was consistent!  In the end this is what God uses to beat the enemy - character is more important than talent!