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Golden Nursing Center in Mannington, NJ –Evening Service on 9/19/2013
(edited March 2020)
Verse 1: “Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.
Jerubbaal was, I guess, a nickname for Gideon. It means something like “the Devil is gonna get you!” Maybe Gideon’s parents or somebody was teasing him with a name like that. Gideon was a very unlikely hero, it seems, in the eyes of others. But not in the eyes of God, and in the end, that is all that matters.
This man was called to lead his nation, not because of special bravery or his other attributes. Actually, we are told in Judges chapter 6 that he was hiding like a cockroach from the enemy before God spoke to him. Even after that he doubted, questioned, and tested the Lord. He came along very slowly in his faith and it was a real struggle for him to obey. But God not only established Gideon as a judge and leader of Ancient Israel, He also taught Gideon to overcome his fears and trust more fully. Look at how creatively the Lord went about this:
The Weakening of Gideon’s army:
Verses 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.”
This seems like a strange thing for God to do. Why decrease the odds that Gideon would have a victory? The answer is right there in verse 2: “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.” Could this cause the Lord to want to weaken us at times, today? So that His strength shines through our victories instead of being hidden by our efforts? Can you see why God might prefer to call the weak and not the strong and talented sometimes?
Courage, Fear, and Honesty:
Verses 8-12: “ So the people took victuals in their hand, and their trumpets: and he sent all the rest of Israel every man unto his tent, and retained those three hundred men: and the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley. And it came to pass the same night, that the Lord said unto him, Arise, get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered it into thine hand. But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host: And thou shalt hear what they say; and afterward shall thine hands be strengthened to go down unto the host. Then went he down with Phurah his servant unto the outside of the armed men that were in the host. And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the sea side for multitude.”
Are you getting this? Gideon is still scared to death. (Hey, I would be too. I’ve never had to be a soldier!) Apparently, it’s OK to be afraid, even when you are serving God. I do admire Gideon for not putting up a brave front as I often try to do before the Lord and others. At least Gideon is honest about his fears, even on the eve of the battle. And God is staying right there with him:
The Lord Can Save the Fearful:
Verses 13-18: “ 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. And he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man's hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers. 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.”
The Lord Can Make Dreams Come True:
Verses 19-20: “ 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.”
Did the Midianites and their mighty army really fear the sword of Gideon and his tiny army? Talk about an unlikely hero! He had courage problems BUT he also kept on following the Lord, through it all. And the Midianites rightly did fear the Lord. If you struggle with having faith today, I hope you will take heart from what I am about to share:
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul confessed to the church at Corinthian that he had to struggle within himself to continue serving Christ. But also that he fully expected that he and all who struggle in that way, and continue to depend upon God, would receive great honor in Heaven. Listen to this in I Cor 9:24-27:
“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”
Paul wanted all who struggle spiritually to know that he did also.
We turn now to the words of the Risen Jesus Christ speaking to the Apostle John about the struggles of the Church at Sardis (that is an area in Western Turkey, today). The church there was losing its battle in the times of the New Testament. Spiritual weaknesses had defeated this church. But to those who were still struggling on, the Lord makes this amazing promise In Rev 3:5.
“He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.”
If we continue to confess Christ amid the struggles of our day, the day will come when Christ will confess our names in Heaven!
In closing let’s get back to the Judge Gideon:
God Has All the Power and Courage that We will Ever Need!
Verses 21-25: “ 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 to Bethshittah in Zererath, and to the border of Abelmeholah, unto Tabbath. And the men of Israel gathered themselves together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and pursued after the Midianites. And Gideon sent messengers throughout all mount Ephraim, saying, come down against the Midianites, and take before them the waters unto Bethbarah and Jordan. Then all the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and took the waters unto Bethbarah and Jordan. And they took two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb; and they slew Oreb upon the rock Oreb, and Zeeb they slew at the winepress of Zeeb, and pursued Midian, and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side Jordan.”
Gideon was shy in his faith. Only God could make this man a leader in Israel and a conqueror of their enemies. If you follow his story into Judges chapter 8 you will find more faults and mistakes in his life. But to the end, the Lord continues to use him. And after his death Ancient Israel collapses once again into full-blown idolatry without his leadership.
Don’t try to decide for the God that He can’t use you because you have weaknesses. We ALL have them, whether we confess them or are even aware of them. But if we stick with the Lord and press on in His service, even our faults will magnify Him and bring Him GLORY in the end. Let’s pray for his strength in all of our lives right now.